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RELIGION : Time Change May Affect Easter Sunrise Services

April 02, 1988|JOHN DART | Times Religion Writer

Would-be worshipers on Easter morning, especially those going to sunrise services, may have to fall back on televised rites at home unless they spring ahead tonight.

The start of Daylight Saving Time coincides this year with Easter, a holiday that brings out many occasional churchgoers and parishioners.

"I expect a lot of people to wander in at the tail end of our service, wondering what happened," said the Rev. John A. Huffman Jr., pastor of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach.

"We've been making a big thing of it the last three Sundays," Huffman said. He said that he has heard that a couple of San Diego churches are planning services an hour later than usual.

First Time in U.S. History

This year is the first time in U.S. history that Americans will move their clocks ahead one hour just before the Protestant-Catholic observance of Easter, according to the Daylight Saving Time Coalition based in Washington. Eastern Orthodox Churches, which will celebrate Easter this year on April 10, have encountered the problem before.

Beginning in 1987, the United States and most Canadian provinces began Daylight Saving Time on the first Sunday in April rather than the last Sunday in April.

A sampling of Protestant churches in the Los Angeles area indicated that they have been alerting members to set their clocks ahead one hour before going to bed tonight.

However, three Catholic parishes checked by a reporter said no reminders were made.

"I don't think we have (reminded people), to tell the truth," said Father Gary Rye, pastor of Mother of Good Counsel Church in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles. "We did not announce it. In fact, I didn't know about it," said Abbot Adrian Parcher, a priest in residence at the large St. Basil's Church on Wilshire Boulevard. An office worker at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Claremont said there has been no reminder printed in the parish's bulletin.

By contrast, at the Church on the Way in Van Nuys, which expects 14,000 worshipers at four morning services, has "printed it in our bulletin for a couple of months and announced it from the pulpit," said staff worker Tami Baldwin.

The Crystal Cathedral's Palm Sunday newsletter, which goes to a mailing list of about 10,000 people, pictured an alarm clock on its cover and urged recipients to "be on time for a glorious Easter sunrise service at 6 a.m.," the first of four services.

First Baptist Church of Los Angeles sent out a special letter about the time change and has announced it for several weeks running. The Rev. Jim Hopkins, associate minister, said he was especially concerned that participants rise early enough for the church's 7 a.m. sunrise service.

Hollywood Bowl Service

Indeed, the traditional sunrise services face the biggest problem--not only from people who forget to set their clocks ahead but also from people who do not want to give up the extra hour of sleep.

Southern California's oldest sunrise service, a tradition begun in 1909, is at Mt. Rubidoux in Riverside. The service begins at 6:15 a.m., but beginning at 4:30 a.m. Boy Scouts will light the four trails for those who hike to the peak. Specially marked cars will transport other worshipers up the mountain. The main speaker will be Paul Evans, speaker and vice president of the Christian radio program, "Haven of Rest."

The 68th Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service will begin its musical prologue at 5:15 a.m., leading into the main service from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. But the gates to the bowl will be open at 3 a.m., with parking and admission free.

A quiet controversy has developed over the sunrise service board's decision to invite a rabbi as one of the two main speakers, as well as the inclusion of Religious Science ministers on the program. Rabbi Leonard Beerman will be sharing the main sermon with Korean Christian Pastor Dong Sun Lim, and Religious Science minister Anita Richilieu will give an offertory prayer.

A letter signed by 10 lay Christians who objected to the non-Christian participation was presented Friday to Norma Foster, producer-director of the sunrise service, by Jody Eldred, a television film director and member of the Hollywood Presbyterian Church.

While saying that interreligious services are beneficial at certain times of the year, the signers from half a dozen churches wrote that "it was unfair and inappropriate to invite the participation of non-Christian leaders who do not believe in Christ or his resurrection."

Eldred said he thought it was too late to change Sunday's program but that he hoped that changes would occur in future renewals of the event. He said that Religious Science ministers may affirm belief in Jesus' resurrection but that the religion is not traditionally considered a part of the Christian family because of its broader range of beliefs.

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