Hundreds of people will head to the east lawn of the State Capitol carrying lawn chairs and blankets in the early hours of Easter morning.
Some will attend another church service later that day. For others – those who will have slept on the street the night before – this might be the only church service they attend all year.
Some parents will carry babies clad in pajamas, while some worshippers will be decked out in their Easter finest.
But they will all be at an Easter sunrise service that has been held for the past 25 years through a joint effort between Hillyer Memorial Christian Church, First Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church on Wilmington Street, First Baptist Church on Salisbury Street, Davie Street Presbyterian Church and Edenton Street United Methodist Church.
“It is heartwarming to see the diversity of the people at the service. Each year we have people from all walks of life, young and old, different backgrounds and different ethnicities,” said Kenny Krause, chairman of the Sunrise Service at the Capital Committee.
“You have people who attend a conservative church standing next to families who have a more expressive worship style.”
Because the service begins at 6:30 a.m., everyone arrives in the early-morning darkness.
“It’s dramatic to be sitting in the darkness waiting for the service to begin, hear the wonderful news of Jesus’ resurrection and then leave in the light. It really sets the tone for Easter,” Krause said.
Worshippers are asked to bring chairs and blankets to sit on, and the host churches provide coffee and donuts. In the case of rain, First Baptist Church on Wilmington Street will open its doors to the worshippers.
The committee encourages worshippers to wear whatever attire they are comfortable with for the service.
The joint effort between churches crosses denominations and shows the unity of Easter, with churches rotating preaching and music responsibilities.
This year, Hillyer Memorial Christian Church pastor David Mallory will provide the message, and Hillyer Memorial Grace and the Raleigh Concert Band will provide the music.
The service could not be held without the efforts of Edenton Street Boy Scout Troop 100 – which carries 60 chairs each year – and electrician Steven Guth, who arrives at 4:30 on Easter morning each year to set up the lights, speakers and microphones.
“This really is unlike any other service you will attend all year,” Krause said. “It really is a wonderful way to start off your celebration of Easter.”
Raleigh Moravian Church Holy Week services
Raleigh Moravian Church will hold Holy Week services at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 28, and Friday, March 29. Each service includes readings from the Moravian publication “Readings for Holy Week,” which combines hymns and chorales with passages from the Gospels to tell the Easter story.
An afternoon crucifixion service will also be held at 2:15 p.m. Friday, March 29. Each night during Holy Week, the church’s “putz,” a religious diorama, changes to reflect the events of the day. All services will be held at the church, 1816 Ridge Road, Raleigh.
An Easter dawn service will begin at 6:45 a.m. Sunday, March 31, in the Moravian God’s Acre section of Historic Oakwood Cemetery in downtown Raleigh. Breakfast will be served at the church before the traditional Easter service begins at 10 a.m. in the sanctuary.
For more information, call 919-787-4034 or visit www.raleighmoravian.org.
Soapstone UMC Holy Week service
Worshippers are invited to follow in the footsteps of Christ through a self-guided devotional walk through the last hours of his life on Earth from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, March 28, as well as from noon to 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, March 29, at the church, 12837 Norwood Road, Raleigh. Devotional booklets will be available for adults and young children.
The church will hold a Maundy Thursday service at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 28, and a Good Friday service at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 29. The Easter sunrise service will be at 7 a.m. Sunday, March 31, at the church amphitheater. Traditional Easter services will be held in the sanctuary at 8:30 and 11 a.m. For more information, call 919-846-2212 or visit www.soapstoneumc.org.
Richland Creek Easter block party
Richland Creek will hold its annual Easter block party at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 30, at the church, 3229 Burlington Mills Road, Wake Forest. The event will include food, music, games and an egg hunt. For more information, call 919-556-9292 or visit www.richlandcreek.com.
Calvary Chapel Easter service
Calvary Chapel will hold its Easter worship service at 10 a.m. Sunday, March 31, in Dorton Arena at the State Fairgrounds.
Children’s ministry will be provided for kids ages 6 weeks to 4 years. Spanish and American Sign Language interpretation will also be available. For more information, visit www.cccary.org.
Wake Forest Easter Sunrise Service
The community is invited to an Easter sunrise service at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, March 31, at Pine Forest Memorial Garden, 770 Stadium Drive, Wake Forest. For more information, contact Dyanne at 919-556-6776.
Millbrook Iron Men Barbecue
The Millbrook Iron Men will host their annual barbecue chicken fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, April 5, at the church, 1712 E. Millbrook Road, Raleigh. All proceeds will benefit Arc of Wake County and Methodist Home for Children. Plates are $7.50 and include half of a chicken, green beans, potatoes, roll and brownie. For more information or to place a delivery order, call 919-880-7289.
Financial Peace University series at two churches
The community is invited to Beacon Baptist Church’s series of David Ramsey’s Financial Peace University starting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, at the church, 2110 Trawick Road, Raleigh. For information or to register, contact Dwight Ausley at 919-872-2215.
Capital Community Church is also beginning a course at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, at the church, 1001 Wade Ave., Raleigh. For information or to register, contact Scott Shaw at 919-247-9667.
The cost for the nine-week course is $95 per household. The course is based on 800 verses of Scripture and helps families pay off debt while saving money. For more information on Financial Peace University, visit www.daveramsey.com/fpu/classfinder.
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