South Bay church Senior Pastor Meshach Soli has found a way to tap into the natural beauty of San Diego to provide a unique experience for pastors and church members alike. Every Friday for the last several years, Pastor Soli has invited area SDA pastors to join him with their stand-up paddleboards for “pastoral board meetings” on the waters of Mission Bay, Coronado, or Point Loma. After seeing the benefits that the pastors gained from this supportive fellowship while floating on the water, Soli decided to expand his outreach to the entire church congregation.
“The Pacific Union provides grants to four churches every year for creative evangelism,” said Soli. “We applied for funding for the paddleboards, paddles, and life jackets, and we were so thankful to be one of the four churches that was chosen!”
Due to the generosity of Isle, a local paddleboard shop, Soli was able to stretch the endowment funds that he received. “I shared with the owners that I was purchasing the equipment for a new ministry, and they gave us a significant discount,” Soli said. “We were able to purchase 11 paddleboards, paddles, and life jackets. The smallest paddleboards that were purchased could hold an adult, while the largest paddleboard could hold an entire family.”
Once the paddleboards had been purchased, Soli began to look for a method to transport them from the church to the ocean. “One of our community members donated a never-before-used trailer to the ministry that he had been storing in Redlands,” said Soli. “There is enough room in the trailer for the paddleboards and any kayaks and other equipment that we would like to add as the ministry grows.”
Project Living Water was launched on Sunday, June 20, at the J-Street Marina. The South Bay church traditionally hosts a Father’s Day celebration at the beach, and this was the perfect time to introduce the new paddleboard ministry. “We publicized the event to area churches and had a full group attend,” said Soli. “We had newly baptized and long-standing members join us as well as our community members.”
Church member Marty Guevara brought his son to paddleboard on the first day. “I wasn’t sure if I was ready to paddleboard, but my ten-year-old son really wanted to go,” said Guevara. “By the time we were done I was hooked, and I knew that I was going to bring my wife and entire family the next time that we came back.”
Soli said that Project Living Water will be held every other Sunday throughout the summer from 8:00 a.m. to noon. Paddleboards, equipment, and lessons are free to individuals, couples, and families from the church and the community. Soli invites members throughout the Southeastern California Conference to sign up and join. More information can be found on the South Bay church website at www.southbaychurch.com or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who have participated in Project Living Water agree with Pastor Soli that a paddleboard ministry will provide a new way to fellowship and to benefit from nature. “There were a dozen families who were blessed on the first day of this ministry,” said Guevara. “Pastor Solis has a heart for service. He leads by example.”
By Tricia Murdoch Zmaj