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Community celebrates Easter at Morgan Park

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Early on Easter Sunday morning, nearly 150 people came together to celebrate the holiday in an outdoor, socially distanced ceremony at Glen Cove’s Morgan Memorial Park.

Against the backdrop of the Hempstead Harbor and a 16-foot cross that was temporarily erected near the jetty, attendees once again gathered on the Morgan Park beach for the fifth annual Bilingual Community Easter Dawn Service. The service began with the playing of “Amazing Grace” by bagpiper Robert Lynch, who stood at the base of the cross. Lynch’s presentation was followed by the 14 clergy members, faith leaders and vocalists leading the service sharing “Christ is Risen” in 11 different languages. 

“It was truly a beautiful way to start the service,” said Glen Cove resident Betty Ann Roel, who attended the service with her husband, Ron.

For last year’s celebration, as Covid-19 was just beginning to impact the community, leading to the closure of Morgan Park, the service had to be held remotely and broadcast from Glen Cove resident Alba Gambles’ front lawn, just beyond the park gates. 

“While I was honored to host the service last year and all involved did an amazing job assuring the message still got out to our residents and to the over 2,500 who viewed the service on Facebook Live,” Gamble said, “I could not be more pleased that this year’s service is back in Morgan Park.”

Mirna Garcia, who teaches Sunday school at St. John’s of Lattingtown and was one of several volunteers helping take temperatures and checking-in attendees as they arrived, noted that it took some work to follow the Covid-19 protocols. “Out of an abundance of caution we took extra precautions to assure everyone was safe,” Garcia said, “but it was all worth it for our community to be together again in-person for what is always a moving celebration.”

Organized by the Committee for the Annual Community Easter Dawn Service, this year’s celebration not only was attended by close to 140 attendees, but was also viewed by close to 1,000 people via Facebook Live. It included 14 clergy and faith leaders who shared words, thoughts and songs. While most participated in-person, a few of the participants either logged in via Facebook Live or shared their messages via recordings that were shared. 

Those leading the service included Erika Bautista, Associate Pastor Josue Correa, Co-Pastor Yeny Correa, Margaret Darson, Rev. Fr. Kevin J. Dillon, Rev. Fr. Mark L. Fitzhugh, Rev. Gia Lynn Hall, Rev. Lance Hurst, Pastor Tommy Lanham, Rev. Juanita Lopez, Piper Lynch, Evangelist Merle Richards, Rev. A.H. Sparkman, Elder Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews, Rev. Roger C. Williams, Rev. Fr. Shawn Williams and Paul Schmalzried. 

“With so much division in our society these days, it is important for fellow Christians to come together and celebrate and honor what unites us as Christians, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Kevin Dillon, pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Catholic Church, said.

While Easter services have long been held in Morgan Park, the formal committee for this community celebration was created in 2017, thanks to the efforts of three churches in close proximity to one another, including: Calvary A.M.E Church, Glen Cove’s oldest historically African American church; Iglesia Cuidad de Refugio, Glen Cove’s oldest historically Spanish language church; and First Presbyterian Church, founded in 1869. The committee has now grown to include eight churches adding First Baptist Church, Glen Cove Christian Church, St. Boniface Martyr Roman Catholic Church, St. John’s of Lattingtown Episcopal Church and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

“None of this would be able to happen were it not for the many volunteers and the incredible talent of our local clergy coming together to share their gifts and the message of Easter,” Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews, an Elder at Glen Cove’s First Presbyterian Church who currently serves as chair of the committee, said. “I felt everyone who was gathered was ready to hear the beautiful messages of hope that were shared.”

The service can be viewed at www.facebook.com/GlenCoveEaster.