By Jay Fleming
On Easter Sunday, six boats from the three Smith Island, Maryland communities gathered around Pastor Everett Landon aboard the Miss Maxine, his father’s wooden workboat, in the sheltered waters off Easter Point.
Pastor Landon addressed the floating congregation over channel 78 on VHF marine radio as the sun came up over Tangier Sound. Families who were not able to attend the ‘boat-in’ service tuned in through their at-home VHF radios.
Click through the gallery below to see images of the Easter boat-in:
Pastor Landon has been leading services over the radio for the island’s three Methodist congregations from Tylerton, Ewell and Rhodes Point for the last month, since state religious organizations were ordered to suspend normal operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Church members have tuned in to the services from their in-home VHF radios (cell service is inconsistent on Smith Island).
Since the state now permits drive-in religious services, the congregations were able to meet in person through a ‘boat-in’ service for Easter Sunday.
The service came after a scary weekend on the island, when a brush fire spread rapidly in heavy winds, burning down a vacant house and threatening homes nearby. Volunteer firefighters from the island and nearby Crisfield, Maryland worked through the night on Friday in Ewell to suppress what could have been a devastating fire.
The Easter service put islanders’ devout faith and adaptability to change on full display.
Jay Fleming is a photographer and publisher based out of Annapolis. Jay has been making trips to Smith Island and Tangier Island for the last eleven years to document the way of life on the Chesapeake Bay’s only two inhabited offshore island communities for his forthcoming book ‘Island Life’ – anticipated release date October 2021.