MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
A new type of church service is taking place every Sunday through Labor Day at Onslow Beach. The service is short and relaxed, making for a different experience than a traditional chapel service.
“The purpose of the service is to provide a place where families can go to relax and worship, said Cmdr. Alan Hansen, Marine Corps Base, deputy command chaplin.
SONdays at the Beach, led by Hansen in shorts, sandals and a beach shirt, takes place at the enlisted pavilion, begins at 9:30 a.m., and lasts for a half an hour.
“When we were trying to figure out what time we should hold the service, we tried to pick a time that wasn’t too early or late,” said Hansen.
A lot of people are trying to balance spending time with their families and worship, he said. The idea is families should come to the service and then relax at the beach afterward.
When the program began Hansen expected an audience of about 10 people, but now is preaching to more than 40 people every Sunday.
“I didn’t anticipate so many people would show up to the service,” said Hansen.
Even though the service is a half-an-hour long, Hansen still has enough time to get his message across at each service.
“I have asked people when they return questions about topics I spoke about during previous services and I give out prizes for those who answer correctly. I found that people retain the knowledge well,” said Hansen.
During the service, a variety of snacks, water, Gatorade and Propel are available for everyone who is attending, he said.
“We wanted to give out something for folks to munch on while we worship,” said Hansen. “It’s different than service in a chapel, but that’s what we’re going for. We want to make it relaxing.”
All military personnel and their family members are encouraged to attend the service at the beach.
“It’s a different venue than a normal church service at a chapel and it’s a good opportunity for people to experience something new,” said Hansen