Local church adapts service schedule to accommodate busy lives

January 31, 2024

The Episcopal Parish of All Saints' Church in Rehoboth Beach and Saint George's Chapel in Harbeson has been offering weekly services at both of its locations for more than three centuries.

St. George's Chapel was founded in 1719 and All Saints' was established in 1894. While traditional Sunday morning services have been the mainstay over the years, the parish has made adaptations to take into consideration the busy lives and schedules of current members, visitors, newcomers and potential new members.

As a response to COVID when some did not feel comfortable gathering inside the church, a spring/summer outdoor service was instituted in the scenic garden area adjacent to All Saints' at 18 Olive Ave. in downtown Rehoboth Beach, just a half-block from the ocean, beach and Boardwalk. Now in its fourth year, the service was originally a seasonal offering and is now being offered year-round. The 5 p.m., Saturday service, which swells to 40 or more in attendance on a warm summer evening, draws visitors, locals and longtime parishioners. Some attendees come right off the beach still in their bathing attire for the ultra-casual service that lasts under 45 minutes. The service moves inside from mid-October until early to mid-May, depending on the weather.

"The first winter that we decided to go year-round (last winter), we figured we would give it a try and watch the numbers, if attendance dropped below a dozen or so, we would reconsider whether or not to continue to offer it through the winter." said Jon Rania, director of music and communications at the church. "Surprisingly, the numbers rarely, if ever, dip below a dozen, and often there are many more than that.”

The service includes scripture, a brief sermon, prayers and mostly non-traditional church and contemporary music provided by local musicians on a rotating basis. Building on the success of the Saturday evening service at All Saints', the Rev. Shelley D. McDade, parish pastor, along with a handful of Saint George’s parishioners, decided to create another offering geared toward busy young families and their children, grandchildren and visitors by instituting a Sunday afternoon service in St. George's Parish Hall, 20271 Beaver Dam Road (Route 23), Harbeson.

The service, at 4 p.m., Sundays, is even more casual and laid-back for the young people who attend. Gathering in the parish hall rather than in the more formal chapel creates a more relaxed and intimate atmosphere. Upon arrival, the children are ushered to a table with coloring books, crayons and markers at the ready. They may visit with one another and spend some time coloring before the service.

Regulars who attend this service often bring grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and invite neighbors and others to come too. The abbreviated service, which also lasts under an hour, includes scripture readings, a brief homily and special music that the children learn before the service starts. It is ultra-interactive and hands-on, especially for the younger ones who really like being actively involved. Following the service, refreshments are served, and often the children resume coloring and spending time together at the table that is especially designated for them.

"Family ministry has changed dramatically over the last decade. The combination of weekend activities and technology has not only redirected our family lifestyles, [but also has] led the charge of how our children develop. I see this as an opportunity. Our children are more knowledgeable and open to life and the world around them. Where better to find God than in a global environment that allows for simple discoveries of life in relationships? As a church, we need to continue to develop as well, while incorporating creative ways to include our histories and traditions. We have moved from the traditional Sunday school model to an integrated worship service of communion and conversations with God. It's quite simple, really. Kids have something to say. I believe God is listening,” said McDade.

Newcomers are always welcome at all services regularly held at both church and chapel. All worship sites are handicapped-accessible, and off-street parking is available as well. There is no charge to attend, but a freewill offering is taken.

For more information, email, call 302-227-7202 or go to and find All Saints' Church & St. George's Chapelon Facebook.


Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter