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Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Old City Flower Festival returns to St. Joseph Catholic Church

Nearly 20 churches to decorate sanctuary in an ecumenical event ‘for the greater glory of God’
Mulberry+United+Methodist+Churchs+Chris+Abbott+places+flowers+in+the+Blessed+Mother+Chapel+of+St.+Joseph+Catholic+Church+for+the+Old+City+Flower+Festival+March+15-18.
Liz Fabian
Mulberry United Methodist Church’s Chris Abbott places flowers in the Blessed Mother Chapel of St. Joseph Catholic Church for the Old City Flower Festival March 15-18.

Cherry blossoms won’t be the only thing blooming in Macon this weekend as the Old City Flower Festival returns to Macon for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday, floral designers from Macon, Warner Robins, Lizella and Gray will festoon the sanctuary with hundreds of flowers for the event that travels to different churches each year. Friday afternoon, the church will be open for tours from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

St. Joseph Catholic Church at 830 Poplar St. hosts this year’s free festival through Monday in the same spot where it began in 2012. 

Festival co-founder Elaine Schmitt said the eight prior festivals have been a blessing. 

“All of us have more in common than we realized. We all have deep belief in God and our flowers are a prayer,” Schmitt said as she placed orange lilies on the high altar. 

Old City Flower Festival co-founder Elaine Schmitt, (center) works with the St. Joseph Flower Guild to create a floral carpet for the 2024 festival March 15-18. (Liz Fabian)

A dozen years ago, the St. Joseph Church Flower Guild organized the first interdenominational flower festival after being inspired by a similar collaborative event to honor the longtime floral designer at Savannah’s Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. 

This year, 19 churches from six denominations will assemble arrangements for the altars and along the ledges of stained glass windows that were handmade by Bavarian craftsmen in the Mayer Studio in Munich, Germany, around the turn of the last century.

Neighboring First Baptist Church of Christ will decorate the front porch and the First Baptist Church New Street next door will beautify the narthex. Christ Church plans to cover the center doors with flowers and Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Warner Robins will work on the choir loft. 

St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity, Lizella Baptist Church, Centenary United Methodist, Martha Bowman United Methodist, Mulberry Methodist, North Macon Presbyterian, Vineville Methodist, First Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church of Gray, Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Mount Zion Baptist Church, St. Francis Episcopal Church and Vineville Baptist Church will work with the St. Joseph Floral Guild in decorating the interior of the twin-spired brick building. 

Thursday, Chris Abbott of Mulberry Methodist finished his arrangement for the Blessed Mother Chapel.

“That’s gorgeous,” Schmitt said of Abbott’s handiwork with wax flowers and coral “free spirit” roses to match the tones of the angels painted around the altar. 

“I thought it would really go with the angels and make them pop a little bit,” Abbott said.

He aimed to bring nature inside and create a lighter design. 

Centenary Methodist Church’s Marilyn McGhee adds some blue delphiniums to window boxes under stained glass at St. Joseph Catholic Church for the ecumenical Old City Flower Festival March 15-18. (Liz Fabian)

“With more free space rather than a fixed arrangement and not take away from the statue of Mary and the chapel,” Abbott said. 

Centenary Church’s Marilyn McGahee agreed that he hit his mark to complement that side altar chapel. 

McGahee and Vicki Hinson took on the ledge under the Assumption of Mary stained glass window, but finding the right size window boxes was the biggest challenge.

They studied the rich colors of the glass and selected blue delphiniums, reddish kangaroo paws, magenta stock, white daisies and curly willow branches for their arrangement. 

McGahee said they also envisioned something light and airy that wouldn’t overpower.

“The stained glass doesn’t need any help,” she said. 

Schmitt’s arrangements through the year follow the liturgical seasons of the Catholic Church.

“We’re very aware of what we do in the church. All of this should just enhance the altar, the Mass and our belief in God,” she said.

Just as the designers select an array of diverse blooms to come together to create something beautiful, the festival provides a networking opportunity for the various floral guilds. 

“This just kind of opens up spring for everyone,” McGahee said.

Designers push their creativity to new levels in a different environment. 

“It’s amazing to get to work in this beautiful, holy space and meeting new friends and old friends from other churches,” Abbott said. 

The Old City Flower Festival is free, but due to scheduled church services, the sanctuary only will be open to the public Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. and from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Monday, the Romanesque/Neo-Gothic Revival style church will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. 

The St. Joseph Service Guild is selling tickets for two Spring Teas from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Monday. The teas feature a floral demonstration from Jonathan Mayer of Lawrence Mayer Florist and catering by Fountain of Juice. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at St. Joseph Catholic Church from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Monday.  

Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.

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