On Easter Sunday, the sanctuary of Trinity United Methodist Church, West Columbia, like many churches, is typically festooned with Easter lilies. The sweet smell of the flowers fills the building, reminding the congregation of the sweetness of resurrection. The lilies are placed in memory or honor of loved ones. The placing of Easter lilies has been a long-standing tradition.
During COVID-19 with suspended or limited in-person worship, it seemed pointless to decorate the sanctuary with flowers. However, people still wanted a way to honor the memory of loved ones on this day of resurrection. The worship committee decided to receive donations for Easter lilies, but instead of purchasing flowers, the money would go toward God’s Helping Hands, the local food bank and assistance ministry. The congregation thought this was a good idea. Over the past two years, about $200 were raised for this ministry through Easter lilies.
This year, with more people showing up for in-person worship, Trinity was considering going back to putting Easter lilies in the sanctuary. But during the discussion, someone mentioned, “We should do something for Ukraine.” This was just as the United Methodist Committee on Relief came out with their Advance for Ukraine Relief.
Trinity decided to give the donations for Easter lilies to UMCOR for Ukraine relief instead of flowers. The response was astounding. From their membership of 220, Trinity received more than $2,000 in memorials and honorariums for UMCOR Ukrainian relief. In keeping with the message of Easter, they provided hope for life for the Ukrainian people over flowers that would eventually die.