Where do our Palm Crosses come from? With Palm Sunday only days away, the Palm Crosses which get distributed every year during our Palm Sunday service have a more interesting backstory than you might think…
The African Palm Project was started in 1965 by Fr Alan Talbot, an Anglican priest, who served for six years as a missionary in the Diocese of Masasi in Tanzania. We use Palm Crosses from this project. The palm crosses are made from Dwarf Palms – Hyphaena Coriacea, which grow wild and are not cultivated. Villagers cut the palms which are then dried and cut into strips before being transported back to the villages, by bicycle or on foot.
They are then woven into Palm Crosses and taken to a central collection point which at present is in Mpeta. After which, the Palm crosses are then taken by road to the nearest port either Mtawra or Dar es Salaam, where they are loaded into containers for shipment to the UK and USA. Over the years the sale of crosses has increased, which has enabled a charity to be set up with various projects which are undertaken. The present work is the building of a new maternity unit at Rondo Hospital.
So when you receive your Palm Cross during our Palm Sunday service, in addition to reflecting on Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the events which followed that Easter week, maybe you can stop to think about the extraordinary journey your Palm Cross took to get here, and the projects its sale has helped to fund, both now and in the future.