Just off the coast of southern Maine, a heavily wooded outdoor sanctuary called the Eleanor B. Forbes Chapel at the Ferry Beach retreat and conference center regularly plays host to chapel services and other ceremonies. Ferry Beach Executive Director Cathy Stackpole described the chapel as “a cathedral of trees.”
The chapel seats 150 to 175 people. “God is Love” is etched on its wooden pulpit, a testament to the Universalist tradition which shaped Ferry Beach’s 1901 founding. In 1882, Universalist minister Dr. Quillen Shinn led the first Universalist Summer Meeting in New Hampshire, and two decades later insisted on the Ferry Beach location as an ideal space for the gathering to meet.
Today Ferry Beach hosts conferences, weekly multifaith Sunday services, retreats, and camps for Unitarian Universalists and others. Channeling the Pharrell Williams song “Happy,” Stackpole described the outdoor chapel as “like a room without a roof. It reaches to the sky, and it’s sacred space in a really awesome way.”