Congregations from five churches across Haliburton County will gather together for the first time in more than three years this weekend as the ‘Summer Service in the Park’ returns to the bandshell at Head Lake Park.

Representatives from Haliburton United Church, West Guilford Baptist, Lakeside Church, the Lighthouse Pentecostal and St. George’s Anglican will meet for a morning of songs, prayer and scripture July 31.

The service will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will replace the typical weekly service held at each parish. In the event of rain, the service will be held indoors at Lakeside Church.

Launched in 2008, the event was designed to foster community spirit and open people’s minds to different ideas, according to Rev. Harry Morgan, a minister with Haliburton United Church.

“This is an event to celebrate unity, and enjoy the great outdoors,” Morgan said. “I think it’s important now more than ever that we continue to host this… Our world is getting more and more fractionalized and tribalized, so this is an event that is meant to draw people together from somewhat different points of view and say ‘yeah, but we’re one. We’re one with Christ’.”

This year will mark the event’s 13th anniversary. There will be various speakers throughout the morning, with Shaun Turner, co-pastor at West Guilford Baptist, hosting. His wife, Amy – fellow co-pastor in West Guilford – will lead a children’s story time session late in the morning.

There will be music, with attendees encouraged to sing along with their favourite hymns.

Morgan said he was excited to bring the event back following an enforced three-year absence due to the pandemic.

“It’s always a lot of fun. Whenever we’ve done it in the past, we’ve had a few hundred people come out and we always have people tell us we should do our services like this every week,” Morgan said. “It’s such a delightful place to gather. It’s kind of in God’s beautiful creation, scenically portrayed before us on the shores of Head Lake.

“We have a long history of churches getting along in our community, so this is a way of celebrating our connections and expressing that we respect one another. That we’re friends, and that we enjoy putting on worthwhile events for the community,” he added.

Money will be raised on the day to support the Haliburton County Heat Bank and the Pregnancy Care and Family Support Centre.