The Kiwanis Club of Marietta and Rotary Club of Marietta will host their 15th annual Easter Sunrise Service at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park beginning at 7 a.m. This year’s guest speaker is the Rev. Dr. James Speed, a retired pastor from First Presbyterian Church in Marietta.
This will be the first time Speed, who retired 13 years ago, has spoken at the battlefield service, but he has plenty of experience preaching at sunrise services for his former church: He used to perform three services every Easter before retiring after 27 years.
“As the church got larger and the services got larger, I couldn’t manage a fourth one,” Speed said.
Rotarian Holly Walquist, who sits on the event’s organizing committee, said this is the third year the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs have worked together on the program. Before that, the Kiwanis Club handled it alone, she said.
Walquist anticipates about 1,000 people in attendance, up from about 800 last year.
“As long as the weather is good, we hope to get close to that many again,” she said.
Kiwanis Club member the Rev. Phil Owens, a retired chaplain with WellStar Kennestone Hospital, said his club has been happy to share the event with the Rotarians.
“(The Rotary and Kiwanis clubs) compete about everything, but here is one thing that there wouldn’t be any competition about,” he said. “Here we work together to put on a fine sunrise service.”
The committee meets each January to organize the service and select a speaker.
“What we’re trying to do is have a new look every year,” Owens said. “For a long time, the same minister did it every year, and it was somewhat a burden on him.”
The free service is open to people of all faiths. The Salvation Army will be on site handing out pastries, coffee and hot chocolate. People are encouraged to carpool if possible, but adequate parking should be available.
The battlefield is located at 900 Kennesaw Mountain Drive in Kennesaw, off Old U.S. 41 NW.