It is safe to say this year’s Old City Flower Festival is an annual event, for it has endured for eight years, since the idea was proposed, in 2010, by Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Macon, as a celebration of the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.” Each year since the first event, hosted by St. Joseph’s in its sanctuary, the glorious display of arrangements has adorned a different church. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was the beneficiary of the floral artistry this year, with the theme, “Consider the Lilies of the Field,” from a verse in the New Testament book of Luke.
Of the participating houses of worship, St. Paul’s is among the smaller ones, with a sanctuary that holds about 400 people. The intimacy of the space, surrounded by stained glass windows, made the flower festival a sensory experience that demanded it be enjoyed at a leisurely pace.
The elements of stained glass and of the patina of old oak had to be taken into consideration by each of the churches that chose to fashion floral creations that were at once breathtaking and provocative. Flowers, palm fronds, fruits, seed pods, hand-made items, even small tree limbs, were incorporated into the colorful, textural arrangements that were displayed on the altar, in the window sills, on freestanding pedestals and on any surface on which a fertile imagination could envision live greenery.
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Jim Tonn, long time parishioner at St. Paul’s, chaired the festival this year and the committee which decorated the altar, in a sea of white lilies, accented by miniature yellow orchids. At the opening reception for the festival, held in the old rectory next door to the church on Friday, Tonn said that the day had been full of hard work, but lots of fun, because all of the members of the flower guilds from the represented churches were kindred spirits that shared the camaraderie of creating beauty for their own sanctuaries.
The baptismal font at the back of St. Paul’s, located under the stained glass rose window, was as delicately decorated as an infant’s christening gown, in white lilies with a trail of pink rose buds winding from top to bottom. Ginny Rozier, a member of the altar guild at Christ Church Episcopal, was the team leader for this show stopper, but was heard giving credit, for the superstructure that made it possible, to Jim Tonn who provided the frame work and the team work.
Within the rows of pews, two churches had significant arrangements that wowed the tour guests. Cissy Jordan, a member of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, chose a mulberry tree clustered with greenery, moss and white lilies, the notches of the limbs holding small floral bouquets that looked like nests for freshly hatched baby birds. Vineville Baptist Church was represented by a pair of tall glass vases, with matching bouquets of tall lilies and greenery, anchored by tiny translucent seashells, courtesy of Roslyn Rawls Platt’s imaginative committee.
Harriett Durkee, representing the altar guild at Vineville United Methodist Church, took her color combination from the stained glass above the long arrangement of brilliantly colored gerbera daisies, complemented by clusters of green grapes and plump fresh oranges. The combined scents of fruit and fresh flowers throughout the sanctuary were the intoxicating reminders of an English garden.
Speaking of English gardens, the flower committee from St. Francis Episcopal Church draped the pulpit with sprays of delicate, cut flowers tucked into a bower of asparagus fern, an informal arrangement one might imagine could be found in a small English chapel.
In Canterbury House, the new name for the restored old rectory, paintings by local artists that also are members of St. Paul’s, including Catherine Liles, Carol Cheshire, Eugenia Simmons, Jean Hogan and Travis Hart, plus books and hand embroidered linens, were for sale in the gift shop. In the adjoining rooms, members of St. Paul’s, with Jane Lucas at the helm, served lunch during the three days the church was open for tours.
Since the annual flower festival is now so popular, the stakes are raised each year. This year will be a hard act to follow, but the much anticipated harbinger of spring will once again delight and surprise next year.
Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.