- The Washington Times - Monday, April 1, 2002

The region's Christians yesterday took part in early-morning outdoor services, packed churches and prayed for peace on Easter, as the holiest day of the year was marred by continued violence in the Middle East.
"We pray for the peace of Jesus Christ for both Arabs and Jews," the Rev. Amos Dodge of the Capital Church in McLean told those who gathered for the ecumenical sunrise service in front of the Lincoln Memorial. "No peace will come until you bring peace."
Event organizers estimated nearly 3,500 people attended the 6:30 a.m. service, which was in its 24th year. Just as the ceremony began, the clouds around the Washington Monument parted to allow in some light. The rain stayed away long enough for the hourlong service to finish.
"Because so much disruption is going on in the world, this service brings a little peace," said D.C. resident Dawn Bailey, who was out with her family. "After September 11th, it's important that we are all together … and as residents of Washington, it's important that we take advantage of all these opportunities."
Many in attendance were out-of-town visitors who wanted to experience something different.
"We checked out some of the churches, but this is something we have always wanted to do," said Louise Farnum, a resident of Ballston Spa, N.Y. Her 18-year-old son chose to stay at the hotel and sleep.
Sister Dorothy Kundinger, a Franciscan nun from Jackson, Miss., came to spend Holy Week with her sister. The family attended Easter Vigil Saturday night and was eager to attend the early-morning service.
"We went out last night, so this counts, too it's the best of both worlds," Sister Kundinger said.
Tracy Smith of Herndon regularly attends Capital Church. She came to the sunrise service with her two young daughters, and all three were dressed in nearly identical pale-blue dresses.
"The only peace that is true is the peace that we have right here, right now," Mrs. Smith said as the family packed up to go home for a quick check on the Easter baskets before returning to Capital Church for a later morning service.
Uptown at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Northwest, Catholics waited outside in a light drizzle for the chance to get a seat and hear Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick celebrate the 10 a.m. Mass. Some tourists recalled the church as the spot where the late President John F. Kennedy's 3-year-old son, John-John, saluted his father's casket in November 1963.
Some, such as Maddie Burns and Elise Deschenes, normally would attend other parishes in the District but wanted to hear the words of the leader of the Archdiocese on Easter Sunday.
Speaking about the Middle East, Cardinal McCarrick told an overflowing crowd which had people standing in the open doorway despite pouring rain that in order for peace to come to the Holy Land, it first must come to individuals. Faith in Jesus Christ, he said, will ensure that happens.
Some in attendance were happy only to be able to attend Mass.
"I haven't been to any service at all in nearly eight months, so I am just happy to be here," said Chris M., a foreign service officer who declined to give a last name. He said he recently returned from an assignment "far away."
The Stech family from Duluth, Minn., attended the 8:30 a.m. Mass at St. Matthew's. The loss of a close family member in the past year was on their minds as they reflected on the church and the significance of the holiday, they said.
"This was absolutely beautiful, and it's very different from anything we have in Minnesota we don't have all the ceremony," said Katy Stech.
The fighting in the Middle East, as well as the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, was on the minds of those at the National Cathedral as well. Some people waited outside in the pouring rain for up to 15 minutes before being seated, but no one seemed to mind.
"I am so encouraged in these times to see all these people of faith," the Rev. Nathan D. Baxter told the more than 4,000 in attendance.
"Easter this year takes on an added significance after September 11 and with the violence in the Middle East," said Mary Lynn F. Jones, a regular parishioner from Arlington. "The message of hope and redemption was especially poignant."
Pat Huge, another regular parishioner who lives in the District, said perhaps it is this holiday, this year, that might help to change the situation because people cannot give up hope.
"Everything that has happened did not change Easter," she said. "But hopefully Easter and the message of Easter can help change everything that is happening now."

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