Find a place of worship while visiting the lake |

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MOLLY HUNTER

The task of finding a church away from home may seem daunting, but the Smith Mountain Lake area is home to several congregations, representing a number of denominations and worship styles, who welcome seasonal and permanent residents to their services.

EastLake Community Church

“We have a lot of people who throughout the year will come here for the weekend and come to attend church. But obviously during the summer with the influx of people…we have a lot of those people who show up,” EastLake Community Church executive pastor Bob Winters said.

The seed for the EastLake Community Church, 1201 Timberwood Lane in Moneta, was planted in 2006 by Parkway House of Prayer in Roanoke and Troy Keaton, the current senior pastor of EastLake.

“We are a non-denominational, Bible-believing church committed to being a house of prayer for all nations,” Winters said.

Winters said he would classify the church’s style of worship as contemporary and its congregation as fairly young.

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“Last Sunday, we had 80 kids at a service … and we had 40 in nursery,” Winters said.

EastLake holds services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sundays, with the 11 a.m. service broadcast live on the church’s website, eastlake-church.com.

“Over the 4th of July weekend, EastLake hosts the community for several events including the ‘BeastLake’ which is a 5k run and obstacle course. On Labor Day weekend we have a concert outdoors and fireworks, and of course our Christmas events,” Winters said.

Bethlehem United Methodist Church

Also located in Moneta is Bethlehem United Methodist Church, 13586 S. Old Moneta Road. Bethlehem is one of the oldest churches in the region, with roots dating back to 1804. Bethlehem holds Sunday services at 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., both of which can be attended in person or viewed live online.

Founded in 1832 and located across the lake to the west, Halesford Baptist Church, 2485 Lost Mountain Road in Wirtz, is another long-lived church near Smith Mountain Lake.

“We have a wonderful number of seniors here, but we also have a tremendous number of young adults and everything across the spectrum, we have a lot of children here, we have a lot of teenagers here,” the pastor said. principal of Halesford, Craig Polston. “We have ministries for just about everyone, every age group.”

Halesford holds Sunday services at 8.30am and 11am, and both services feature a mix of traditional and contemporary worship styles.

“We’re not just a strictly traditional church where we do hymns, but we’re also not a high-end contemporary church where there are lights and fog machines and a rock band,” Polston said. . “We have instruments where we do guitars and drums. … We’ll start very modern, contemporary, and then we’ll maybe have an anthem or two in the service.”

Polston said the services are designed to give everyone the opportunity to pray in a way they feel comfortable.

“It’s a historic church in the area, but what’s exciting is that we have a very well-rounded church,” Polston said.

On the other hand, Vitalize Church is one of the newest congregations in the area. Launched on Easter Sunday in 2012, Vitalize recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with a special worship and sunset Easter celebration.

A page in the “History” section of the Vitalize Church website states that church leaders “believe in meeting people where they are,” whether that means attending local festivals or do public baptisms at a diving pool or at Smith Mountain Lake Community Park. .

Vitalize’s regular Sunday services take a very contemporary approach to worship.

“It’s like a Sunday morning rock and roll concert,” Vitalize senior pastor Tony Gray said. “…We consider ourselves non-denominational, but we have Baptist roots.”

However, Gray pointed out that each service is preached directly from the Bible.

Vitalize services are held at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. at 145 Builders Pride Dr. in Hardy, which has been home to the church since November 2019.

“We were in a movie theater for seven years…so it’s nice to have a place that we don’t have to set up and take down every week,” Gray said.

Vitalize holds its annual Touch A Truck event in June, which Gray says sometimes draws a few thousand people.

“We do it on the Saturday of Father’s Day weekend. We invite people to bring their work vehicles. We will have police officers, a rescue team, firefighters and other vehicles and the children can ride in the driver’s seat of these types of vehicles to see how they operate,” Gray said.

Trinity Ecumenical Parish

Back in Moneta, people of Episcopal, Lutheran, and Presbyterian faiths can be found under one roof at Trinity Ecumenical Parish, 40 Lakemount Dr. Trinity has been a coed church since its inception in 1991.

The mixed church traces its beginnings to the 1980s, when regional Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Presbyterian clergy began separately exploring the idea of ​​establishing individual lakeside churches.

According to the story, a consultant hired by one of the denominations recommended that they work together to establish a single lakeside church. Even before that, members of all three denominations were already meeting privately to worship together, as none seemed large enough to start a solo mission congregation.

The church sees its mixed nature as one of its strengths.

“We believe that God created the Ecumenical Trinity Parish to show the world that followers of Jesus Christ can come together from many walks of life, forming a community of faith where diversity is accepted and differences are not allowed. to divide us,” the topic American section of the Ecumenical Trinity Parish website said.

The three constituent congregations are led by pastors Philip A. Bouknight and Bea Miller. Trinity services are held in person at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. every Sunday, although the 10:30 a.m. church services are also streamed live on YouTube.

Catholic Church of the Resurrection

Moneta is also home to the only Catholic church on the lake, Resurrection Catholic Church, 15353 Moneta Road.

“We like to call ourselves the best small Catholic church in Smith Mountain Lake,” said Resurrection Office volunteer Joe Ferrara. “We are a small, unique community of parishioners.”

Before Resurrection premiered, local families had to travel to Bedford or Lynchburg to attend mass. The church started about 40 years ago with about 70 members. Until the 1987 groundbreaking ceremony for the congregation’s own building, parishioners met at each other’s homes and in other transitional spaces, including Bethlehem United Methodist Church.

Today, Resurrection has approximately 460 families, led by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, pastor, and Rev. Barry Welch, deacon and pastoral associate.

Resurrection holds Mass Thursday at 11 a.m., Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. Sunday Mass is streamed live on the Resurrection Catholic Church’s Facebook page.

For almost as long as Resurrection has been around, it’s been running the Joyous Junque sale. The church accepts donated items for the Joyous Junque Sale, which usually takes place in the summer, and sells them to raise funds for local charities like Habitat for Humanity of Franklin County, the Agape Center, and Lake Christian Ministries.

“If anyone is interested in donating to Joyous Junque, the phone number for the Joyous Junque team…is 540-314-8404,” Ferrara said.

Although there are no mosques or synagogues directly in the Smith Mountain Lake area, there are Jewish and Muslim places of worship in Roanoke and Salem, as well as a few Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh temples and churches in the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons.

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