The sun is above the horizon. The colors of the morning sunrise still linger and reflect on the quiet waters of Lake Wawasee.
Whether aboard the SS Lilly Pad II or aboard personal watercraft with family and friends, the journey to a Sunday morning boat-in worship is tranquil and sets the mood for the morning’s message.
As the Lilly Pad anchors in front of Oakwood Hotel, the boats begin to arrive and the Oakwood shore begins to fill. Hundreds sit on lawn chairs or blankets while on shore another hundred arrive by boat.
Hundreds have come to hear the morning’s message by one of the area ministers.
“We’ve been coming to boat-in for 45 years,” stated Norm Bingham. “We wouldn’t miss a Sunday.” The Binghams, who reside on the lake, used to attend the services on their own boat. But when the Lilly Pad became available, they board with many others where “fellowship abounds.”
“It’s kind of like fun on Sunday morning,” laughed Donna Bingham. “You have the best preachers in the area, fellowship, music, hearing different ministers each week and worshiping in God’s sanctuary.”
Gwen and Gorden Gerdt travel to Syracuse each Sunday from their Irish Lake home. “I love the atmosphere,” stated Gwen, who further stated they have been attending for several years on a regular basis. “I love the services,” chimed in Gorden. “I love the whole thing. I can’t say enough about it. It’s unique.”
Many have taken the opportunity to take a short cruise on the Lilly Pad, an opportunity they have never had. Talana Rhodes is one of those and attended boat-in for the first time. After the services, “I thought it was amazing. I never experienced anything like this,” she said. “What have I’ve been missing all these years!”
Arlen and Jeanne Gerber were another couple riding the Lilly Pad and “regulars” at boat-in. “It’s refreshing, more personal,” said Jeanne.
Many others echo the comments of the Binghams, Gerdts, Gerbers and Rhodes. For some it’s their first time, being encouraged by grandchildren, students or friends. Some have attended by shore for years, or alternate between attending on shore, with their own watercraft or on the Lilly Pad.
The services are approximately 30 minutes but filled with inspiration in words and music. Each week an area minister presents a sermon title focusing on the season’s theme “Amazing Living” with scriptures from Matthew 5,6 and 7.
Lake and shore bulletins are handed out to those arriving showing the order of worship, scripture and information. An offering is taken up at the end of the service utilizing fish nets on land and lake. A special treat awaits those canine passengers on boats and the seasoned canine boater anxiously awaits those treats.
Boat-in begins at 8:30 a.m. every Sunday, rain or shine, through Aug. 31, with plenty of time to attend additional services at an area church, listed on the brochure.
Those wishing to ride the SS Lilly Pad II need to arrive at The Frog around 7:30 a.m. as the boat leaves the dock at 7:45 a.m. Light refreshments, coffee and juice are served onboard.