Some local surfers spend time together out of the water, attending a different type of “session” on Monday nights. A new wave of Christian Surfers, a non-denominational/non-profit group, meets weekly to fuse their love of the sport with ministry.
Christian Surfers is both a national and international organization. The group originated in Australia in 1983. It was begun by a few young surfers who got together and decided to reach out to other surfers. The need for this type of connection seemed to be contagious.
The U.S. organization was formed shortly thereafter, in 1984, beginning in Santa Barbara, Calif. From there, chapters spread like wildfire into beach communities all around the country and all around the world.
The Delaware/Ocean City chapter began three years ago, with three men with the same vision. One of the founders of the chapter, Roy Harrell, said he was inspired through surfing to begin the group. “I rediscovered surfing eight years ago and, as I came back to it, I began to be aware of how major players in the surfing industry were vocal about Christianity.”
Harrell said he realized he was searching for a ministry he could devote himself to, and Christian Surfers offered the “perfect mix.”
“It’s my passion, it’s fun and a way of serving God,” he said.
Jason Hilbert, another core leader of the DE/OC chapter, said they had their first meeting with just three people at Denny’s in Ocean City. In the past three years, the group has continually grown, reaching out to other surfers in the community. The group is open to anyone, of any age — “from grom to greybeard” — and any skill level. “Because we surf, we can reach surfers,” said Hilbert.
Last Monday’s session, on Oct. 16, combined musical talents of group members with scripture to relate to their subculture and everyday lives. During a reading of the Book of Romans, Shawn Rineholt asked, “How can you look east out at the ocean and say there is no God?”
But not every Monday night is the same. Harrell said that on some nights there are movies and on others there are special events and guest speakers. The group also participates in mission trips, fundraisers and camping trips in which they combine with different states’ Christian Surfer chapters. There is a Christian Surfers’ annual magazine and are monthly surf videos put out by the organization in which participants can share.
Harrell’s daughter, 13-year-old Rachel Harrell, is a recent winner of the K-Coast Open-Women’s Surf Competition and said of Christian Surfers, “I like it, it’s cool. Surfers seem to be more fun and we always have something else to talk about.”
Rachel Harrell said one of the unique things about the group is the mission trips they go on. Last year, the group met with other chapters in the Bahamas. While on the mission, they painted a church, played in a concert, taught the Bible at a local school and, “We definitely surfed,” she said.
Montauk, N.Y, and Cape Hatteras, N.C., are among the coasts the group visits for their organized camping trips. This weekend, the group will be camping in Cape Hatteras with about 200 other Christian Surfers members from along the East Coast.
Group member Dana Sears will be making the commute to Hatteras this weekend. Sears said her favorite part of Christian Surfers was not only the activities they do but, “being with people who love the Lord like I do and love the water like I do.”
Christian Surfers meet each Monday at the Ocean View Salt Pond Community Center at 7 p.m.