- At New Garden Friends Meeting (1979-83) we had the service (weather permitting) in the church cemetery. The cemetery is very old, with graves dating back to the Revolutionary War. There was something unique about celebrating the empty tomb in a graveyard. It was a 6 AM service and the youth provided a breakfast afterwards. I remember picking up hundreds of Krispy Kreme doughnuts one year, and making something called Hot-Crossed Buns another. Seriously. Insert bun joke here.
- At Springfield Friends Meeting (1986-1994) we tried a variety of services (including another very old cemetery) but finally hit upon one that worked- the Flowering Cross. Everyone would bring cut flowers from home, and at the conclusion of the service we would turn an "old rugged cross" into something alive. I usually sang the old Don Francisco classic He's Alive, made famous by Dolly Parton. I did not do any Dolly impressions...
- While technically not at a Sunrise Service, I did do an Easter Bunny impression one year. Avis Rees, wife of our pastor, told a resurrection story about an empty egg, and asked me to dress as a bunny for the drama. Against the advice of her own children, I accepted. She even made the costume. I wore it- and many people were never the same. One of our dear old friends from those days, Lori Cox, maintains to this day that her family joined SFM because any church with a youth pastor crazy enough to dress like that must be OK.
- During my days at FUMC-Kissimmee (1994-2000) we did a 6 AM service down by the Kissimmee lakefront. It never failed to be an adventure. The youth group did the entire service, and at 6 AM you were just never sure who would actually show up. It didn't help any that the time seemed to "spring forward" that weekend every year so we would lose an hour of sleep. One year we were doing a drama, and the student who was playing Jesus over slept. Another year it was a young woman who was supposed to sing a solo. Andrew Lewis and I would be down at Lake Toho around 4:30 on Easter morning setting it all up- and then we would do breakfast afterwards for the church. It was always just a little insane. And that's not even counting the year the city didn't turn off the sprinkler system. We had a mass baptism. complete with screaming.
- Easter Sunday was spectacular at the Union Church of Hinsdale (2000-2001) but the youth had nothing to do with it- and there was no Sunrise Service despite having a gorgeous setting just across the street. Even at Easter there was no way all those rich folk were getting up that early for church! Yet another bummer for UC.
- At Wesley Memorial UMC (2001-2005) one year our music director Jason Deese decided to use the Youth Praise Band at the Sunrise Service out in front of the church. Electric guitars, live drums- the works. The neighbors (not only of the church, but of my family- we lived right next door!) were not amused at this early serenade, and the police stopped by to ask us to be quiet. There is no...well, very little... truth to the rumor that my wife made that call...
- Easter 2006 found me at Trinity UMC in Waycross, GA, where the "early" service followed a huge breakfast. It was my first time preaching to that congregation. You know, if you screw up an Easter sermon you really have no business preaching at all. Fortunately it went well, and I got to preach several more time that year.
|Avis & her Bunny Creation|
Because of Jesus,