Locals are invited to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and watch the sun rise over the Caloosahatchee at a worship service in Cape Coral.
A Life in Christ, formerly Christ the Servant Church of the Brethren, will host the Annual Easter Sunrise Service at 7 a.m. Sunday at the Cape Coral Yacht Club beach. Danny Medina of the Lighthouse Prayer Room in Miami will be the guest evangelist. The service is free and open to the public.
Rosemarie Gimlin, secretary of A Life in Christ, said attendees should bring blankets or lawn chairs to the service, which should last about one hour. The service will be followed by a free continental breakfast of bagels, danishes and Easter cakes donated by Publix. Coffee and juice will be available.
"It's locally right here in Cape Coral, it's on the beach and it's so easy for the Cape Coral community to get to it," she said, adding that there is plenty of parking.
The church has hosted the service for about 30 years, according to Gimlin. The congregation took about two or three months to put the event together and it had encountered no obstacles as of Thursday afternoon.
"We just pray for a wonderful day like today," she said.
Easter weekend services and activities
Cape Baptist Church
Sunday: Easter worship service at 11 a.m. with the Rev. Rod Holler.
Cape Baptist Church meets at Trafalgar Middle School, at 2120 Trafalgar
Parkway. For information, call 283-3621 or visit: www.capebaptist.org.
Cape Christian Fellowship
Today: Free outdoor concert at 5 p.m. Child care for infants to age 5.
Sunday: Easter Sunrise Outdoor Service at 7 a.m. No child care.
Sunday: Easter Indoor Services at 9, 10 and 11 a.m.
Regular children's program.
Cape Christian Fellowship is located at 2110 Chiquita Blvd. For information, call 772-5683 or visit: www.capechristian.com.
Cape Coral Community Church
Sunday: Easter Service, "It's a Brand New Day," at 9 and 10:45 a.m.
Sunday: Egg-stra Special Easter Egg Hunt after 10:45 a.m. service.
Cape Coral Community Church is located at 811 Santa Barbara Blvd. For information, call 574-1148.
Christ Community Church
Sunday: Outdoor Sunrise Service at 7 a.m. Community breakfast to follow.
Sunday: Worship experience and drama resumes at 10:30 a.m.
Christ Community is located at 4801 Orange Grove Blvd., North Fort Myers. For information, call 652-5530.
Sunday: Lord's Supper, adult contemporary worship service, at 10:45 a.m.
For children age 5 through 5th grade.
Sunday: "He Lives" Party and Resurrection Egg Hunt in the Kids Church.
Nursery for infants through age 4.
Daybreak Fellowship meets at Cape Coral High School, at 2300 Santa Barbara Blvd. For details, call 573-9009 or visit: www.daybreakchurch.net.
Epiphany Episcopal Church
Sunday: Easter service at 10:15 a.m.
Epiphany Episcopal Church is located at 2507 Del Prado Blvd. S. For information, call 574-3200 or visit: www.epiphanyepiscopalchurch.com.
First Assembly of God West
Today: Service at 7 p.m.
Sunday: Morning service.
First Assembly of God West is located at 1159 N.W. Fourth Place. For information, call 458-0813 or visit: www.firstassemblywest.com.
New Hope Baptist Church
Sunday: Easter Sunrise service at 7 a.m.
Sunday: Easter Sermon at 9 a.m. by the Rev. Mike Faircloth.
Sunday: Easter Cantata "A.D." at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. A musical for Easter and Beyond, presented by the choir, orchestra and drama team.
New Hope Baptist Church is located at 431 Nicholas Parkway. For information, call 573-1370 or visit: www.NewHopeCapeCoral.com.
Trinity Lutheran Church and School
Sunday: Easter Sunrise Service with Communion at 7 a.m.
Sunday: Easter Worship Service with Holy Communion at 10:45 a.m.
Trinity Lutheran Church and School is located at 706 S.W. Sixth Ave. For information, call 772-0172 or visit: www.trinitylutheranchurchcc.org.
Trinity Reformed Church of Cape Coral
Sunday: Sunday school at 9:20 a.m.
Sunday: Easter Worship service and sermon titled, "The Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord," at 10:30 a.m. Elder Steve Wetmore will be conducting the service. Offering will benefit the Lee Women's Center.
Sunday: Prayer meeting at 5:15 p.m.
Sunday: Worship service at 6 p.m.
Trinity Reformed Church is located at 2220 Hancock Bridge Parkway.
For information, call 574-1424.
Turning Point Church
Sunday: Easter Day service at 10 a.m. with singing and a message to follow entitled, "He is Not Here."
Sunday: Egg Hunt for the Children at about 11:30 a.m.
Turning Point Church meets at the William Bill Austen Youth Center, at 315 S.W. Second Avenue. For information, call 281-5350.
