For 50 years, St. John United Methodist Church has invited vacationers to worship on the banks of Thurmond Lake.
A few who attend are members of the church who camp or live at the lake, but most who come to Chapel Under the Pines are nonmembers, said organizer Curt Strickland.
Several pull up in a boat to listen to ministers from across the area preach from a dock. Others sit on benches or in lawn chairs in the shade.
“Some of them have been coming for like 40 years or so,” he said.
The services are nondenominational and very informal. Some attend in bathing suits, and dogs are even welcome.
The chapel services were started in 1964 under the Rev. James Segars, who loved to fish. Like typical church services, the lake services include an organ and hymnals, and offering baskets are passed to boaters on long poles. Afterward, people linger over coffee and doughnuts and have the opportunity to meet the ministers.
In inclement weather, services are moved to a nearby lodge.
“It starts at 8:45 a.m., and you can still make it back to Augusta for the 11 o’clock service,” Strickland said.
SCHEDULE OF SPEAKERS
JUNE 1: Patty Strickland, lay speaker, St. John United Methodist Church, Augusta
JUNE 8: Joseph Whitehurst, St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church, Aiken
JUNE 15: Jack Findley, lay speaker, Big Stevens Creek Baptist Church, North Augusta
JUNE 22: Jeff Freehof, lay speaker, St. Luke United Methodist Church, Augusta
JUNE 29: Jeffrey Newlin, retired Presbyterian pastor, Augusta
JULY 6: Dennis Sodomka, lay speaker, Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Augusta
JULY 13: Dick Geiselman, retired Presbyterian pastor, Augusta
JULY 20: Jim Hyder, Liberty United Methodist Chruch, Hephzibah
JULY 27: Tim Owings, retired Baptist pastor, Augusta
AUG. 3: Buddy Holbrook, retired Baptist pastor, Augusta
AUG. 10: Mark Maund, Riverview United Methodist Church, Evans
AUG. 17: Darrell Boutwell, lay speaker, Lakemont Presbyterian Church, Augusta
AUG. 24: Phil DeMore, retired United Methodist minister, Clarksville, Ga.
AUG. 31: Gary DeMore, St. John United Methodist Church, Augusta
BY CAR: Take South Carolina Highway 28 or U.S. Highway 221 to 2.2 miles north of Clarks Hill Dam Road. The site is 2.4 miles south of Modoc, S.C.
BY BOAT: The site is two miles above the dam on the South Carolina side.