Columbus church observes Palm Sunday with inclusion, encouraging protest


COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A Columbus church approaches Palm Sunday differently.

That year, the Church of St. John of Christ encouraged its members to celebrate Holy Day by protesting injustice.

“Even in the midst of everything that is going on, we can celebrate, we can wave our palms, we can do it with integrity and know what the real message is,” said Rev. Virginia Lohmann Bauman, Church pastor .

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Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the Christian Holy Week before Easter and traditionally represents the last journey of Jesus to Jerusalem. The gospel says that palm branches were placed in his path when he was riding a donkey into town.

Some biblical scholars say the procession was a political protest in direct opposition to Pontius Pilate, who also entered the city to demonstrate the military strength of the Roman Empire.

Lohmann Bauman stated: “This was really a protest march. It wasn’t this nostalgic and sentimental thing that we think it is. In fact, it was Jesus who made a very clear statement when he went to Jerusalem in the last week of his life that the kingdom of God was more powerful than the kingdom of Caesar. “

A book by scholars Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan and the unrest in downtown Columbus in 2020 inspired the pastor and other clergy in St. John’s Church to focus the service and sermon on Palm Sunday on protest.

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“I think the break that COVID has taken us has brought us to see things in a different light and put on different lenses,” said Hank Osmundson, an intern in the Church’s seminary.

Church Sunday services were streamed online, and clergymen encouraged attendees to wear t-shirts with protest slogans of their choice.

Osmundson said he was inspired to wear a shirt that said “Bad Theology Kills” in reference to his own experiences.

“We really take this to heart,” he said. “And I think the protest aspect is something that inspires us to do what Jesus wanted us to do, to love our neighbors as much as we do ourselves. It gives us a reason to love ourselves for who we are. As a strange person, I am fully confirmed here. “

St. John’s calls itself an open and affirmative church that displays a banner over its front door that reads “Everyone is Welcome” and often serves people struggling with homelessness.

The pastor hoped that the Palm Sunday message would convey the broader message of the Church.

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“We have seen these demonstrations where people have taken to the streets to protest injustice and find ways to be seen and heard in places where they may not be,” she said.

Osmundson added, “We realize that the world is not as great as we might think or sometimes did. We are called to create the kingdom of God here on earth. “

The Church of St. John of Christ plans to reunite personal services with limited capacity on Easter Sunday.