Christian churches throughout the metro area and state will host special services and activities on Easter Sunday — all expected to draw the largest crowds of the year.
One service in particular, the Easter sunrise service, remains popular though attendees may be relatively small in number.
Church members gather before dawn for an Easter ritual that links them to many of the themes found within the Passion story, particularly the early morning visit to Jesus' burial place made by several women, as chronicled in the biblical book of Luke: “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus (Luke 24: 1-3).”
Numerous churches, such as United Methodist Church of the Servant, host the sunrise services. The Rev. Tim Travers, the church's minister of congregational care, said the church's sunrise service, set for 6:30 a.m. Sunday, has been held at the Resurrection Memorial Cemetery Chapel, 7801 Northwest Expressway, for many years.
He said the congregation formerly met at the chapel when the church initially started, and even with the church's permanent church building at 14343 N MacArthur Blvd., some members still like having the sunrise service at the chapel.
“It's a long-standing tradition that people enjoy,” Travers said.
He said the service is held inside the chapel, but Communion is served under a canopy outdoors if weather permits. “We time is such that the sun is peeking up at the East and they get to take Communion as they face East. There's symbolism there.
He said the chapel includes a mausoleum so some church members may be reminded of the tomb from which the resurrected Jesus arose. “It serves a little bit deeper meaning and in a modern way, we experience the Resurrection of that day,” Travers said.
Meanwhile, a group of Methodist ministers in the metro area will join together for an Easter sunrise worship service at 6:30 a.m. Sunday at Greater Cleaves Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, 1609 NE 48. The event is sponsored by the Methodist Ministers' Alliance of Greater Metropolitan Oklahoma City.
Several metro-area churches have outdoor sunrise services. Some outdoor sunrise services include Santa Fe Presbyterian Church's service at 7 a.m. Sunday at Mitch Park, Covell Road between Santa Fe and Kelly in Edmond.
The Rev. Mitch Miller, the church's senior pastor, said this will be Santa Fe Presbyterian's third year to host the service on the west end in the park's upper pavilion.
“It's up on top of a hill there, and we try to plan it the half-hour closest to sunrise,” Miller said. “It's nice to have the sun emerge.”
Miller said the service typically draws a small crowd from the church and some members of the community.
After the service, attendees are invited to attend Easter breakfast at the church, 1603 N Santa Fe Ave in Edmond, he said.
Meanwhile, First United Methodist Church of Edmond, which will host a sunrise service at 7:30 a.m. Sunday at property across from the church, 305 E Hurd in Edmond. Another Edmond church, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, will have a sunrise service at 6:30 a.m. Sunday near the bell tower at the church, 308 NW 164.
Village Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is planning to have its annual sunrise service at 7 a.m. Sunday at Casady School Lake, 9500 N Pennsylvania.