The second annual ‘Community Easter Son-rise Service’ will take place at the Gazebo on the Square in Scottsboro at 6 a.m., Easter Sunday, on April 5, 2015, with Dennis Johnson officiating.
Erica Cookston, a talented young singer who is already making waves in the Gospel music industry, will provide musical entertainment.
At age 16, Cookston has won awards such as, ‘Gospel Female Newcomer of the Year,’ and has recorded a CD entitled, ‘The Journey.’ Her father, Eric Cookston, and guitarist, Danny Harden, will accompany her.
“Erica is outstanding,” said Richard Sartin, of Scottsboro. “She and her dad performed at last year’s service, and Danny is extremely good. We are proud to have him.”
The service, which will last about one hour, began last year when Sartin and a friend thought there should be a community outreach for small churches in the area that wished to commemorate the holiday with a larger celebration.
“We had around 50 people at last year’s service with four denominations represented,” Sartin said. “We hope it is even bigger this year. Everyone is welcome.”
According to Wikipedia, the first Easter Sunrise Service recorded took place in 1732 in the Moravian congregation of Herrnhut in the Upper Lusatian hills of Saxony.
“After an all-night prayer vigil, the Single Brethren, the unmarried men, of the community, went to the town graveyard, God's Acre, on the Hill above the town, to sing hymns of praise to the Risen Saviour. The following year, the whole Congregation joined in the service. Thereafter the "Easter Morning" or "Sunrise Service" spread around the world with the Moravian missionaries. The procession to the graveyard is accompanied by the antiphonal playing of chorales by brass choirs,” the website said.
Many churches in the United States hold traditional sunrise services, normally outdoors, and timed so congregants can see the sun rise while the service is going on.
“This service is in no way intended to interfere with local church services,” Sartin said. “It’s just meant to give everyone a place to go and celebrate together.”
The most famous sunrise service in the United States, according to Wikipedia, is that of the Salem Congregation in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
“More than six thousand worshipers gather before dawn in front of the church to proclaim the Resurrection. The worshipers then move in procession to the historic graveyard, or ‘God's Acre.’ Brass choirs from twelve congregations, totaling over five hundred members, play hymns antiphonally during the procession. The service concludes with a proclamation of faith and hymns of hope,” the site said.
“In 2012, in Washington D.C., thousands of individuals gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for the ecumenical 34th “Sunrise Celebration” Easter service, a Washington tradition for Christians of all denominations. The tradition goes back for more than three decades.
“Another long-running sunrise service dates back to 1944 atop Stone Mountain near Atlanta. The park opens extremely early at 4am, and the Skylift operates early as well, to carry worshipers to the top and back down again,” it said.
While the ‘Community Easter Son-rise Service’ in Scottsboro will be simple, it will be heartfelt, according to Sartin.
“We just want to serve the Lord Jesus and see Him lifted up,” he said. “We want to show that God is not dead.”
Local churches in the area also having Easter Sunrise Services that have contacted The Daily Sentinel include:
Bethany Baptist Church
Centennial Baptist Church
Grace Baptist Church
Hodge Missionary Baptist Church