Breaking from the newswire:
SPRINGFIELD– Police were called to a local bakery today to disperse an unruly crowd of approximately 75 Episcopalians after a religious procession degenerated into a dispute over doughnuts and coffee.
The Rev. Bob Goggins, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, Springfield, was briefly detained by police, but soon released.
According to police reports, the members of All Saints gathered in their parking lot located behind the church in downtown Springfield for a Palm Sunday service that included a procession around the city square. The congregation paraded north on Second Street to the square, marched around the square and then proceeded south on Main Street headed back to the church.
The intent was to recreate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem the week before his crucifixion.
“This was supposed to be holy,” said Mrs. Emma Barnes, 69, of East Orchard, “not this kind of chaos!”
Leading the parade was a young man, Harold Prosser, 17, swinging a container of burning incense. He was followed by Richard Taft, owner of Taft Farms, who was leading a donkey. On the donkey was another young man, David Toop, also 17 and a recent Eagle Scout from Troop 473. Behind the donkey was Vivian Bentley, 15, carrying a banner depicting All Saints Church and her sister Bernadette, 16, who was carrying a cross.
The next in line were twin boys, Roger and Rickey Jones, both 10 who were carrying candles.
The congregation followed behind with the choir marching at the rear of the group. At the end of the parade were Archie Somers, 18, on the trumpet, Jessica Bentley, 12, and Father Goggins. All the people were holding Palm leaves and crosses made from palms.
It was when the group left the square turned North at Main Street that the religious procession fell apart.
According to witnesses, as the party marched around the park, patrons of the donut shop stepped outdoors to watch. As the head of the party, including the donkey, passed the shop, the two Jones boys left the procession and entered the open door of the establishment. Apparently, unaware of the mistake the members of the congregation followed, filling the shop.
The procession came to a halt, but the choir kept singing a hymn which the police report said was “All Glory Loud and Honor” accompanied by Mr. Somers.
The members of the group with the incense, the donkey, the banner and the cross all proceeded to the church, apparently unaware of the diversion.
Eyewitness accounts are unclear as to what came next, but apparently members of the parish, still holding their palms, stopped singing and began ordering donuts and coffee.
Some children began swatting each other and other patrons with palm fronds.
According to Mrs. Raymond Carter, 83, she assumed that since church was moved to the outdoors, that coffee hour was also moved to the donut shop.
Patrons who had given up their seats to watch the parade tried to get back to their tables only to find their way blocked by members of the parish and the choir.
After a time, Father Goggins made his way to the front of the crowd and entered the restaurant. Witnesses told police that the priest shouted “What’s going on here?” to which some in the crowd replied “And also with you!”
It was after Mr. Haddad, owner of the shop, gave Fr. Goggins a bill for $83.27 that police were called.
The lead elements of the parade made it back to church and entered. A few parishioners who stayed in the church rather than join in the march, were perplexed that no one was behind them. It was when they heard Fr. Goggins voice over the PA system say in an agitated voice “You’ve got to be kidding me! This is robbery!” that the county 911 center received several additional calls.
After the bill was paid by Mrs. Pat Goggins , the minister’s wife, the police allowed the march to continue, this time with proper escort.
The two Jones boys, their red “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” shirts clearly visible through their white church robe, when asked why they led the group into the bake shop, told reporters simply that they were hungry.
Local authorities were philosophical. “We are used to dispatching the fire department to All Saints on Christmas Eve and on the night before Easter when all their incense sets off the smoke detectors,” said Police Chief Roscoe Robbins. “The church was just a week early this year, that’s all.”
No charges were filed and no injuries were reported. The Diocesan Bishop was unavailable for comment.