Oak Bluffs’ legacy as a religious retreat may have started when Jeremiah Pease helped found our city in the woods in 1835 for the Methodists, but the religious tolerance and freedom we enjoy has a typically ironic legacy. In 1641 King Charles’ conflicting religious antics had caused many of his subjects to flee, some of whom landed at Great Harbor (the town we know today as Edgartown).

It turns out we wound up comfortably diverse in our choices of religion, highlighted by a service at Union Chapel on July 12 when Rabbi Caryn Broitman, Dr. Sarah Sayeed (a Muslim) and AME Rev. Deborah Finley-Jackson (full disclosure, my kid sister) shared the pulpit for a service. Reader Marvin Klein had asked about the Baptist church in the Highlands, so continuing with a religious theme I gathered some information.

In 1845 a small Baptist church was built on Eastville avenue with assistance from the Methodists. In 1870, the Vineyard Grove Company, composed of members of the Camp Meeting Association, invested in 200 acres of the Highlands but the plans to develop fell apart during the recession of 1872–73. The Baptist Vineyard Association acquired the land and in 1875 had their first camp meeting at Highland Circle. In 1878 they built a permanent octagonal shaped wooden tabernacle there. For many years they and the Methodists cooperated and the Baptists held their August meetings the week before the Methodists.

The Baptists welcomed black Vineyarders and the surrounding area of the Highlands became home to many. Languishing for about 10 years, the tabernacle received little use and finally, after a destructive fire, the grounds were sold to the Highland Property Trust, a group of East Chop residents. Today the quasi-sacred grounds remain a natural and quiet sanctuary for the neighborhood around Baptist Temple Park.

The Library Friends of Oak Bluffs have a book sale from 10 a.m. Friday morning until 2 p.m. Saturday at the library with a wide selection of well-priced books, DVDs and CDs. They also have audio books — perfect for the ride home if your vacation is over.

Friday July 24, Vineyard Sound serenades at the Tabernacle at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and at the door.

Della Hardman Day is Saturday at 4 p.m. in Ocean Park. The guest speaker is Cornell William Brooks, president of the NAACP. A graduate of Jackson State University, Boston University School of Theology and Yale Law School, Mr. Brooks was a Head Start graduate, a direct beneficiary of Brown v. Board of Education. Stop by to remember Della, and “savor the moment.”

Next Friday the Gazette is sponsoring a program with high profile journalists Michele Norris and Ta-Nehisi Coates, who will open the biennial Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival. The much talked about event, Whatever Happened to Post Racial America, is probably sold out by now but there are plenty more sessions over the weekend featuring journalist Charles Blow, local chef-farmer Chris Fischer, sports journalist Kenneth Shropshire and many more. See the book festival lineup at eventsmv.com.

Call Holly Alaimo at 508-364-5061 to get your copy of the new Martha’s Vineyard Wind Festival poster by artist Ashley Chase. They’re $20 and benefit NoticeAbility, Dean Bragonier’s system for teaching dyslexic children. This year’s Wind Festival is Saturday, Sept. 5 in Ocean Park.

I’m only aware of two places where you can get codfish cakes: the Aquinnah Shop, all the way up there at Gay Head, and at Biscuits in town across from Jim’s Package store. Chris Arcudi’s Biscuits is poetry in motion. The kinetic energy of the efficient restaurant is magical, and Chris is looking towards a record-breaking 400 meals served daily. I tried mine this time with a fried egg. Delicious!

Ad man, jazz man, mensch and longtime cancer survivor Leslie Stark died last weekend. He was one of my delightful editors who once asked what I’d write about when I ran out of Oak Bluffs history. He laughed when I told him history was just now — and now our friend is part of it. Condolences to Myra and the family.

Watching two goobers on a moped detour onto the bike path the other day I was struck by the black smoke billowing from its exhaust. Do the privileged purveyors of these vehicles not have to pass inspection as we do for our vehicular personal property?

Keep your foot on a rock.

Send Oak Bluffs news to sfinley@mvgazette.com.