Easter Sunrise Service
WHEN AND WHERE
The 245th Easter Sunrise Service will be held on Sunday, April 16, 2017, beginning at 6:00 AM and will be led by The Rt. Rev. Lane Sapp, pastor of Calvary Moravian Church. Worshipers will gather in front of Home Moravian Church, 529 S. Church Street (at the corner of Academy Street and S. Church Street) in Winston-Salem to begin the service. In reverent procession, worship continues as participants assemble in God’s Acre for the conclusion of the service.
Below are some of the areas available for parking during the Easter Sunrise Service:
- Old Salem lot off Salt St. (location of old Visitors Center)
- Old Salem upper Salt St. parking lot
- MESDA lot on east side of lower Main Street at cul-de-sac
- Old Salem Visitors Center parking lot at Walnut Street and Old Salem Road
- Salem College lot on Cemetery Street
- Salem Funeral’s parking lot (First Street between Main and Liberty Streets)
WHAT TO EXPECT
Once you park and walk into Old Salem, you will notice ushers at various locations. These people are available to direct you to your destination as well as answer general questions that you might have. It will be somewhat dark when you arrive and there is a fair amount of walking involved, so plan to dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. The dress for this service is casual and strollers and wheelchairs are welcome. If you are with someone in a wheelchair, you may drive into Old Salem near the square to release them and then leave to park your vehicle. Restroom facilities are available at various locations (click on link below) and any usher will be glad to help direct you. Our graveyard regulations do not allow pets in the graveyard or on Cedar Avenue, so please refrain from bringing pets to the service.
There will be a hospitality station in front of the Belo Home at 455 S. Main Street, near the Square. At this station, coffee and Moravian Sugar Cake will be served to the public at no charge.
As a precaution, Paramedics and ambulances will be available in case of an illness or accident. The EMS supervisor will operate the EMS golf cart and will be initially located at the Square, but will trail the procession to God’s Acre.
Since 1930 the Easter Sunrise Service of The Moravian Church has been broadcast yearly by WSJS, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is now available over the internet at WSJS.com. The Moravian Church expresses appreciation to WSJS for making possible an extensive witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Comments from persons attending the service or listening to it by radio will be appreciated. Send to The Moravian Church, 459 South Church Street, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27101.
Donations to support the maintenance and upkeep of the Salem Moravian Graveyard are greatly appreciated. We all want God’s Acre to continue to be the beautiful place it has always been and your continued generosity and support will make it possible. Please make checks payable to Salem Congregation designated for Salem Moravian Graveyard and mail to Salem Congregation, 501 S. Main Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.
EASTER GRAVESTONE CLEANING AND FLOWER PLACEMENT
Did you know that Salem Congregation provides a service where you can have your loved one’s gravestone cleaned and a flower placed at their grave each year at Easter? For a one-time fee of $1,000, we will provide this service each Easter for 30 years. If you live out of town or are unable to perform this service for any reason, you can have peace of mind knowing that this caring act is being performed. For more information, call the Salem Congregation office at 336-722-6504 or email email@example.com and we will mail you an application.
The Sunrise Service of the Moravians in Winston-Salem is an old service, rich in deep spiritual significance. It originated in Herrnhut, Saxony, a village which had been established in 1722 on the estate of Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf by a band of religious refugees, descendants of the Ancient Unitas Fratrum. On Easter Sunday in 1732, before dawn, a group of earnest young men met by special appointment on “God’s Acre” to sing appropriate hymns and to meditate upon the great fact of Christ’s death and resurrection. To these young men, as they stood among the simply marked graves, singing their songs of hope and faith, watching the rising sun drive darkness from the hills and valleys, there came a deeper appreciation of the resurrection truth than they had ever before experienced. With this simple beginning, the holding of a sunrise service on Easter morning became an annual feature in the worship services of the Moravian Church wherever it has established itself.
In Winston-Salem, this service, with little variation from the traditional and liturgical form, has been held since 1772 under the auspices of the Salem Congregation Churches. It is in no sense one of spectacular appeal or pageantry, but is held as a service of true worship, centering attention on the great underlying fact of the Christian Faith, THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST, through which God placed a seal of approval on Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and established the truth of the claims of our religion. The service offers each one who attends an opportunity to renew a faith in the Risen Christ, in “the communion of saints,” in “the forgiveness of sins,” and in “the life everlasting.”
THE GRAVEYARD – GOD’S ACRE
The site for the graveyard was selected April 21, 1766; the avenue bordering the graveyard was laid out in the year 1770; and the first body, that of John Birkhead, one of the eight men who first came to the settlement, was interred June 7, 1771.
The Moravians still call their graveyard by that significant and ancient name used by their ancestors – “God’s Acre”. It is a “field” in which the bodies of loved ones are sown in faith as “physical bodies,” in due time to be raised as “spiritual bodies.”
A feature of God’s Acre is the recumbent stones, symbolizing the Moravian belief in the democracy of death and making it impossible to distinguish between the graves of the rich and poor. The burial of members according to “choirs” or station in life (married men, married women, single men, single women, etc.) rather than by families, is another distinguishing feature, carrying out the departmental system which was introduced into the Moravian Church over two hundred years ago by Count Zinzendorf.
THE CHURCH BAND
Music was from the beginning assigned a prominent place in the Moravian Church, both for its cultural value and as an aid in the expression and development of the religious life. Congregational singing is made a feature of its services, and the Band is used to helpful advantage in the outdoor services, on festival occasions, and in the Moravian funeral service. Particular emphasis has been placed on the development of the Band, which had a small beginning with six members over two hundred years ago. It has grown from that small beginning to more than five hundred members. About two o’clock on Easter morning, all the Moravian musicians who play in the Band assemble in groups to go throughout the city playing chorales, partly to remind all listeners of the Resurrection, and partly to awaken people for the Sunrise Service. The first choral played by each group is “Sleepers, Wake!”
SEEKING OPPORTUNITY FOR SERVICE
While grateful for an honorable past, the Moravian Church is conscious of its present obligation and opportunity, and desires earnestly to fulfill its further mission. Accordingly, the church calls upon every person to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved,” to unite with a church of choice, and to enter into definite Christian witness and service for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom. In the Risen Christ is the hope of the world!