For the first time in its 142-year history, the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs will be open for worship on Easter Sunday, with three different Island churches holding services there.

Good Shepherd Parish celebrates Easter Mass in the Tabernacle at 9:30 a.m., Edgartown’s Federated Church holds its communion service at noon and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church of Edgartown begins its Easter service at 2:30 p.m.

This is the earliest start to the outdoor worship season since the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association originated nearly two centuries ago, said Sarah Leaman, a Camp Ground resident and member of both the association’s spiritual life committee and the campground board.

“We’ve been having worship services since 1835,” Ms. Leaman said. “That is a very long time for a Christian congregation to be happening and never have an Easter event.”

Completed in 1879, the Tabernacle provided a roof and seats for the open-air Methodist camp meetings that had taken place for decades of summers in the surrounding groves. Sunday services now are non-denominational and the camp meeting association is unaffiliated with Methodism, Ms. Leaman said.

After Covid-19 forced Island churches to close their doors more than a year ago, the association offered pastors the Tabernacle as a safe place for socially-distanced worship. As many as four different congregations held services there last year, Ms. Leaman said.

Edgartown Federated Church will start Easter morning with a 6:30 a.m. sunrise service on the church lawn. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“When we got the chance, we seized upon it,” said Rev. Chip Seadale of St. Andrew’s, who first gathered his flock at the Tabernacle last September.

“There was a great spirit [and] a lot of excitement about seeing each other again, even though we were wearing masks,” he said.

It was Father Michael Nagle of Good Shepherd Parish, the Island’s Roman Catholic congregation, who suggested Easter services at the Tabernacle, Ms. Leaman said.

“He’s a hardy soul,” she said.

And a busy one. Good Shepherd will also hold a sunrise service at 6 a.m., outdoors at Sheriff's Meadow Beach in Vineyard Haven; an 8 a.m. mass at St. Augustine’s in Vineyard Haven and 11 a.m. Easter Masses at St. Elizabeth’s in Edgartown (in English) and St. Augustine’s (in Portuguese).

The Edgartown Federated Church is also starting Easter with a socially-distanced outdoor service, including communion, at 6:30 a.m. on the Mayhew Parsonage lawn at 75 South Water street in Edgartown. Congregants are advised to bring chairs.

Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven hosts an in-person outdoor service at 8 a.m., with registration in advance, as well as an online service at 10 a.m., and will also be taking part in the Tabernacle service with St. Andrew’s at 2:30 p.m.

Reverend Seadale is also pre-recording Good Friday and Easter YouTube services for those who can’t come to the Tabernacle for the St. Andrew’s service.

While some churches are mixing live and online services this weekend, the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury is holding all of its Easter observances virtually, in real time, beginning with a 6 a.m. sunrise service from Rev. Cathlin Baker’s backyard via Zoom.

“My family and I will be around our fire pit and we’ll have the camera outside,” Reverend Baker said. There will also be a 10 a.m. Zoom service.

Gathering on Zoom has become the norm for First Congregational, drawing worshipers from both on and off Island.

“We have so many people throughout the year that have been Zooming in from afar,” Reverend Baker said. “Easter is so special and important, we didn’t want to be without our off-Island folks.”