1:00 P.M. EST March 29, 2010 | FRISCO, Texas | UMNS
Aby and Thomas Stoeckert pose with their butterflies at Grace Avenue
United Methodist Church, Frisco, Texas. UMNS photos courtesy of Grace
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Look at the typical calendar of United Methodist Holy Week events, and
you’re likely to find worship services on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday
and Good Friday and, of course, a festive Easter celebration. You might
even discover an Easter-egg hunt for the children and a youth-led
Grace Avenue United Methodist Church, 10 years young, takes things to a
This 1,100-member, Dallas-area congregation begins Holy Week with a palm
processional during services on Palm Sunday and the preceding Saturday.
Children lead in the excitement of worship and are encouraged to take
the palm branches home to remind them of Jesus’ triumphal entry into
After worship that weekend, toddlers through fifth-graders hunt for
Easter eggs, symbols of Christ’s resurrection, and enjoy outdoor games
and a picnic with their families.
But that’s not all. Throughout Holy Week, four prayer stations are
available for reflection and renewal as people of all ages break from
their routine and focus on their relationship with God and Jesus’
journey to the cross.
Scripture comes alive
This marks the third year for Tuesday’s Seder meal. Youth and adults
re-enact the traditional Hebrew meal Jesus observed the night before he
died. The Seder had its origins in the Jewish festival of Passover,
marking the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt and observed by the Hebrew
people for 4,000 years. Eighty to 100 people participate, the Rev. Billy
On Maundy Thursday, members and friends celebrate Holy Communion around
tables of 12. “Maundy” comes from the Latin word meaning “mandate,” to
stress the importance of gathering together and remembering Jesus’
Later that evening, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting comes to
life in a dramatic performance of “Master, Is It I?” Actors from the
church portray the 12 disciples as each tells about his relationship
“We inherited the Last Supper tableau from Kirkwood United Methodist
Church, Irving, Texas,” Echols-Richter said. “They had done it for
several years and wanted another congregation to take it on. We adopted
and retooled it for our use. We expect about 400 people to attend this
Children’s minister Kristen Lane coordinates the butterfly release at
Grace Avenue Church. A UMNS photo courtesy of Grace Avenue UMC.
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Good Friday experience
Echols-Richter stressed the importance of observing the solemnity of
Good Friday before celebrating the risen Christ on Easter. “It is really
hard to experience the fullness of Easter without experiencing Good
Friday,” he said.
A Service of Darkness on Good Friday features special music. As church
staff read the seven last words of Jesus, they extinguish candles.
On Holy Saturday, the church’s regular worship service focuses on
baptism. In the tradition of the early church, worshippers anticipate
Christ’s Resurrection by celebrating a service of baptism. This year
about a dozen people will be baptized.
The next day, three types of Easter Sunday services—sunrise, traditional
and contemporary—reach out to the faith community and beyond. Each
worshipper is invited to bring a flower to transform the cross on the
Frisco is home to many busy, young families with overloaded schedules,
and an Easter butterfly release has proven a great way to draw
“The butterfly release started five years ago,” Echols-Richter recalled.
“We heard about a company that does this for weddings and thought, ‘Why
not try this on Easter?’ as a way to involve children.”
At the conclusion of the 11 a.m. services, each child receives a
butterfly –a symbol of new life through Jesus Christ—to release into the
“Our Holy Week calendar has evolved as we’ve added new events,”
Echols-Richter said. “We know we can expect a crowd on Easter. It’s
important to offer a variety of options because in a community like
ours, not everyone comes to everything.”
*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist
News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., (615)
742-5489 or firstname.lastname@example.org.