Grace Episcopal Church has been a part of our family life for over forty years. During these years, Grace played a large part in supporting Michele and me as we raised our family. Our two children, Katherine and Prescott E., were very active at church. They were acolytes, they attended Sunday school, sang in the youth choir, and they were also members of the youth group. Rev. Jen Adams took both of them on their Vision Quest which has given them a special bond with her. When Michele and I talk about Grace with our family, the glory of the Easter Sunrise Service seems to always become the topic of conversation.
The Sunrise service was very special. For many years our family took on the responsibility of planning and implementing the brunch that preceded the service. Both of our children worked hard to make decorations, set the tables, and to help in the kitchen. There were many Grace hands to help us cook and serve the food. The day before Easter, we would decorate the undercroft and made sure that no one saw what we were doing because Easter morning needed to be a surprise. All the tables were decorated with Easter candy, flower arrangements, and the bright yellow, pink and greens of Easter.
Easter morning came early for our family. It was dark because it was six o’clock in the morning. With sleepy eyes and a quick look at what the Easter Bunny brought, all of us put on our Easter clothes and loaded up in the van and off we would go to church. When we arrived, people were given little white candles with drip holders for the start off the service. The Sanctuary was dark and mysterious with just the sounds of peoples shoes clicking as they were finding their seat. It was a somber feeling. The service began with many prayers while people were gingerly holding their candle. Then, as if you were surprised at a birthday party, the lights went on, people started to ring bells, and acolytes paraded up and down the Sanctuary aisles wearing white gloves holding banners with bells chiming. The mysterious odor of incense filled the air. The organ bellowed out with joyful music announcing that the Lord has risen. The altar would be adorned with flowers and two banners displaying colorful butterflies seemed to fly up the wall on their own even though we knew someone was making this happen. There were many Easter mornings when the sun would shine through the stain glass windows with perfect timing. It was magical! After the service, everyone went to the undercroft to once again be uplifted by a beautiful Easter brunch. All the children loved the Easter candy and especially the French toast sticks. The undercroft was filled with the spirit of Easter.
Years have passed and times have changed. Easter at Grace is celebrated in a different manner now with an evening service with wonderful desserts enjoyed by all after the service. The past is the past, but the memories of our young children’s faces Easter morning will always be a very special moment in our lives at Grace.
Submitted by: Prescott Slee