Easter services feature top performers

March 26, 2005 at 3:30 PM

TAMPA, Fla., March 26 (UPI) -- It's becoming more common for U.S. churches to hire big-name performers for Easter Sunday events, said concert trade magazine Pollstar.

"I think it's something we're seeing more of as these (church services) have grown and become more theatrical," editor in chief of Pollstar Gary Bongiovanni told the St. Petersburg Times. "I'm in Fresno (Calif.), which is not a very big market, and we have Randy Travis playing an Easter service."

The Tampa, Fla., congregation of 20,000, Without Walls International Church, will feature a concert headlined by country music legend Loretta Lynn and Rhythm and Blues star Patti LaBelle for Easter

Sunday at a St. Petersburg arena.

"We're going to pull out all the stops this year," said Without Walls Pastor Randy White. "We think out of the box for sure."

The Sunday sermon, an "illustrative message" on crucifixion, will feature an actor simulating Jesus Christ's ascension into Heaven, according to White.

The Without Walls International Church Easter event's final budget will exceed $450,000.

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