Fairbanks’ Easter Sunday tradition will once again take place over the airways rather than the waterways.
For the second year, the Easter Sunrise Service will be broadcast over the radio rather than in person on the bridge. On Sunday, those interested can tune in to Interior Alaska radio stations from 7-8 a.m. for the 16th year of the event.
Individuals typically gather on the William Ransom Wood Centennial Bridge over the Chena River for the early morning service. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020 organizers decided to move the event (which can draw over 1,000 attendees) off the bridge and onto the air. For the past two years, they have coordinated with Last Frontier Mediactive radio stations to broadcast the service.
Although the COVID-19 situation in Alaska has improved, the virus remains a public health concern. Coordinators A.W. Buie, a former Fairbanks pastor who now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, and Jeff Howe, a pastor at North Pole Worship Center, decided to keep the event virtual.
This decision was made primarily for safety reasons, but it turns out that there are also benefits to broadcasting the service, Buie and Howe explained.
“It allows us to expand our horizons,” Buie said.
In other words, while broadcasting the event helps limit the spread of the virus, it allows the service to spread to more people. For instance, Howe said, people in nearby villages who would not otherwise travel to Fairbanks are now able to tune in. It is also more relaxing to listen from the comfort of one’s own home rather than brave the cold, Buie pointed out. And this year, they are hoping to draw even more listeners through an active social media advertising campaign.
Eight participants from across denominations pre-recorded sermons, songs and speeches to create a roughly hour-long program.
As it is Easter Sunday, the service’s theme is a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. But Howe put a further spin on the theme: it can also be understood as a “resurrection out of COVID.” “We have been held down for so long, but now we are rising up,” he said. Along these lines, despite the benefits of broadcasting the service, the hope is that they will be in person again next year.
Speakers and performers include Pastor Matthew Hampton of the New Beginnings Church, Pastor Joe and Daisy Blackburn from the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Pastor Billy and Aubrey Welch of the North Pole Assembly of God, Pastor Shane and Misty Hopkins of the Light House Church followed by the Light House praise team, Pastor Derrick Dickinson of the Journey Christian Church, Pastor Amanda Kempthorne of the Lord of Life Lutheran Church, and Pastor Otis McCormick of the New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ.
The hour-long service will be broadcast commercial free on the following stations: KFAR 660 AM, 97.5 FM; K-WOLF 98.1 FM; WILD 94.3 FM; KJNP 1170 AM, 100.3 FM; and ESPN Radio 820 AM, 107.9 FM.
Contact reporter Maisie Thomas at 459-7545