Longview First United Methodist Church is planning a community-wide Easter sunrise service.
The service is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. on April 17 at the Heritage Plaza in downtown Longview.
Rev. Jay Jackson, UMC’s first senior pastor, said the church had hoped to hold the Sunrise Community Service for two years.
“We tried to do that for the previous two years and COVID shut us down,” he said. “We came up with this idea in 2019. We’ve always had a sunrise service, but we’ve always done it on the ground here at the church. So we are delighted to have this service there.
Jackson said Heritage Plaza was chosen because of its convenience.
“We wanted to do something that was more community-based,” he said. “It’s part of who we say we are and we thought with Heritage Plaza in such a great location, we were just going to take our sunrise service there and expand it to the whole community.”
The event will include singing and performances by members of the church’s traditional and contemporary worship services.
“We’ll also have a brass quintet and we’ll have about 15 minutes of music before the service,” Jackson said. “We just want to have celebratory community service for people. Our church’s mission statement is to be a beacon of hope for all and we wanted to do that…even in our worship offerings.
The church also showed its community outreach through its work with Wesley-McCabe United Methodist Church in Longview before it closed two years ago.
“They basically gave the building to us as a gift and we restored it and did community ministry there before,” Jackson said. “Now we have a new Hispanic pastor, Rick Aguilar, who is over there. So we are starting a new ministry in South Longview.
Jackson said the Easter sunrise service is just another way to show the church’s community involvement.
“We don’t know what kind of audience we’re going to have, but we have big hearts and open arms and hope to have a real celebration as we come together as a community,” he said.