African Palms is an outreach ministry of St. John's Episcopal Church in Olney, Maryland. African Palms provides palm crosses to churches, schools, hospitals, prisons, book stores, and church goods distributors for use on Palm Sunday and other special occasions. The crosses are hand-woven by villagers near Masasi, Tanzania and are made from the dried leaves of the dwarf palm.
African Palms was founded in 1965 by Father Alan Talbot. Having served as a missionary in Tanzania, Father Talbot observed the poverty of the people and sought ways to help them increase their income. He encouraged the villagers to weave palm crosses which would be sold to churches for use on Palm Sunday. In 1976 the women of St. John's Episcopal Church accepted the mission of distributing the palm crosses to churches throughout the United States; African Palms USA was born and is now a major outreach ministry of the church.
African Palms awards grants up to $5,000 to organizations for use in projects that benefit the entire community. Projects are based on need and are funded from the net sales of palm crosses and totes, along with 100% of donations received.
Projects receiving grant funding in recent years include disaster and refugee relief, medical and public health programs, agriculture ventures, clean drinking water systems, and education.