Church services at lake return for summer

For nearly 50 years, people have gathered on the shore and in the waters of Thurmond Lake for an annual series of outdoor summer church services.


The services return to the lake this Sunday.

“It’s the most beautiful pastoral setting. You feel like you’re in a church because of the overhanging trees. It’s worshipful,” said Patty Strickland, a lay speaker from St. John United Methodist Church in Augusta, who will preach this Sunday.

A different speaker is featured every week of the summer through Labor Day. The lineup includes lay speakers, and current and former pastors of local Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran and Presbyterian churches.

The services started in 1964 as an outreach of St. John to summer vacationers at the lake.

Services are casual, with some people arriving by boat in swimsuits. Coffee and donuts are usually served afterwards.

In case of rain, worship is moved to a nearby lodge.

This year, there’s enough water that the pulpit, which sits on a floating dock, “actually floats,” said Curt Strickland, Patty’s husband and the organizer of the summer services at St. John. “For the first time in years, we’ve got plenty of water up there.”

Services begin at 8:45 a.m. and will be held each Sunday through Aug. 25. See for more information.


SUNDAY: Patty Strickland, St. John United Methodist

JUNE 9: Jack Findley, Big Stevens Creek Baptist, North Augusta

JUNE 16: The Rev. Buddy Holbrook, retired Baptist pastor

JUNE 23: Dennis Sodomka, Lutheran Church of the Resurrection

JUNE 30: The Rev. Timothy Owings, retired Baptist pastor

JUNE 7: The Rev. Mark Maund, Riverview United Methodist, Evans

JULY 14: The Rev. Jeffrey Freehof, Dunn’s Chapel United Methodist, Appling

JULY 21: The Rev. Robert Patton, Modoc Baptist, Modoc

JULY 28: The Rev. Jeffrey Newlin, retired Presbyterian pastor

AUG. 4: The Rev. Chuck Moon, retired Methodist pastor

AUG. 11: Nora McClendon, Augusta District Lay Speaking Ministry

AUG. 18: The Rev. Phil DeMore, retired Methodist pastor

AUG. 25: The Rev. Gary DeMore, St. John United Methodist



BY CAR: From South Carolina Highway 28 or U.S. Highway 221, the site is 2.2 miles north of Clarks Hill Dam Road; 2.4 miles south of Modoc, S.C. Look for a sign : “St. John United Methodist Church-Camp Site.”

BY BOAT: On the South Carolina side, the site is two miles above the dam.