Dozens reacted as the hair of a Goshen College professor caught on fire at this past Sunday’s Taize service. The Taize Service featured music, prayer and – unfortunately for Kent Palmer- a cross covered in candles. As he bent down to pray along side the cross, his bangs brushed forward and caught the flame of one of the candles. “I just looked up… and there were flames, probably about ten inches high off of his head,” said sophomore Mara Weaver, “these were big flames.”
At this point, another sophomore, Jonathan Harnish, spotted Palmer’s hair on fire and did a double take. He then lunged to his aid giving him “three firm smacks” to put out the fire. Palmer quietly whispered a thank you, and the service continued.
“There wasn’t much time for reaction,” said Harnish. “It was really bizarre (that) the service kept on going. We didn’t even miss a beat in the music.” Only afterward did people acknowledge what had happened, but everyone had to have known, agreed both Weaver and Harnish – mostly due to the burnt hair smell that stuck around until after the service.
“I’m glad he’s alright,” continued Weaver. “Though I feel there should be some warning, because this is the second time someone’s hair has caught on fire.” Palmer said he appreciates the concern and mentioned that he “always wanted to be on fire for the Lord, but maybe not quite in the literal sense.”
People are encouraged to come and join in future Taize services. While there are no more this year, they will be continued in the Fall. Added Harnish, “apart from the incident, it was a really relaxing service.”
(Authors note: This actually happened. Really… I couldn’t make this up.)