Lent brings churches, community together

Published 10:51 am Thursday, March 29, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Mt. Nebo and Pleasant Grove United Methodist churches observed Lent in a special way this year with Marching to Easter.

Weekly meetings with a guest speaker and musical presentation were held for the community as a way to focus on the cross, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for redemption from sin and the Resurrection.

“The church has different seasons … Advent being the period before Christmas and the Lenten season is called the Great 40 Days of Lent,” Tony Hughes, pastor of Mt. Nebo and Pleasant Grove United Methodist churches, said. “It is a period of time beginning on what is termed Ash Wednesday, and it lasts 40 days up until Good Friday. You don’t count Sundays because Sundays are holy days already.”

Lent has been traditionally observed by liturgical denominations, including Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist and Lutheran churches. However, Hughes said observance of the Lenten season has become more widespread.

“It is marked by a time of reflection, repentance, fasting, a greater devotion to reading the scriptures and to prayer and special services that draw people’s attention to the season,” Hughes said.

The weekly Marching to Easter meetings began with guests Matt DeBoard, pastor of First Baptist Church in Clanton, and musical guest Jimmy Veazey.

DeBoard spoke on “ways people need to experience Jesus,” according to Hughes.

The next week featured Randy Reid, pastor of First Assembly of God, and musical guest Aaron Argo. Reid shared that it was Jesus’ love for humanity that kept Him on the cross.

On the third week, Meghan Kelly, pastor of First United Methodist Church, and musical guest Lacey Ellison presented. Kelly spoke on God’s view of sin and how to be saved from sin through Jesus Christ.

Hughes spoke on the final week, and Hal Ellison was the musical guest.

“The great day is coming,” Hughes said. “The day that changed the whole entire world — the day of Jesus’ resurrection when the tomb was empty and he walked out. It needs to be celebrated in the greatest possible way.”

Hughes spoke on when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and the importance of Christians serving others.

“The speakers have done a super job,” Scooter Culp of Mt. Nebo/ Pleasant Grove United Methodist said.

Culp said the church chose to hold the meetings for four weeks of Lent in March, rather than each of the six weeks of Lent, since this was the first time they had hosted the event.

“We have been pleasantly surprised with the support that we have gotten from the community,” Culp said.

Patsy Ratliffe of Mt. Nebo/ Pleasant Grove United Methodist said since it was the first year, they were not sure what the attendance would be like, but “the success of it has been wonderful.”

The weekly event has grown to more than 80 attendees.

“The services have been really, really good,” Ratliffe said.

She said she appreciated the “willingness of the speakers to come.”

She said hosting the events also provided a good time for the members of the church to get together while preparing and serving.

Each week church members volunteered to bring soup, chili, desserts and drinks. Then during the lunch events, church members made sure all the attendees had what they needed.