Drive-in church services let worshippers convene again
Photo courtesy Gold Creek Community Church
A woman raises her arms from the sunroof of a car during a recent Sunday service hosted by Gold Creek Community Church held at Thomas Family Farms, where the church uses a big screen to broadcast the sermon and activities.
When the social distancing guidelines were put into place, churches across the county started streaming services online to the masses. As the stay at home got extended to later and later dates, the online streaming of services just wasn’t comparing to the real thing.
Three local churches have found a solution to bring a community aspect back to their service: Drive-in style churches.
“It would blow your mind to see the tears, people are longing for human interaction again,” said Jeff Knight, lead pastor for The Rock Church in Monroe. “I’m telling you, (a sense of) community is absolutely essential for mental health. And given we are one of the states that were shut down the earliest and we’re one of the states that are going to open the latest, what we’re providing is super important.”
The Rock Church in Monroe held its second service this past Sunday at Evergreen Speedway. Gold Creek Community Church, in Snohomish, has been holding a Sunday service at Thomas Family Farms for the past few weeks and The Pursuit Church in Snohomish held its first drive-in style service at Harvey Airfield this past Sunday.
Weddings, funerals and church services for up to 100 people are now being allowed, as long as these are held outdoors and people are kept six feet apart, under new guidelines set last week by Gov. Jay Inslee. People must wear face coverings while attending services. Faith organizations will be suggested to keep a log of participants in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19.
The basic drive-in format the three churches follow is very similar to that of a drive-in movie: cars pull in to the parking lot or designated parking area and face a stage with a large screen. All employees assisting follow social distancing protocols.
According to Larry Ehoff, senior pastor for Gold Creek Community Church, they purchased a 25-foot-by-15-foot LED screen, and cars tune into a specific radio station to hear the live music and message being broadcasted from the service at Thomas Family Farm.
They have averaged more than 400 cars each week, and the two other churches have had over a hundred cars in attendance as well.
“Even though it’s not a normal church service necessarily, it gives people an opportunity to gather, worship together, at least be close to another person,” said Russell Johnson, lead pastor at The Pursuit Church. “I think that’s beneficial, people are communal by nature.”
The Pursuit Church held its first outdoor church service this past Sunday and plans to hold them every Sunday at 11 a.m. throughout June.
“It’s not just about the capacity to pray in your room, which nobody’s saying you can’t do, but for 2,000 years the church has gathered,” said Johnson. “There’s something spiritual about a physical gathering. Right now we’ll try the best we can to work under the guidelines that we have, even though they’re pretty restrictive.”
The Rock Church also plans to hold services through the month of June, services start at 9:15 a.m. on Sundays at the Evergreen Speedway. Gold Creek Community Church is holding services Sundays at 10:30 a.m. at Thomas Family Farms.
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