by Lisa Tome
You can arrive at church by land or sea.
The Waterfront Worship tradition, a church service held weekly in North East Town Park, is continuing.
For the second year, New Beginnings Christian Fellowship, and its leader, Pastor Phil Meekins, are working to keep Waterfront Worship going.
Pastor Meekins and El Van Blarcom are alternating weeks performing the services which run annually from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Meekins said that the services are held at 8:15 a.m. each Sunday. Average attendance is 40-50 people weekly.
"We inherited this from (the late) Gary Johnson, my friend, four years ago. New Beginnings adopted it two years ago to make sure it survives," said Meekins.
Those who attend the service are not regulars. It is a church outreach geared to boaters, campers, those from other churches who want an outdoor setting in summer, and anyone who happens by the Gilbert Lighthouse Pavilion.
Waterfront Worship is advertised by word of mouth, on facebook, in newspapers, and flyers are placed at various locations. Meekins said the services, which last about an hour, feature praise and worship music, and a message. Music is live and pre-recorded.
"It's for anyone who wants to come. All are welcome," said Meekins. "It's a serene setting except when the thunder rolls. We have it rain or shine within reason."
Casual attire is accepted and encouraged. Coffee and refreshments are served.
"This was started over 25 years ago. It has been passed down over the years. We are working to keep it alive," added Meekins. "We all prayed about this and agreed. It's not going anywhere as long as we are allowed to use the park. The Town of North East donates the pavilion to us each week."
If the pavilion is in use, the church meets at a nearby dock.