Have Faith: Summer highlights

Looking forward to special events, along with lots of food, faith, and friendship.

File photo by Ralph Stewart

Every other week, Connie Berry reports on the news, events, and people at Martha’s Vineyard’s various places of worship.


Even though we’re still wading through a wet spring, summer is indeed on its way. This means summer schedules for some places of worship, and outdoor services for others. More than schedule shifts, summer also means a lot of filled calendars and special events.

The First Congregational Church in West Tisbury begins its delicious celebrations of all things fruity with the June 24 Strawberry Festival; then there’s the Blueberry Festival on July 22, followed by the Peach Festival on August 19. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried the delicious creations whipped up by the volunteers at this church. With pies, cakes, smoothies, shortcakes, and ice cream, these festivals require loose-fitting attire and a willingness to try a little bit of everything.

Summer on the Island also means hosting the Vineyard Sound a capella group, this year celebrating its 25th anniversary. The group performs at several churches during the week: Mondays and Fridays at the United Methodist Church in Oak Bluffs, Tuesdays at the Chilmark Community Church, and Thursdays at the Federated Church in Edgartown. Performances begin at 8 pm, and the acoustics in the churches mean a joyous noise will be heard by all.

The United Methodist Church’s Sunday services will begin at 11 am rather than 10 am throughout July and August. The Tabernacle at the Campground hosts events all summer long, including spiritual endeavors, kicked off by Father Augustine Bengalie, who will talk about the decline of education in Sierra Leone on Monday, July 17, at 8 pm. Community Sing nights begin on Wednesday, July 5, and take place every Wednesday during the summer, beginning at 8 pm at the Tabernacle.

The Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center hosts an evening celebrating Ethiopia’s Awra Amba community on Sunday, June 25, beginning at 5:30 pm. Ethiopian jazz singer Munit Mesfin will perform, and there will be a film, authentic cuisine, and more. It’s a fundraiser to help provide a solar-powered water delivery system for the Ethiopian community. Film director Salem Mekuria and author Geraldine Brooks will be there as well.

The MVHC is also home to the always interesting Summer Institute, which provides films and speakers throughout the summer. The first in the speaker series is July 6 when Allen Sinai of Decision Economics; Stanley Fisher, vice chairman of the Federal Reserve; and Kenneth Adelman, arms control negotiator for President Ronald Reagan, talk about “Washington Transformation? Politics, Policies, Prospects.” The first film plays July 9 and is titled “My Hero Brother,” a movie that follows a group of young people with Down syndrome and their siblings as they trek through the Himalayas. Other summer speakers include Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and a former secretary of state under President Obama, John Kerry. Visit mvsummerinstitute.org for the entire schedule.

The Hebrew Center offers summer Kabbalat Shabbat Services by the Sea beginning Friday, June 23, at State Beach, at the Camp Jabberwocky parking area. On Friday, July 7, they host a special 5:30 pm Shabbat service with Joan Nathan, who will talk about her book “King Solomon’s Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.”

The Chilmark Community Church hosts the flea market all summer on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm, beginning June 24. There’s no admission cost, and parking is free. They also offer the Children’s Fair from 10 am to noon on Saturday, June 17.

Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Parish opens Our Lady Star of the Sea in Oak Bluffs for summer Mass at 9:30 am Sundays, beginning June 25. St. Elizabeth’s Church in Edgartown offers summer Masses on Saturdays at 5:30 pm and Sundays at 8, 9:30 am, and 11 am, beginning Saturday, June 24. St. Augustine’s in Vineyard Haven celebrates Mass on Saturdays at 4 pm in English and 7 pm in Portuguese, as well as an 8 am Mass and a 5 pm Mass on Sundays.

Father Michael Nagle manages to cover all those masses in the summertime with a little help from his friends; he’ll have visiting clergy ranging from some on university campuses to Father Augustine Bengalie from Africa. The Sisters of Life from New York will also pay a visit this summer.

Every Fourth of July in Edgartown, St. Elizabeth’s has a lobster roll sale, and this summer is no exception. This year’s sale begins at noon on the lawn of the church. Then, St. Augustine’s annual fundraiser is always July 8 at the Tisbury Street Fair. Volunteers make and cook the popular malasadas (fried dough) from 6:30 pm to 8 pm on Main Street in Vineyard Haven.

Faith Community Church offers Sunday worship at 10 am outdoors at 539 County Road in Oak Bluffs for July and August. If you want to know what the plan is when it rains on Sunday, call the Rev. Bob Barnett at 508-627-8918. The First Baptist Church in Vineyard Haven hosts its annual Father’s Day Weekend Chicken and Ribs BBQ on Saturday, June 17, beginning at 5:30 pm at the parish house on 43 Spring Street. Enjoy a complete meal with chicken, ribs, potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, beverage, and dessert. Tickets are $15 in advance or at the door, and takeout is available.

The Federated Church in Edgartown hosts a Special Service of Music,

with Phil Dietterich and Peter Boak leading the Sunday morning worship, on June 11 at 10:30 am. Using the church’s hymnal, “Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs,” they will lead a guided hymn sing, revealing often undiscovered or unknown facts found on the pages of the hymnal. The congregation will also have an opportunity to choose some of their favorite hymns to sing during the service. For more information, call 508-627-4421, email admin@federatedchurchmv.org, or visit federatedchurchmv.org.

If I left out summer events that your faith community would like to highlight, email me at connie@mvtimes.com.