As buildings across the county close to fight COVID-19, it can be challenging for people to find a sense of normalcy.
However, members of Crossroads Fellowship are doing their part to provide it with drive-in church services at 10 a.m. on Sundays, at 7860 Linwood Road in Lebanon.
“Pastor Gary Miller and I have been talking about doing an outdoor service for years because he’d had success with an outdoor nativity scene,” Pastor Ryan Wolfenbarger said. “With the virus going around, we figured why not buy an FM transmitter and just do a drive-in?”
The two found a transmitter that would broadcast roughly a mile and spread the word, and dozens of cars lined up and tuned to 90.5 FM for the first drive-in service on Sunday.
“In this time of social isolation, we want people to still have a sense of community and the ability to meet as a church,” Wolfenbarger said. “I believe doing this sends a message of hope, that our community is strong and things will one day return to normal.”
Until then, the church took steps to make the service as close to its usual format as possible.
Worship leaders performed stripped down musical arrangements, while volunteers passed out sheets for attendees to follow along. Some people could be spotted singing along from their cars, while children worked through activity books connected to Miller’s sermon.
“I think it’s amazing that people are showing up like they are,” volunteer and church member Connie Sink said. “We may be in our cars, but people can still smile at each other, see their worship leaders and be together safely in a time when people are having to isolate themselves.”
Attendance went beyond the church’s usual numbers, and Wolfenbarger said he had spoken with pastors from other Tennessee looking to provide the service in their own communities.
“We’ve been here for 15 years or so and this is the first time we’ve done something like this,” church member Rick Wolfenbarger said. “The general response has been phenomenal. We’re doing it this week and the next for sure, and depending on the state of the virus we’ll keep doing it for as long as it’s needed.”
Church leaders are hoping to see even more cars across the hill for the coming services, and the public is invited to attend.
“You can plan for however many people,” Sink said. “But the number here today is a testament to people’s desire to worship together even in hard times.”