Summer Worship...On The Beach

Mike Failla (left), Neil Boron and William S. Hein are in their second year
of running Church on the Beach, a summer Sunday service on Crystal Beach.

Summer for many people means time at the beach, vacation and a little extra rest and relaxation. This year, thanks to a pioneering team of business and ministry leaders, the beach doesn’t have to mean you leave church and God at home. The ministry, Church on the Beach is an effort to give believers from across the region an opportunity to enjoy fellowship, teaching and worship in the natural beauty of God’s creation. The venue is the open air, beautiful lakefront, sandy beaches of Crystal and Bay Beach located on Lake Erie about 10 miles over the border into Canada. The ministry’s services will be held each Sunday from July 1—August 26 with the purpose of providing a non-traditional opportunity for people to hear and see the gospel. The idea is to bring a fresh church experience to locals while providing an outlet for believers to meet with others from around the area. The open air setting on the beach creates an atmosphere where families can come and enjoy some time together, seek the Lord in worship, hear God’s word from some distinguished speakers and enjoy fellowship with one another. The ministry, while not associated with a specific denomination is part of the Kingdom Bound umbrella of ministries, a prelude if you will to their Summer Festival in August, taking takes place at Darien Lake each summer.
     The idea for Church on the Beach came to William (Bill) S. Hein, a Buffalo businessman who spends his summers each year at Crystal Beach. Hein,during his early years, spent considerable time traveling to places like Florida and Hawaii. He would often visit a local beach based church and was inspired. After looking for a church experience during his summers at Crystal Beach, Hein started talking to a couple of friends about organizing a beach service right at Crystal Beach. To Hein there is something special about enjoying the beauty of God’s creation and worshipping in the midst of it. So, after much prayer and planning Hein called on long time friend Neil Boron, the former host of NBL on WDCX 99.5 and Mike Failla, board member of Kingdom Bound Ministries and Associate Pastor of Evangel Church to organize something that would not only meet the desire for a strong worship experience for the community at Crystal Beach but a way to reach out to the many local residents and fellow vacationers enjoying the opportunity summer time affords them.
     “Living up in Canada during the summer I said why not have a church on the Beach? So the first person I contacted was Neil. Neil could locate speakers and we needed someone to find musicians. We had mentioned Mike (Failla) and as we were coming out of the restaurant, there he was. So we felt that God was saying that was OK,” explained Hein who is careful to give Jesus all the glory and credit for his work in business and ministry. Hein is Chairman of William S. Hein & Co., Inc. and gives oversight to two foundations that assist Christian ministries and good causes in the area both monetarily and with other resources, so ministry is nothing new for him. “I have always believed you have to give to receive. There are other ministries that I am involved with and have a separate foundation that supports Christian organizations,” explained Hein. So for Hein this is a natural extension of his ministry that has for many years been going on behind the scenes, undergirding and supporting works like SonRays Ministries and others. For Failla, getting musicians in the community involved was not a problem. “It wasn’t a difficult task at all. There are a lot of musicians out there with great talent and that have a heart for the Lord. When they heard about the outreach this was and where it was, it wasn’t a problem getting people to contribute.” Failla credits Kingdom Bound for helping to connect many of the musicians and community together. Boron explained that the services will go on throughout the summer and are geared at both Christians and those who may not yet believe. Last year there were at least a dozen decisions for Christ. Boron explained, “It’s an open venue where people are walking down the beach and it just drew people with the open worship. It’s just a blessing to whoever wants to come. It’s for believers but it is clearly designed with unbelievers in mind.”
     Boron explained it was a blessing to see people join them last year and begin to serve and build relationships. “People found a place to help whether with set up or tear down. People wanted to serve and they found a place to.” The neighbors even got involved including Ron and Sharon Adimey who provided free electricity for the sound system throughout the summer and on occasions provided a second tent.  Dick and Mina Potts, also of the Crystal Beach Hill Association, provided the coffee and chairs throughout the whole summer. The speakers this year include Dr. Kevin Leman, Jill Kelly and Brett Larson among others. Donna Russo, who serves as Executive Director of Kingdom Bound Ministries is excited about the outreach as well saying, “Church on the Beach is an innovative, creative approach to presenting the Gospel, which fit perfectly into our mission.  Since our inception, Kingdom Bound Ministries has endeavored to serve the community and church as a resource, linking speakers and musicians to share their faith.  Our prayer is that this fresh approach will allow another generation to hear the Gospel and respond.”
     Crystal Beach is located on Lake Erie about 10 miles after crossing the Peace Bridge into Canada. With no committees, no building and no trustees, a family friendly 45 minute services that welcome kids, pets, and walk ins and welcomes a mix of pastors, authors, students and musicians, Church on the Beach is getting back to the core of Christianity and reminds all of us what Church is really about, worshipping God and enjoying Him (and fellowship with his people) forever.