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The 36th annual Easter Sunrise Service

Sunday - 4/20/2014, 1:18pm  ET

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Pastor Amos Dodge leads the Easter Sunrise Service

WTOP's Kathy Stewart reports


WASHINGTON -- It's the 36th anniversary for this Washington tradition that's held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the annual Easter Sunrise Service.

Every year Pastor Amos Dodge has been sharing his Easter message of hope during his annual interdenominational sunrise service. Dodge is pastor of Capital Church in Vienna.

This year was warmer than years past. And as the sun came up over the trees at the other end of the reflecting pool from the Lincoln Memorial, the pastor told the crowd, "We're the five to six-thousand people who come every year to this place to declare to our city, to our nation and to our world that Christ is Risen."

And on this Easter, Pastor Dodge decided to embrace new technology to get out the Easter message.

"This is our first year to do this because I'm 65 and I'm a little slow," he said.

Dodge asked the crowd of thousands to take out their smartphones and tweet. The pastor said, "So we're going to trend that Christ has risen. We're going to trend it around the world."

During the service the pastor honored Marian Anderson who, 75 years ago on Easter Sunday, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial sang "My Country, Tis of Thee", also known as "America".

Anderson had been barred from singing at DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) because of her color.

"This morning we honor the decision of [Eleanor Roosevelt] to say no one will lock [Anderson] out and leave her standing alone," the pastor said.

Eleanor Roosevelt invited Anderson to perform the Easter concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

Dodge drew a parallel between one woman's bravery and another legendary courage: "We're here today to honor the one who says, 'I have come to set you free.' Let freedom ring."

The pastor referred to Jesus and how he died on the cross to take away the sins of the world.

Terri Posey, from Fort Washington, Md. had been trying for years to make it to the sunrise service. She said, "It's my first time here and I'm excited to see so many people out this early in the morning. It's great to know there are people out there that think like you think, that pray to the same God you pray to. This is great, a lot of young people here."

Gail McGinley traveled from Calvert County to attend the service. "It was lovely, it was beautiful, it was uplifting, a perfect way to start the Easter morning," she said.

Tokoebe Lyles, from Upper Marlboro brought his mother to the service. This is their second year. He says his mother always likes to come to sunrise service.

"We enjoy it. It's a little warmer than it was last year but it is a wonderful experience."

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