By STEVEN HERBERT
City News Service
Easter celebrations will be held Sunday at two of Southern California's most famous concert venues, the Hollywood Bowl and the Forum.
The "Easter at the Bowl" service organized by Bel Air Presbyterian Church, the Eagle Rock-based Christian Assembly Church and Fellowship Monrovia will feature a more than 200-member choir, professional orchestra, and a modern live worship band led by Tommy Walker.
"All three churches decided to combine our efforts, enabling us to provide a worship service to the city of Los Angeles," Bel Air Presbyterian Church Pastor Enock De Assis said.
"For some, this will be their first exposure to the true meaning of Easter and for many, it will be a time to rejoice and celebrate Christ's resurrection with thousands."
The planned 75-minute non-denominational service will begin at 11 a.m., with doors and parking lots opening at 9 a.m. Picnicking is encouraged. Select concession stands will be open.
Admission and parking are free. Bibles will be given to all in attendance. Organizers expect more than 15,000 people to attend.
Because parking at the Hollywood Bowl is extremely limited, organizers are encouraging participants to take shuttle buses from the Hollywood & Highland Center or the Ventura Boulevard lot at 10801 Ventura Blvd. or the three participating churches.
A portion of the proceeds of the offering from the service will go to children and families in need in Los Angeles.
More information on the celebration is available on its website, easteratthebowl.com.
Easter services were first held at the Hollywood Bowl in 1919.
"Easter at the Forum," the first community-wide public event to be held at the venue since its $100 million renovation, will consist of a two-hour service beginning at 10 a.m. followed by an hourlong gospel concert at noon. Doors open at 9 a.m.
Grammy winner Fred Hammond and fellow gospel star Tamela Mann will be among the participants.
The service will be conducted by Faithful Central Bible Church, which once owned the Forum. Organizers expect 12,500 people to attend.
Easter Sunday Masses will be celebrated in English at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and in Spanish at 12:30 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. A bilingual Mass will be celebrated at 2:30 p.m.
Easter, which celebrates Jesus' resurrection, "is the biggest event of the year in the Christian faith," De Assis told City News Service.
"The cornerstone of the Christian faith is the resurrection of Christ," De Assis said. "If there was no resurrection, there would be no Christianity."
Easter "unites us again with 2 billion Christians around the world," De Assis said.
"We have different theologies and different liturgies, but there is one thing that unites all the Christians around the world and that is Christ is risen," De Assis said.
Easter is also "an invitation for us to rethink about the light the Christ brings into the world" and "a time of reflection about the suffering, poverty and corruption around us," De Assis said.
"But then we see the light of Christ, who comes into the world to bring a new meaning to all the relationships," De Assis said.