Written by: Rachael Keefe

Palm Sunday: Our First Fully Interactive Hybrid Service

With gratitude for the work of so many among us, we gathered together both in person and virtually in our new sanctuary at New Branches on Palm Sunday.

Joy, Gratitude, and Celebration

With gratitude for the work of so many among us, we gathered together both in person and virtually in our new sanctuary at New Branches on Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday Hybrid Worship Service
Palm Sunday Hybrid Worship Service, with some folks in person and others online, all interactive

It was great to sing together at the start of Holy Week…

Palm Sunday Hybrid Worship Service
Palm Sunday Hybrid Worship Service, with some folks in person and others online, all interactive
Palm Sunday Minister of Music, Kevin Werner Hohlstein
Palm Sunday Music led by Minister of Music, Kevin Werner Hohlstein

It was meaningful to serve communion in person and virtually too…

Palm Sunday communion
Palm Sunday communion service, with Jill Zats (L) and Pastor Rachael Keefe (R)
Palm Sunday Communion
Palm Sunday Communion served by Pastor Rachael Keefe

After more than two years of being a church fully online, it was awesome to gather in person and on Zoom and be able to include everyone. I contemplate the amount of work that went into getting us into our new sanctuary and it is overwhelming. However, almost all of us were involved in one way or another and it was good to raise our palm branches in celebration.

We continued our theme of the “Seven Greek Words for Love” with pragma which grows out of commitment and long-term relationship. It was the perfect word for Palm Sunday in terms of Jesus’ story. It was also the perfect word for this community as we celebrated being together even as we acknowledged the loss of several members in recent years. Pragma is a deep, abiding kind of love that holds people together and adds vitality to relationships, and sometimes adds purpose as well. I felt it on Sunday and I hope you did as well.

We also talked about the parade of Palm Sunday having three different purposes – celebration, political protest, and funeral procession. Our gathering had elements of these three things. We celebrated the day and our gathering together. Our community, our worship, is an act of resistance that is desperately needed in the world and so a bit of political protest was ours as well. And we named the ones whose presence we miss, honoring their memory much like a funeral procession.

As this Holy Week continues, we are invited to continue on the journey through betrayal, violence, and death before we arrive at Easter morning to celebrate once more.

Palm Sunday Hybrid Worship - View from the Tech Deck
Palm Sunday Hybrid Worship – View from the Tech Deck that Makes it all Possible

In closing, I would like to thank the many hands and hearts that made the move to New Branches possible. Over the last few years there have been people serving on teams, laboring in the building, packing and unpacking the “blue box,” setting up the sanctuary with the new equipment, and learning how it all works. So many of you contributed your time and your labors. I look forward to the bright future God has in store for this amazing community of faithful people.



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About Rachael Keefe

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ. She was called to Living Table in 2015 after serving in many varied ministry settings since her ordination in 1992. Her ministry and leadership often center around advocacy and mental health ministry. Her writing has been published by Chalice Press, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians, Working Preacher, RevGalBlogPals, and others.

2 thoughts on “Palm Sunday: Our First Fully Interactive Hybrid Service”

  1. I was *so* appreciative of how intentionally inclusive this was for people whether they were present in person or present via zoom. I have a friend with health concerns that mean she connects to her faith community virtually, and I’ve heard her say how most places don’t really include those who are attending virtually in a hybrid service. This is important outreach. Also, it was good to see everybody.

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  2. Great pics and article about a great service. Nice to see this on the website, too. Thanks for all who share their skills to make this community possible, healthy, and growing.

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