by David DeMullé
The Annual Easter Sunrise Service, (Sunday, April 16) as coordinated through the Verdugo Hills Ministerial Association (VHMA), will be a beautiful experience and a dramatic reminder of Christ’s promised resurrection after his death. This service has been a Sunland-Tujunga Easter Tradition since 1926, and will be held at The Cross of San Ysidro on McGroarty Peak in Tujunga.
Vans will begin to transport people to the cross starting at 4:30 a.m., from the corner of Foothill Blvd. and Hillhaven (next to the Travel Inn). The service will begin promptly at 6 a.m. and conclude by 7 a.m. The worship will be led by the New Hope Worship Band, along with musicians from many of the local churches. The Verdugo Hills Ministerial Association has coordinated the service with several of the area pastors participating. In 1992, the Los Angeles Times religion editor John Dart wrote that old newspaper clippings indicate that a cross was first erected on the peak in 1923 and was dedicated in a ceremony led by a Catholic priest. The sunrise service,which began around 1926, event and well-attended by members of the Foothill communities.
This celebration at the cross originally came about when the local ministers and Kiwanis Club members got together and started the early morning service, and it has grown to what it is today. There are five ministers from five of the churches in the Sunland-Tujunga area that are involved providing the service. Each minister does a part of the whole service, which is nonsectarian. For 90 years, the Kiwanis Club has prepared the cross and area for the service. On Saturday, church members clean up the area, bring up the chairs and, if it needs some touch-up work, repaint the cross. The association provides the chairs, sound system and lighting of the cross, which is lit Saturday night and stays on until after the service. All the setting up for the service is done by association members. The preparation takes all day Saturday and a few of the members will spend the night at the cross.
There are usually around 400 to 500 people that attend the service. In the past, resident and Kiwanis member Sandy Miller dedicated a lot of time and energy in putting on the Easter Sunrise Service as a service to the community. Although she passed away 12 years ago, his family continues his dedication in putting on the Easter Sunrise ceremony. To honor the decades of work by Miller, who was the heart and soul of the annual service, the Miller family has continued to provide the assistance needed to enjoy this year’s sunrise service.
The VHMA is grateful for for the physical and financial support the Miller family has provided over the decades. This year the VHMA is responsible for continuing the Easter Sunrise Service tradition to the community. The music group Tapestry from New Hope Community Church will be leading the worship with their pastor Eddie Ledesma bringing the message titled “Wake Up.”
Pastors from the community of Sunland-Tujunga will be sharing in scripture readings and prayers. You will not want to miss this special time of worship and praise as we watch the sunrise as we celebrate the Risen SON.
Come early to ensure that you will have enough time to be transported up the hill. For additional information, please contact Bob Snyder at [email protected] or on the VHMA Facebook.
Those who wish transportation should meet at the intersection of Foothill and Hillhaven by the Travel Inn between the hours of 4:30 and 5:45 a.m.