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Easter Sunrise Service

April 8, 2012 by staff 

Easter Sunrise Service, As the sun emerged above the National Mall on Sunday morning, thousands of voices rose to meet it from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with a melodious version of “How Great Thou Art,” part of an Easter sunrise tradition dating back more than three decades.

Pastor Amos Dodge and members of Capital Church of Vienna have hosted an Easter service at the Lincoln Memorial for the past 34 years. While the church regularly has about 300 members, his congregation swells to several thousand during the outdoor Easter service.

With a lawn chair strapped to her shoulder, Andrea Fuller, 42, quickly made her way to the Lincoln Memorial for the start of the 6:30 a.m. service. As the sun began to beam above the U.S. Capitol, ushers handed out programs and greeted the throngs by saying: “He is Risen.”

“This is not an event we sponsor, but an assignment we have to our city, our nation and world,” Dodge said in a written statement. With many churches and officials at Arlington Cemetery hosting sunrise services across the Potomac River, the event at the Lincoln Memorial has become one of the region’s largest and most diverse expressions of faith on Easter Sunday.

Ceena Idicola, of New York City, came to the service with some of her colleagues from an international internship program and spoke of how it joins people: “I think that this event really captures the heart of D.C., for all of us to come together and unite as one faith.”

Others felt similarly, speaking of the event as a beautiful and unifying one on a clear and cool Easter morning. Andy Bevan, 24, an intern from Scotland, said too often differences in faith pull people apart.

“We as Christians should come together and not have any barriers up,” Bevan said. “Jesus died and rose again for us and this was a very positive thing.”

Following songs from his choir, Pastor Dodge left the stage, walked up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and used led the audience in “Amazing Grace.”

“There is something about Amazing Grace that says it better than any other song because God’s grace is amazing,” Dodge said. “When we were unlovely, he loved us, when we were unforgivable, he forgave us. … I love this service because we come from so many backgrounds.”

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