About 13,000 men, women and children, members of eight Eastern Orthodox congregations in the Baltimore area, will celebrate Easter on Sunday along with 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.
This year's observance by the Orthodox of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ follows by four weeks the Easter of Western Christianity. Easter's date -- the first Sunday after the full moon after the spring equinox -- was set for both the Eastern and Western churches by the Council of Nicaea in 325, but differences occur because the Orthodox determine the equinox by the old Julian calendar.
Called Pascha, from the Hebrew word for Passover, the Easter service traditionally begins for most Orthodox Christians about midnight Saturday with the darkening of the church.
The priest appears with a large candle, which he lights from a vigil lamp on the altar. Singing "Receive ye the light from the unwavering Light, and glorify Christ who rose from the dead," the celebrant then lights the candles of those near him, and they in turn light others until every worshiper's candle is burning.
The Resurrection service continues with a procession, either inside or outside the church, which is followed by the elaborate Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.
Among the more colorful liturgical traditions of the Orthodox Holy Week will be tomorrow evening's Good Friday processions, in which a flower-covered wooden frame representing Christ's sepulcher is carried.
More information about the Orthodox Holy Week, and various times and places for Easter services, can be obtained by calling the following churches in the area:
* Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, 24 W. Preston St., Baltimore, 727-1831.
* St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, 520 S. Ponca St., Baltimore, 633-5020.
* St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 2504 Cub Hill Road, Baltimore County, 661-1090.
* Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, 1723 E. Fairmount Ave., Baltimore, 276-6171.
* St. Andrew's Orthodox Church, 2028 E. Lombard St., Baltimore, 276-5541.
* St. Mary's Orthodox Church, 909 Shawan Road in Hunt Valley, 785-0909.
* Holy Cross Orthodox Mission, meeting at 20 Winters Lane in Catonsville, 945-3938.
* St. Matthew's Orthodox Mission, meeting at Amherst House, 7251 Eden Brook Drive in Columbia, 992-0608.
City of faiths
A panel of Muslim, Jewish and Christian scholars will discuss the past, present and future of Jerusalem at a free, public symposium beginning at 7:15 p.m. May 5 at Beth El Congregation, 8101 Park Heights Ave., Pikesville.
The symposium, "Jerusalem: At the Crossroads," sponsored by Jerusalem Foundation Inc., will attempt to answer these questions: Has the religious meaning of the ancient city changed? What is its significance now to each of the three faiths? Can a shared love of Jerusalem help resolve differences among them?
Speakers will include Mahmoud Ayoub, professor of Islamic studies at Temple University; Rabbi Reuven Kimelman, associate professor of Talmud and Midrash at Brandeis University; and Robert L. Wilken, professor of the history of Christianity at the University of Virginia. George Weigel, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, will be the moderator.
C7 Information and reservations: 486-8615 or 484-6200.
"Christian Women Working to Build the Kingdom of God" will be the theme of a prayer breakfast at 9 a.m. Saturday at Homestead United Methodist Church, Kirk and Gorsuch avenues, Baltimore.
The Rev. Conrad Parker, pastor of Northwood Appold United Methodist Church, will speak.
' Reservations: 243-4419.
The public is invited to a free concert by the choirs of Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 6 p.m. May 7 in the sanctuary at 8615 Church Lane, Randallstown.
& Information: 922-3286.
St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Lutherville has adopted the Prince of Peace Lutheran congregation in the Northridge section of Los Angeles, whose church and homes were devastated by January's earthquake.