Community Voices

Neighbors in Religion: Church prepares for early Easter this year

Bea L. Hines
Bea L. Hines

I so enjoy our readers sharing their thoughts with me. Recently, I got this note from the Rev. Martha M. Shiverick, pastor of Riviera Presbyterian Church, about Easter and church growth:

“Dear Bea, can you believe that Easter is almost upon us! Yikes!

“I cannot remember an Easter this early since I was a little girl. Certainly not since I’ve been ordained.

“I have been reading lately about church growth and one church expert divided visitors into ‘front door visitors and side door visitors.’ Front door visitors enter your church to worship, while side-door visitors come to your church because of the programs that you offer. If you want to grow your membership, the job of the minister and church leaders is to have your visitors entering both doors.

“Holy Week can be a good time to do this if you offer different activities to bring people into y our church. and Easter might be the biggest front door attraction. People want to go to church on Easter morning.”

Shiverick continued by telling me about the Easter celebration at Riviera. “We will celebrate Easter at 11 a.m. with the traditional fanfare of music and liturgies,” she said. “As a postlude, the congregation will join the choir in singing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. The worship service will be followed by an Easter egg hunt for children.”

Attendees will be given a brochure with ways they can involve themselves in the life and ministry of the church and meet and get to know the community. “Our goal is to move them from a front door visitor to a side door visitor,” Shiverick said.

The Holy Week services at Riviera include a Passover Seder at 6:30 p.m. on Maundy Thursday, March 24. The Passover meal is Jesus’ Last Supper and from where the Christian sacrament of communion comes. After the Seder, there will be a communion service. Shiverick said the Passover Seder is a “side door activity and is appropriate for children and adults.” (Jews celebrate Passover in mid-April this year.)

Everyone is invited to all services. “Our goal is to move people from a side door visitor to a front door one, too,” Shiverick said.

Riviera Presbyterian Church is at 5275 Sunset Dr. For more information, call the church at 305-666-8586.


A Good Friday Procession of the Cross , organized by several churches in the South Dade community will begin at noon March 25 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 145 NE 10th St., Homestead. The procession will continue on to first United Methodist Church of Homestead, 622 N. Krome Ave.

If you wish to participate in the Procession of the Cross, meet at St. John’s Episcopal Church, where prayers will be offered before departing. Those who are unable to walk the four blocks between the two churches may drive. After the walk, there will be a 30-minute nondenominational Good Friday service at 1 p.m.

For more information call 305-248-0976.


Holy Week services at the Universal Truth Center for Better Living will include its second prayer vigil of 2016 on March 19. The theme is “Renewal” and the vigil will include six one-hour sessions on the hour with the first starting at 6 a.m. and the last at 11 a.m., ending at noon.

A prayer leader will conduct a short prayer at the beginning of each session, and individuals may then pray quietly, using the spiritual materials provided, or if they choose, any material they may bring with them. If you go, please arrive a few minutes before the beginning of each session to be seated before the session starts. The event is free, but donations will be accepted.

Also, Universal Truth Center will have its annual Upper Room Experience service from 7 to 9 p.m. March 25. The order of service will include the Florida Memorial Ambassador Chorale and its steel pan band.

Holy Week services at the church will conclude with Easter services at 10 a.m.. The church is at 21310 NW 37th Ave., Miami Gardens.


The cantata Champion of Love will be presented by the Silver Palm United Methodist Church Choir at 10:30 a.m. on Palm Sunday, March 20. The choir is directed by Sandy Keffer.

The church is at 15855 SW 248th St. Everyone is welcome and it’s free.


The community is invited to the Palm Sunday service at Unity of Miami Gardens Church at 10:45 a.m. Sunday. The Rev. Dr. Anna Price will be the guest speaker.

At 7 p.m. March 25, the Rev. Vernelle Nelson will preside at the Good Friday service. The Holy Week services will conclude at 10:45 a.m. on Easter Sunday, with the Rev. Maxine Martin from Unity of Jamaica as the guest speaker.

The church is at 16800 NW 17th Ave., Miami Gardens.


Klezmer music can be wild gypsy music or it can be tender loving music. Whatever your taste, you are sure to find it if you attend the Klezmer concert from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Temple Beth Tov Ahavat Shalom, 6438 SW Eighth St., West Miami.

Tickets are $18 for adults (with reservation), $10 for ages 10-17 and free for children under 10. Tickets for adults will be $25 at the door. Light refreshments will be served after the concert. Call 305-205-3846 for reservations and more information.


Christian Homes for Children invites the community to its 27th annual cookout from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Topeekeegee Yugnee Park, 3300 N. Park Rd. (off Sheridan Street), Hollywood.

The event will be in pavilions two and three and benefit children in the South Florida community who have been abused and neglected.

Admission is $12 for ages 13 and up; $8 for ages 5-12; and $3 for ages 2-4. Call Mary Menzies at 305-825-0517 for more information.


Neighbors in Religion wishes a warm happy birthday to John Dowe, who celebrated his 100th birthday on March 6 with friends and relatives at Norland United Methodist Church.

A native of Point, Jamaica, Dowe was born on March 2. He left his home in Jamaica in 1969 and went to work at an electronics factory in Pennsylvania. He retired in 1980 from a tire recapping factory and moved to Miami.

Dowe has been married 14 years to wife Joyce. He is the father of four children.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.