Thousands gather for Marco beach sunrise service
Organizers estimate as many as 10,000 people gathered on Marco Island Beach for the 27th annual Easter Sunrise Service.
About 50 watercraft anchored offshore as the service began on the beach at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, 400 S. Collier Blvd.
Rev. Kevin Koenig, Marco Lutheran Church, led the opening moments and prayer; Rev. Kirk Dreiser, Wesley United Methodist Church, the prayer prior to the preaching of the word, and Rev. Thomas McCulley, New Life Community Church, led the closing moments and prayer.
The Rev. Steven Schoof, senior pastor at Marco Presbyterian Church, gave the Easter message. Schoof received his master's and doctor of ministry degrees from Westminster Theological Seminary and spent 26 years as a missionary in Australia.
"Pastor Steve is a compassionate, dynamic speaker and ambassador for Christ," said Alan Sandlin, Marco Island Easter Sunrise Service on the Beach committee co-chair.
"Last year's Easter Sunrise attendance was near 8,000," said Sandlin. "This is the largest single community event on Marco Island and according to Google, one of the largest Easter sunrise services on a beach anywhere in the U.S. What a great testament to our freedom to worship as Christians in this country and to the residents, visitors, Marco Island Marriott, Madeira condo and all of the businesses and volunteers who serve to make this event possible, as we celebrate our risen savior at first light on Easter morning."
Special music included include Craig Greusel, Marco Lutheran Church musical director, as soloist; Sandy Stein, a member of "Flute Cocktail" and the "Naples Concert Band," on flute, with John Stein on piano.