Norcross churches mark Palm Sunday by handing out frons or crosses shaped from the significant leaf. Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist congregations all celebrate the approach of Easter separately in their own buildings in their own ways.
This was not the case when Norcross first established itself in the 1870s. Yes, the bible-based flow of Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday was in place then as most of the early citizens were baptized in the creeks and ponds of the area, but all denominations gathered together in one building.
On the street now named Sunset, a small wooden multipurpose structure functioned as the school house Monday through Friday (and only when children were not needed for farm duties).
It was the meeting place for the Masonic lodge on Saturdays and a place of worship on Sundays.
For two years preachers traveled on a circuit, making their rounds to churches across the county. For instance, on the first Sunday of the month, the Baptist minister would speak of fire and brimstone. The following Sunday, it would be the Methodist man of the cloth laying hands, and perhaps on the third Sunday the Presbyterians took communion from a nomadic fellow so ordained to do so.
It went this way in Norcross, with everyone together on Sundays sitting side by side no matter the preacher, and it is said to have led to a fine feeling of fellowship.
In 1872 a group of 17 Baptists, including Norcross founder Jonathan Thrasher, began a separate congregation and began constructing the building still standing at the corner of Park Drive and West Peachtree Street near the park. Thrasher himself donated the first bell for the tower on that site.
The Baptists moved to their current location along North Peachtree Street after purchasing that property from the Wingo family who farmed the land.
It was 1875 that Flint Hill Methodist Church moved from its primitive location somewhere near the area that is now Best Friend Park. The Methodist built the structure that is now home to the College Street playhouse.
The Presbyterians built its congregation a permanent home in 1899. An active Hispanic congreagation gathers there today, and no one is sure when the steeple there began leaning.
Each era of strife banded residents together in benevolent Christian sentiment.
It was a cold January in 1919 when Ollie Simpson’s twin daughters, Martha and Sue, were born prematurely in the home his father, O.O. Simpson, built on North Peachtree Street.
Overwhelmed in the care of two tiny babies and a recovering mother, Ollie accepted the assistance of neighbors. Ladies brought food to warm their bellies, and the men chopped firewood to warm the home.
Folks remember the preacher once asked Ollie, “Don’t you think you owe the Lord a little something extra?”
But Ollie jibed back, “Yes, but the Lord’s not pushing me like you are.”