Led by 24-year-old Asa Miller, a six year Navy veteran, a cadre of Pepperdine University students gather at Zuma Beach around dawn to worship and hear God’s Word before enjoying a little wave action on the ocean. It is called Surf Chapel.
After driving 30 miles from Simi Valley to conduct the morning service, Miller explains, “Surf Chapel is a chance to refocus the soul and mind. Being by the beach in the morning gives me perspective, reminding me of my place.”
Surfing is not actually mentioned anywhere in Scripture – although Jesus did hang out a lot at the beach. But these surfing acolytes don’t seem to mind as they huddle together under towels, donning school hoodies, and braving the elements before class.
Assistant Professor Rob Shearer facilitates the school sponsored event, as he gathers dozens of students together for small group discussions and sharing how Scripture applies to the emotional ups and downs of campus life at a Christian university. Then before you know it, they are all sporting their wetsuits and hitting the waves. Every Wednesday at dawn, Mr. Shearer carries his surfboard and his New American Standard Bible and wades into God’s natural auditorium of the outdoors, where he exegetes the morning’s passage and extols the virtues of Christian fellowship. His own faith was nurtured in non-denominational Christian Churches and Churches of Christ.
“We wanted to be a community where we love God, love each other and love surfing — hopefully, in that order,” reports Shearer. “The university provides funds to pay for beach permits and to hire a lifeguard.” Shearer noted with a smile: “We are the only convocation where you have to sign a release form.”