Drive-in churches instead of movies could be new thing due to virus

By Steve Powell

MARYSVILLE – Drive-in movies have gone by the wayside but drive-in worship services may be the next big thing at churches due to the coronavirus.

With large groups prohibited from gathering by Gov. Jay Inslee, The Grove Church in Marysville decided to bring its congregation together Sunday by having them stay safely in their cars while pastors preached – not from the mountaintops but the church rooftop.

All four services lasted about 35 minutes and included worship songs. Worshipers tuned into 107.1 FM to hear the service.

In a message to the church on their website, pastor Nik Baumgart says, “We will not live in fear… In fact there are 366 instances in the Bible that say, “Do not be afraid…” Grove Snohomish could not meet at the high school in Snohomish because of the ban on outside groups renting their facilities. So they were encouraged to come to Marysville.

The drive-in services will continue, at least through the end of March.

Pastor Jen Ervig said Monday said another pastor brought up the idea as there are such services in places like California and Florida. Because of the social distancing rule of staying 6 feet away from each other, they decided to do it.

“We literally came up with the idea five days ago,” she said.

Word got around. There were 74 cars at 8:30 a.m.; 98 at 9:35 a.m.; 111 at 11 a.m.; and 99 at 12:15 p.m. Attendance was estimated at around 400.

“There was quite a buzz,” about the services because they were new, unique and fun, Ervig said.

“People are nervous out there,” she said. “They love to come to a place where they can still meet in person without meeting in person. It provided normalcy for them” seeing the pastors. People rolled down their windows and had a quick chat from the safe 6-foot distance, she said. Donations were literally a drop in the bucket as volunteers with gloves on took offerings as people drove away. Baumgart’s message concluded a series on the history of worship songs. The song that day was “Amazing Grace.”

“Very timely considering the things going on,” Ervig said.