18-Seasonal Church

“The…Beach Sunday School Chapel is in its 76th season of worship, open only from Memorial Day to Labor Day.”

July 14, 2019 9:30 AM

This church started in 1936 when two mothers taught Bible lessons to their children in a rowboat on the beach. Without transportation to churches in the area, they began a regular Sunday tradition of singing hymns and telling Bible stories to their families. The group grew and they purchased a tract of land near the beach in 1939. A small one room chapel was constructed and it’s still a non-denominational church led by volunteers during the summer months only.

I rode my bike to the chapel just as a woman rang the old school bell outside the building. When she finished I asked her how many times she hit the bell. She said, “thirty-one; one for each day in July.” I wondered why she didn’t link it to something Biblical, perhaps thirty, for the age of Jesus when he began his ministry. Or maybe forty for the number of days of the flood or the amount of time Jesus fasted in the desert. Oh well, I guess the days in the month is fine too.

I went inside the small church and became one of sixteen worshippers. I thought there would be a number of people, like me, visitors to the area who stop in to worship. But the congregation consisted of year-round residents who grew up coming to the church. Although the chapel had a children’s area, it appeared I was the youngest person in attendance.

The bulletin explained how the church began, what ministries it supports, including honorariums and building maintenance which makes up their $3500 annual budget. They seem to place an emphasis on giving probably because they have only fifteen weeks to collect.

The worship leader was an eighty-three year old retired minister. I know this because he mentioned his age, getting older and beginning to forget things. There was a pianist and a flutist and we sang familiar hymns which made the singing enjoyable. The service included The Lord’s Prayer, a responsive Psalm reading and a missionary report. The guest speaker was not good but thankfully very brief. I got the feeling he was on vacation too and didn’t really prepare a message. During the announcements one of the active laypeople asked if any first-time visitors would like to introduce themselves. I looked around wondering who he meant which caused a few chuckles. Then I introduced myself to them and mentioned that I liked to visit various churches, just so they might not be disappointed when I don’t return.

Overall, this is a nice place to worship, with a solid liturgy and rotating speakers. I certainly could go back when I visit the area again. I think they hope for more seasonal visitors but probably won’t get many of them. But if anyone does visit, they will find this church PASSES the WELCOME TEST.

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