JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Easter is next Sunday and here in Duval County, attending the Jacksonville Beach Sunrise Service is tradition for many families.
For 60-plus years First Coast Families have been attending Easter service, but this year something is different, and maybe some won't even notice.
For the first time, a female Reverend will be leading service.
Reverend Jessi Higginbotham had never really thought she’d go down in history .
“Well I didn’t know I was going to be the first female until about a couple weeks after they asked me," Higginbotham said
After graduating with her Master’s degree in Divinity she was a pastor in south Florida and Tennessee. Just a few months ago she finally made it back home here to Jacksonville where she went to high school, where she says she grew up.
She is one of four pastors at the Community Presbyterian Church in Atlantic Beach and now will soon be the first woman to conduct the Easter Sunrise Service, a 67 year tradition.
“It’s an honor," said Higginbotham, "It’s a big deal and a privilege.”
Youth Pastor Robert McCrary hopes the move will inspire young church goers to be leaders.
“There will be about 3,000 to 3,500 people there depending on the weather. She’s excited we are excited that the first time a woman is going to be preaching there,” said McCrary.
In the meantime Higginbotham is perfecting the sermon she plans to deliver to one of the largest Easter services at the beaches.
“I go into most situations kind of with this feeling in my heart knowing that I’m called by God to do this,” said Higginbotham.
Her message will be one of transformation along with encouragement for other females in leadership, "You can do anything. Honest. You can have it all you can do it all.”
The Easter Sunrise Service at Jacksonville Beach will be held at the Seawalk Pavilion at 6:30am.