On Easter morning (March 31), St. Barnabas’ Episcopal Church will celebrate the day with a sunrise service beginning at 7 a.m.
The service is open to the wider community. The hymns for the service will be led by a choir comprised of members of both the Pioneer Valley Chamber Ensemble (directed by Pamela Dale) and the Tooele County Choral Society (directed by Denise McCubbin). The service will be led by The Rev. Rick Whittaker, Vicar of St. Barnabas’, who promises that the homily given that morning will be among the best ever given in the history of the Christian Church.
The service will be modeled on an ancient liturgy called The Great Vigil of Easter. In the ancient service the people gathered at sunset to see the kindling of a new fire, the lighting of the Paschal Candle, hear the chanting of the Exsultet (a hymn of praise, the earliest text of which dates from about the Seventh Century but which likely dates to the Fifth Century or earlier), and spend the entire night, from sunset to sunrise, hearing readings from scripture that tell the history of God’s salvation of the people. At sunrise, with the words, “Alleluia, Christ is Risen!” the service shifts to an Easter celebration.
The Eucharistic (Communion) Prayer which will be used is an English translation of The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil, an Orthodox liturgy attributed to Basil the Great (Fourth Century). All of the service elements are found in the Book of Common Prayer used by The Episcopal Church.
“I am very excited to open our doors to the community for this Easter celebration and for the people to experience some of the mystery of these ancient liturgies,” Whittaker said. “I am also happy that the collection taken at this service will go to benefit Tooele County Relief Services and Food Bank.”
St. Barnabas’ Episcopal Church was founded in Tooele in 1963 and is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year. The church has been in its present location (1784 Aaron Drive) with its distinctive architecture since 2005. St. Barnabas’ is happy to make its facility available to a variety of community groups, including both the Pioneer Valley Chamber Ensemble and the Tooele County Choral Society, The Utah Foster Care Foundation and Alcoholics Anonymous.