Christians gather on the beach for early Easter worship

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of people got up early Easter morning to embrace one of the most important holidays of the Christian faith. On Sunday, Mississippi City United Methodist Church held a sunrise service on the beach at Courthouse Road in Gulfport. People came with chairs, blankets and with open hearts.

Jan Lofies attended the service. "I can't think of a more meaningful way to lift your spirit up than to rise with the sun like Jesus rose from the grave."

"It was really, really beautiful," said Robbie Murphey. "I love the sunrise, and I love the beach. It made it worth it to get up."

Emma Rischel said, "It was such a moving service. Who wouldn't want to come down on Easter Sunday and watch the sun rise? It's really powerful to come."

In an uncertain economy, Reverend Rod Dickson-Rischel told worshipers he knows many people face job layoffs and financial struggles.

"Getting up in the morning and knowing it's going to be a hard day, and going to bed at night knowing you're going to lay there and look at the ceiling," said Rev. Dickson-Rischel.

As the sun came up over the Mississippi beach front, the pastor reminded Christians of how Jesus rose from the grave and why in despair, they must keep faith.

Rev. Dickson-Rischel said, "Everybody faces their struggles in their lives. We always need to hear that good news of the resurrection. That hope that God offers us in the midst of whatever we face."

Some people said the message of Easter is one they want to live every day.

Melanie Gilgan said, "Easter is about getting up, having a good day and enjoying the day and living life like you always should live it."

Mississippi City United Methodist Church in Gulfport also held a second Easter service later Sunday morning.

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