Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

April 21, 2014

Dove release marks conclusion of Easter sunrise service at Roselawn

PRINCETON — A flock of white doves circled the three crosses of Roselawn Cemetery Sunday morning and carried the closing message of the cemetery’s community Easter sunrise service.

“Oh, what a beautiful morning!” Sally Attilli said to the people gathered in an open part of the cemetery beneath the crosses in the moments before dawn. The section is called the Garden of the Cross. Attilli is location manager at Roselawn. “It’s cold, but it’s not so cold.”

The crowd of about 80-90 people listened as Pastor C.T. Lilly III read scripture from the book of Luke, Chapter 24. “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came upon the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them,” Lilly read.

“And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher, and they entered in and found not the body of the Lord Jesus,” Lilly continued. He explained that two men in shining garments saw that Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James had become perplexed. The men bowed down their faces to the earth and said: “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.”

Lilly departed from the scripture and resumed his message. “I love the story of the resurrection because it tells us that Jesus is alive,” he said. He went on to say that God “left us with three things,” including His word, His spirit of truth, “and the third thing that God left us was an empty tomb.

“I think of when they went to that tomb and found that the tomb was empty,”  Lilly said. “God is alive. He is alive. He has been alive since the very beginning. He’s alive today because Jesus left His tomb. No one can put him back in that tomb. He’s coming back.”

After his remarks, Attilli asked the people gathered to move to an area of the Garden of the Cross so their view would not be obstructed. With the sun just starting to peak through the clouds in the East and the moon still clearly visible in the West, the doves were released near the crosses and started flying in formation and in ever-widening circles above the crosses.

Some of the people drove to the funeral home for coffee, but others lingered where the service had just concluded. Lilly said that this was the fourth sunrise service he has conducted at Roselawn.

“I don’t know if John and Sally held any before that,” Lilly said. John L. Attilli is Licensee-in-charge of Roselawn.

— Contact Bill Archer at

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