Miami Beach church welcomes all to Easter Sunday sunrise service at ocean

From dressed in their Sunday best to flip-flops, bathing suits and cover-ups, crowds flocked early Easter Sunday to the beach, where greeters welcomed them with big smiles saying, “God Bless you.”

For its 24th consecutive year, Calvary Chapel Miami Beach has celebrated Easter Sunday with a sunrise service promptly starting 7 a.m.

The service, at 73rd and Ocean Terrace, consisted of worship songs performed by the church’s band; a message by Robert Fountain, Calvary Chapel’s senior pastor; and, at the end, baptisms in the ocean.

“Before we even had a physical place where to gather as a church, we have been gathering at the beach on Easter for Resurrection Sunday,” Fountain said.

Open to anyone interested, the service attracted regular churchgoers, as well as passersby neighbors who woke early to jog on the beach or walk their dogs.

Aventura resident Rich Lombardi has been coming to watch the sunrise, sing worship songs and hear a short Easter message for the past three years.

“There’s nothing like this, we get to appreciate living in such a beautiful place and there’s nothing like spending this important date with family,” Lombardi said.

It was a family occasion for Miami Beach resident Sheila Mayo. Along with her 1½ year-old daughter and parents, Mayo celebrated her one-year anniversary since being baptised in last years’ sunrise service.

“I tried it all before, I was a Buddhist, I did yoga, you name it,” Mayo said. “But it was here I found my true happiness and feeling the love of a family that’s always there. My church family.”

Since her baptism, Mayo has become an active member of Calvary Miami Beach, attending several of the weekly activities offered.

“Today, we try to make Easter all about details, church or the type of music,” Fountain said. “These aren’t bad things, but they aren’t the answer. Jesus is the answer to our human needs.”