By Rev. Dr. Apelu Poe
How the Holy Week Offered New Opportunities for Spiritual Renewal and Divine Harmony to Unite Our Fractured Religious Community
“Awesome experience, genuine warmth, inspiring week of pre-Easter services.”
Such were the suitable words that described the Holy Week worship celebration by those who attended every evening of Spiritually-filled worship services. These series of worship services enabled the worshippers to participate in re-enacting the awesome adventures that Jesus went through in order to affect our redemption from sin and death.
“Bethel Methodist Church, located at Clarksville, Tennessee, recently completed an inspiring week of pre-Easter services, Monday, April 21st through Saturday, March 26, 2016.
The purpose of these services was to prepare those of this community for holy anticipation of Easter, March 27. The meetings were planned and directed by our minister, Rev. Apelu Poe. Nightly services were rendered by pastors of U.S. Army Chaplain, Baptist, Episcopalian, and Methodist Churches. Adding to the sermons were hymnal singing and fervent prayers. Members of the community at large were present. Attendance was generous. Feelings of holiness were present. Services were held at New Providence Methodist Church, Woodlawn Methodist Church and Bethel Methodist Church,” Dr. Dawson Durrett, a long time member of Bethel, acknowledged.
The Holy Week designated its special offering to the Glory of God to support a College Scholarship fund that will help educate our churches’ future leaders.
Reverend Dr. Apelu Poe, the pastor of Bethel-Woodlawn United Methodist church, with the help of Reverend Cynthia Talley, pastor of New Providence United Methodist church, designed the Holy Week worship celebration to fulfill what the Lord had in mind when he spoke to Moses and the people of Israel, saying, “The Lord said to Moses, Say to the people of Israel, the appointed feasts of the Lord which you shall proclaim as holy convocations, my appointed feasts are these…These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them,” (Leviticus 23:1-4).
“These so called “appointed feasts of the Lord, the holy convocation” possess special spiritual qualities and are more than commemoration of historical events. For example, the very substance of the time occupied by the Holy Week, which culminates in Easter, is imbued with the quality of freedom or redemption from sin and death, just like the Jewish Pesach or Passover, a celebration of the Jewish freedom from slavery in Egypt. For this reason, no week in the Christian year calendar is of greater significance to our Christian faith than the Holy Week. The Holy Week, which began with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, through days of dispute, retreat, communion, prayer, arrest, trial, crucifixion, and entombment to the Day of Resurrection, makes clear to us the cost of our salvation.
This is the week above all the other weeks that reminds us of the extreme that God was willing to go in order to redeem us of our sins. The importance of the Holy Week celebration, then, is such that it helps us to appreciate God’s sacrificial love for us when we were destined to die an eternal death,” Dr. Poe explained.
All who attended our 2016 Holy Week worship celebration expressed their heart-felt appreciation to Reverend Cheatham from Woodlawn Elizabeth Missionary Baptist church who preached on the theme, the Road to Jerusalem; Chaplain Timothy Meador of Fort Campbell on the Road to the Temple; Reverend Meagan Holland from Trinity Episcopal church on the Road to Bethany; Reverend Norfleet from St Paul AME on the road to the Upper Room; Reverend Terry from Tabernacle Baptist church on the Road to Calvary; and Reverend Brian Marcoulier from Salem United Methodist church on the Road to the tomb.
Pastor Ron Forte of the New Hope SDA Church described the Holy Week worship celebration as, “Touching a hurting world with the love of Jesus Christ.” He said, “The night that I attended the Holy Week was an awesome experience that I felt the Holy Spirit at Woodlawn Church location. I was very excited to meet Dr. Poe for the first time after many phone conversations with him. God used him to have powerful speakers nightly in three different locations, blessing the communities around Clarksville, Tennessee.”
The Holy Week worship celebration provided an opportunity for church choirs, youth praise team, and other accomplished musicians from churches belonging to the Woodlawn Cooperative Christian ministries and other associated ministries to share their gifts of music. For example, Monday evening, gifts of music were provided by the Woodlawn Elizabeth Missionary Baptist choir, and Jolene Jenkins from Central United Methodist Church; Tuesday evening, Shirley Sims Saldana from Hendersonville; Wednesday evening, New Providence Praise team; Thursday evening, St Paul AME choir, and Martha Sample from Hopewell UMC; Friday, Billy Pugh from Springfield; and Saturday, New Providence Praise team.
Dr. Poe shared his vision that he hoped that this Holy Week worship celebration, which he expected would become an annual celebration, served as a helpful resource through which we can unite our fractured religious community under one God, one Lord, and one Spirit.
“As I reflect on Holy Week, especially at Woodlawn UMC that Monday, I remember genuine warmth as well as joy in the expectation of Easter for while we regret our sins, Good Friday cleansed us of them, leaving us with that sensation of being “strangely warmed” as our founder may have experienced nearly 300 years ago,” summarized Reverend Michael Guertin of Central United Methodist Church who took part in the Holy Week worship celebration.