With today being Palm Sunday, 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 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 aim of African Palms is to give people living in a very poor part of Tanzania the possibility of earning some extra money by making these palm crosses. The people’s daily work there is the planting of maize, millet and some ground nuts to feed themselves and their families. The important thing about the Palm Cross project is that it does not interfere with their work of producing the food they need to live.
African Palms was started in 1965 and after a very small beginning has grown so much that churches in the USA, Canada, Sweden, Norway and other European countries now buy African palm crosses for their Palm Sunday Service.
People look forward to being able to do the work of making the palm crosses. Their work is really good and the crosses are made beautifully. Here in the United Kingdom at the end of each year, if there is any money over after all the costs are paid, it is covenanted to a charitable trust, The African Palms Association. The trust aims to give help to schools and for medical work in the area.
You can read more about the association’s work on their website. You can also read more about the projects the association has helped funded in last year’s Palm Sunday post here.
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 also stop to think about the extraordinary journey your palm cross has taken to get here, the lives it has helped and the projects its sale has helped to fund, both now and in the future.