• Eddie Conger leans to read the song sheet his wife, Faye, is holding while Gracie Clements sings with her father, Mike, accompanying on guitar.

SCOUTING AROUND: Evening service welcomes all

    Something beautiful happens in Hall Memorial Park in downtown Andrews every Wednesday night this summer. As the sounds of nature play their evening songs, people gather by the gazebo to worship together.
    “I like being outside,” said the Rev. Mary Brown of Andrews United Methodist Church. “God’s creation is one of the easiest ways to see Him.”
    The idea for Vespers in the Valley came about through conversations Brown was having with others, including the Rev. Volley Hanson of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Andrews. Brown sees the casual midweek service as a way to help those who may not be able to stop by on Sundays, especially during the summer.
    The event allows children to run around as they listen to the music and sermons. It also gives people of different faiths a neutral space to come together in prayer, she said.
    “It’s very good. Dr. Rev. Brown, I see her hands all over,” said Eddie Conger, a member of Andrews United Methodist Church. “It’s cool, and you get to hear the gospel.”
    The half-hour service usually features three songs and a brief sermon. Brown and Hanson have provided sermons, and they hope to welcome other pastors.
    “There is no place that I’m not called to serve,” Hanson said, adding that the Holy Spirit does not stay still.
    Mike Clements, who is new to the community, jumped at the chance to participate by playing guitar as his daughter, Gracie, sang.
    “One thing I’ve always loved about ministry is churches doing things together,” Clements said. “The work that we have to do is not going to get done by just one group.”
    “I just think it’s a really good example of Jesus,” the younger Clements added.
    Brown admitted the idea was part selfish, as she said worshiping between Sundays is good for the soul.
    “The hope is it’s good for other souls, too,” she said.
    Vespers in the Valley started in June and will continue at least through the end of July. The service starts at 5:30 p.m.

Murphy among best of Smokies
    More vacationers may be inspired to visit Murphy since TripAdvisor has named it one of the best Smoky Mountain getaways for “cabinspiration.”
    The blog post, published June 21, said Murphy offers more for vacationers with attractions like the “family friendly” Murphy RiverWalk, John C. Campbell Folk School and Fields of the Woods. According to the post, cabin rentals are “the best way to experience the beauty” of the Smoky Mountains.
    The nearby towns of Robbinsville, Franklin, Hayesville and Bryson City also made the list of 15 locations. To create the list, TripAdvisor analyzed the lifetime vacation rental review scores for destinations in the Smoky Mountain region.
    To read the list, visit https://www.tripadvisor.com/VacationRentalsBlog/2018/06/21/best-smoky-mo....
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.