EASTPORT, Maine — A dozen people gathered on the Eastport breakwater early Sunday for an Easter sunrise service, a ritual repeated across the country, but no where as early as in Washington County, where the morning sun first strikes the East Coast of the U.S.
The official time of sunrise was 5:36 a.m.
The sun itself was invisible as the harbor and nearby islands were wrapped in fog, but the congregation watched as the dark night sky slowly changed to a deep periwinkle color and finally light blue.
The event was hosted by Cornerstone Baptist Church and Pastor Mark Edwards.
The sounds of sea birds beginning the hunt for their breakfast accompanied the congregation’s prayers and hymns, which echoed off the sea.
While the rest of the city appeared to remain asleep, Edwards led the six men and six women in prayer, reading scripture and singing hymns such as “Jesus Christ is Risen Today,” a timeless Easter tradition, and “He Arose.”
There were no fancy Easter bonnets or Sunday dresses. A cool breeze kept jackets, scarves and hats in place.
As the holiest of holidays in the Christian religion, Easter marks the resurrection of Christ and signifies a time of rebirth.
“This is the third year we have held the sunrise service,” Edwards said. “Some years we’ve had two people come. Some years, 20. Some years it has been raining, cold and even snowing.”
Sunday dawned foggy but at a relatively comfortable 41 degrees at Eastport.
“Celebrating here at the breakwater puts us all on common ground,” Edwards said, “and in sight of the islands, the mountains, the beaches — God’s creations.”
The congregation continued their Easter celebration with a breakfast at the church and a second service at 10 a.m.