Celebrating creation at the beach
With summer approaching, and COVID restrictions on gatherings allowing for more people to assemble outdoors, services in the open air are quickly becoming a more popular option. Insights spoke to Sydney Central Coast Presbytery’s New Growth Minister, Rev. Liam Miller about taking church to the beach.
Toukley Uniting Church met at Lakes Beach, Budgewoi on Sunday, 8 November.
Rev. Liam Miller is Sydney Central Coast Presbytery’s New Growth Minister. He told Insights that the service was, “[A]n easy invite.”
“We wanted to do a service that would not feel like a drain on people’s time or a stress on an already full weekend,” he explained.
“If church isn’t something you already value or make time for, the idea of setting aside an hour or so to check it out can be a bit of an ask. Especially if someone works on a weekend day, or spends 20+ hours/week commuting, or have a raft of kids activities to bounce between.”
“However, around here on a Saturday afternoon people are either already at the beach, or it’s the place that people are saying ‘we really should get there more’. So Beach Church becomes a way for people to still gather and reflect – to give church a go – and gift themselves a restorative afternoon at the beach. It’s also a way to experience and appreciate the beauty of this good world, gifted by God to be enjoyed.”
“Beach Church is pitched to be: Relaxed. Brief. Joyful. And hopefully, the service reflected that. We sat on a mat (because of the high winds on Saturday we actually located ourselves on the grass just beyond the sand). I opened with an acknowledgment of country and welcome which would resemble a call to worship.”
While the weather on the day became overcast, leaving the beach empty, it did not rain. The bulk of the 25-minute service was split into three parts: a Godly Play story (Creation), a sharing time from a team member on why she, as a Christian, cares about the whole of creation, and a reflection by Rev. Miller on what it might mean to live as witness to the belief that the world is created and gifted by God.
“We were very energised and excited after our first gathering and hope that the service and accompanying community will continue to grow and deepen as we explore who we are, and who we might be, in relation to the one who separated the land from water and knows each grain of sand as intimately as the hairs on our heads,” Rev. Miller said.
The beach church service will return to Lakes Beach, Budgewoi on Sunday 21 November and will run weekly through December and January, meeting by the Surf Club by 3:30 pm.
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