Spontaneous response in Florida shows faith alive and well, even at the beach on Easter

easter rosemary

(Photo: Chapel at the Beach) A view of a Chapel at the Beach Easter service in Rosemary Beach.

Special to The Sun
Published: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 10:58 AM.

In an age when a declining commitment to faith seems to be the national news, a tony resort town on the northwest coast of Florida is experiencing an Easter phenomenon that is just the opposite. An increasing number of vacationing and local Christians in the extremely affluent community have been showing up by the hundreds in flip-flops and bonnets for an informal Easter Sunday service just steps away from the beach.

The tradition, which began with a motley crew of vacationing Christians in 2005, evolved into a church in 2006 called Chapel on the Beach, which meets weekly in the Rosemary Beach Town Hall. But the real news is the exponential growth for the Easter resurrection service on the beach, which seems to be spontaneous.

"Most people when they come down on vacation are not thinking about attending Easter services but I truly believe a big majority of people that do come to our community for vacation, especially during this time of year want the Easter services," said Jon Laplante, Rosemary Beach resident and member of Chapel at the Beach for the last five years. "I think [it] is a huge testament to what's going on over here at the beach."

What's going on in Rosemary Beach right now, according to Chapel at the Beach Pastor Mike Young, is a movement of increasing faith.

"The first year we had it we probably had 200 people," said Pastor Young. "Last year the Rosemary Beach security estimated we had between 1,200 to 1,500 people."

People have showed up in scorching heat, rain and even braved cold blustering winds and sleet to celebrate the resurrection of Christ with Chapel at the Beach.

"We had it blazing hot the very first year we had it in 2006 [as a church]. Two years later it was raining and sleeting and we still had about 350 people show up," said Young.

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