“Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zachariah 9:9b, NRSV
Many Palm Sunday church celebrations feature children in parades and other festivities as part of their worship service to celebrate the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem days before his Crucifixion.
One Capital Area North church decided to hold a different kind of parade outside the church walls.
When the Rev. Glenn Schwerdtfeger, lead pastor of Bethel International United Methodist Church, established the theme for Lent, “Women, Jesus and Justice,” he encouraged the social justice team to create an opportunity to link the theme to an act of service.
Aimee Brown, social justice coordinator, had heard of a nonprofit called Little Bottoms in 2020 while searching for a place to donate toys and clothes her children had outgrown. “Thanks to a friend of mine who was a volunteer with Little Bottoms,” she said, “a connection was made.”
Located in Franklinton and launched from Central City Church, Columbus, Little Bottoms focuses on providing essentials such as wipes and diapers to children ages 0-3 who are part of an at-risk population. “I was so happy for an opportunity to introduce Little Bottoms to the social justice team,” Brown said, “and then to the entire congregation.”
In the weeks before Palm Sunday, Brown and Schwerdtfeger educated the congregation. Guest speakers came from Little Bottoms and Celebrate One, their partner. Celebrate One, another nonprofit, strives to help pregnant women and new moms in need to have a healthy pregnancy and for their babies to live to see their first birthday.
In Franklin County, 150 infants die before their first birthday. African American babies die at twice the rate of white babies.
With no special numerical goal in mind, Schwerdtfeger wanted a “mountain” of diapers and children’s pajamas. In all, close to 6,000 diapers and 100 pajamas were collected.
With all COVID-19 safety protocols in place, six vehicles were loaded with the donations and driven to Little Bottoms.
Upon arrival, the group was met by Central City Pastor Joe Graves and the Little Bottoms director, Denise Kilgore.
Kilgore shared a written note of thanks to Bethel: “In today’s world, where we only see the negative stories, I am so blessed to be able to see the good in the world each and every week here at Little Bottoms. Literally brings tears to my eyes as I write this. Thank you again and again so, so much.”
In his Palm Sunday sermon, Schwerdtfeger said, “I wonder if we might do something a little more like the biblical Palm Sunday parade. Could we take our faith and love of Jesus to the streets? And the answer is, well, ‘yes.’”
To view a recap video of the Palm Sunday Pampers Parade, click here.
To learn more about Little Bottoms and Celebrate One, click here.