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The Houses Of The Lord

It's Sunday morning on Lake Wawasee in northern Indiana, and people are swimming, boating, jet skiing, and water-skiing. Nobody wants to get dressed up and go to church.

But as CBS News Sunday Morning Correspondent Bill Geist reports, many energetic residents do put aside time for prayer: Every summer Sunday, they go to boat church. And across the country, other congregations worship from scenic outdoor locations.


A veritable flotilla of the faithful from varied religious backgrounds came dressed as they were as Reverend Harlan Steffan started the service.

"Good morning," said one parishioner. "Welcome to Boat-in-Worship. Let us pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you for this opportunity to worship under your sanctuary, under your skies, upon your waters."

Rev. Steffan, who preached from a pontoon boat pulpit, found this rather ingenious solution to the universal problem of declining summer church attendance. He said there have been a few problems along the way.

"We did have a minister who one Sunday was trying to step from the one boat to the other boat, and the boat tilted. And he went down in," Rev. Steffan remembered.

He said this format was inspired by the biblical story of Jesus preaching at the sea of Galilee.


These church goers enjoy the religious life.
The Dumfords were part of one Sunday's 1,000-person congregation. They defended their religious decision and asserted that Rev. SteffanÂ's church was as real as it gets.

"It truly is. It gets us close to nature, and that's what God's about," said Mr. Dumford.


Boat church is a great summer solution. But what happens when the faithful go on winter vacations?

Welcome to Copper Mountain, Colo., where when there's snow, churchgoers ski to slopeside services. So does their minister, Reverend Dub Chambers, who had to learn to ski for this very special assignment.

When it came time for services, the congregation sang a cappella. No one really wanted to lug the pipe organ up the 10,000 feet.

"Precious Lord, we thank you for all that you have created before us to gaze upon and see the beauty and the magnitudeÂ…of yourself," said Rev. Chambers.

"Don't you like our stained-glass windows?" he asked. "You can't improve upon them. What God does can't be improved upon, in my opinion. And he has built a beautiful place here."

The reverend said a lot of people still can't quite grasp the ski-in church.

"Some of them will say, Â'You mean, it's outside? Outdoors?'" said Rev. Chambers. "It's outdoors like the Lord did it, you knowEverything he did was, most everything he did was outdoors."

"It's kind of weird seeing the priest in ski boots," said one worshipping boy. "And it's good to thank God that we do have all this snow."


In Huntington Beach, Calif., one weekend some people headed from the beach to surf church, where Pastor Bill White held services.

"Welcome to surfer's chapel, where we surf on a board, and Jesus is Lord," he said.

"We're Christians. We're just kind of in a different wrapper," he said. "We're [a] surfer's chapel, so, you know, it's pretty much come as you are."

"Just knock the sand off your feet before you come in so it doesn't end up all over the carpet," he said. "We literally have people who come in with a damp pair of trunks and their hair still wet."

The hymns tend to be old surfer tunes retrofitted with Christian lyrics. The sermon one weekend was titled "Shaping Your Board and Your Life." Services are held on Saturday nights; on Sunday mornings the congregation surfs together.

At Lake Wawasee, the catch of the day was cash when they passed the old collection net. "It's the greatest cathedral in the world, right out here at the lakeside and God built it," Rev. Steffan said.