RISE AND SHINE
Published 10:59 am Thursday, April 17, 2014
Easter sunrise service set for Sunday
Worshipping atop one of Vicksburg’s most scenic views on Easter morning has become a tradition — and Sunday will mark yet another year the event will be held at Fort Hill which is located in the Vicksburg National Military Park.
No one is sure when the sunrise service started, said Herb Wilkerson, but said he knew the non-denominational worship service has been offered for more than 60 years.
Wilkerson was executive director of the Junius Ward Johnson Memorial YMCA for 46 years, the organization that is the sponsor for the event.
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“Dr. Lucian Ferris lived on the top of Fort Hill,” said Wilkerson, and recalled a conversation he had had a few years ago with Mrs. Ferris.
“She told me she remembered being pregnant with her son, Minor, when services was being held on the hill that overlooks the Yazoo Diversion Canal,” he said, and she added Minor had turned 60 the year she told him the story.
Wilkerson said during his time of service to the organization that the early-morning service evolved “as we got smarter.”
“One year, we tried to actually do the sunrise service at sunrise, “ Wilkerson said, “but we found out that the 7 a.m. time was the most accepted.
Wilkerson said services were held at Crawford Street United Methodist Church a few times when weather had not been conducive to an outdoor service. Attendance was low and they decided to just cancel if it rains.
“This year should be wonderful,” Wilkerson said, referring to the weather forecast.
The National Service is forecasting temperatures in the 80’s with only a 20 percent chance for rain.
Casey Custer, the current executive director of the YMCA, said V105.5-FM will broadcast information if the sunrise service were to be cancelled.
Delivering this year’s Easter sunrise service message will be the Rev. Kent Campbell, pastor of Woodlawn Baptist Church, with the Rev. Walter Frazier, director of Grace Christian Counseling Center, to lead the call to worship, offer up the pastoral prayer and give the benediction, Custer said.
Millie Wolfe, who serves as the director of Camping and Childcare for the YMCA, will read the New Testament scripture lesson.
Preachers of all denominations have participated throughout the years, said Wilkerson, and the music has also varied from solo performances to instrumentalist.
Hannah Miller, a worship leader at Calvary Baptist Church, will sing and play guitar for the musical portion of the sunrise service, which she said would include familiar Easter hymns and an original song she wrote. Miller, 18, is a YMCA camp counselor and the daughter of Lee and Candice Miller.
Worshippers should park in the USS Cairo Museum parking lot, said Custer, and shuttle busses will transport individuals to and from the top of the hill. Shuttles will begin at 6:15 a.m. and the service will last approximately 45 minutes. A free pancake breakfast at Hawkins United Methodist Church, 3736 Halls Ferry Road, will follow at 8 a.m.
For more information, call 601-638-1071.
IF YOU GO The annual Easter sunrise service at Fort Hill will begin at 7 a.m. Sunday. Shuttles to and from Fort Hill will be available beginning at 6:15 at the Cairo parking lot, 3201 Clay St. For more information, call 601-638-1071.