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Haven Lutheran offers outdoor worship service

July 23, 2008

In the summer of 1993, Haven Evangelical Lutheran Church, on Haven Road in Hagerstown, took a bold step and decided that if people wanted to be outdoors in the summer months, the church would offer worship services outdoors.

Haven's Worship on the Lawn became one of Hagerstown's first alternative and casual-style worship services where people could bring their own lawn chairs and blankets to hear the weekly message.

This summer begins 15 years of Haven continuing this tradition of praising God in the outdoors.

"It's a wonderful way to worship. You get to relax in God's natural world and be spiritually fed with an exciting worship experience," said Haven member Pam O'Connor.

Roland Hobbs, pastor of Haven at the time the new worship concept began, said it was an effort to make worship more accessible and to reach out to the unchurched community.

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With the addition of the outdoor service, the average worship attendance in the summer months exceeds that of the average Sunday worship attendance the rest of the year.

The Rev. Linda Alessandri, the current pastor, said she couldn't imagine how weekly outdoor worship on the lawn worked. But she found it not only works, it works well.

"There's a special openness to the Lord and one another as we worship outside," she said. People sit together in lawn chairs under the trees, and children play on blankets as they pray, sing, listen to God's Word, share communion and extend greetings of God's peace.

The regular indoor worship is at 8:15 a.m. Worship on the lawn begins at 9:30 a.m.

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