Niagara Gazette — YOUNGSTOWN — A brilliant red and yellow sun rose on the horizon, into nearly cloudless skies to the east.
At the same time, the moon could still be seen hanging in the western sky.
And on the parade grounds of Fort Niagara on Sunday, more than 150 of the Christian faithful gathered to celebrate their faith’s most sacred day.
“Christ the Lord is risen,” proclaimed the Rev. Dr. Rex Stewart, of First Presbyterian Church in Youngstown. “Alleluia!”
“Christ is risen indeed,” those gathered replied.
While the traditional Easter sunrise service at the fort is frequently marked by bitter cold temperatures, wind chills and crashing waves on the waters of Lake Ontario, this year was different. The lake was calm, the winds were still and even a flock of birds that rose from the water flew silently over head.
“We are blessed, O God of Life that on this day you raised Jesus from death,” the Rev. Bette Bond, of United Baptist Christian Church in Lewiston, told the crowd. “In him, we find eternal life.”
In an Easter message to the impromptu congregation representing churches and denominations from across the Niagara Region, the Rev. Robert Duerr, the interim Rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Youngstown, said the resurrection of Jesus means “(He) is calling you and me to tell the good news (of the Christian faith).”
“(Jesus) died, he was resurrected and he will come again,” Duerr said.
It was the first time that Duerr, a Western New York native, had participated in the annual sunrise service.
“I had heard about (the service),” he said afterward. “I had heard that it could be cold and wet, but that a large group (of worshippers) would show up.”
Duerr said the opportunity to preach the Christian gospel in the outdoors, at sunrise, on Easter Sunday, was “refreshing” and “rejuvenating.”