SUWANEE -- The symbolic blend of an Easter sunrise, nature and a worship experience is a powerful outdoor event.
"There's something about worshipping outside in nature and what God created that brings a different aspect than what I can do on Sunday morning within closed walls," said Bobby Linkous, pastor of Shadowbrook Baptist Church.
Linkous and pastors, musicians and worshipers from Suwanee area churches will meet for the eighth year at Town Center Park on Sunday for a 6:30 a.m. sunrise service. Sugarloaf United Methodist Church will provide free coffee, and the churches hope to top last year's crowd of about 1,500 people.
The hour-long interdenominational event, which consists of music, prayer and a three-part message from local pastors, gives parishioners the chance to still attend their Sunday school class or normal worship at their home church.
When Linkous was a kid, he loved to go to the sunrise Easter service at Stone Mountain Park, so when he came to Shadowbrook, he wanted to replicate that community worship experience.
"One of our purposes is to encourage people in their walk with Christ and their walk of faith," Linkous said. "If there's people out there that maybe wouldn't come to a traditional Sunday service, for them to hear the hope of the resurrection."
The sermon theme for this year's service is "Resurrection: Removing the Barriers."
"How the veil in the temple was torn, and how the stone was turned away, and all that was God's way of inviting us to draw close to him," Linkous said. "All the barriers between us and God moved away by what Christ did."
Linkous' goal was to bring together a community of faith, and each year they invite Suwanee churches to be a part of the event. Some have their own sunrise, or early morning worship, but several participate annually.
"My heart was always to see different denominations and followers of Christ all coming together on Easter Sunday morning," Linkous said. "Before we run off to our different churches and different denominations."
Churches participating are: Christ Church Suwanee, Suwanee First United Methodist, Mosaic Christian Fellowship, North Gwinnett Church, River's Edge, Suwanee First Baptist, Shadowbrook Baptist Church and Sugarloaf United Methodist.