He is risen: Locals celebrate Easter with sunrise service at Biblical History Center

Published 5:10 pm Sunday, April 1, 2018

A crowd of worshippers gathered at the Biblical History Center early Sunday morning to celebrate Easter while overlooking a replica of an empty tomb like the one disciples would have seen on that first Easter morning.

The sunrise service began in the chilly predawn hour, but about four dozen attendees sat transfixed by the combination of archeological insight and Biblical knowledge, even as they pulled jackets and blankets closer. The service was one of the first regular sunrise services to be established in LaGrange and is one of the few times that the center is open to the public at no charge.

“When we started it 10 years ago, we did not have many churches in LaGrange that had a sunrise celebration,” said Dr. James Fleming, the founder of the Biblical History Center. “We are not a church, but now other places are doing it as well. We thought it would be nice to do this and not charge for it, but to have an opportunity where you can be in a garden of replicas.”

That promise of seeing an open tomb at sunrise is part of what draws locals to the annual service.

“It gives you a visual picture of what it actually looked like in Jesus’ day on that resurrection morning,” said LaDonna Morris, a volunteer. “The lady looking into the tomb is a visual picture of the scene, so it makes scripture come alive to have it here.”

According to volunteers, Fleming is also one of the major reasons why people are attracted to the event and the center. Fleming has lived and worked in Israel since 1973 and is known for his archeological experience at 12 excavations in the country. Volunteers also pointed out that the Easter service is a great introduction to the center for first time visitors.

“From this, a lot of times they’ll come back and do the whole meal and tour, and that is when you really get it,” said Linda Frano, a volunteer. “This is nice because you learn things.”

The Biblical History Center is located at 130 Gordon Commercial Drive. For more information, visit Biblicalhistorycenter.com.