As Easter approaches, churches across The Laker/Lutz News coverage area are preparing for a host of spiritual activities.
Some churches will be hosting Good Thursday, Holy Friday and Easter Vigil services, while others will be focusing primarily on Easter Sunday services.
There will be community events, as well, to celebrate the season.
In Zephyrhills, the Zephyrhills-Wesley Chapel Ministerial Association will be leading the annual Good Friday Walk of the Cross.
Adults and families are invited to the walk, which takes participants on a 1 ½-mile pilgrimage with stops outside seven Zephyrhills churches.
Along the way, individuals take turns carrying the cross to different churches, and at each stop, a scriptural verse and reflection is shared.
The first stop on the walk will be on March 25 at 5:30 p.m., at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, at 5316 11th Street. The walk concludes about 6:45 p.m., at the First United Methodist Church, 38635 Fifth Ave., where there will be a Good Friday service.
“This is such an amazing event, to have people from all different faiths and all different styles and denominations of Christianity, coming together for something in unity,” said Dennis Harmeson, president of the ministerial association. Until he participated in the walk, he said, “I had never seen anything like it,” regarding people’s willingness to lay aside the things they disagree about, in a show of unity about the things they agree on.
On Easter Sunday, Florida Hospital Zephyrhills will partner with the ministerial association to present an annual Easter sunrise service, on March 27, beginning at 7 a.m. It will be on the front lawn of the hospital’s campus at 7050 Gall Blvd.
The service will feature a message from Dennis Harmeson, pastor at Zephyrhills Wesleyan Church, and music by Craig Garrison, a pharmacy regulatory specialist and volunteer spiritual ambassador at Florida Hospital Tampa, who is also a resident of Zephyrhills.
An offering will be taken for The Good Samaritan Project of Zephyrhills and for the ministerial association, which both are nonprofit organizations, and the hospital will provide complimentary refreshments.
Because of limited seating, the hospital suggests that those attending bring a lawn chair. The event will be held, rain or shine.
The sunrise service at the hospital is a tradition that began around 1985, said Doug Higgins, chaplain at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills.
“It’s kind of a gift to the community from the hospital, to encourage this important celebration of the year,” he said.
One of the highlights is the release of a dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, Higgins said.
“That’s a great symbol of Christ’s resurrection, and new life within us, as well,” he explained.
The service typically draws about 1,500 people, he said.
Harmeson, who will be the main speaker at the sunrise service, said he will be focusing on the resurrection of Christ and “how we react, moving forward with the knowledge Christ died for us.”
Scores of churches of various Christian denominations also are planning special services leading up to Easter and on Easter Sunday, and we have some of those services in our What’s Happening section this week. Many churches also have information about the themes and times for their services posted on their websites.
Published March 23, 2016