37th Annual Lincoln Memorial Easter Sunrise Service Draws Thousands

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Chelsen Vicari serves as the Evangelical Program Director for the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

On Sunday the 37th annual Lincoln Memorial Easter Sunrise Service, hosted by Capital Church, gathered a record-breaking crowd. Service organizers reported an estimated 8,900 people awoke "dark-thirty" to travel into downtown Washington DC to participate in the Easter Sun Rise service and worship celebration. Millennials represented an overwhelming portion of the participants huddled among the plastic chairs, ground and steps surrounding the Lincoln Memorial.

Selfies snapping galore, Millennials alongside a wide-range of folks joined in worship lead by Michael Tait, lead singer of the band Newsboy's and a DC native. It was a touching moment as nearly 8,900 people stood in solidarity of praise within the heart of our nation's capital and belted out "Amazing Grace" and "We Believe," a melodic adaptation of the Apostles' Creed.

"The tomb in Jerusalem is empty!" professed Pastor Amos Dodge during the morning sermon. "Dictators and tyrants have said over the years we are going to bury Christianity in one generation…They're dead. They're gone. But I have met the man from Galilee, Jesus of Nazareth, the sinless Son of God.

The annual Lincoln Memorial Easter Sunrise Service is listed on Washingtonian Magazine's "The Great Washington Bucket List" among the 50 things every local needs to do in the city before they "kick the bucket." Pastor Dodge asked, "What's on your bucket list?"

Before you die, explained the metro DC minister, everyone must answer the questions, "Who did Jesus say He is?" "Who do others say He was?," and the most important, "Who do I say He is?"

Some 2.2 billion people profess their belief that Jesus Christ is the resurrected Son of God. Pastor Dodge reminded the crowd that many Christians around the world are persecuted for their answers to those important questions. "February 12, ISIS released a five minute video of 21 Christians being beheaded on a beach near Tripoli under the caption 'People of the Cross,'" recalled Pastor Dodge. "It was reported that as they were being beheaded face down on the beach they were whispering the name Jesus." They were faithful until the end.

"It's a question all of us must ask ourselves on this resurrection morning: Do I believe?" asked Pastor Dodge before welcoming unbelievers in attendance to make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

If you were there on that beach near Tripoli, what would your answer be?

Chelsen Vicari serves as the Evangelical Program Director for the Institute on Religion and Democracy. She earned her Masters of Arts in Government from Regent University and frequently contributes to conservative outlets. Follow her on twitter @ChelsenVicari.