The Kiwanis Club of Marietta will host the 16th annual Easter Sunrise Service at 7 a.m. Sunday at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.
For the Rev. Bill Ross, the event will be a change of pace. Ross is no stranger to sunrise services, typically speaking at one his regular church, First Baptist of Marietta, has at its Lake Allatoona property. But, this year, that sermon will be delivered by the Rev. Randy Everette, the church’s student minister.
Ross looks forward to the outdoor service.
“With birds and nature, you’re waking up and hearing the creation of a new day,” he said. “It’s not one particular church; it’s the entire community. It’s wonderful for people of different backgrounds to gather together.”
After several years jointly hosting the event with the Rotary Club of Marietta, Kiwanis will go it alone this year, said Kiwanis member the Rev. Phil Owens, retired chaplain at WellStar Kennestone Hospital.
Owens said he is hopeful the number of attendees at the service can top the 1,200 people who came in 2012, though that will be a challenge with rain in the forecast. But he expects many will come to see Ross.
“I think he’ll get a great reception,” Owens said. “We’ll get a lot of First Baptist members, so that will get a good crowd right there.”
Owens said the event always draws a mix of people in Sunday dress who make the Kennesaw Mountain service their first stop before heading to their own churches, as well as people in jeans who go to breakfast afterward. But both groups are welcome, he said.
The service will have a new wrinkle this year with music by First Baptist’s brass band, which is led by Minister of Music Paul Hill.
“We’ve never had songs like that,” he said. “We’ve always had keyboards.”
Also on hand will be the Salvation Army, which will provide coffee and hot chocolate.
Ross, senior pastor at First Baptist, will be back at his church in time for its 8:45 and 11 a.m. services Sunday. He said he doesn’t mind pulling triple duty on Easter. In his Kennesaw Mountain sermon, he plans to speak about what Jesus said to his disciples after rising on the first Easter.
“The words that he said to them and the words that apply to us today,” he said. “Words of hope. Words of forgiveness. Words of grace.”