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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Several congregations got their Easter off to an early start Sunday in the Triad.

Thousands of visitors returned to Home Moravian Church at Old Salem for the 242nd Easter Sunrise Service. It's the longest running service of its kind in our country.

The tradition has been in the same location at Old Salem - Home Moravian Church - since 1772. It dates back to 1732 when, before dawn, a group of men met at God's Acre in Germany to celebrate, what Christians say, is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. After fleeing from religious persecution, those Moravians moved to the foothills of North Carolina, thus bringing the religion and this tradition to the Triad.

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The service started at Home Moravian Church, as it does each year, and proceeded to the historic God's Acre - the cemetery at Old Salem. Rev. Lane Sapp, pastor of Calvary Moravian Church, led the service, and members of the Sunrise Service band played hymns throughout the morning.

The Salem Congregation - made up of 13 churches in Winston-Salem, all with Moravian ties - carried on the tradition Sunday. For more information about the Easter Sunrise Service or the Salem Congregation, head to the congregation's website.

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