Churches plan for Holy Week

Published 7:15 pm Friday, March 18, 2016

Area churches are gearing up for Holy Week through sunrise gatherings, services and lunches throughout the coming week including Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Four downtown churches are following tradition by hosting Lenten lunch services.

“This series of services during Holy Week have been going on longer than any of us [preachers] have been here,” the Rev. Cary Stockett of Crawford Street United Methodist Church said, with the exception of Matt Buckles from First Baptist. “The beautiful thing about it is these folks just love being together.”

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The noon ecumenical lunch services are scheduled at The Church of the Holy Trinity on Monday, Crawford Street United Methodist Church on Tuesday, First Presbyterian Church on Wednesday and First Baptist Church on Thursday.

Lunch is $5 at each church, which Stockett said was always a good meal.

“We bless the food, we eat, we usually sing a church song and then the host pastor introduces the speaker and the speakers speaks for 5 or 10 minutes and we say a prayer,” Rector Beth Palmer of Holy Trinity said of the hour long service.

Each church has a representative speak at a different church during the services.

“A pastor never speaks at his or her church,” Palmer said.

Stockett is speaking Monday, Palmer is speaking Tuesday, the Rev. Ashton Thompson of First Baptist is speaking Wednesday and the Rev. Tim Brown of First Presbyterian will speak Thursday.

Palmer said the lunches are an opportunity for the churches to share food, fellowship and scripture with each other during Holy Week.

“I think it’s a wonderful tradition and a great opportunity for the congregations of the four churches to get together to break bread and talk about Jesus,” Palmer said.

Brown said the services are open to the public.

“Bring a friend,” he said.

That’s not the only tradition that will continue in Vicksburg this Easter.

The Vicksburg YMCA along with the Vicksburg National Military Park is planning an Easter Sunrise Service at 7 a.m. Sunday, March 27 at the top of Fort Hill. The service has been a tradition in Vicksburg for over 60 years.

“The intent behind it is to be a community-wide service,” YMCA executive director Phillip Doiron said.

The service is not tailored to any particular denomination and is open to the entire community. He said the 45-minute service is a celebration and does not take the place of regular church services.

“The intent behind it is not to take people away from their regular church, it’s to compliment what is already happening in their churches,” Doiron said.

Brian Ivey, pastor of Highland Baptist Church; Dr. Olie Hardaway Jr., pastor of Faith Christian Center and Reed Rodgers, music leader at Triumph Church will lead at this year’s service.

Doiron said crowds of around 700 people typically attend the service but it depends on the weather.

“We do say that the event is canceled in the event of rain,” he said.

Doiron said after the service Hawkins United Methodist Church invites everyone to a free pancake breakfast, with donations accepted, at 8 a.m. at the church, 3637 Halls Ferry Road.

Parking is available for the sunrise service at the USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum in the Vicksburg National Military Park. Shuttle transportation up the hill will be provided starting at 6:15 a.m.

“We invited anyone and everyone to come take part and we’d love to have a huge crowd,” Doiron said.