10 Country: Boat Church - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Boat Church

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July 9, 2002

A group of people meets religiously at Lake Blackshear, where they don’t worry about what they look like or what they travel in.

Linda Harden faithfully goes to an appointment every week that she looks forward to keeping. “We try to go every Sunday we are here during the summer,” she says. Her friends and neighbors who live on Lake Blackshear meet at the same place at the same time. “It’s becomes a regular for a lot of us up here.”

Doesn’t matter what they wear, sunglasses expected, with an optional cup of coffee in hand. Dogs welcomed. Seventy-eight people made it, most of them coming in their boats to their floating meeting place, to sing a from their modest book that has 16 songs, and hear an unusual talk.

“You are Jesus’ hand and feet. I want you to think of Jesus at this point as a coach. You may ask me anything in my name and I will do it,' ” said Pastor Dorscia Atkinson.

They come to boat church, where local church leaders try to reach out to people who often find water activities more appealing than church services.

They brought the church to the water’s edge. “Very different from my church in Atlanta.” A national poll shows about one out of three people regularly attend church once a week, with most churches experiencing a seasonal drop in attendance during the summer.

When boat church started several years ago, the organizers felt they were successful if they had one boat and six people attend. Last year, at least 500 people can at least one time to boat church.

Preacher Dorscia Atkinson finds the outdoor setting a challenge. “Not allow the sun, the winds, the birds, all the things which are beautiful things that can disrupt you...”

In 30 minutes, Linda Harden faithfully kept her church appointment, with an open-air church that floats her religious boat.

Boat church starts in mid-April and runs through early September. And, yes, they take up collection.