The holiest day of the Christian year inspires many of the faithful to worship outside as the first rays of sunlight appear. Once again, Christians from all denominations are invited to attend the Community Easter Sunrise Service at the Meredith College Amphitheater in Raleigh.
Through the years, different churches have partnered to present the sunrise service. But this year the sponsorship belongs completely to Hayes Barton Baptist Church and Ephesus Baptist Church.
“The others have dropped out, not for any particular reason, but we’re hopeful we can reignite some interest in that and get a few more churches involved,” said David Hailey, pastor at Hayes Barton Baptist.
The casual service begins at 7 a.m. Sunday, April 5. While it is presented by two Baptist churches, Christians of all denominations are invited to join and worship.
“It’s not a real long service,” Hailey said. “It’s a traditional service in that we sing a couple of hymns and have some special music, and it features a strong declaration of Christ’s resurrection.”
All Easter sunrise services pay homage to the Biblical story of the first Easter.
“The New Testament tells us it was early in the morning when the women went to the tomb and found the stone rolled away and the tomb was empty and the angel announced, ‘He is not here for he has risen,’” Hailey said. “There is something about sharing in that pilgrimage of going early in the morning and of getting together with other Christian believers to declare Christ’s resurrection.
“From the time I was a young boy, I always went to sunrise service and there was always something special about it.”
The community service at Meredith dates back at least two decades and is a holiday tradition for many participants.
“It’s such a beautiful setting,” Hailey said. “I can’t imagine a better setting for a sunrise service.”
Two churches in Wake Forest will once again partner for another special community sunrise service on Easter morning.
Wake Forest United Methodist and Wake Forest Baptist will present an interdenominational service at Pine Forest Memorial Gardens at 770 Stadium Drive in Wake Forest. The service begins at 6:30 a.m., and participants may bring portable chairs.
The Wake Forest sunrise service takes place in a cemetery, just like the first sunrise service that was recorded in the United States. Historians say a small group of Moravians gathered before dawn in a cemetery on a hill overlooking their community on Easter morning 1732 in Winston-Salem.
The service grew to include the entire congregation.
The drama ministry of Raleigh’s First Cosmopolitan Baptist Church will present “The Crucifixion,” a live performance, at 7 p.m. on Good Friday, April 3.
Members of the church portray the roles in the story of the crucifixion in a presentation that meshes drama and music.
The event is free and open to the public. It will take place in the sanctuary of the church, located at 1515 Cross Link Road in Raleigh.
The Rev. W.B. Lewis is the pastor at First Cosmopolitan Baptist.
Carla Turchetti compiles Faith in Focus each week. Email her with details of upcoming events at email@example.com.