When Chaplain Greg (2008-2018) first recommended that the first worship service of the season be a celebration of the opening of the new season, and that it be held on the Big Blue Dock, followed by a "hot dog fellowship," he was so pleased that the suggestion was warmly welcomed by members of the Committee. The first affect of the change was a significant increase in attendance made up of those who enjoyed being in the great outdoors and by the lake side. The tradition of gaveling the season as "open" was begun shortly after.
The very next year, the experience was doubled by planning another outside service at the Dock for the Closing Service of the Season. Since some had began heading home before the service, the attendance was not as great as the opening service, but was much greater than it had been inside. The closing gavel was soon added to the closing service.
A third Dock service was planned for mid-summer, but the first year it was scheduled, the service was rained out (the first time any Dock service had been raised out... before this year!), so we went back to the first and last services at the Dock. But our constituency continued to suggest a third service in mid-summer. It was delayed because we decided to get a more portable keyboard since moving the Epworth console was creating damage to it. In the meantime, Epworth Hall got a new sound system, so the old system was adopted as a permanent portable system for use when the services were not in Epworth.
After obtaining a new portable keyboard, bench and peddle, and having the full use of the old sound system, we began to plan for two additional services outside, this time naming Stoody's front lawn as the location of one.
The second additional service, however, was planned in October of 2017 for the summer of 2018 and was planned as a special recognition of the 100th Year since the last use of the old Auditorium in 1918 just prior to the arson fire of the same year. Part of the planning was to worship "under the tent" as was done for a number of years before the building and first use of the auditorium in 1888--the same year our Chautauqua program began its very successful run.
The decision to locate in the Park (the location of the old Auditorium) included the invitation for persons to dress up in period clothing, although the period clothing turned out to be not as popular as it was in the 1957 celebration at "The Chapel" just prior to it being renamed Stoody Hall.
Our tentative future plans included four outdoor worship services in the summers with nine Sundays. The summers which had ten Sundays, a fifth outdoor service was being considered for back at the Dock with Hoag as the standby rain location.
This year, 2019, we will be back under the Tent in Burt Park since the Tent will be up for use in Silver Lake Experience workshops (August 8-11) and for the closing service, the picnic, and the final Big Band concert of the SLE four-day event.
The last worship service to be celebrated in Epworth Hall is to be Sunday, August 4, 2019 at 10:30 am. The SLI Choir will be featured on this Sunday (voices are needed; come to rehearse at 9 am). Deacon Sue Russell will be speaking and Barbara Bruce will be leading worship. Come to this historic event which is the Sunday just prior to the opening of the Silver Lake Experience on that Thursday. Don't miss this eventful season!