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Remembering the Resurrection
Churches, Christian businesses prepare for Easter Sunday
Holy Week 2 es
Connie Hitt on Tuesday arranges a display of popular items for Holy Week and Easter sold at Heavenly Dove in Cumming. Sales at the Christian bookstore are up during the Easter season, Hitt said. - photo by Emily Saunders
For Newell Graham and his congregation, Easter Sunday marks the end of a very important week.

Graham, who is interim rector of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit, said his congregation began Holy Week this year, like many other churches, with a Palm Sunday service.

“We have a procession, we bless the palms and people carry the palms and they sing hymns,” Graham said. “It’s kind of a matter of recreating the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and then once they get into the church the whole mood changes and it focuses on the passion,” or the suffering, of Jesus.

In addition to attending religious services, Easter is also a time for gift-giving. Connie Hitt and Lori Gilstrap of Heavenly Dove Christian Books said they have seen an increase in sales this week.

Hitt said Resurrection Eggs, which are used to explain the events of Holy Week to children, and crucifixes have been some of their top sellers.
“Children’s Bibles do good too,” Hitt said. “Those are the big sellers — the books, the Bibles, stuff like that.”

Graham said the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit is also holding noon devotionals, known as stations of the cross, Monday through Friday and will observe Maundy Thursday today and Good Friday tomorrow. Holy Week will end with an Easter celebration Sunday.

Maundy Thursday services are often somber and recall the Last Supper, while on Good Friday, many Christians observe the Crucifixion.

Easter marks the day of Jesus’ resurrection from death.

“It’s very important to realize you can’t get (to Easter) without going through the rest of it,” he said. “That’s not to say we get a lot of people doing that but it is to say that you can’t have one without having to go through the misery of the other.”

Holy Week fell this year during the same week as Forsyth County Schools’ spring break. He said that has had an impact on the number of those who have attended this week’s services.

He said the situation reminds him of something he read several years ago in a book about Christian education.

“Remember, our Lord said feed ’em, he didn’t say count ’em,” Graham said. “So I just concentrate on making the experiences of worship available and I’m grateful for whoever comes, but if I fixate on who’s not there I don’t think that furthers the cause a whole lot.”

Other churches in the area have also seen a slight decrease this week because of students being out of school.

John Cromartie, senior pastor at Cumming First United Methodist Church, said attendance is also affected by recreational activity schedules, which sometimes include Sunday games.

“There are many members who will be in church whatever happens,” Cromartie said. “Spring break is especially problematic in that a lot of the families travel and so we do see a downturn in our attendance and activities during the week when it falls during Holy Week.”

He said the church will have a Maundy Thursday service and a Good Friday service at noon. The church has scheduled three Easter Sunday services, including one at sunrise.

Cromartie said for Christians Holy Week is “sort of the culmination of the faith journey.”

“We’ve been preparing for Easter throughout the 40 days of Lent,” he said. “Then during Holy Week we really celebrate those last events that led to the cross, which Christians understand is the meaningful place where God deals with sin and redemption of humankind through the work of the cross.”

Cromartie said his church is expecting about 3,000 people to attend services Sunday.

Cumming Baptist Church’s Maundy Thursday service will include a little drama, said associate pastor Mark Wood.

“It’s about remembering Christ from the time of the Last Supper with his disciples until he was crucified and we’ll have the observances of the Lord’s Supper and then have a couple of monologues,” Wood said. “People will get up and portray a particular character. In this case it’s going to be Pontius Pilate.”

Wood said the church choir will also perform tonight.

He said the church will have a Resurrection celebration Sunday and on Saturday a family Easter egg hunt will be held.

“That’s a family event but we also invite the community to be a part of that and share the story of Easter during that time,” Wood said.

E-mail Julie Arrington at