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Apr 8, 2012 12:03 PM by Matt Stafford

NC Moravians mark 240 years of Easter service

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - Moravian Christians in North Carolina held their Easter sunrise service for the 240th consecutive year.

Believers gathered starting at 2 a.m. Sunday amid brass bands and immaculately tended graves at a Winston-Salem cemetery they call "God's Acre."

It's one of the oldest and largest sunrise services in the United States. The liturgy has been observed in rain, freezing temperatures and during the Revolutionary and Civil wars.

The Rev. John Jackman is the senior pastor of Trinity Moravian Church and led this year's service. He says little has changed in the celebration since it began in 1772.

The Moravian Church is a Protestant denomination, but it actually formed decades before the Reformation sparked by Martin Luther's 99 theses.

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