Have Faith: Visiting preachers

Union Chapel and the Tabernacle have a full schedule of exceptional ministers this summer.


One of my favorite aspects of summer on the Island is all of the visiting guest preachers who come to the Tabernacle and to Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs. I’ve heard some amazing and uplifting presentations, and I know this summer will bring more of the same. 

Part of the beauty of both the Tabernacle and Union Chapel are their long and storied histories. At Union Chapel, which first opened for services in 1871, the architecture alone is amazing, and the sound is excellent as well. I heard the Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, senior pastor of the

historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., preach at Union Chapel four years ago and I still remember it very well.
He was talking about how Paul kept praying to God to pull the thorn from his side, but instead God tells him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” So essentially, Paul had to learn to live with the thorn. I remember Pastor Wesley’s words so well because I’m always praying for God’s help. I’ve got a lot of thorns. Sometimes our prayers aren’t answered right away, and we have to live with our situations. The thing to remember is that while you’re waiting, you’re learning to accept God’s will, and maybe that thorn doesn’t feel as bad as it did when it first made you bleed. Maybe you figure out how to treat it yourself. You’ll see God’s hand in that too. Anyway, I digress. My point is that Pastor Wesley is coming back. He’ll be at Union Chapel on Sunday, August 14, and you should go. 

At Union Chapel on July 17 is the senior pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church, the Rev. Susan Sparks. This preacher’s background includes being a trial lawyer and a standup comic. She’s a North Carolina native who turned to seminary after a two-year solo trip around the world. I’d love to hear what she has to say. 

The doors open at Union Chapel on Sunday at 9 am, with the organ prelude beginning at 9:50, and worship at 10 am. I’m going to bring a mask because COVID seems to be everywhere these days. To learn more about this summer’s visiting clergy, visit unionchapelmv.org/sunday-sermons-2022.

At the Tabernacle, I find it feels amazing to be outdoors for a Sunday service. The fresh air and the sense of community, being in a place that’s held so many people before you, is truly inspiring itself. Coming up on July 10 is another dynamic preacher — this one also happens to be the junior U.S. senator from Georgia — the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock. He’s the leader of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. He has a new book just out in June, “A Way Out of No Way: A Memoir of Truth, Transformation, and the New American Story.” If he writes anything like he preaches, this is a summer must-read. Pastor Warnock will be preaching at the Tabernacle with service beginning at 9:30 am. It will be a joint service of the First Congregational Church in West Tisbury, Union Chapel, and the Martha’s Vineyard Campground Meeting Association held at the Tabernacle and also live streamed at First Congregational Church. 

Our own Rabbi Caryn Broitman, leader of the M.V. Hebrew Center, is guest minister at the Tabernacle on July 17. The Rev. Dr. Denise Smartt Sears, director of Connectional Ministries for NYAC (New York Annual Conference) of the United Methodist Church, preaches on July 24. Father Robert Joerger, a Catholic priest from the Passionist congregation, visits on July 31. 

Sunday services at the Tabernacle begin at 9:30. You can find the whole lineup at mvcma.org/sunday-services.html.

A summer Sunday morning at either these places of worship will give you the boost you need to start your week. 

If you have news for Have Faith, send it to connie@mvtimes.com