In the book of Genesis, man first encountered God in the garden of Eden.
This weekend, some of Macon’s oldest congregations are creating an interfaith, blooming tapestry of floral arrangements inside St. Joseph Catholic Church.
The Old City Flower Festival is billed as the first, but not the last, as organizers hope to make the show an annual event hosted by different churches.
St. Joseph flower guild members Elaine Schmitt and Steve Gonser were inspired by a Memorial Day event at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah.
Churches of different denominations decorated the church in honor of brother Robert Sokolowski.
The Rev. Allan McDonald, St. Joseph’s pastor, was skeptical that people of other churches would be willing to participate, but he agreed to schedule the festival during the Week of Christian Unity, Jan. 18-25.
His response to the flurry of activity in the church in recent days was “wow.”
Thirteen churches agreed to decorate different sections of the more than century-old building high atop Poplar Street.
Schmitt was elated.
“The response from most everyone was, ‘Why didn’t we think of this sooner,’ because there’s nothing that Macon loves more than its churches and flowers,” she said.
On Friday morning, First Presbyterian Church’s Phyllis Gamble was carrying in a load of royal blue delphiniums, white French tulips, ruby red roses and lime green Fuji mums.
“This is different from what we’d do in our church,” Gamble said. “It’s a bit bigger, and I think it will be fun to see all the colors together.”
Her arrangements will frame the center crossing beneath the dome.
Schmitt and Gonser’s guild placed long-stem roses on the original marble High Altar in time for Thursday’s Organ Interlude with Robert McCormick.
After the concert, the flurry of flower arranging began.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church transported a sprawling, peacock feather angel from Warner Robins and attached it to the choir loft.
“I would never think to do that,” Gonser said as he admired the display.
“That’s why it’s great to have all these people here,” Schmitt answered.
Since St. Joseph is the host church, they are trying something new in creating a blanket of flowers that will be propped up on the steps leading to the sanctuary.
Gonser has taken carnations, mums and lily buds and created a Jerusalem Cross.
“I took the design and instead of putting four small equal crosses (around a main cross), I replaced them with different crosses all the denominations use,” he said.
The Canterbury cross, Byzantine cross and Celtic cross are above the initials AMDG that represent the Latin, Jesuit motto of “to the greater glory of God.”
Vineville United Methodist and Vineville Baptist coordinated mirroring arrangements in front of two of the church’s massive stained glass windows.
St. Peter Claver, St. Paul’s Episcopal, Mulberry Street Methodist, First Baptist Church on New Street, First Baptist Church of Christ, Washington Avenue Presbyterian, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox and Christ Church Episcopal are all participating.
St. Joseph will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, and Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Everyone is invited to tour the church, free of charge.
“I just think this will be an awesome experience for all involved,” Schmitt said. “Maybe this will be something that shows we have more in common than differences.”
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.