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First Holy Week a busy one for new clergy

 
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This is the eighth installment of a yearlong series that will follow newly appointed United Methodist clergy as they begin their ministry.

7:00 A.M. EST April 29, 2011 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)



Students at Nebraska Wesleyan University walk on a labyrinth as part of the school’s Lenten worship series. A UMNS photo by the Rev. Mara Bailey.
Students at Nebraska Wesleyan University walk on a labyrinth as part of the school’s Lenten worship series. A UMNS photo by the Rev. Mara Bailey.
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Easter worship brings out the pastel dresses, big hats and CEOs — short for “Christmas and Easter Only,” the folks who make it to church twice a year.

Such a busy day can keep any pastor on his or her toes. However, the Revs. Stacey Harwell and Mara Bailey took Easter in stride — especially Bailey.

“For me this year, Easter was different than it’s been since I started seminary,” said Bailey, the university minister of Nebraska Wesleyan University. “I did not have any pastoral leadership roles on Easter morning!”

But that’s not to say Bailey’s week wasn’t packed with activity.

Nebraska Wesleyan held its regular Thursday afternoon chapel as a Maundy Thursday service, and then added a Good Friday service that was a stations-of-the-cross processional across campus. Bailey also collaborated with a nearby United Methodist church to provide additional ministerial leadership at their services and advertise their evening services to the campus community.



Centenary United Methodist Church in Macon, Ga., holds its Easter egg hunt on Palm/Passion Sunday.  UMNS photos courtesy of the Rev. Stacey Harwell.
Centenary United Methodist Church in Macon, Ga., holds its Easter egg hunt on Palm/Passion Sunday. UMNS photos courtesy of the Rev. Stacey Harwell.
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In addition, the school hosted a three-week Lenten series of Sunday evening worship services as well as an online Lenten devotional with daily devotions and Scripture readings prepared by students, faculty and staff on campus.  

In quite biblical fashion, Bailey rested on Sunday, and deservedly so.

“In the past, I have loved helping to plan Easter celebration services. ... However, it was enjoyable to sit back and participate rather than lead, and it was a definite blessing to attend the service where my husband is the associate pastor and support him in his pastoral role.”  

Harwell, minister of community building at Centenary United Methodist Church in Macon, Ga., had an equally busy Lent.

The church led a six-week series studying “The Last Week” by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. And for Easter Sunday, the worship leaders tried something new, weaving the music of “Les Miserables” in with the head pastor's sermon.

“We punctuate the sermon with music almost every Sunday,” Harwell said, “but having the music come from a Broadway play is not usual.”

Still, she added, “Centenary is not a traditional church. Folks who are expecting pomp and circumstance usually go to another church. While many were in their Easter best, many came with their sweat pants, stained shirts and sneakers. The place was packed.”

In addition to Easter Sunday services, Harwell said her week was filled with three other church events, including an Earth Day-related neighborhood cleanup. 

“Easter was fantastic! I think the only thing that was really new was how much work went into it,” she said.

*Butler is editor of young adult content for United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Joey Butler, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

UMTV: Easter Church Drama

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