CHURCH OF THE PALMS CONNECTS PEOPLE TO EACH OTHER
STORY BY AMY COYNE BREDESON | PHOTOS BY MADISON ELROD
Church of the Palms wants to be a place of help, hope and home by connecting people to God and connecting to one another, Pastor Pete Berntson explained.
A PLACE OF HELP
The Okatie church offers help through its outreach mission efforts, which it plans to double this year as the world comes out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That’s a direct focus of realizing how people are hurting and need some help,” Berntson said.
Church of the Palms works with several organizations, including Family Promise, Mercy Ministries, Child Abuse Prevention Association, Hopeful Horizons, Habitat for Humanity and Backpack Buddies. The church also has advocates who serve at Epworth Children’s Home in Columbia.
Internationally, the church supports Safe Water Ceramics of East Africa, Libraries for Kids International in Kenya and Gideons International. The church also sponsors a student attending Africa University in Zimbabwe.
A PLACE OF HOPE
Church of the Palms offers hope through its worship services on the weekend and its Bible studies during the week.
The church hosts three services, all with the same message but their own distinct styles of worship. “The Gathering” is a contemporary service with music featuring a keyboard, acoustic guitar and cajon. This service is at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays.
An alternative-style service with a praise team, less formal attire and a more relaxed order of worship is held at 8:30 a.m. Sundays. Finally, the church offers a classic “high church” type of service with a full choir, robes and expanded liturgy at 11 a.m. Sundays. All services follow the revised common lectionary using the Common English Bible translation.
“We’re trying to get to all the people with all different types of taste,” Berntson said.
A PLACE OF HOME
Church of the Palms offers a place for people to call home. The church strives to be a good neighbor by opening its doors to all. The church wants to be family to the many people who have no family nearby.
“Being on the edge of Beaufort County in Okatie, there really is no community center, so we are offering our space to the community,” Berntson said.
There is something happening at the church each day. In addition to worship services and Bible studies, the church provides a meeting place for several groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Sun City/Okatie Lions Club, Boy Scouts of America Troop 213, Lowcountry Jazz Band and Lowcountry Youth Wind Symphony.
Known for its annual Fall festival and pumpkin patch that can be seen along S.C. 170 every October, Church of the Palms is often called “the pumpkin church.”
The church also hosts an annual yard sale it calls “Grandma’s Attic.” The event returned in March after a two-year break due to the pandemic. Once a month, the church hosts a performance by either a musical or drama group, but there will not be an event in April because of Easter.
The church is getting ready for a fish bake, which the public is invited to attend at 12 p.m. April 8.
“We’re trying to build community,” Berntson said. “People are really hungry to connect after being cooped up and not able to go places.”
Easter services will begin the following week, with a 7 p.m. Maundy Thursday service, a 7 p.m. Tenebrae service on Good Friday, a 5:30 p.m. Holy Saturday service, and services at 8:30 and 11 a.m. on Easter Sunday.
For more information on Church of the Palms, visit palmsumc.org or call 843-379-1888.