For 25 years, Victory Bible Baptist Church has hosted a Sunrise Easter Service.
It’s a non-denominational service on the banks of Lake Murray where, if weather permits, the rising sun glistens off the water as it brushes the sky in yellow and red.
And folks from throughout the area can celebrate the dawn of Easter, at a 7 a.m. service at SCE&G’s park on the Lexington side of the dam.
“It’s really a great service,” said Peggy Shepler, a volunteer at Victory Bible Baptist and the wife of Chris Shepler, founder and pastor of the church. “We just rejoice in our risen Christ, joyful that we have the freedom to publicly rejoice in our faith.”
The Easter sunrise service had rather humble beginnings in a Walmart (and later a Kmart) parking lot.
“The service was meant to be a free invitation to all the community to rejoice in the Good News of Christ’s Resurrection over sin, death, and the grave,” Shepler said.
Three years ago, the service moved to the park on the Lexington side of the Lake Murray dam.
Last year, 700 folks attended.
Some seating will be provided, but folks also are welcome to bring their own chairs, or sit in cars.
While this service has been around 25 years, it follows a 243-year-old trend. America’s first sunrise service was a Moravian Easter Mass in 1773 in Winston-Salem, N.C., according to an article in “Time” magazine.
The idea behind a sunrise service is to mark the empty tomb that greeted Mary as dawn broke on Easter morning.
Lezlie Patterson, Special to The State