Communing with nature

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Church Island offers church services each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and can be booked out for private services throughout the summer season.

Enjoy outdoor Mass at Church Island on Squam Lake
 
By ALANA PERSSON, LACONIA DAILY SUN
 
HOLDERNESS — While exploring Squam Lake, many expect to see loons or turtles within the waters, yet it often comes as a surprise to many see rows of pews and a birch tree cross perched on one of the islands. 
 
Home to a 114-year-old open-air church, the island has been named Church Island, as throughout the summer area clergy conduct weekly church services, weddings, memorial ceremonies and baptisms within the facility. 
 
“It’s so unique to go to church on an island,” said Margie Howe Emmonds, president of the Chocorua Chapel Association that runs the church. “People either take their own boats, kayak or hire a boat to take them out to the island so they can enjoy a service during the summer months.”
 
The docks on the shore of Church Island are often filled on sunny Sunday mornings well before the 10:30 a.m. Mass begins due to the popularity of the services, according to Emmonds. In order to ensure that a dock will be available to park a boat during the Mass, it is suggested that parishioners arrive as early as 10 a.m. to get a spot. Those who do not have a boat can hire a watercraft to take them from a nearby location or can rent a boat from a local marina. 
 
Although the Sunday Masses offered on the island are have been historically based around an Episcopal service, many clergy from different denominations are asked to conduct services. Each Sunday from the last weekend of June through Labor Day, a different minister is invited to the island to lead the Mass, which provides for a different experience each week. 
 
Those who are seeking an even more unusual experience at Church Island are invited to book the island for a special service, such as a wedding, renewal of vows or baptism. Each summer more than a dozen couples say, “I do” while on the island, one couple being Emmonds and her husband. 
 
“People would ask me how I was going to get to my wedding and if I was worried about getting water on my dress,” said Emmonds, who went on to tell them that the only way to get to to the wedding was by boat and she didn’t care about getting her dress a little wet. 
 
“I can’t speak for everyone, but most people getting married on the island don’t care about things like that,” said Emmonds. “The people getting married on Church Island are there because they love the lake and want the unique experience.” 
 
Those thinking about planning a wedding on Church Island in the future are encouraged to visit the island this summer to get a feel for the facility. The island provides a remarkable 360-degree view of the lake and can cater to up to 450 people, however, Emmonds recognizes that the venue might not be the perfect location for every couple. 
 
Although the island does have restrooms, which are open during weekly services and events, it does have electricity or a roof over the church venue. Thus, in the case of inclement weather couples will need to have an alternate church location set for the service to be held at. For more information about booking a wedding or another special service, call 968-7913. 
 
Church Island holds weekly Masses at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday morning. In case of bad weather, the Mass will be cancelled by 7 a.m. that morning and moved to an onshore location at Rockywold-Deephaven Camps. For more information about Church Island, visit http://www.churchisland.org/.