Eight Maricopa churches are joining to celebrate Easter with a sunrise service at Pacana Park.
Calvary Chapel began holding Easter sunrise service in 2006 and Pastor Chris Ward said it has been fun watching the annual service grow.
“The first year we had 30 people show up, last year just around 300 people showed up,” Ward said. “Year-by-year it grows, and we would love if all 40,000 residents of Maricopa would show up, but we would probably need a bigger park.”
Ward said the idea behind the event is to offer a service to the community that isn’t about any specific churches’ beliefs but instead making it all about Jesus and showing the unity of Christ.
“In today’s culture there is a real desire for the simple truth of what God offers to us,” Ward said. “This event is a great place for people to see where churches are joined together proclaiming that good news that Christ died for them and rose again.”
The eight churches participating in the 6:30 a.m. service are Calvary Chapel Maricopa, First Baptist Church of Maricopa, Maricopa Community Church, Acts Christian Fellowship, Journey United Methodist Church, Church for the Nations, The Wells and Mount Moriah Community A.M.E. Church.
Pastor Eric Brown from Journey United Methodist said he is excited for his church’s second year participating in the sunrise service, but said he is much more excited to reach out to the community members and bring some new faces into the mix.
“Easter sunrise services are one of the great traditions of Christians, so newcomers would be joining into this 2,000-year-old tradition,” Brown said. “It’s also just something really different and unique — when else can you go out at sunrise and sit in the park with 500 strangers and sing songs?”
Pastor Jim Johnson from First Baptist Church of Maricopa said the value of the event is in its ability to bring in nonchurch members and share the message of Easter with them.Lucy Kelly, a member of First Baptist echoed those sentiments.
“I think it’s well worth the effort of getting out there,” Kelly said. “It’s a very inspirational event even for those folks who don’t normally attend church.”
Ward said the service will last a little under an hour and feature praise and worship, prayer, scripture reading and communion. There will be sign-language interpreters and participants are asked to bring their own chairs and blankets.
“Whoever shows up, we’re grateful that they show up,” Ward said. “We are there to pray for them and to worship together and to honor that day for what it’s for.”