It’s that time of year when people like to chill, just as the temperatures tend to climb.

So what’s a church to do?

A sampling of parishes around the Diocese finds that for some, beating the heat means moving outside. This past weekend, St. Brendan’s, Franklin Park, moved its 8 a.m. Sunday service to its outdoor chapel, and St. Paul’s in Mt. Lebanon began celebrating its 6 p.m. Saturday Eucharist in its garden.

In Shadyside, Calvary’s 9 a.m. Garden Eucharist begins this Sunday and continues through Labor Day weekend. Church of the Redeemer , Squirrel Hill, moves outdoors at 10 a.m. on the first Sunday of July, August and September, and every 1st and 3rd Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. In Indiana, Christ Church waits until the last Sunday of August to go outside, when it heads to the lake to mark the end of summer.

Inside, Redeemer is one of those congregations that tries to stay cool using fans, “lots of fans,” according the Rev. Cynthia Bronson Sweigert.

The congregation at Calvary in Shadyside opens the doors of their massive Late Gothic Revival church, and prays for a breeze. “Our worship space is not air-conditioned,” says the Rector, the Rev. Dr. Harold Lewis. “The problem is when it is very hot, the stone absorbs the heat, and staying cool is very difficult.” Calvary’s parish hall and offices are air-conditioned, however.

St. Paul’s rolls in three massive, industrial units to air-condition its main worship space. But because of noise and proximity to the pews, two are turned off as services begin. The third – nicknamed “Snuffleupagus” because of similarities in size and appearance to the Sesame Street character – stays on in an adjacent hallway, blowing in cold air through a long, trunk-like tube.

Many parishes just rely on nature.

“In July and August we move our service times [earlier] to 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. to take advantage of the cooler morning air,” says the Rev. Dr. Bruce Robison of St. Andrew’s in Highland Park. Christ Church, Indiana, begins its second service a whole hour earlier at 9:30 a.m. Even up in the mountains, St. Michael’s, Ligonier, moves its second service a half-hour earlier to 10 a.m.

Summer not only brings about different service times and places, but also sounds. St. Andrew’s choir takes off July and August, replaced by “Summer Quartets” assembled by Organist and Choir Master Peter Luley. St. Brendan’s uses that period for “Favorite Hymn Months.” A variety of Eucharistic Prayers will be heard at Redeemer on Tuesday nights, as they celebrate liturgies from various parts of the Anglican Communion. They can do that, rain or shine.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts we’ll be drier this summer, with temperatures only a few degrees below average. So, those garden services will likely be a go. But inside, well, better keep the fans on high.

Click here for links to parishes in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.


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