The chapel welcomed nine new members at a brunch meeting after service.
There’s always room for new friends, and on March 21, Longboat Island Chapel welcomed nine of them to their congregation. A group of brand-new and longtime members celebrated with brunch after the 11 a.m. service.
Jeff and Michael Nunes were two new members, Bradenton residents who used to live in Longboat Key. They had been coming to the little church off and on for about five years, but had recently felt like they wanted to make their affiliation official.
“We wanted that sense of community, that sense of family,” Michael Nunes said.
Several board members and committee leaders came to the brunch as well, to get to know their new members. Membership chair Carol Peschel, who largely organized the brunch, walked laps around the rectangular table setup, stopping to chat or sit for a spell. Rev. Brock Patterson familiarized himself with the new faces as well.
The new-member meetings used to be a common occurrence and a way for the chapel to recruit from around the community. Before COVID-19, the meetings used to be more frequent and included many longtime members. As the pandemic winds down and more people get vaccinated, church leaders decided to start taking their first steps back to socialization.
“Pre-pandemic, we used to have gatherings upstairs for prospective members,” Peschel said. “We always planned it on a day we would have Mardi Gras or another event so they’d get to come to our party.”
The group consisted of one who had signed up on Valentine’s Day and eight who had made it official earlier that morning. Everyone had brunch and snacked on scones made from scratch by longtime member Jamie Engel before slowly dispersing until next Sunday.