Over 100 people attended the Easter Sunrise service behind the Cornell Fine Arts Museum Sunday morning at 7 a.m. The service was well attended by Winter Park community members, but not by students of Rollins College.
“Easter is everything; without it there is no salvation, no eternal life, no hope,” said Karla Jongema, mother of a Rollins freshman in the Chamber Choir.
Rollins holds a sunrise service on Easter to celebrate one of the most significant events in Christian history, the resurrection of Jesus following the crucifixion. To many Christians, this is the most significant holiday of the year, as it represents the reason for their faith.
Rollins hosts a sunrise service every year in connection with the First Congregational Church of Winter Park, the church that founded the college.
“I enjoy the outdoors and the natural beauty,” said Tom Barker, whose daughter is a member of FCC. “I always look forward to these Easter morning services.”
The service was held on the patio behind the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Surrounded by old trees hung with Spanish moss, chirping birds, and a gentle sunrise over the lake. Needless to say, the service had a peaceful and surreal feeling to it. Beige, plastic seats were set up on either side of Reverend Garvey, some on the raised patio where his podium stood and some behind him on the grass leading to the lake.
The Rollins chamber choir provided a beautiful performance of several classic hymns that carried gently down the street in the sweet morning air. Members of the audience followed along, reading from their bright yellow programs that had each hymn printed on the pages behind the schedule.
Among this ethereal event of natural beauty, Garvey provided a grounding message on the human aspect of the resurrection story.
He asked the congregation to consider the emotional and psychological state of the many people involved in the Easter story upon discovering Jesus was not in the tomb. Garvey titled this message “Terrified.”
Despite his fine white robes and the grand nature of Easter, Garvey’s friendly and personable energy made the message accessible. A style that makes him notably different from the previous Dean of the Chapel, Reverend Powers.
“Garvey is more casual than Powers was,” said Barker, who has attended the Rollins Easter service for the last five years, “but his message is always good.”