GREENWICH, Conn. The First Congregational Church of Greenwich is continuing its more than 60-year-old tradition of holding an Easter sunrise service at Tods Point Beach.
As many as 500 people are expected to attend the service at 6:15 a.m. Sunday, according to the Rev. Mark Montgomery. He is associate pastor for youth ministry at the Old Greenwich church, which is the oldest church congregation in town and dates to 1665.
The sunrise service is a wonderful Easter tradition that goes back many years, said Montgomery. He and members of the church youth lead the service. There is such a peace and beauty to being out under the stars near the water and watching the sun rise on the horizon, which is a symbol of new life and the resurrection of Jesus.
Montgomery added, There is something special about being out in the open and being part of nature. Its not like you can predict or control when a bird will fly overhead, or land on the beach.
Liz Morris, 18, a member of the church choir who has taken part in the service the past seven years, said the sunrise service is a profound way to start Easter Sunday.
Its a great service that I have come to really love, said Morris, who was among more than 20 teenagers who carried a large wooden cross 2 miles from the church at 108 Sound Beach Ave. to the beach on Good Friday. The cross is used during the sunrise service.
We start out singing in the dark, and its very beautiful to be singing the hymns as the sun comes up, said Morris. It truly is the best way to experience Easter.
Regular Easter services will also be held at the church at 9 and 11 a.m. and a traditional 10 a.m. Sunday service will be held as well, said Montgomery.
Another large Easter Sunday gathering will be held at Christ Church Greenwich, 254 E. Putnam Ave., where 900 to 1,000 people are expected to attend the main 9 a.m. service, according to Parish Manager Susan Marks.
We probably get more people at our Easter service than on any other day of the year, including Christmas, said Marks. The church is one of the oldest in Greenwich and has the largest congregation 900 families of any in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.
One of the most popular parts of our service is when the children sing about rolling the stone away that was removed from Jesus' tomb, said Marks. As the children roll an inflatable, plastic stone along the flood they sing, The Angel Rolls the Stone Away,' which is very cute and quite moving.
Marks said the service is followed by an Easter egg hunt in the church garden and another Easter service at 11 a.m.
"Of course, the children love the Easter egg hunt," said Marks. "We always pray for good weather."
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