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Union Chapel hosts Quinipet Sunday

Union Chapel in the Grove will host Camp Quinipet Sunday on July 18 at 10:30 a.m. Spiritual Life Coordinator Remy Styers will speak about “Green Pastures and Not So Calm Waters” and members of the camp staff will serve as readers and perform a song or two.

Remy will be joined by the Sweet Island Dulcimers, under the tutelage of Chapel Organist Linda Betjeman. The ever-changing group of Islanders play the  Appalachian Mountain dulcimer.

Union Chapel and Camp Quinipet share similar historical roots, both beginning as Methodist camps. According to the upcoming book by Carrie Cooperider, “All Are Welcome: 150 Years of Shelter Island’s Union Chapel in the Grove: 1872-2022,” the name “Quinipet refers to the five prominent boulders on the grounds. Chiseled into them are the words Courage, Honesty, Humility, Faith and Love, five tenets of Christian comport cited by Reverend Dr. Theodore C. Bobilin in his speech for the dedication of the site as a Methodist training center in 1947. It has since operated as a religious center for education, conferences and retreats and as a camp, its earliest purpose.”

Union Chapel Chairman Jay Sterling said Dr. Bobilin was instrumental in getting the United Methodist Church to purchase the current Camp Quinipet site in 1947, which had previously been a boys camp. He was also the resident minister of Union Chapel, which was interdenominational. Dr. Bobilin found out that the boys camp was for sale and urged the United Methodist Church to buy it.

“The relationship between the current Camp Quinipet and Union Chapel is strictly through Dr. Bobilin,” Jay explained. “The Methodists had nothing to do with the governance of Union Chapel after 1900, and in fact, ‘abandoned’ Shelter Island in the early 1890s. Dr. Bobilin was a retired Methodist minister living on the East End and a summer gig at Union Chapel worked well for him.”

While Camp Quinipet is used by many different denominations and non-religious groups, the camp is run and operated by the United Methodist Church. Quinipet’s Executive Director Brook Bradley is an employee of the United Methodist Church. People often assume Union Chapel is Methodist, but other than its first 10 years of existence, it has always been interdenominational.

When asked about the lessons learned during the pandemic, Quinipet Spiritual Coordinator and guest preacher Remy Styers mentioned appreciating the time spent alone. “You learn so much about yourself and what you want. You don’t have to worry about others’ impression of you.” Remy spoke of the beauty of having the opportunity to reflect on personal relationships, as well as a relationship with God. Remy sports a tattoo that reads “There is a light that never goes out,” a powerful sentiment. “I believe that in the silence, aloneness and darkness, God’s light never goes out. God’s presence fills those empty quiet places.”

Hailing from North Carolina, Remy received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Appalachian State University and is currently a third-year Masters of Divinity student at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, certified for ordination on the elder tract in the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, and hopes to do a residency as a hospital chaplain. Remy likes to hike, lie in the hammock and cook Asian food. 

Since Camp Quinipet’s spiritual coordinator comes from Appalachia, it’s fitting that the musicians are playing Appalachian Mountain dulcimers. Sweet Island Dulcimers was formed in the spring of 2020 by director Linda Betjeman who taught 10 willing volunteers to play the mountain dulcimer, a uniquely American folk instrument. The word “dulcimer” means “sweet tones.” Most group sessions took place on Crescent Beach, following a potluck picnic lasting until sunset. 

The ensemble’s eclectic repertoire ranges from traditional Appalachian-Ozark Mountain songs, British Isles ballads, Irish tunes, cowboy songs, traditional folk songs, spirituals, Gospel, even the Beatles. They are always looking for new members, hoping to go for the Guinness Book of World Records for the most dulcimer players per capita. Their venues include the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, front porches, backyards, beaches and now, Union Chapel.

Join us at Union Chapel in the Grove on July 18 at 10:30 a.m. for Camp Quinipet Sunday.

Next week: Shelter Island Volunteer Sunday with Fr. Charles McCarron of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and Jim Preston of the Shelter Island Ambulance Foundation.