Stephanie Walker, 7, snuggled into the metal folding chair at Third Baptist Church and after some thought decided Easter meant a new bright pink, lace dress with matching pink linen coat, new knee-length white socks, and candy-laden Easter baskets.

Elizabeth Norman, 12, found her meaning in the rejoicing at the Resurrection, but there also was the excitement of the new clothes and the picture-taking with the family.

For Jeffrey Adkins, 9, Easter dressing in an uncomfortable new black suit and tie and coming to church when his preference was to be playing with his friends.

Such was the glimpses of Easter through the eyes of some of the more than 30 children who, dressed in their Easter suits, pastel dresses, white and black patent leather shoes, white, pink and yellow socks and frilly hats, gathered in one of the District's oldest black churches yesterday.

Founded in 1858, Third Baptist, at 5th and Q streets NW, has had only four ministers in its history including the father of Bennetta Bullock, who married Walter E. Washington, the city's former mayor. Although the three-story brick church is in the heart of Shaw, a neighborhood changing from a poor black area to a white and fashionable address, Third Baptist has clung to its predominately middle-class membership, a reminder that Shaw and its neighbor, LeDroit Park, once housed the bulk of Washington's black elite.

Yesterday, LaKisha Hackett, 3, could barely pause from running around the auditorium of Third Baptist during Sunday School. Dressed in her pink, ruffled floral dress, and white straw hat with a pink ribbon tied under her chin, she explained that "Easter is Sunday and Jesus is up in the sky."

Her Mother, Hilda, wearing a two-year-old white knit dress, prompted her to remember that Jesus arose on Easter, which little LaKisha had forgotten.

"I tried to tell her it's not just the clothes, but she didn't understand," said Mrs. Hackett.

"I got a lot of new clothes and I'm glad that Jesus died for our sins so we would not have to die," said Toni Doctor, 11, showing off her new white dress and matching dress.

But Easter held a deeper meaning for her older sister, Tanya, 15. "It's a day that I feel I'm born again," she said. "I rejoice in his name." She said her new clothes -- a beige linen jacket trimmed in navy to match her navy skirt, shoes and stockings -- only enhance her feeling of renewal.

After church the Doctor family of 11 grandchildren, were to gather at her grandmother's house in Oxon Hill for a dinner of ham, turkey, apple cobbler and the special "witches cake," a dark confestion with peanuts and coconut.

Christopher Williams, 9, and his cousin Derrick Branch, 10, looking like identical twins in their white linen suits, black shirts, black ties, white socks and black shoes, planned to hunt Easter eggs in their backyard after church. That is their family tradition.

"It seems fun to get dressed and go to church," said Christopher. "I like that Jesus arose from the cross -- and dyeing eggs and finding them. Then I like to eat them."