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Date of Issue: April 12, 2007

Rising with the sun: 1,000 gather for Easter service

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With Manatee Public Beach as their house of worship, attendees at the 43rd annual Easter Sunrise Service listen to the Rev. Rosemary Backer of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church read from the Bible - Matthew 28:1-5. The Anna Maria Island Kiwanis Club organized and sponsored the service, which began at 6:45 a.m. on the beach in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff
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With Manatee Public Beach as their house of worship, attendees at the 43rd annual Easter Sunrise Service listen to the Rev. Rosemary Backer of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church read from the Bible - Matthew 28:1-5. The Anna Maria Island Kiwanis Club organized and sponsored the service, which began at 6:45 a.m. on the beach in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff
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Easter surprise seekers race across lawn
Kids rushed out the doors of St. Bernard Catholic Church on Easter Sunday afternoon to seek eggs and surprises hidden on the church's bayfront grounds. Islander Photos: Annie and Lisa Williams
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Amaya Rivera collects a blue Easter egg for her basket.

With a splash of pink in the eastern sky, the music began - a prelude to the Easter sunrise service on the beach.

An estimated 1,000 assembled on Manatee Public Beach April 8 for the program, the 43rd Easter sunrise service organized and sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Kiwanis Club. The worshippers assembled with lawn chairs, wrapped in blankets and zipped in jackets on the chilly morning.

On a platform on the beach, with a white wooden cross beside them, were the clergy representing the Island churches.

Beside them on the dais was Rich Bohnenberger, who as a member of the Kiwanis Club and mayor of the city in which the service took place, welcomed the worshipers.

The mayor also offered thanks for support - the Kiwanis members, Cafe on the Beach for the use of its facilities, Holmes Construction for the stage, the Key Royale Club for the podium and The Islander newspaper for the printed program.

As the sun came up behind them, Island clergy participated in their first service of the holy day. The Rev. Harry Parsell of the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation gave the invocation, Bohnenberger gave a military service prayer in the place of the Rev. Jim Meena, who was absent due to an injury, the Rev. Rosemary Backer of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and the Rev. Dale Lawson of Crosspointe Fellowship read from the scriptures, the Rev. Gary Batey of Roser Memorial Community Church gave the offertory and the Rev. Stephen King of Harvey Memorial Community Church delivered the sermon.

King's sermon was titled "The Main Thing" and he spoke of "the son rising" as the sun rose over the Island.

"I've attended this service every year for years," said Paula Richter of Bradenton. "I think it is a beautiful way to celebrate life."

Richter's son, Neal, 6, said, "I like it too."