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Community Easter dawn service returns to Morgan Park

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After a challenging and isolating year, residents will have the opportunity to come together to celebrate Easter on Sunday, April 4, for the fifth annual Community Easter Dawn Service in Morgan Park. The bilingual service, hosted by the Committee for the Community Easter Dawn Service, will begin at 7 a.m. and will be streamed via Facebook Live for those who cannot attend in person.

“Last year’s service was a beautiful and moving event and was viewed by over 2,500 people from around the world,” Kevin Dillon, pastor of Sea Cliff’s St. Boniface Martyr Catholic Church, said. “However, we are pleased to be back in Morgan Park and to be permitted to have a limited number of people join us for the celebration.”    

While having an Easter service at dawn in Morgan Park has been a long-standing tradition in Glen Cove, with the service hosted by various churches over the years, it was in 2017 that three congregations in close proximity to one another, but from different traditions, decided to join together to create a formal committee and presented the first annual bilingual service. That first year, the churches included Calvary AME Church, the oldest historically African American church in Glen Cove; Iglesia Ciudad de Refugio, the oldest Spanish language church in Glen Cove, and the First Presbyterian Church, founded in 1869. The service has since grown from a handful of attendees the first year to close to 200 attending in-person in 2019, and over 2,500 viewing the service in 2020. Currently, there are eight churches participating from many denominations and from both the Protestant and Catholic traditions.

“I think it’s important for people to see that, while each church has different views on certain things,” Dillon said, “we can come together to rally around the belief that we do have in common.”

Tommy Lanham became pastor of the Glen Cove Christian Church in August 2019, and participated in the service last year for the first time. This year, he will say a prayer of blessing during the service.

“I think it’s a great thing for the community,” Lanham said. “Even though we couldn’t meet together as a group last year, I think it was important, and this year, we’ll have some kind of resemblance of what we had before.”

He said he appreciates the fact the service is inclusive and serves people from different churches. “I think it’s good for the different congregations to get together in a way that they normally don’t,” Lanham said. “I’m excited to be part of it.”

While the public is permitted to attend the service – which will last just 30 minutes – it is restricted to 150 people and all attendees are asked to wear masks, social distance, and follow standard New York State Covid-19 guidelines. 

“By design, the service is kept short and simple, providing people with an opportunity to come together before worshiping at their home church,” said Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews, an elder at First Presbyterian Church and chair of the Community Easter Dawn Service Committee. He said that, though theology of the various Christian faiths might differ, Easter provides an opportunity for people to come together. “The core message of Easter is central to all denominations.”

The eight member churches involved  include Calvary A.M.E Church, First Baptist Church, First Presbyterian Church, Glen Cove Christian Church, Iglesia Ciudad de Refugio, St. Boniface Martyr Roman Catholic Church, St. John’s of Lattingtown Episcopal Church, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Residents who attend should enter through the main gate and arrive at least 15 minutes early  to check-in.