Montell Jordan delivers the Message to the crowd at the 75th Annual Easter Sunrise Service on the top of Stone Mountain last year. Jordan, a former Billboard Top Ten artist, now serves as executive pastor for Victory World Church in Norcross. A similar Easter service at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park has been canceled, and the Stone Mountain service could be canceled this year due to the coronavirus. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Easter Sunrise Service won’t be held at Stone Mountain this year

What would have been the 76th annual Easter Sunrise Service is a no-go at Stone Mountain.

The worship service atop the granite dome is a popular religious tradition for many metro families.

However, “due to the quickly evolving global crisis caused by COVID-19, and for the health and well-being of our employees and guests, Stone Mountain Park attractions remain temporarily closed,” according to a post on the park’s website.

The natural areas and hiking trails remain open.

RELATED: Find online services, alternative ways to celebrate Easter

RelatedEastern, Passover and Ramadan in the age of COVID-19 

Another popular outdoor Easter celebration, the sunrise service held at the base of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park won’t be held this year, according to a post on the website of the Kiwanis Club of Marietta, which sponsors the event along with the Rotary Clubs of Marietta.

Gov. Brian Kemp recently issued a shelter-in-place order, which runs through April 13, to slow the spread of the highly contagious and potentially deadly illness. That statewide order could be extended.

Kemp, though, didn’t ban worship services if they follow social distancing guidelines and other restrictions.

In several cases nationwide, coronavirus outbreaks have been traced to church-related gatherings.

Many Georgia churches have nixed holding in-person worship services  and big gatherings because of the spread of the coronavirus. The number of infections  is expected to peak this month in Georgia.

This surge comes at a time when people of faith are celebrating religious observances including Passover and part of Ramadan. Instead, they’ve opted to hold livestreams of their services. 

“We’re pleading with pastors to take your gatherings to an online space,” said Matthew Wesley Williams, interim president of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. Christians can celebrate Easter from anywhere, he said. “It doesn’t have to happen within the four walls of the church.”

» Complete coronavirus coverage

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