Pine Belt Christians celebrate Easter

Pine Belt Christians are joining others around the world in celebrating Easter.  In Laurel Sunday, dozens of worshipers gathered at the Magnolia Center to celebrate the holiday.

A third annual, multi-cultural resurrection service featured music and words of praise from several different ministers.

And earlier Sunday, thousands of other Pine Belt residents gathered at churches throughout the the area to celebrate the Easter holiday. At morning worship services and at some sunrise services, local Christians celebrated the resurrection of Jesus.

The Easter story is nearly 2000-years-old, but Christian leaders say the message of salvation is still very relevant today.

"What Jesus provided for us in the resurrection is a forgiveness for our past and all of us know of no sin and no failures and His dying on the cross and Him being raised again gives us purpose and meaning for our life and more than that, it gives us hope for eternity," said Reverend Marcus Cathey, who led a service for West Point Baptist Church at Reed Green Coliseum on the Southern Miss campus.

"I think it's really what we're all about as Christians," said Tommy Conway of St. Thomas Catholic Church.

"It's about resurrection, it's about a new start, a new life, a new hope, rejoice and be glad, alleluia, alleluia. So, I really believe it's relevant in 2008," Conway said.

"It's not just that He died and rose again 2000 years ago, but that His influence, His power, His presence continues, through His spirit," said Jon Stubblefield, pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Hattiesburg. "And so, the resurrection is just as real as it was 2000-years-ago, because Christ is alive," Subblefield said.

Special Easter services in Hattiesburg this morning also took place at the Saenger Theater and Kamper Park.