Since the early 1960s, Zion Lutheran Church has celebrated Easter by erecting a stark wooden cross on its lawn at the beginning of Lent, and then decorating it with a riot of flowers the day before Easter.
The church has always given the flower gathering task to children in the congregation, but as the congregation has gotten older, there are fewer children available, said Pastor Tyler Beane Kelly.
So the church is reaching out to the community, inviting anyone interested to bring flowers of any kind for the cross. The cross is first covered in pine and cedar boughs, all held in place by wire, and then hundreds of flowers of all kinds are added, Beane Kelly said.
“We just want to make sure folks know they can be a part of this,” he said.
The congregation will still contribute flowers, he said, “We’re just excited to see how the community responds to make it more of a community thing.”
The decoration takes place April 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. People can drop off flowers at the church, located at the corner of 10th and Union, anytime this week and up through the decoration process. For more information, call the church at 541-296-9146.
Previously, the children of the congregation would have a contest to see who could get the most flowers, Beane Kelly said. Kids would “go around and ask for flowers from folks in the neighborhood or even mysteriously ended up with a bunch of flowers, who knows from where,” he said. “It was this game they played with who could get the most flowers and I would not be surprised if there were some unhappy neighbors as well. It was kind of silly.”
The cross itself is “huge,” Beane Kelly said. “It looks like it would be about the size of what it would’ve been originally used for, the crucifixion, which was a Roman torture device.”
The church is also reaching out to an ecumenical teen ministry that meets at the church, the Teen Community Bible Study, to see if they are able to help gather flowers.
The cross, located at a busy intersection, draws plenty of attention, especially when it is decorated. “We get so many comments and we’ve been grateful for all the comments we’ve had over the years for how much they appreciate the cross.”
The flowers typically stay on the cross for about a week after Easter, he said.
“For those that have a Christian faith, Jesus has done so much for us, this is something we can do for Jesus,” he said. “After Jesus died there were people that came and took Jesus’ body and cared for it, there were women that wept at the tomb. This is our way as disciples of Jesus to remember the story and care for Jesus and be part of the story, really.”