By Syma Chowdhry

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some Christians in Philadelphia started their Easter Sunday with a sunrise service.

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Mother Bethel AME church in Society Hill offered a 6 a.m. service where more than one hundred members showed up for the early worship.

“These folks really want to be here,” said Reverend Mark Tyler. “It really means something special to them being at the sunrise service.”

Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus — as described in the New Testament. For Reverend Tyler — it is the greatest Christian holiday.

“Easter is really the day – it’s when we recognize the resurrection of Christ,” Tyler said. “And for Christians, we really hang our hat on that.”

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Not only does Mother Bethel AME offer a spiritual experience — but a historical one as well. They have an actor impersonating the church’s founder, Richard Allen, attending Easter service.

“This would be a very spirited, spirited day,” said Leonard Dozier, “not only for me, but for Mother Bethel and our movement.”

Dozier stays in character as Richard Allen — describing how Easter services took place back in the 1700’s.

“Times have shifted completely,” he said, “but for me as leader of this church, leader of this movement, this was always an opportunity for me to reach out to the African American congregants here in Philadelphia.”

Celebrating religion and local history all together.

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