As the sun rises over campus on Easter Sunday, students can gather to remember the morning on which Christ rose from the dead and brought victory over sin and the grave. For several decades, BJU’s Easter Sunrise Service has led students as well as people from the community to focus on Christ’s resurrection.
Dr. Bruce McAllister, professor in the Division of Practical Studies and director of outreach ministries, said the service will be held at 7 a.m. at Alumni Stadium on the bleachers closest to the Davis Field House. If it rains on Easter morning, the Sunrise Service will be held in Stratton Hall. McAllister said about 300 people usually attend the event.
Junior Bible major Tim Endean, an organizer of this event along with other ministerial students, said this year’s Sunrise Service will include prayer and congregational hymns such as “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.” He said the congregational hymns focus on the sufferings of Christ and will prepare those in attendance for the resurrection hope expounded upon in the sermon.
Special music will be provided by a brass ensemble and the Master’s Men outreach group, which is composed of both undergraduate and graduate men who travel and minister to churches in South Carolina and the surrounding states.
After praising the Lord with song and prayer, the president of the ministerial class, Caleb Phelps, will preach a brief sermon, directing the attenders’ attention to the importance of Christ’s resurrection.
Phelps said his sermon will focus on the message of 1 Corinthians 15, specifically verse 14: “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” He said this passage points out the necessity of Christ’s resurrection to the believer’s faith.
After participating for two years in BJU’s Sunrise Service, Endean said it brings Christ’s resurrection into greater focus and properly sets his mind on Christ in preparation for the rest of Easter Sunday.
To prepare for this annual event, Endean suggested that students set aside personal time to pray and meditate on Christ’s sufferings and death during the Passion week so that the joy found in Christ’s resurrection will be more meaningful.
Junior special education major Abby Troutman said she attended last year’s Easter Sunrise Service because the event was out of the ordinary and would introduce her to a new experience. She said the rising sun and the surrounding scenery helped her visualize the Resurrection morning. “I would encourage [students] to go because it reminds us of what Christ did for us,” she said. “It reminds us of the victory we have in Christ.”
Rebecca Dahlhausen, also a junior special education major, said she still tells people about her experience at last year’s Sunrise Service. “It radically transformed the way I live my Christian life every day,” she said. Last year, as Caleb Walker preached about resurrection power, she said she realized what that power’s role meant in her own life.
“The same power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power inside of me that allows me to overcome sin and to be faithful,” she said. “That is immensely empowering when you look at the struggle of being faithful in your Christian walk.”
Dahlhausen said the spiritual fruit from the Sunrise Service was well worth getting up early in the cold. “It’s just encouraging to spend time reflecting on who God is and what He’s done for us [while] in the beauty of His creation,” she said.
As songs resound in praise to God and the Scriptures speak to hearts, students and others from the community can begin their days remembering the remarkable morning when the sun rose on an empty tomb and revealed our resurrected Savior.