The Mountain Times

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Sunrise services celebrate new life

What better way to start off Easter Sunday than with the Sunrise Service?

Sunrise service is a worship service held at first light Easter morning. Due to the focus on the sunrise, these service usually take place place outdoors or in a room with lots of windows (as is often the case when services are held on the peak of a ski resort.)
Many churches in the American South still hold traditional sunrise services in cemeteries as a sign of recognition that Jesus no longer lay in the tomb on Easter morning.

One of the most famous Sunrise Service in the United States is in Winston-Salem, NC. More than six thousand worshipers gather before dawn front of the church to proclaim the Resurrection. The worshipers then process in silent prayer to the historic graveyard, they call "God's Acre." Brass choirs with over five hundred members, play hymns during the procession.

In Washington D.C., thousands of individuals gather at the Lincoln Memorial for the ecumenical "Sunrise Celebration" Easter service, an Washington tradition for Christians of all denominations that goes back for more than three decades.

Locally, there are also many popular Easter Sunrise Services to choose from in addition to other Easter celebrations, for those hoping to sleep in just a bit longer.

In Rutland, Grace Congregational Church will hold a Sunrise Service, Sunday March 31, at Mill Village Chapel at 6 a.m.

In Killington, Sunrise Service will be held at the Snowshed Lodge. Doors open at 6 a.m., with the service set to begin at 6:30 a.m. A community breakfast will be held after followed by an Easter Egg Hunt for kids.

In Woodstock, the First Congregational Church holds an annual Easter Sunrise Service at the South Peak of Mt. Tom. Walkers gather at the church at 6 a.m. and carpool to Faulkner Park before hiking to the summit where the service is held around 7 a.m. The congregation brings food to share for a very informal fellowship breakfast following the hike. All are welcome to the breakfast which begins "as soon as the fastest hikers descend" organizers say, which is around 8 a.m.

In Pittsfield, the Pittsfield Federated Church is planning an outdoor Easter Sunrise Service and "A Presentation of the Complete Story of Easter," at 7 a.m in the Hawley's Meadow behind the Pittsfield Fire Station on Route 100. Regular church service will be held at 9 a.m. in the church sanctuary on 3885 Vermont Route 100, followed by Fellowship time with coffee and Easter Hot Cross Buns.

"We are planning and preparing for a real over-the-top presentation of the Easter story," said Pastor Howard Gunter, from the Pittsfield Federated Church. "We expended a fair sum of money for some visuals that will help portray much of the Easter story that is rarely included. We also produced a 15-page booklet/program that follows the presentation and includes a good bit of information to clarify and explain… It will be first class!"

The Pittsfield service will also include live music performed by several local musicians, including The Rochester Federated Church Bell Ringers and the Brass Ensemble. The new visual elements include a replica of the front of a temple with a purple curtain symbolizing the Arc of the Covenant.