At Saint Thomas African Episcopal Church on Lancaster Avenue, Sunday service began outside.
The palms gave a tangible connection to the gospel accounts of how the people of Jerusalem spread branches and cheered for Jesus as he rode into the city on a donkey.
Pedro from a petting zoo near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was the donkey stand-in for a symbolic procession around the block to the church.
"It was on this day, Jesus made triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his last week on earth," said Father Martini Shaw.
Archbishop Charles Chaput also celebrated with mass at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul.
"Palm Sunday is a great day for Christians because it begins Holy Week, the week we commemorate the Lord's entry into Jerusalem. Also the week Jesus will give his life for us on the cross and raise up by his resurrection," said Father Dennis Gill.
In that week Christians believe Christ was betrayed, crucified, buried but rose from the dead three days later on Easter.
It is the central tenet of the Christian faith that those who believe will have everlasting life.
"It is the center of my life that a God would suffer rejection, defilement; suffer everything we suffer - sorrow and feelings of loneliness. That he would come through that with new life, it gives us all meaning and hope," said Chaylie Beckert.
For Christians everywhere, this is the start of a week that is truly unlike any other.