Sunrise service held in Mansfield

Mansfield United Protestant Church Pastor Ric Bayless gave the Easter sermon at the Sunrise Service in Mansfield Blue Stem Park on April 21. (Empire Press photo/Adrienne Douke)


By Adrienne Douke
Empire Press Correspondent

Mansfield United Protestant Church and the Mansfield Community Church held their annual sunrise service April 21 in Blue Stem Park.

The sunrise service combines both churches in a longstanding tradition of one church giving the Easter sermon and the other hosting a breakfast following the service

This year, United Protestant Pastor Ric Bayless gave the sermon, and the Community Church hosted the breakfast.

The service included several Easter songs along with an old favorite — “He is Risen,” lead by Diana Mickelson.

Mickelson has played music for the sunrise services for over 20 years, and many times in spite of inclement weather. However, this Easter morning dawned bright and clear. “And the wind stopped blowing,” Mickelson said.

The Easter message was about the gift of eternal life given by Jesus Christ, and how many people pass up on this wonderful gift. Bayless’ sermon told the story of an experiment that a professor of theology gave to his class. The experiment was done to demonstrate how the gift of eternal life through the death of Jesus and his resurrection was given for us, whether we accept that gift or not.

The instructor asked one of his students to do 10 push-ups for each student in exchange for a doughnut for that student — whether the student wanted the doughnut or not. With each declined doughnut and each set of 10 push ups, the students became more uncomfortable.

The instructor said that Christ gave his life for us whether we accept the gift of eternal life or not but perhaps it is best to accept the gift — or doughnut — so graciously given.

“The work has already been done,” Bayless said, “For our redemption and salvation.”

Concluding the service, everyone who attended was invited to partake in a buffet-style breakfast in the Community Church basement, which included a scrambled egg and sausage casserole, fruit plate, a variety of muffins and coffee. The fellowship and food provided a welcome opportunity for everyone to gather after the service.

“Over the years, both churches look forward to the Easter sunrise service and the breakfast afterwards. The shared Easter celebration is important as we spend time with fellow Christians to remember Christ’s death on the cross,” said Nancy Harshaw, wife of Community Church Pastor LeRoy Harshaw.