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  Easter Balloon: Idea, Planning, Mini Service, Experiences

Easter Balloon Experiences

Following are excerpts from two letters describing Easter balloon releases from my friend, Pastor Bill Hunter. Bill has introduced the idea at two churches so far. Here are his experiences:

1998 Letter

A brief follow-up on the Cokato FBC balloon release yesterday. We have two services so balloons were released after both. I was afraid that the organization of it all would make it a bust. As it turned out my fears were unwarranted (they usually are!). Pastor Dan Swanson made the release part of the services in that he reduced his preaching time a bit and had the service adjourned to the parking lot in front of the church buildings. Each person was handed a balloon as they left the building. Florence and I were at ther 7:30 a.m. service, but everyone took the balloon and the atmosphere was one of dignity and interest. No one seemed to have an embarrassed or amused look by the whole thing, which pleased me.

The pastor had announced that investigation with DNR and other environmental sources had produced no legal opposition to the release and that the balloons were entirely biodegradable. That seemed also to have a salutary effect. The release itself was a simple thing. There was no singing. The pastor merely talked for a brief moment about the significance of the resurrection and then had prayer. He shouted out "Christ is risen" and the congregation responded "Christ is risen indeed!" and the balloons (as the pastor had instructed) were released. It was an extremely windy day so the whole lot of balloons swept up quickly and out of south moving toward the northeast. I didn't hear a negative word about it from anyone standing near me so rather imagine they genuinely liked the idea. The balloons were yellow and the pastor had commented on their brightness as significant of the bright hope of the resurrection. The balloons had been prepared by the youth group the night before. An entire tank of helium was used. The balloons were slightly deflated from what they had looked like the night before, or so the deacon in charge told me.

All in all, I would have to say the event was a positive and tangible, perhaps even especially for the young people, an extremely memorable event.

2000 Letter

The Cokato First Baptist Church did the balloon release again - third year in a row! The church at which I'm the interim pastor, Faith Christian Church in Maple Lake also did it. I made it part of the Easter worship service by putting it in the bulletin that the people were to exit the worship center during the postlude, pick up a ballon at a table readied for that purpose, and then proceed directly to the parking lot. Everyone participated. I had put together a responsive reading, then had them sing the first verse and chorus of "He Lives!", released the balloons (unfortunately it was windier than I would have liked so the balloons didn't quite soar too well), had them do a Handclap for the Risen Lord, then pronounced the benediction on the worship service. The folks really seemed to appreciate the whole arrangement so I think they'd be very much in favor of making it an Easter tradition.

Copyright 2000 Brad Haugaard.