Faithful mark Easter at Jones Beach service

Worshipers gather for Easter sunrise service at Jones Worshipers gather for Easter sunrise service at Jones Beach in Wantagh. (March 31, 2013) Photo Credit: Ed Betz

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Long Island worshippers still coming to grips with the lingering devastation from superstorm Sandy sought solace in their faith during an Easter sunrise service at Jones Beach Sunday.

The celebration of Christ's resurrection brought renewed strength and inspiration to Derwood Fish, 65, who has been living with relatives since his Seaford home of 40 years flooded in the October storm.

"It shows you that the Lord has the power to do anything he wants and if people don't straighten up, we might see more of it," he said.

During his brief sermon before 200 people, the Rev. Thomas A. Goodhue, an ordained United Methodist clergyman, addressed Jones Beach and communities hit hard by Sandy.

"Have you ever felt hopeless and in despair?" Goodhue asked the crowd in the sermon titled "Hanging on for Dear Life or Leaping toward New Life."

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"Didn't you want to get your possessions and life back?" he continued. "But maybe God wanted for us something new -- to do something on this island."

Samantha Siegler, 22, of Bellmore quietly listened.

"It's a lot to think about, but we're standing on a beach that was underwater a few months ago," she said.

Fish, who isn't sure when he will return home, said he doesn't blame anyone for his situation, but will heavily lean on his faith."It's a choice we make to live on the water," he said.

Attendees gathered on the beach at Field 6 for the 30-minute nondenominational service, held by the Long Island Council of Churches, one of several worship groups at the beach Sunday morning.

Away from the service, dozens of people stood along the water silently watching the sunrise and waves move back and forth.

"We're very blessed to be able to worship on the beach," said Bellmore resident Nancy Schneider, 52.

Michael Riccuiti, 73, of Bellmore, said he annually visits the beach on Easter morning. "I like to start Easter days with bright sunshine the Lord provided us," he said.

During his sermon, Goodhue, who has led the council of churches since 1999, spoke of how Jesus could have passed for an average working man or a gardener while on Earth.

"It's the thought that a resurrected life is different from life before," he said after the service. "We can rebuild the Island, stronger and bigger, rather than clinging on to the past."

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