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Welcome to Kayak Church: Pennsylvania worshippers take to the water

Faith United Church of Christ is offering floating services during the pandemic

Members of Pennsylvania's Faith United Church of Christ have found a creative way to stay connected in the midst of a pandemic: kayaks.

Sunday services have been held at a reservoir in Centre County's Bald Eagle State Park, with congregants floating a safe distance apart.

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More than two dozen mask-wearing worshippers paddled together last weekend, The Washington Post reported. Forming a brightly-colored flotilla, many were gathering for the first time since COVID-19 gripped the nation.

The church's young pastor, Jes Kast, talked about Psalm 24, about nature and how fire ants work together to survive in a disaster, according to the Post.

Kast thanked God for the chance to meet in a stunning sanctuary and encouraged congregants not to worry about getting wet.

"If we fall in, we will remember our baptism this morning,” she said Sunday.  “We as a church are sticking together. We’re helping each other out. We’re breathing together in our little pockets. We’re coming together as one to support and encourage each other."

Many of those paddling kayaks had been attending services on Zoom.

For those who don't feel comfortable in a kayak, the church held a second, more traditional service afterward.

Activities at Faith United's regular home on College Avenue have been postponed until further notice, according to its website. "'Church,' however, is people. We're still open," the homepage promises.

Kast has recorded sermons for YouTube, each lasting over an hour. One in mid-August detailed another outdoor-based experience. Each comes with links to passages and readings.

On this particular Sunday, members recited the Lord's Prayer and Kast read Mary Oliver's 1992 poem "The Summer Day."

And then, it was time to part once more -- in this case, paddling back to shore.

“Go in peace, and kayak and canoe,” Kast exclaimed.

Due to continuing coronavirus restrictions, many congregations across the country have been forced to adapt.

On Thursday, the Abilene Reporter News highlighted the story of a West Texas church that is planning to commune in parks.

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In mid-August, Patch reported that California worshippers at Orange County's Mariners Church would hold their services at eight different venues in order to gather safely.

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