“You belong” is the mantra at Church of the Palms, as it is with intention that this body of believers aims to make all who visit feel welcome, regardless of where they come from, what they believe, or what race, creed, orientation or denomination they are — “...for all are welcome in God's house.” And so it is with this purpose and the newly constructed Christian Life Center, which nearly doubled the church’s footprint, that Church of the Palms serves as an outreach center for the Okatie community. Each week the church hosts several groups and organizations including Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, the Lowcountry Youth Wind Symphony, Al-Anon, Koinonia Caps (caps handsewn for people living with cancer) and, of course, our weekly Bible studies, which include Sisters at 2 p.m. Tuesdays and 8:30 a.m. Wednesdays and Brothers at 8 a.m. Thursdays and 7:30 a.m. every other Saturday.
Focused on being the hands and feet of Christ in the community, Church of the Palms also hosts Family Promise several times a year. Families finding themselves without homes can focus on putting their lives back together while the church serves their most basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.
Also known as the “Pumpkin Church,” the church hosts one of the best pumpkin patches of our area. Each October, the grounds are covered with pumpkins providing family fun, fellowship and ideal fall photo opportunities. After unloading thousands of orange gourds, the annual event is kicked off with a community party, complete with music, games and a Lowcountry oyster roast. The pumpkin patch winds down on Oct. 31 with an epic Trunk or Treat, attended by hundreds of adorably adorned children.
Other annual events include Fall Festival, Night with Saint Nicholas, Night of Epiphany, Grandma’s Attic, the Okatie Talent show, Easter and Christmas Cantatas and, of course, the Christmas Nativity Pageant on Christmas Eve. Additionally, during the month of July, the church’s campus is transformed into ancient Holy Land for vacation bible school, where children and adults alike spend an entire week hearing and living out the stories of the Christian faith. Each evening, dinner is served to over 100, with the final night being a multi-generational celebration of fun, food and fellowship.
Church of the Palms offers three worship opportunities: two classic-style services at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sundays and The Gathering, a contemporary-style experience at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays. Pastor Pete Berntson proclaims at all three services. Holy communion is celebrated on the first and third Sundays and the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. Come to Church of the Palms, conveniently located on S.C. 170 and Argent Boulevard in Okatie, where you most definitely belong.
Portia Foden is director of children, youth and family ministries at Church of the Palms.