For now and until there is sufficient rainfall to raise the level of the lake, Boat-In will be conducted on shore at Oakwood Park.
“We’re disappointed that we can’t take the Lillypad out right now,” Pastor Harlan Steffen said. “But the water table is down a foot and a half to 2 feet on the lake.”
Normally the Lillypad II anchors about 100 to 150 feet from shore and the sermon and music are piped over a speaker to those on shore and in their boats. However, lower lake levels have made this impossible.
“They would have to park out so far that it would be questionable as to whether we could make it so people could hear,” Steffen said.
Despite the absence of the Lillypad II, Boat-In has still been well-attended. Sunday, July 8, had between 200 and 300 people on the shore, with an additional 80 boats anchored in the water. Steffen attributes the increase in on-shore attendance in part to the absence of the Lillypad, which seats around 100 people. With Lillypad to ride, these attendees are coming by land or in their own boats.
While there have been some expressions of disappointment, most seem to understand.
“There’s quite a few people who said, hey, we really miss being on the Lillypad,” Steffen said.
The quality of the services has not diminished, either.
“I think the sound system has worked maybe just as good,” Steffen said. “But it’s good to be up a little higher and the sound goes out maybe a little better from the Lillypad than when we are on shore.”
Other area boat-in services have also seen the effects of the drought. Pastor Keith Huffman of Dewart Lake Community Friends Church noted that many still come by boat. The biggest obstacle to DLCF’s Boat-In, he added, have been weeds that are closer to the surface because of lower lake levels, making it easier for boats to become stuck.
Pastor Dave Smitley of North Webster United Methodist Church commented that NWUMC’s Boat-In on Webster Lake does not seem to have been affected. Because the service takes place at 7:30 a.m., he added, the heat does not seem to have affected attendance at all.
“We have not seen as many boats this year, but our hillside crowd remains healthy,” he said in an email.
Both DLCF and the Ministerial Association’s Boat-In services begin at 8:30 a.m. every Sunday morning through Labor Day weekend.