More than 9,000 people gathered for an Easter sunrise service on the beach of Marco Island, Fla., this past weekend, including small children in bathing suits, the elderly in beach wheelchairs, and dozens sitting in boats dotting the ocean.

“It’s grown exponentially over the years,” said Bill Lyle, pastor of Marco Presbyterian Church (PCA), the host of the event. “It’s become one of the biggest outreaches we do.” The church is comprised of 200 year-round attendees, which grows to 800 to 1,000 during the peak season.

Marco Island is just four by six miles wide, and is home to 10,000 year-round residents. The island’s population swells to 50,000 during the winter.

Marco Presbyterian’s Easter sunrise service, started 22 years ago, has become an annual tradition in Marco Island, and has grown through grassroots involvement. A handful of other local churches help host the service, community members pass out flyers, and police allow participants to camp out on the beach the night before.

“As the sun was rising during the service, I couldn’t tell the size of the crowd,” said Lyle, who preached a message titled, The King Lives—And It Isn’t Elvis. “But as the sun peeked through, as far as the eye could see there were people 180 degrees around.”

Lyle reports that many are attracted to the annual service because of a spiritual hunger. “People are more in tune spiritually and want to connect with something greater than themselves. They want the consistency of an Easter message.

“Our church motto is to minister across the island, bridge, and sea. And this service helps us do that.”

To learn more about Marco Presbyterian Church, visit www.marcochurch.com.

 

 

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