Easter offerings to draw thousands to outdoor venues
by Marie Nesmith
Mar 25, 2012 | 2420 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Since 2006, Tabernacle Baptist Church has welcomed thousands of worshippers annually to its Easter Sunday service at Cartersville High School’s Weinman Stadium.
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For two Cartersville churches, Tabernacle Baptist and West Ridge, conducting Easter-related offerings in larger, outdoor venues has enabled them to reach thousands of people, many of whom are without a church home.

Partnering with Cartersville Parks and Recreation Department, West Ridge, previously known as Oak Leaf Church, will sponsor one of the largest egg hunts in the county on Saturday. Expected to draw about 2,000 people, the Cartersville Egg Drop -- billed as an "Easter egg hunt with a twist" -- will be a free event at Dellinger Park, 100 Pine Grove Road.

"The reason behind the Egg Drop in my mind is very simple, we at the church believe that God has put us in this community to be a blessing to this community, to love this community, to offer hope to this community," said James Griffin, lead pastor for West Ridge's Cartersville campus. "So Egg Drop for us is really an event, along with all the other events we do throughout the year, to accomplish that purpose.

"We just want to provide a time for our community to come out and be blessed by our church. So [there are] no strings attached. We want people to leave feeling hopeful and knowing that we love them and, more importantly, that God loves them."

Like last year's offering, a helicopter will drop plastic eggs at various times, beginning at 11 a.m. With a total of about 50,000 eggs available, the children will be divided into age groups on four fields. These changes in logistics have helped the event run much smoother than its first year in 2008, when the eggs were released at one time and location.

After retrieving the eggs, children ages 2 through 12 will trade them for candy. While the egg hunts will be the highlight of the day, other activities will include food and craft vendors, music, inflatables for children and a visit from the Easter bunny.

While the event and registration will begin at 10 a.m., adults are encouraged to sign up their children in advance by visiting www.theeggdrop.com.

As West Ridge is organizing its Dellinger Park activity, Tabernacle Baptist is busy preparing for its Easter Sunday worship service at Cartersville High School's Weinman Stadium. The program on April 8 will begin with music at 9:30 a.m., followed by the 10 a.m. service.

"Although we have multiple services, the services were very full, and in order to accommodate more people, we wanted to go to a different setting," said Dr. Don Hattaway, senior pastor for Tabernacle Baptist. "Also, it's good to be outside and to just worship in a different environment sometimes. It's so easy for us to [be] attached to a building or a particular place and equate that with worship. Certainly there's nothing wrong with having a building and worship in it, of course, but sometimes it's good to get away from that particular setting.

"And what better place and what better time than Easter Sunday morning to get outside and feel the warmth of the sun and look at the beautiful creation that God has made and worship him? So it provides more space, so we can accommodate more people. It provides a wonderful environment for worship, and we also wanted to reach out to folks in our community who typically don't go to church anywhere. There are many folks who don't have a church home. So this provides us an opportunity to reach out to them and invite them to come in and share that time with us."

The outdoor service, which has been held since 2006, generally draws nearly 3,000 worshippers. Referring to the service as uplifting and encouraging, Hattaway said his message will be one of hope, victory and new life.

"We live in troubling times. There's a lot of fear," Hattaway said. "Folks are worried about their jobs. They're worried about the environment, and they're worried about the economy, relationships. All kinds of troubles are plaguing people. So the message that Sunday morning will be a message of victory and hope. It's a message of new life. It's a message of how that God loves us so much even though we're sinners, he has sent his son, Jesus, to die for us. And his death on the cross was a sacrifice for our sins and the resurrection is God's proclamation of victory that the sacrifice was accepted, that forgiveness has been made available for all who by faith trust Christ.

"So that is in essence the message. It's simply a message of hope, a message of victory that I think will resonate with many in our community who are really struggling ... I never come away from [this] service without being uplifted and encouraged and I think everybody who attends comes away with the same type of experience. So just being together with God's people worshipping the Lord is a tremendous blessing."

Following the outdoor Egg Drop, West Ridge will return to its Cartersville campus, 245 S. Tennessee St., to present five Easter services. There will be worship opportunities on Saturday, April 7, at 5 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 8, at 9, 10:30 and 11:59 a.m.

"Easter for us this year, we're talking about two things," Griffin said. "We're talking about being reunited and being resurrected. So basically, we're just talking about the hope that Jesus offers people in this life in bringing us into a relationship with God and also the hope that he brings us in the next life, knowing that with Jesus we can die hopeful people and know that we're going to live in eternity with him and one day live in his kingdom together as resurrected people just like Jesus was resurrected.

"So basically a few hopes -- we want Easter to be about hope; we want Easter to be a time where people hear about the love that God has for them and expressed for them in Jesus; we want people to walk out of here knowing that eternal life isn't something that starts a long time from now when somebody dies but it can start now and you can experience the hope of that now here in this life as well. So that's a lot of what it's centered around."

For more information on West Ridge's Easter services, visit www.westridge.com or call 770-222-2125. Further details on Tabernacle Baptist's offerings can be found at www.tabernaclebaptist.org or by calling 770-382-1977.

For more details on Easter-related activities throughout the county, view upcoming editions of The Daily Tribune News, especially the Family & Living page on Thursdays.