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A Pentecost Parade

Johns Memorial Episcopal Church held an event Sunday, May 31, that was rooted in church history but also brand new. It was a Pentecost Parade.

“Pentecost is the day that we remember that God sent the Holy Spirit to be with us, and so it’s an important day in the life of the church,” The Very Rev. Dr. Nancy Meck said. “It’s a day that we recognize the presence of God among us through the Holy Spirit and recognize that God’s gift of the Holy Spirit is for all people.”

Celebrating Pentecost is an annual tradition for the church, but celebrating via a parade was a first for Johns Memorial. The new celebration was devised due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.

“This is the first and, we hope, the last Pentecost Parade under these circumstances,” Meck said.

The parade consisted of around 10 vehicles, which made multiple laps around the triangle surrounding Johns Memorial late Sunday morning, and Meck, the rector of Johns Memorial, blessed the participants as they drove by on High Street.

“It’s done with a lot of noise and wearing red,” Johns Memorial Senior Warden Sam Shield said. “It’s a joyous time.”

Meck provided some more context for the celebration of Pentecost.

“We consider this period from Easter to Pentecost is the Great 50 Days, and in that time we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus,” she said. “And the 40th day is ascension day, and that’s the day that Jesus ascended to God the Father. And so in this period of 10 days, the disciples are praying and awaiting the coming of the advocate, the friend, the Holy Spirit.”

An additional reason for joy among the parade participants was the fact some of them had not seen each other since the beginning of the quarantine, Meck said.

“The turnout was great, and people just want to see each other, and so everybody had masks on, everybody kept appropriately distanced, people stayed in their cars, and by going around this very small triangle, people could see each other at various points and wave to friends,” she said. “We have missed being in our church, and we look forward to that day when we can return.”

She noted Johns Memorial has continued to be fully operational through the pandemic, but it is simply worshipping virtually, with prerecorded services posted online for people to view remotely.