About 250 people attended last year's service.
"Which was good because it was rainy and cool last Easter," Gimlin said. "In past years, we've had as many as 500."
She added that all age groups show up to worship.
"It's seems like it's a real inter-generational thing," Gimlin said. "There's also been people who come up the river on their boat and try to get as close as they can. We've got better speakers this year, maybe we'll try to aim a speaker toward them."
The church's founding pastor, the Rev. Don Shank, started the service.
"The founding pastor, he was very involved in the community," Gimlin said. "He just wanted to reach out more to the community, no matter what the denomination."
"It just turned out to be a really great event, and many people have looked forward to it every year," she said. "Many times it's very beautiful with the sun shining."
"We just feel like we're small but mighty," Gimlin said, "and we continue to do it every year."
During the service, a collection will be taken to benefit local charities.
"Whatever we receive for the collection for that day goes to the charitable organizations here in Cape Coral," she said.
According to Gimlin, the church picks three charities every year to benefit from the Easter service collection. This year's donation will go to the Cape Coral Caring Center, a local food pantry; Lifeline Family Center, a residential program for unwed teenagers; and Veterans Foundation of Cape Coral.
"It's an agency that helps currently returning veterans and veterans from any military service," she said of the Veterans Foundation.
Members of the congregation volunteer at each organization.
"We've been helping them out," Gimlin said. "These three organizations are somewhat near and dear to some to the members of our congregation."
This is the first time Medina has served as a guest evangelist.
"Our pastor is quite close to him and has been to Lighthouse Pray in Miami," Gimlin said. "She's heard him preach in the past and he's very moving and to the point."
The Rev. Leah Hileman is the pastor of A Life in Christ.
Gimlin added that Medina offers something different because residents likely have not heard him preach before.
A Life in Christ owns and operates Cuppa Life, a speciality coffee, drink and sandwich shop at 1512 S.E. 14th St., Unit 6. It holds worship services at the shop at 9:30 a.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday. The shop is open from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. For information on A Life in Christ or the Easter service, call 574-3511 or visit: www.havealifeinchrist.com.
For details about the Community Easter Sunrise Service, call 334-7747.
In addition to the sunrise service in Cape Coral, one will be held in Fort Myers. Organized by 15 area churches, the 15th Annual Community Easter Sunrise Service will take place at 6:30 a.m. Sunday at the City of Palms Park. Doors open at 5:30 a.m. and admission and parking are free.
The Rev. Will Graham, grandson of evangelist Billy Graham, is the principal speaker for the service. According to a prepared statement, Graham is the "third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ under the banner of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association."
"I'm not trying to be the next Billy Graham. I'm just Will Graham," Graham is quoted as saying in the statement. "I have a burden in my heart to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If that's to an arena full of people or one person on the street, I will do whatever God is calling me to do."
Graham is traveling specifically to Fort Myers to participate in the service.
"We welcome and encourage everyone to join us on Easter Sunday for this communitywide worship service," the Rev. John Daugherty of First Baptist Church of Fort Myers, wrote in the statement.
Daugherty is the chairman of this year's planning committee.
"We have room for 7,000 people at City of Palms Park and we'd like to pack the place with people who wish to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ," he wrote.
According to the statement, the "Community Easter Sunrise Service has been a tradition since the 1950s" and has moved from the Fort Myers High School stadium to Centennial Park to the City of Palms Park. Last year, the service attracted 2,000 people. This year marks its 15th year at the park.
Music will be provided by the Southwest Florida Symphony Chorus and Brass Quintet, along with the praise team called Scripture. An inter-denominational service, churches and congregations are encouraged to attend the worship.
Free pastries and coffee will be available before and after the service.
Daugherty is supporting Sunday's program, along with:
- The Rev. Chuck Smith of Broadway Community Church;
- The Rev. Arlene Jackson of Central United Methodist Church;
- The Rev. Lureen Slater of Divine Circle of Illuminati;
- The Rev. Gregory Ford of First Assembly Cornerstone;
- The Rev. Gary Cox of First Christian Church;
- The Rev. Paul deJong of First Presbyterian Church of Fort Myers;
- The Rev. Jim Mitchell of First United Methodist Church;
- The Rev. Bob Kasten of Southwest Baptist Church;
- The Rev. Philip D. Read, II, SSC, of St. Luke's Episcopal Church;
- The Rev. Jon Zehnder of St. Michael Lutheran Church;
- The Rev. Bob Calvert of Sonshine Worship Center;
- The Rev. Dr. Israel Surarez of Templo Christiano El Buen Samaritano
- The Rev. Douglas Kelchner of Thomas A. Edison Congregational Church
- Maj. Arthur Penhale of The Salvation Army.