By Tim Pallesen
Two of the most creative ways to celebrate the secular side of Easter for the past decade are the Easter Bonnet Pet Parade in Delray Beach and the Butterfly Release in Boca Raton, both set for Saturday, April 7.
A trumpet player will join Delray Mayor Woodie McDuffie to lead the pet parade down Atlantic Avenue at 10 a.m.
“It’s a ton of fun,” organizer Lori Nolan of the Delray GreenMarket said. “People go all out.”
Registration is at 9 a.m. on the front lawn of Old School Square. The parade goes four blocks east to a red carpet at the GreenMarket for judging of the Easter bonnets.
Prizes will be awarded in categories that include most original, funniest, tropical, tiniest tea cup and frou-frou.
Children also are invited to the butterfly release at 4 p.m. at the Chapel of St. Andrew, 2707 NW 37th St., Boca Raton.
“The butterfly is the symbol of new life and resurrection for Christians,” the Rev. Andrew Sherman of St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church explained.
Every child who attends will be given their own butterfly to release. An egg hunt, games, crafts and supper also are planned by the two Episcopal congregations.
The area’s largest annual Easter egg hunt, sponsored by the Delray Beach Parks and Recreation Department, starts at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Seacrest Soccer Complex, 2505 N. Seacrest Blvd.
Volunteers have stuffed more than 10,000 eggs with candy and prizes for children ages 1 to 8.
The public is also invited to the Mizner Park Amphitheatre at 9 a.m. Sunday, April 8, for the 10th annual Easter in the Park celebration by the First Methodist Church of Boca Raton.
More than 700 people have reservations at the Boca Raton Resort and Club to celebrate a kosher Passover in style.
“Passover is an eating fest and we pride ourselves on offering a high-quality cuisine,” says Leisure Time Tours director Robert Frucher, who is organizing the elaborate April 6-14 stay.
A rabbi will work with the hotel chefs to make certain the food is strictly kosher.
Both food and entertainment are included in the price of lodging, much like on a cruise ship.
Comedian Michael Winslow and circus performers similar to Cirque du Soleil will provide the entertainment.
The Church of the Palms was strictly white and traditional when the Rev. Roger Richardson became its pastor nine years ago.
Now, as Richardson prepares to retire, it’s a different place.
“We’ve become open to everybody since he’s been here,” church trustee Frank Nikischer said. “He’s very missionary minded and he has us more open to cultures, creeds and race.”
Richardson, 63, says he appreciates how the Delray Beach congregation has responded.
“We wanted to make sure that everyone knows they are welcome because God views us all as precious in his sight,” he said. “The church has encouraged and supported me.”
Church of the Palms has added a multicultural praise service on Saturday nights and a Creole service on Sunday mornings. A worship service in Portuguese is its newest effort in diversity.
Women in the congregation sew comfort dolls that Delray police officers carry in patrol cars and Richardson distributes around the world.
The congregation has opened three churches in Haiti named Church of the Palms. With support from home, Richardson also has traveled to Kenya, South Africa, Brazil and Appalachia to spread the gospel.
“Church of the Palms has opened up to new ideas with a strong interest in mission both locally and in the world,” he said.
How can the pastor of a large congregation have the time to listen to everyone in need?
Representatives from six congregations met March 10 at First Presbyterian Church in Delray Beach to learn how lay people can assist their pastors by becoming caregivers, too.
The Stephen Ministry, based in St. Louis, has trained lay people in 11,000 congregations to minister to those in need.
“The idea is just to listen,” said First Presbyterian associate pastor Rev. Jo Garnett, who organized the workshop. “They are Christian friends who walk with a person who is hurting during a difficult time.”
First Presbyterian currently has 20 Stephen ministers who each received 50 hours of training to become caregivers for an hour each week.
One is Jim Whitiker, a Stephen minister for four years.
“If I can help one person, it’s worth all the time in the world to me,” Whitiker said.
Tim Pallesen writes about people of faith, their congregations, causes and community events. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.