A Multitude at the Seaside

By The Rev. Rick Carter

Director For Evangelical Mission in the ELCA South Carolina Synod

During our annual assembly I received an invitation to visit and worship with Pastor Greg Van Dyke and the members at St. Peter’s Lutheran in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. The invitation was not just for Sunday morning, although I would have been most certainly welcomed any Sunday, the invitation was for their first public worship service on the beach. The service was a vision of Pastor Greg’s since accepting the Call as pastor at St. Peter’s.

He shared with me, “Our (St. Peter’s) purpose is to empower our members to proclaim the message of the Gospel through teaching, fellowship, healing and prayer to all people and it does not have to be simply on Sunday mornings.” Intrigued, I joined them for this inaugural worship service on the southern tip of the island on July 11. What a beautiful day; imagine for a moment your favorite day at the coast of South Carolina…the sun is setting and a slight breeze is coming in from over the ocean. Now add to that image a table being set with the bread and wine, the vastness of the ocean as the backdrop. People walking by stare with inquisitive faces at what is occurring right in front of them on the beach. It is not long before members from St. Peter’s join around the table. Some members begin to invite the beachgoers to join. A few do, but many quietly remain where they have set up for the day on the beach, with worship bulletins in hand. The Word of God was proclaimed that evening and many were fed from the Lord’s table.

Prior to our worship service Pastor Greg and I met for dinner. During our dinner conversation Pastor Greg commented, “Rick, I have no idea what I am doing, this is so far out of my comfort zone to do something like this.” We laughed a little, finished dinner and prayed for God’s Spirit to lead. Pastor Greg and the members of St. Peter’s, I want to thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone and proclaiming Jesus to the multitude on the beach that day.

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