On sunny summer Sundays, up to 160 parishioners would skip across Stony Lake to St. Peter’s on-the-Rock and greet June and Mark Cooper, who would park their boats.
This year, June – as church warden – is leading the charge to have them surf to services instead, via the worldwide web.
With churches forced to close to prevent the spread of COVID-19, June and her committee are building a virtual experience so parishioners can still stay in touch and worship together. They are taking the key pieces of Sunday services and posting them online.
Helen Batten and Bob Trennum will still play heart-stirring music. June envisions a dock-side video of Helen playing bagpipes while boats sail by.
Betsy McGregor will assemble crafts and songs for Sunday School students, while priests Don Aitchison (July) and Matthew McMillan (August) offer sermons to the congregation.
June and her committee are also planning to collect images from family around the lake so people can give personal updates usually shared during post-service visits.
“We’re doing as much as we can to involve people and keep it light,” June says.
How are they doing all this?
Students who usually work on Juniper Island are sending in their resumes to work as webmasters on the project. They have grown up on the lake and understand the feeling the church is trying to share, June adds.
“I could barely use email before,” June says with a laugh. “Now I’m in Zoom and Facebook. It’s making us think outside the box.”
While the church building must remain closed, the island will remain a welcoming place for visitors. Volunteers will “pretty it up” with benches and flower boxes, June says.
“It can be a place for people to come for solitude,” she says.
Gone are the days of the church sitting open during the day with its guest book awaiting fresh entries of names and comments.
Five weddings are also cancelled but rescheduled for summer of 2021.
Watch for updates via the church newsletter and Facebook page.
By Lois Tuffin