On Sunday, more than 2 billion Christians around the globe celebrated Jesus’ resurrection from the dead with joyful church services – many of them held outdoors at sunrise.
Easter, Resurrection Sunday, Pascha – the day goes by several names. The most important holiday on the Christian calendar traditionally includes the reading of Gospel accounts about how Mary Magdalene and then the Apostles went to Jesus’ tomb on that first Easter Sunday, only to find it empty.
In uptown Charlotte, four Presbyterian churches came together for a multiracial sunrise service at Romare Bearden Park: First Presbyterian, First United Presbyterian, Grier Heights Presbyterian and Caldwell Memorial Presbyterian.
The first known Easter sunrise service happened in 1732, near what is now the Czech Republic. After an all-night prayer vigil, some Moravians went to the town cemetery and sang hymns to the risen Jesus.
Now, the early outdoor services are a tradition, mostly among Protestant churches. They are held near dawn because that, the Gospels say, is when Mary Magdalene and other women who followed Jesus approached his tomb.
This year, Eastern Orthodox Christians, with roots in Greece, Russia, Ukraine and several other countries, celebrated Pascha – their preferred word for Easter – on the same day as Catholics and Protestants. Churches in the West follow the Gregorian calendar; churches in the East, the Julian calendar.
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