The 500 to 600 people in attendance heard a 7 a.m. sermon about forgiveness from the Rev. Bill Ross, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Marietta. Ross discussed the biblical account of Simon Peter denying Jesus, only to affirm his love for Christ after he was resurrected.
“What we hear from the resurrected Christ are these words, ‘Do you love me?’” Ross said.
“Jesus forgives Simon Peter, first thing. And that’s what Jesus, I think, says to us on His resurrection, on this Easter morning.”
With birds chirping around him, Ross transitioned into a story of when he was forgiven after breaking his father’s favorite clock with an errant shoe throw that was aimed at his brother, while they were growing up in western North Carolina.
Ross said he put the clock back together using Elmer’s glue. And his brother took advantage of the situation by making Ross do his chores for the next six weeks, under the threat of telling his father.
Finally, Ross fessed up and told his father about the broken clock.
“He said, ‘Bill, I know,’” Ross recalled.
“‘You don’t glue things together too well.’ Then he said something I’ll never forget. He said, ‘I forgive you.’”
Bill and Jackie Garvin of Marietta had attended the service several times, along with their daughters, Abigale, 12, and Katherine, 9.
“I like being out here, I like that we can get in easily and enjoy some time as a family,” Bill Garvin said.
“And I appreciate the words that they share.”
Kiwanis member the Rev. Phil Owens, retired chaplain at WellStar Kennestone Hospital, said the audience watching the sermon was about half what it was in 2012.
He said some people might have been concerned after it rained Saturday night, though it stayed dry during the service.
“When I got there at 5:30, it had stopped, and it didn’t rain a drop,” Owens said.
Sunday’s event was the first in which a trolley bus was used to take worshippers from the park’s remote parking lot to the service at the visitors’ center at the foot of Kennesaw Mountain, Owens said. He was pleased with how the trolley worked. “It’s a long walk to the far lot, and it’s dark,” he said.
Fred Tolbert and his daughter Anna have typically attended Easter services at Mount Bethel United Methodist Church in east Cobb, but decided to try the Kennesaw Mountain service this year.
“I like that people brought their dogs, it was very relaxing,” Anna Tolbert said.
“I should have brought a coat, but I’d do it again.”