The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 2, 2012

Area churches mark Easter with variety of events

JOPLIN, Mo. — The season of Lent is upon us. It will soon climax with Easter Sunday on April 8, winding up a variety of religious activities and observances, as well as a number of a secular events that inevitably accompany this holiest of holy days.

Intertwined with this 40-day period called Lent, which serves as a time for reflection and penance, is an abundance of joyous moments largely suited for children. Each year around this time visions of Easter egg hunts, Easter baskets, bunnies and parades dance through our heads.

Bringing this into focus even more is a national media event for children, the Easter egg roll, which is held on the White House lawn. Joplin-area churches are no different than others, with many, if not most, incorporating the fun-filled worldly activities into their religious itineraries.

Take Calvary Baptist, for instance. Calvary, which has long played a leading role among Joplin churches, will hold its usual special needs and preschool Easter egg hunt, and will also have an added attraction that might easily fall under the category of spectacular.

Brad Graves, who took over as the Calvary pastor on Easter Sunday last year, issued a challenge to his staff to try and come up with something different than the usual egg hunts by so many other churches. They did. It presented itself in the form of “The Big Egg Drop.”

An estimated 20,000 (supposedly unbreakable) colorful eggs will be dropped from a helicopter. That, along with the egg hunts and a live band performing, will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on April 7 at the church, 600 E. 50th St. By the way, no one is required to pre-register to attend the free event.

On a more down-to-earth note, Calvary will begin a three-week dramatic series, “The King,” on Sunday. The first installment will be “The Rejected King,” followed by “The Resurrected King” on Easter Sunday and “The Returning King” on April 15.

Each drama, which will feature actors, choir and orchestra members from Calvary, will begin at 9:30 a.m. More information on any of Calvary’s events may be obtained by calling 781-1841, or by going to the church website, www.calvaryjoplin.com.

The Joplin Family Worship Center, 5290 E. Seventh St., is combining the fun of an Easter egg hunt for children 12 and under with the seriousness of helping families continue to recover from last year’s tornado.

The city-wide connection event is called “The Reach,” an arm of Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Fort Worth, Texas, and Feed the Children, of Oklahoma City. It gets under way at 10 a.m. today.

Easter baskets of another kind Ñ those containing food for the needy Ñ will be distributed at the same time that children search for the eggs. Anyone wishing to reserve a voucher for the food baskets may call the church at 623-6134, extension 25.

One thing you can always count on in Joplin around Easter is a revival. Such is the case with Camp Joy Ministries and Faith Fellowship Church, sponsors of a revival that began Friday, continues at 6 p.m. today and winds up at 10 a.m. Sunday at Camp Joy, 3125 W. 20th St.

Plays and dramatic interpretations surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ take place in many churches. Typical of this is the monodrama “The Chosen,” being performed by Mary Robinson, wife of Dave Robinson, pastor of Tennessee Prairie Church, 11370 S.E. 110th St., in Galena, Kan.

This performance, which presents a view of the life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of his mother, Mary, will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday. More details may be obtained by calling 620-856-5494.

Then there is Faith Lutheran Church of Carthage. The Rev. Timothy Buelow and staff like to do something for children each year, but at the same time, are careful not to leave parents out. This is where Parents Day Out comes in.

Parents with children from 3 years old through sixth-grade may drop off their youngsters at the church, 2134 Grand Ave., from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. The children will be well taken care of with lots of crafts and other activities, and will also receive a religious enlightenment on what Holy Week is all about.

“We’ve done Christmas for Kids before and wanted to try this, too,” said Buelow, who has five children of his own. “It’s an idea we got from some of our sister congregations around the country.”

If you are a history buff like me, you might be interested in knowing that the earliest mention of Easter services in the United States came in 1809 when the Rev. Anthony Kohlmann celebrated Easter Sunday Mass with his Catholic congregation. However, Easter itself was not widely celebrated in America until after the Civil War.

Lucy Hayes, wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes, sponsored the first Easter egg roll on the White House lawn in 1878. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt made the event, in which children roll Easter eggs with little sticks, a media attraction, greeting visitors and listeners throughout America on nationwide radio.

Although the egg roll was canceled for 10 years, it was reintroduced by Dwight Eisenhower, who served as president from 1953 to 1961, and became an elaborate event, complete with races, a circus and petting zoo.

The onset of the Easter season begins with Lent, a 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday and representing the 40 days that Jesus spent alone in the wilderness before beginning his ministry.

Holy Week is the week before Easter. It includes Maundy Thursday, marking Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, as well as Good Friday, honoring the day of his crucifixion, and Holy Saturday, which focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection.

Also, let us not forget the 50-day period following Easter Sunday, Eastertide, which includes a celebration of Jesus’ ascension into heaven.

Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email richbrown@cableone.net.

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