Dive in deeper at River Church with new Bible study

Published 4:19 pm Thursday, June 9, 2016

By Leisl Lemire | Special to the Advertiser

“Shall We Gather at the River?” is the name of a beautiful old hymn by Robert Lowry, and it’s also an invitation.

Clanton First United Methodist Church has again started holding River Church at the John Trobaugh Pavilion on Lake Mitchell.

Having started on May 29, they will continue to meet each Sunday morning at 8:30 throughout the summer season until Labor Day on Sept. 4.

On that last day, a special time of communion will be held to end the season of worship by the river.

Everyone is welcome. Worshippers may sit under the pavilion or tie up their boats at the dock and participate from there. Services last about 35-45 minutes and include prayer, singing, special music and a sermon.

River Church has been around since 1968, when the Rev. John Trobaugh began preaching from the end of his pier. Back then, according to the Rev. Rob West, pastor at Clanton FUMC, the same hymn mentioned above was sung to start the service and led by Lamar DeLoach from the old Cokesbury Hymnal.

The first couple of years, there were youth retreats out at the Trobaugh place, and the kids would gather along the shoreline and worship and fellowship together. As the gathering grew, they moved to the nearby pavilion, which was eventually named for Trobaugh, at Higgins Ferry Park.

Elisabeth Smith, administrative assistant at Clanton FUMC, is a student of history, and her love for the Chilton County area is evident when she shares her knowledge of River Church and its history.

She mentioned traveling recently to the site of River Church and how amazed she was with the beauty of the park area nearby.

Smith also shared a conversation she once had with West in which he related some of the events that have taken place with the River Church including weddings, special times of communion, and pretty much “everything but a funeral.”

This year, for the first time, at the end of the regular service, for those who can stay a little while longer, they will hold “Dive In, Dive Deep – A Time with the Living Water.” This will be a special time of additional Bible study, and it will start at about 9:15 a.m.

For local people, just drive out Higgins Ferry Road until you come to the end, and you’ll see the pavilion.

For the not so local people who need an address to put into your GPS, try 11492 County Road 28 Clanton.