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Sunrise service set for The Square in McDonough

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

The City of McDonough will join hands with five local churches to sponsor the 30th Annual Interdenominational Easter Sunday Sunrise service on the McDonough Square.

The churches participating in Sunday's service are McDonough First United Methodist, led by Pastor Dana Everhart; McDonough First Baptist, led by Pastor Charles Thomas; Wesley Chapel United Methodist, led by Pastor Sharma Lewis; McDonough Presbyterian, led by Pastor Rachael Knoll; and Shiloh Baptist, led by Pastor Edward W. Lee.

"The significance is that we are all together," said Thomas. "Though we have our denominational differences, they're very minor. A lot of them have to do with church policy, or sometimes, just tradition. But, coming together on Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord from the dead is something all Christians enjoy. This is a day when all the denominational barriers come down."

Everhart said he contacted as many pastors as possible to ask them if they wanted their church to take part in the service. In order to stay on schedule in planning the event, he said he started making those contacts in January.

"These [participating] churches have traditionally been the five churches that have been the powerhouse behind the sunrise service for the last 30 years," said Everhart.

The service, which will offer communion, is scheduled for 7 a.m., and will be held on the McDonough Square. A member of Wesley Chapel United Methodist, Alton Thomas, is a featured soloist for the service.

Pastor Thomas, of McDonough First Baptist, will deliver the resurrection message.

"This is the day we get to celebrate as one body of believers," Pastor Thomas said.

"We should do more, about coming together, but this is an opportunity for all of the Christian churches to come together and celebrate our resurrected savior," added Lewis, of Wesley Chapel United Methodist.

McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland, who regularly attends the sunrise services, said the city began sponsoring the event in 1980, and most of the 30 services have been held in inclement weather.

"Twenty-five of them have been cold, and rainy," Copeland said. "I'm counting on warm weather this year."

Between 200 and 250 people attended last year, Copeland said.

Pastor Lee's role will be to call the service to order, and read scriptural passages.

"It presents a wonderful opportunity to come together for a moment of worship," said Lee. "We're celebrating the center of our faith. To do that, in a community setting, is very powerful."

Knoll will be called upon to give the opening prayer.

"We have more in common than what we have different," said Knoll. "It helps that we put aside our differences and focus on what unifies us -- our belief in Jesus Christ."