Australia’s largest regional inland city, Toowoomba in southern Queensland, is well known for its stunning gardens. For one month each year, the city’s green spaces, homes, schools, aged-care services and businesses attract visitors from across the nation to a carnival highlighting the region’s floral abundance. As its centrepiece, an annual parade showcases the beauty of flowers. This year, local Lutherans led an ecumenical group that captured the event’s colourful spring spirit – and took the message of Jesus’ love for ‘all sorts’ on parade. Monika Bennett explains.

Toowoomba’s annual Carnival of Flowers marks that special time of the year when the region’s gardens are at their glorious best – spring. The pinnacle event, which captures this best, is the Grand Central Floral Parade.

This year members of Emmanuel Lutheran Fellowship led a group of Toowoomba Christians on a creative journey of a different kind.

The parade theme for each float to follow was ‘Connect, Reflect and Sparkle’ – and we did precisely that! After many planning phone calls, emails, Zoom online meetings, craft days, engineering feats and lots of prayers, we came up with an idea for our group motto: ‘Jesus Loves All Sorts’.

We painted boxes and made skirts to look like liquorice allsorts, made funky headpieces out of pizza boxes and paraded the most stunning, reflective, sparkly cross made from recycled cardboard covered with cut-up CDs.

Together an ecumenical group representing around a dozen churches from a broad selection of worship styles walked the streets of Toowoomba, singing worship songs loudly and brightly to the thousands of people who were present at the street parade.

It was such an overwhelming, uplifting experience! Meeting so many Christians from different churches, building relationships around crafting, flowers, building props, singing and praying boldly was as much a positive blessing as walking and singing in the parade itself.

It was truly amazing to participate in this venture. Many parts of the one body came together to publicly profess the love and promise of Christ – he loves all sorts, every sort, no matter who you are!

Monika Bennett is the coordinator–administration officer at Emmanuel Lutheran Fellowship Toowoomba.

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