Church Lady: Reflections on Easter Sunrise Service

Photo with no caption

Photo by LANCE SHEARER

Photo with no caption

Photo by LANCE SHEARER

Photo with no caption

Photo by LANCE SHEARER

“I remember so very well the Easter Sunrise Service on April 3, 1988,” wrote the Rev. Dr. Bruce R. Fiol in an email. “The planning. The preparations. The chill in the early morning. It was the very first communitywide service on the beach and none of us had any idea what we were soon to experience.”

Fiol gave the message at the first Easter Sunrise Service and for each service through 2008. He is returning this year to give the message for the 25th. Although he retired from Marco Presbyterian in 2008, he stays active in ministry. He currently teaches at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, N.C. and loves ministering and investing in the training of young men and women for ministry.

He recalled how at 6:45 a.m. participants in that first Easter service and several church officers gathered at the podium to pray for God’s unusual blessing on the event.

As Fiol moved to the platform he could hardly believe the scene. Throngs of people were coming up the beach, and just as many were coming down the beach. Behind him, more folks were accessing the beach through the Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort.

He remembered thinking, “This must have been what it was like when 5,000 people gathered on the ‘beach’ of the Galilean Sea to hear Jesus teach and then to be miraculously fed by the God-Man who multiplied fish and bread.”

That year “conservatively speaking” were as many as 2,000 gathered for the service and it has grown each year.

“God has marvelously answered prayer in ways far beyond what we had faith to believe,” he wrote.

Snowbirds from Grand Rapids suggested the service: the beach is beautiful and ideal for such a significant event. The idea was discussed, prayed about and a decision was made to move forward. Eager church members formed a committee to prepare for the service.

Fliers promoting the Community Easter Sunrise Service covered the entire Island, placing it in the windows of many businesses and on condo bulletin boards. A plea was made at Marco Presbyterian’s Palm Sunday service to invite family, friends and neighbors.

“There was much prayer during the intervening week, asking that God would do His work, not only in bringing the folks he wanted there, but in the preparation of the message,” wrote Fiol.

Organizers thought it would be wonderful if the Lord were to send 200 to gather on the beach. Others were more optimistic and saw a potential for 800 to gather and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In subsequent years the crowds have grown, the glorious message has gone forth and the music has touched many.

“It has been enriching to enjoy the participation of other Island clergy whose contributions have been deeply appreciated,” added Fiol.

His messages have ranged from first-person accounts of the resurrection by John, Peter and Luke in the early ‘90s to “Easter and the Military Police” in 2007 and “The King Lives and it Isn’t Elvis” in 2008. The title for this year’s message is, “Would You Believe It!”

Every style of music has been represented from opera to folk to gospel. There have been soloists, duets, trios, a men’s quartet, brass ensembles and the Marco Island Choir in 1996.

This year soprano Linda Sandlin will sing the stirring “Were You There” as she did the first year.

This year will also feature the Lely High School Brass Ensemble, under the direction of John Stein and Marco Presbyterian Church’s Music Director Marv Hollenbeck will once again be at the keyboard.

Over the years clergy from churches on the Island and the Isles of Capri have participated. This year the Rev. Kirk Dreiser, Wesley United Methodist Church, will give the opening moments and prayer and the Rev. Thomas McCulley, New Life Community Church, will give the closing moments and prayer.

Last year was the first time Dreiser participated in Marco’s Easter Sunrise Service.

“Being there was awe inspiring,” he said. “It was an intense, powerful and positive experience.

“Its an exceptionable experience to be out early on Easter morning and to think about the women going to the tomb and celebrating the first Easter,” he said. “If this didn’t happen then everything else is in vainWe don’t know the exact time the women went to the tomb, as the scriptures are silent. All we know is that it was early on the third day.”

McCulley cannot remember how many times he has participated in the service. “The thing I love about the Easter Sunrise Service is that all through the year people tell me they were there and it was so beautiful.”

“It truly is the celebration of the Body of Christ,” he said. “It blesses me that the Presbyterian’s have kept the spotlight on Jesus.”

People come because they feel the communion of the event, added McCulley. He has also met many people who plan their vacation around the Easter Sunrise service.

“People of all walks of life and levels of faith sense the spiritual power of the event,” concluded McCulley.

Kathleen Tuttle, a Marco Island resident since 1987, has written articles for various nonprofits for more than 25 years. She is a community volunteer, former science teacher and microbiologist. Kathleen can be contacted at worship@rstuttle.com.

IF YOU GO

What: Marco Island’s 25th Annual Easter Sunrise Service on the Beach

When: 7 a.m., Sunday, March 31, prelude begins at 6:45 a.m.

Where: Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, 400 South Collier Blvd.

