Rain moves sunrise service inside

Mar. 31, 2013 @ 04:28 PM

Before the sun rose Easter morning, it began to rain.

The plans to hold an Easter Sunrise Service in Duke Gardens, where the flowers would be blooming and the rising sun would illuminate the day, washed away, and the service was moved to Duke Chapel.

The magnificent chapel sheltered the worshippers from the rain, and they heard the Easter message that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Some were disappointed that the rains shifted the service inside, including the Rev. Meghan Feldmeyer, director of worship at the chapel.

“It is disappointing because so much of the fun in the service in the gardens is we’re outside in the garden in the same way Jesus appeared to Mary in the garden,” Feldmeyer said. “The garden is a beautiful location.”

When the weather is good, about 1,000 people usually attend the services in the gardens, she said. She estimated between 500 and 600 attended the sunrise service in the chapel, which was also scheduled to hold services at 9 a.m., and 11 a.m. Sunday.

Duke freshman Lawrence Stevenson and his two friends rose early for the sunrise service at the garden but checked the website and saw that the location had been moved to the chapel.

“The plan the whole time was to come to the sunrise service,” he said. “We heard it was the best one.”

It was the first time they attended a sunrise service at Duke.

“I was excited  about being outside and watching the sunrise but we understand the rain,” said Blake Dwyer, also a freshman at Duke. “We hope next year the weather will allow it to be outside.”

Inside the chapel, Easter lilies spilled over the front railing and five-part wind music from Johann Pezel played over the speakers as the worshippers gathered.

Feldmeyer greeted them, saying “Christ is risen!” and the people replied. “He is risen indeed!”

Dressed in a white robe, Jeff Nelson, a chapel worship intern, led the worshipers in the prayer for illumination.

The Rev. Bruce Puckett gave the sermon called “Terrified to Testifying,” which told the story of the women who first discovered the empty tomb and how they were frightened but then went on to spread the word that Jesus had risen.

In the end, it was the message and not the location that was important to those in Duke Chapel.

“It is still beautiful,” Feldmeyer said, adding that God was with them.

The Duke students also appreciated the service, despite having to rise before dawn.

“It was absolutely worth getting up in the morning,” Dwyer said.