Step inside a towering gothic cathedral in Garden City; listen to the spirited sounds of a Baptist church in Amityville; absorb the colors and light of a Melville Hindu temple; take shelter in a hospitable mosque in Selden.
Newsday visited seven houses of worship on Long Island: Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Roman Catholic Church, B’nai Israel Reform Temple, Islamic Association of Long Island, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, BAPS Hindu Temple, The New Hope Institutional Baptist Church and the Cathedral of the Incarnation. In the video above, seven religious leaders tell us how they view “sanctuary.” Even though the term is rooted in shared principles, each of the faith-based communities offer a unique perspective on providing physical and spiritual refuge to those in need.
Scroll down to discover the rich history and visual highlights behind each house of worship. While watching the individual videos, use your mouse to move left, right, up and down to take in all 360 degrees of each space. On mobile devices, you’ll need the YouTube app to view the 360-degree video experience.
Wyandanch:Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Roman Catholic Church
Father Bill Brisotti says that his parish is about 75 percent Hispanic and 5 percent Haitian. The church, located in Wyandanch, has been offering Spanish language services since 1972. Brisotti hopes the calm atmosphere and simple architecture of the church — built in the 1930s — makes folks feel comfortable during his services. Take a look at how the community joins together after a service at the 1:04 mark.
Oakdale: B’nai Israel Reform Temple
We took a peek inside the Oakdale temple with Rabbi Steven Moss, who has been leading his congregation for 45 years. The synagogue has been a staple in the Town of Islip for more than 50 years. Moss says that when he welcomes visitors to his services, the “wow” moment usually occurs when he reveals eight Torah scrolls enclosed behind bronze gates, seen at the beginning of the video. Be sure to listen to the musical stylings of B’nai Israel’s female cantor, Ilana Plutzer, who can be seen strumming her acoustic guitar during a prayer at 0:42.
Selden: Islamic Association of Long Island
When Mohammad Javaid Akhtar moved to Long Island decades ago, there wasn’t a place for Muslims to pray as a community. Now, he is the president of the Islamic Association of Long Island in Selden, the first masjid — or mosque — on Long Island, established in 1979. Akhtar says that the mosque provides a peaceful and social setting for the community, bringing in large groups nightly after work and school. Listen to Imam Amin Ur Rahman lead prayer at the 0:45 mark during the weekly congregational service, which takes place on Friday afternoons. Check out how the modern architecture of the mosque is accentuated by gleaming lights at 0:37.
Huntington: Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Nestled next to the historic Coindre Hall — which boasts sprawling fields and immaculate furnishings — the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington holds its services every Sunday morning. The Rev. Jude Geiger says that the building used to serve as a carriage house, adding that its “bright and simple” architecture speaks to the well-rounded teachings of Unitarianism. We stepped inside to meet the welcoming community and hear the cheerful choir, which you’ll find performing around a piano at 0:28.
Melville: BAPS Hindu Temple
The colorful and vibrant Hindu temple contains rooms for peaceful thought and prayer, rows of classrooms and even a basketball court. According to Shreena Shah, the regional coordinator for youth girls, the friendly environment has been bringing people of all backgrounds together on a daily basis since the temple opened its doors in 2016. This is the first Hindu temple — also referred to as mandir — of its kind on Long Island. Check out how young boys and girls interact with each other in the classrooms at 0:17 and 0:27, and discover what awaits behind the curtains at 1:01, as Swami Sadhu Sahajmunidas guides us through the grand Hindu temple.
Amityville: The New Hope Institutional Baptist Church
The Baptist church greets Long Islanders with kindness, love and plenty of music. Overseer Sallie Lloyd, the church’s pastor, says that the space and the people in it helped her through a rough patch when she was younger. Now, she ensures that people who enter the church with troubles can leave with a clear mindset. Gospel music is a major part of the positive atmosphere, and you’ll see how it gets folks out of their seats and on their feet at 0:22. And, take in some moments of contemplative group prayer seen at 0:15.
Garden City: Cathedral of the Incarnation
Some might say that the cathedral — the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island — looks like it came right out of a Medieval Europe art history book. Take it from the Rev. Michael Sniffen, the cathedral’s dean, who described how imposing the gothic brownstone appears at first glance. “In a sense, [cathedrals] model the human person,” he said. “From the outside, we might seem a bit inaccessible or hard, but the depth of the human spirit, the depth of the human soul, is unfathomable. When you come into the cathedral, there’s this sense of openness and light and it’s a bright place. It looks nothing like the outside.” Take a peek at the cathedral’s ceiling at 0:52, and the finer details of the space, such as the golden dish at 1:02.
Videographer & Video editor: Jeffrey Basinger | Producers: Saba Ali & Rachel Weiss