The Easter Sunday morning church service atop Knox Mountain has been revived after a two-year hiatus induced by the pandemic.
Members of the public are invited to gather for the 8 a.m. event, again hosted by Kelowna’s First Lutheran Church.
“We’ve been totally online for the past two Easters, so this will be the first time back at Knox in three years,” organizer Gary Brucker, the church’s family life director, said in an interview Wednesday. .
“We are thrilled to be back on the mountain,” he said. “We have no idea of the turnout. Before the pandemic, we were in the vicinity of 400 people, so we expect at least a few hundred on Sunday for the unique mountaintop worship experience.
The Knox Mountain service first took place in 1993, although similar events have been taking place as early as the 1980s at venues such as the Apple Bowl and other city parks.
Easter is the holiest day in the Christian calendar, marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ two days after his crucifixion.
When first held, the Knox Mountain service was timed to coincide with the actual time of sunrise. Depending on when Easter falls in a given year, it could have been as early as 6:30 a.m.
But the actual timing of sunrise at Easter has no ecclesiastical significance, as the Bible only says that Christ’s empty tomb was discovered early in the morning two days after his death on the cross.
When the Knox Mountain service was resumed at 8 a.m., the crowds swelled from a few dozen to a few hundred.
This will be the first year that the Easter Sunrise service has been run under new city-designed Knox Mountain access rules. Now, vehicular access to the summit is generally prohibited, this restriction being both an environmental protection measure and a way to encourage walking and cycling instead of driving.
But a special waiver for vehicular access to the summit has been granted for the Easter Sunrise service, Brucker said, partly in recognition that many of those likely to attend are elderly and would have difficulty walking on any the length of the mountain road. .
“We are very grateful to the city for allowing us access,” Brucker said.
The Knox Mountain Road gate will open around 7 a.m. on Sunday, with volunteers ensuring those driving are only heading for service.
The gates must be closed around 9:30 a.m., and anyone who leaves their car inside the park will have to pay a security company to unlock the gate and let them out.