The paster of the Methodist church in Epworth says a Christmas miracle helped bring together plans for a drive-up Christmas Eve church service tonight.
Churches belonging to the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church are currently prohibited from holding indoor services through January 10th. Pastor Mike Jones told KCRG TV he had the idea to hold a drive-in service that would allow people to get together — but also stay in the safety of their cars. He says it has been a long time since they have been together in the Epworth church.
“The first week of November was the last time,” Jones says, “Holy cow, that’s been a really long time since we’ve all gotten to be together, at least even see one another.” The Epworth church has been teaming up with other Methodist churches in the area to stream virtual Sunday services. Jones said one of his church’s congregants lent them an FM radio transmitter to allow for the parking-lot broadcast and a chance to get together. “We’ve been beaten down by this pandemic, and people are tired, and they want some semblance of hope,” he says.
But a big idea required a bigger space as their parking lot was too small to be able to get everyone there and any other visitors. Jones reached out to businesses and schools with larger parking lots, but he said no one could accommodate them. He made one more call to Beckman Catholic High School in Dyersville, which has a sizable parking lot and a clear schedule for Christmas Eve. Father Dennis Quint, Beckman’s pastor coordinator told KCRG TV says they were happy to help.
“To be able to offer a place for fellow Christians to worship so that they can continue to empower their ministry is a great blessing for all of us,” Quint says. Quint says the Beckman Catholic parking lot can fit about 200 cars, so it will host Epworth United Methodist’s drive-in Christmas Eve service tonight at 6:30. He understands the need for the service.
“Particularly as we celebrate Christmas as Christians, and we were called that God, who is eternal becomes flesh, important for us to be able to come together in the flesh to worship, even if it’s in a parking lot via a radio signal,” Quint says. There’s more to the story, as it will be the first Christmas Eve service for Jones who took Epworth a job this summer. He says getting everything to fall into place “is truly a miracle.”
“The number of people that have just opened up their hearts and said, ‘Yeah, we get it. We want you to have this service,’ is really touching, and it’s been the best welcome to this area that I could’ve ever asked for,” he says.
Jones says maybe next year they can put up the decorations inside the Epworth church and hold the Christmas service there. But for 2020, an open parking lot is more than enough.