As the sun rose at Easter dawn in Butler County, many worshipers were already at church celebrating the rising of the son of God from the grave.
Church bells rang early and often Sunday and religious ceremonies over the holiday weekend even included some area prisoners.
One of the area’s traditional sites for sunrise services had to move their planned sunrise event on the banks of the Great Miami River in Hamilton inside due to the cold and instead participants basked in the warmth of Christian fellowship on the religion’s most holy day.
The multi-denominational congregation at The Presbyterian Church of Hamilton heard from guest speaker Pastor Dan Clemens – of The First Baptist Church of Hamilton – and was asked why believers are often alarmed at first sight of God’s works?
“Why is it that we are alarmed when God does extraordinary things?” Clemens asked the nearly 100 worshippers who arrived for 7:30 a.m. services.
“Why are we alarmed as God acts as God acts and not as man acts,” he said in preaching about Jesus’ resurrection three days after his crucifixion on the cross.
Randy Towles, an elder with the Presbyterian church, said coming to church in pre-dawn darkness helps worshippers better understand the Lord’s rising on Easter morning.
“The reason it’s so important to be here this early on Easter is we know that he has risen and they (Jesus’ followers) had gone to the tomb early in the morning,” said Towles.
A short time later - in Butler County’s suburban Liberty Twp. - one of the largest Catholic Churches in Southwest Ohio was holding Easter Mass for hundreds of worshippers.
The crowd at St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church overflowed into an adjacent viewing room outside the main sanctuary.
Darren Backsterom had to join the outskirts of the crowd and split his worship time between prayer and keeping on eye on his 18-month-old son Oliver, dressed smartly in his Easter clothes.
“My family and I think it’s important to be here on Easter Sunday but the real reason is for the resurrection of Christ, which gives all meaning to our faith. It’s the culmination of our worship and our confidence and trust in him and we want to give him the best,” said Backsterom.
At the Lebanon Correctional Institute – near the Butler and Warren County border - five women and eight men were welcomed into full communion with the Catholic Church, with the ceremony overseen by the Most Reverend Joseph Binzer, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
According to a statement released by Jennifer Schack, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese, Easter is the typical time of year that new members are brought into the Catholic Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
As part of the initiation into the Catholic Church, several prisoners will be baptized during the Easter Masses, as well as receive the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Confirmation, Schack said.
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