Burglars stole the instruments, but they couldn't stop the show.
Thanks to an outpouring of community support, gospel music filled a Hempstead church Saturday -- one day after thieves ransacked the building, making off with a pair of electric pianos and audio gear worth about $16,000.
Shortly before the evening concert at Judea United Baptist Church, doors had been replaced and new locks installed. The fundraiser went on as scheduled, with borrowed musical equipment.
"It shows the spirit goes on," said Beverly R. James, a Uniondale resident visiting from another church.
The event, which drew about 125 people, was supposed to support the purchase of a new sign in front of the church. Now, funds raised from the $30-a-plate supper concert will go toward replacing the stolen equipment, making repairs and improving security.
As a saxophonist played Saturday, Christine Coscia swayed to the rhythm, arms striking an angelic pose.
"I was in heaven," she said later.
Coscia, who doesn't belong to the church, said she attended the fundraiser "as a Christian woman in Hempstead, to pray and help them; to show that all is good in the midst of this tragedy."
Hempstead police are investigating the burglary, but as of Saturday night no arrests had been made.
The burglars broke in through a basement door either late Thursday night or early Friday, leaving the church in disarray with broken doors and smashed windows, police said. The pastor's office was trashed.
On Saturday, the gospel show was held with loaned keyboards and a smaller sound board.
Many of those attending preached forgiveness, saying they'd pray for the thieves.
"They didn't hurt us," said Pastor Lynnwood Deans. "They really hurt themselves."
One of the congregants shaken by the break-in said she's found a new resolve.
"I felt violated," said parishioner Deborah McPhaul. "It was very sad -- heartbreaking. But you don't let the situation get the best of you. You have to press forward."