Celebrating Easter Sunday - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Celebrating Easter Sunday

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Easter Sunday is the holiest day of the year for many Christian faiths. Even in a state recently ranked as the least religious in the nation.

"I really don't ascribe to the definition that Vermont is the least religious state," said Bishop Salvatore Matano, the head of Burlington's Roman Catholic Diocese.

At the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Burlington, Easter service was well attended. Bishop Matano believes many more Vermonters are religious even if they don't subscribe to a particular faith.

"I think our people are very much good and wholesome people who contribute a great deal to society and in making a very positive contribution they are truly a reflection of god's children," Matano said.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, 57-percent of Vermonters consider themselves non-religious. Only 23-percent identify as religious, making it the least religious state in the nation. Of those who are practicing a faith, about a quarter of them are Catholic and about 40-percent are Protestant.

Like Bishop Matano, the pastor of the state's largest Protestant church also believes there's more to being religious than attending a service.

"They're not a part of religiosity. They don't want to go through something that's not meaningful in their lives," said Pastor Scott Slocum of the Essex Alliance Church.

Nearly 4,000 members of the Essex Alliance Church packed UVM's Patrick Gymnasium for two Sunday services. Unlike most religions in the state, its membership has been steadily on the rise for the past decade. It's now the largest church in Vermont.

"The problem is, too many times a church doesn't look relevant for today," Slocum said. "So what we've got to do is say if God's relevant, if the Bible's relevant, then we ought to be able to present both of them as relevant."

From the old Catholic traditions to new religious trends, on this day, Vermonters across the region are celebrating their faith. Though for many, that may not be inside a church.

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