By: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Christian Martinez

SOUTH CHINASEA – The command religious ministry department aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) performed an ecumenical Easter sunrise service, March 31, in the hangar bay while underway.

The term ecumenical refers to the unified beliefs of the worldwide Christian church, regardless of religious denomination.

“The Easter sunrise service is a time for those who believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again,” said Cmdr. Yolanda Gillen, Stennis’ Command Chaplain. “So we have Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Catholics, Pentecostals and other religions coming together to celebrate the occasion.”

The service, presided over by chaplains Gillen, Lt. Jose Bautistarojas and Lt. Andrew Edwards, included scripture readings, prayers, songs and the observation of sunrise.

“It was a nice service and it was out in the open,” said Aviation Electrician’s Mate Jacob Macaditas. “Being out in the hangar bay like this encourages more people to come and join in.”

The service gives Sailors an opportunity to celebrate with their Navy family, said Gillen. They realize that they are not alone when it comes to expressing their beliefs.

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG), consisting of Stennis, Carrier Air Wing 9, Destroyer Squadron 21, and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), is forward deployed to the 7th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

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Lt. Andrew Edwards leads Sailors in song and praise during a sunrise service for Easter Sunday in the hangar bay aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Marco Villasana / Released)