Three Local churches join to celebrate Easter sunrise at Lake View Cemetery
Where else can you hear a sousaphone played by one who once dotted the “i” in Script Ohio, but at sunrise in Cleveland Heights on Easter Sunday? Bob Windle, of Shaker Heights, the i-dotter, who in 1960, in the fall of his senior year at Ohio State University, is that sousaphone player. He has been playing his instrument as part of a brass band for seven years at the Easter Sunrise Service, sponsored by three local United Methodist Churches and open to all early risers.
The idea for a sunrise service at Lake View Cemetery originated in the mid 1980s with the Rev. Sally Dyke of Church of the Redeemer (S. Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights). She and a church member decided that the cross monument of the John L. Severance family, at the crest of the ravine east of the Garfield Monument, would be the ideal location for an Easter service. By the mid '90s, South Euclid Hillcrest United Methodist Church (S. Green Rd.) and Church of the Saviour (Lee and Bradford roads in Cleveland Heights) had joined Church of the Redeemer, to carry on the tradition. The Rev. Elizabeth Nau (Hillcrest), the Rev. Daniel Bogre (Saviour), and the Rev. Karen Graham (Redeemer), led the 2010 sunrise worship service.
When Easter occurs after daylight savings time has begun, people begin to gather in darkness a little before the 6:30 a.m. starting time. This year after headlights were turned off, the brilliant half moon helped guide worshippers to the Severance Cross. Gradually, as the glow before dawn became brighter and as the brass band began to tune up, friends and neighbors recognized each other and stood close together against the morning chill. A few, less able to stand, brought chairs, and some brought their coffee mugs.
Adding to the music of the brass band were the birds. A flock of Canada geese added their quacking to the band’s music as they flew overhead, a woodpecker added its drumbeat, and numerous smaller birds provided treble accompaniment.
This year, the Easter Sunday weather was relatively mild. Many will remember the Easter of 2008, when the temperature was far below freezing and snow was on the ground. Yet the service that year was well attended, attesting to the appeal that being in the garden early Easter morning has for many Christians. In 2010, as the final prayer was said and the final hymn was sung, the sun had risen, signaling the beginning of a glorious Easter Sunday.
The three sponsoring churches invite everyone to the April 24, 2011, sunrise service on what may prove to be an even warmer Easter day.
Arleen Twist is a 45-year resident of Cleveland Heights and a member of Church of the Saviour.