Beach Access: North of the Marriott Spa and the public access north of the Madeira Condominium

What to bring: Blanket or chair

Information: (239) 394-8186

Holy Week, Passover and Easter services

Holy Week: Palm Sunday March 24 through Good Saturday March 30

Passover: March 25 through April 2

Easter: March 31

Baptist

Family Church-Marco Island Good Friday Worship Service 6 p.m.

Family Church-Marco Island Easter Traditional Service 8:30 a.m. and Contemporary Service 11 a.m., Core Classes at 9:45 a.m.

Catholic

San Marco Catholic Church

Palm Sunday Saturday Vigil Masses 2:15, 3:45 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday Masses 7:30, 9, 10:45 a.m. and 12:15 and 6 p.m.

Holy Thursday, 8:30 a.m., Morning Prayer; 7 p.m. Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Good Friday, 8:30 a.m., Morning Prayer; 3 p.m., Adoration of the Cross; 7:30 p.m. Seven Last Words

Saturday 8:30 a.m., Morning Prayer; Noon, Blessing of Food; 8:15 p.m. Easter Vigil with Candlelight Service

Sunday Masses 7:30, 9, 10:45 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. at the Church; 9:30 and 11:15 a.m. at the Charter Middle School

Holy Family (a Mission of San Marco parish), Everglades City

Good Friday, noon, Adoration of the Cross; Easter Sunday, 10:30 a.m. Mass

St. Finbarr Parish

Palm Sunday Saturday Vigil Mass 4:30 p.m.; Sunday Masses 8 and 10 a.m. in English and 11:45 a.m. in Spanish.

Monday and Wednesday morning Mass 9 a.m.

Holy Thursday 7 p.m.

Good Friday 3 p.m., Spanish Stations of the Cross 5 p.m.

Holy Saturday 8 p.m.

Easter Saturday Vigil Mass 8 p.m.

Easter Masses 8 and 10 a.m. in English and 11:30 a.m. in Spanish

Church of God

New Life Community Church

Easter Service 10 a.m.

Congregational

United Church of Marco Island

Palm Sunday 10 a.m., Sermon: “Unwanted!” Scripture: Luke 19:28-40

Maundy Thursday 7 p.m., Sermon: “Always a Servant!” Scripture John 13:1-17

Easter 10 a.m., Sermon: “Surprise!” Scripture: John 20: 1-18

Episcopal

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

Palm Sunday Services with Palm Procession and Holy Eucharist, 8, 9:15 and 10:30 a.m.

Wednesday, 5:30 p.m., Healing and Holy Eucharist Service in the Chapel

Maundy Thursday, 5:30 p.m., Simple Supper in the Parish Hall; 6:30 p.m., Footwashing, Holy Eucharist, Stripping of the Altar Service.

Good Friday, noon, Solemn Service

Easter, 7 a.m., Vigil of Light Holy Eucharist; 9:15 a.m., Island Style Holy Eucharist with Children’s Flowering of the Cross on the Labyrinth on the Bluebird side of campus (bring a beach chair). Children’s Easter egg Hunt to follow; 10:30 a.m., Festival Holy Eucharist with orchestra and choir.

Jewish

Jewish Congregation of Marco Island

Annual Passover Seder will be presented by the JCMI Sisterhood, 6 p.m.,

March 25. Attendees, led by Rabbi Edward Maline and Cantorial Soloist Hari

Jacobsen will read the Haggada. A holiday meal of traditional foods will be served. Please call the synagogue office by March 23 to reserve your place. Tickets are as follows: $35, member adult; $45, others, $15, member children (4 to 12), $20, other children (4 to 12), 4 and under free.

Lutheran

Marco Lutheran Church

Palm Sunday, 8 and 11 a.m.

Wednesday Lenten Service 7 p.m.

Maundy Thursday 7 p.m.

Good Friday 2 p.m. German Service and 7 p.m. English Service

Easter Services 8 and 11 a.m.

Methodist

Wesley United Methodist Church

Palm Sunday: 9 a.m. Contemporary Service with the praise team and 10:30 a.m. Traditional Service with chancel choir. The Naples Orchestra and Chorus will present “The Seven Last Words of Christ,” a sacred cantata by Theodore Dubis, at 7 p.m. Freewill offering.

Maundy Thursday Service, 7 p.m.

Easter Services 9 a.m. Contemporary Service and 10:30 a.m. Traditional Service

Nondenominational

Capri Christian

March 17, the Capri Celebration Choir will present “It Is Finished” at the 9 and 11:15 a.m. worship services.

Monday 6:30 p.m. Christ-centered movie night; popcorn and pop provided.

Maundy Thursday Service 6:30 p.m.

Easter Service 10:30 a.m. Under the Big Tent

Presbyterian

Marco Presbyterian Church

Good Friday Service, 7 p.m.

Easter Service 10:30 a.m. the Rev. Dr. Bruce Fiol, the church’s founding pastor, will deliver the Easter message. Christian education classes and evening worship service will not meet on Easter.

© 2013 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features