By Karen D. Lorentz
An ecumenical Easter sunrise service will be held atop Killington Peak in the Peak Lodge at 6:45 a.m. on Sunday, March 27. Sunrise is expected to be about 6:42 that day, so guests will be treated to a truly wondrous “chapel in the sky.”
The service will be led by an ecumenical group of five area churches. The participating leaders include: the Reverend Gwen Groff of the Bethany Mennonite Church of Bridgewater; the Reverend Lee Crawford, Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal), Killington; Pastor Beverly Anderson of the Congregational United Church of Christ, Bridgewater and also of the Sherburne United Church of Christ, Killington; and layman Paul Buhler of Our Lady of the Mountains Roman Catholic Church in Killington.
The Bethany Church Ensemble will provide special music and also lead the congregation in the singing of hymns.
The service will be followed by “a very nice complimentary continental breakfast provided by Killington Resort and many generous area restaurants and lodges,” Pastor Donnelly told The Mountain Times.
She noted that the service lasts about an hour, and a free will offering will be taken to benefit Heifer International, an organization working to end hunger and poverty around the world by providing livestock and training to struggling communities. “We’ve raised thousands over the years, and never missed a service,” she said, noting that some other locations had to be used some years.
Those who attending will be transported to the Peak by the K-1 gondola, which will begin loading at 5:30 a.m. until 6:30 a.m.
Killington Ambassador Program Director Grizz will hand out the complimentary tickets needed to ride the K-1 at the K-1 on a “first-come, first-served basis.” There are no advance reservations for the 275 tickets (a space limitation due to fire code) so those wishing to attend might want to arrive early. Tip: dress appropriately for the weather (winter boots) and walk from K-1 to Peak Lodge. Consider bringing a headlamp or flashlight, as it is dark at 5:30 a.m.!
The K-1 gondola will download beginning at 8 a.m., but skiers or snowboarders wishing to enjoy first tracks may ski/ride down the trails conditions permitting.
An Easter egg hunt will follow in the vicinity of the K-1 Base Lodge—indoors and out—for kids beginning at 8 a.m. — one for youngsters (age 6 and under) will follow at 9 a.m. The Killington Ambassadors will hide plastic eggs with candy or small prizes inside, Communications Manager Michael Joseph said, noting the younger ones will find them in plain sight.
A long Killington tradition
An Easter sunrise service was first held atop the mountain in 1979 in the original Killington Peak Restaurant. Inspired by the Reverend Douglas Nielsen and organized by the Sherburne Easter Committee, the annual ecumenical service was supported by the ski area and coordinated by area churches. With the change to the two-stage Skyeship in 1994, Sunrise Services moved to the Snowshed Vacation Center for several years but resumed at the Peak with the advent of the K-1 gondola (except for the new Peak Lodge construction years, when it was held at the Grand Hotel or Snowshed).
Okemo sunrise service
Another unusual way to start Easter is with the Okemo Mountain Gospel Group’s outdoor sunrise service led by Pastor Abraham Gross. Guests are invited to gather in the Jackson Gore Roundhouse at 6:15 a.m. Just before sunrise, everyone will journey outside to watch the sunrise, sing a few songs, read the resurrection story from the Bible, and hear a short reflection on the meaning of Easter. A light breakfast buffet provided by the Cavendish Baptist church will follow in the Roundhouse. Dress for the weather.
Okemo hosts an egg hunt beginning at 8 a.m. in the Clock Tower base area. Eggs containing candies and toys will be hidden on snow and one lucky “golden egg” finder will win skis or a snowboard. A junior egg hunt for kids six and under will take place at 10 a.m. in the Jackson Gore courtyard.
Other traditional Easter Services include:
- Our Lady of the Mountains Church (“little white church” near the foot of the long hill on Rte 4 east of the Killington Welcome Center)—7:30 a.m.
- Sherburne United Church of Christ (“little white church”)—9:00 a.m.
- Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal; Mission Farm Road off Rte 4 on the Flats)—9:30 a.m.
- Bethany Mennonite Church (Rte 100A, Bridgewater Corners)—10 a.m.
- Congregational United Church of Christ, Bridgewater—11 a.m.