Have Faith: Summer services

So many choices, especially in Oak Bluffs.


If you’re a church geek like myself, you love summer on Martha’s Vineyard. More places of worship are open, and they all seem to be thriving — even those that have their share of empty pews come February.

Oak Bluffs in particular comes to life, with the Tabernacle in all its glory and Union Chapel and Trinity Episcopal open. They offer guest preachers all summer long. The Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association brings Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, and other clergy, allowing us to get a taste of all kinds of preaching. There may be one higher power, but there sure are many ways to express our beliefs, and that’s the beauty of the visitors.

I’m going to run through some of the guest preachers we have coming to the Island, and then you can decide for yourself whom you’d like to see.

At Union Chapel, doors open at 9:30 am and worship begins at 10. The historic building has some major acoustics, and you might get a little distracted just enjoying the architecture, so get there before 10 am. Besides, it’s often packed. The Rev. Susan Sparks from the Madison Avenue Baptist Church in Manhattan preaches this Sunday. She is a trial lawyer turned standup comedian and Baptist minister, so this has got to be good. The Rev. Arthur Jones, a senior pastor at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in North Texas, is a fifth-generation Methodist minister. He preaches on July 30. The Rev. Otis Moss III, who has dual standing in the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the United Church of Christ, preaches on August 6. I’ve heard both Moss and the minister who follows him on August 13, the Rev. Howard John Wesley. If you want a real experience that stirs your soul, I’d recommend either of those two. I don’t want to take up all of your time with a full schedule, so do check out the rest on the Union Chapel website, unionchapelmv.org/sunday-sermons-2023.

At Trinity Espiscopal, you’ll hear some of the finest Episcopal ministers from this part of the country. This coming Sunday at 9 am — and also on July 30 — check out the Rev. George Stevens, interim rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Weston. The first weekend in August brings the Rev. Edwin Johnson, director of organizing for Episcopal City Mission in Boston. Information on their website says, “Equipping God’s people to follow Jesus into working alongside the most marginalized” is one of Johnson’s passions. August 13 at Trinity brings the Rev. Canon Preston B. Hannibal, a former associate for pastoral care at Washington National Cathedral. Find an up-to-date schedule on their Facebook page, facebook.com/TrinityEpiscopalChurchOceanPark.

At the wide-open Tabernacle, the Rev. Doug Dry from the First Baptist Church of Wakefield preaches at the 9:30 am service on July 23. His current focus is on church revitalization. On July 30, the Rev. Stephen Kendrick from the First Church Boston, Unitarian, preaches. He’s a published author of four books, and has written for the New York Times and Boston Globe. The Rev. Randy Thames preaches on August 6, and he and his wife, Deacon Trina Thames, serve as leaders at Celebration Church at Columbia, Md., and he’s preacher at-large to People’s Community Baptist Church. August 13 brings the Rev. Marvin Moss from Salem Methodist Church to a 9:30 am service, with the Rev. Raphael Warnock from Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., speaking at 12;30 pm the same day. Warnock is an American Baptist pastor and is currently serving as the junior U.S. senator from Georgia. Check out mvcma.org/sunday-services for the rest of the schedule.

For those who enjoy listening to a wide array of speakers with differing strengths, you’ll love heading out some Sunday this summer to hear our visitors.