By Rev. Beverly Hall*
Easter lilies and all the other spring flowers we use to decorate our sanctuaries may cause problems for those suffering from allergies. Some people even stay home from church services if they know flowers will be present in quantities.
Flowers look beautiful. We don’t want to eliminate them from our altars, but for the good of people in the pews who need to have a safe, fragrance-free environment, why not consider giving to missions instead of giving flowers in honor of or in memory of loved ones?
Pleasant Hills United Methodist Church (North Coast District) did just that this past Easter with great results: a total of $880 was given to local, national and international missions!
The donors were recognized in the bulletin as giving money in memory of or in honor of their loved ones, just as if they had given money to buy a flower. People donated money in $5 increments to one of four named missions: 1) UMCOR, 2) three local food pantries, 3) Nehemiah Mission, and 4) a planned summer work mission trip to West Virginia.
Two hydrangeas were placed on the altar backed by a beautiful banner. A wooden cross, with colorful butterflies on it was also up front. It was a colorful and beautiful altar, without the offensive fragrances and allergens of flowers.
Lenten coin folders came in handy too – and raised $405 for the One Great Hour of Sharing offering!
As chair of the East Ohio Conference DisAbility Concerns Committee, I am well aware of concerns from those who suffer allergies like gluten and nuts, but this year Pleasant Hills voted to be fragrance-free in Easter worship.
The Rev. Linda McCowen, a Deacon who attends Pleasant Hills, was pleased because she has severe allergies to fragrances, especially flowers. She was able to worship with us this year because of our decision to go fragrance-free.”
*Rev. Beverly Hall is in her 1st year as pastor of Pleasant Hills United Methodist Church in Middleburg Heights.