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Metro East Church Puts A Nontraditional Twist On Easter Service

Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio
Copper Creek Christian Church in Maryville, Illinois, is swapping out its traditional Easter Sunday service with a drive-in service.

While many churches will be holding their Easter Sunday services online, one Metro East church is taking a nontraditional approach.

Copper Creek Christian Church in Maryville, Illinois, will have a drive-in service right from its parking lot. Congregants who choose to attend the service will have to stay in their cars, which will be staggered throughout the parking lot. 

Jeff Chamberlain, the lead pastor, said it's important that the church is able to celebrate Resurrection Sunday in a safe way that follows Illinois’ social distancing guidelines.

“We do have a responsibility to obey the laws in the edict of the governor,” Chamberlain said. “And so, I think we should put ourselves under that submission. Romans 13 talks about that. And we feel like what we’re doing on Sunday, we are still abiding by what we’re being asked to do.”

The service will have many of the elements of a traditional Easter service, most of which will be modified to meet social distancing standards. Greeters will be standing out in the grass waving from a safe distance to members as they drive into the parking lot. 

Chamberlain will give his sermon through a speaker. Music will be played. But there won’t be bulletins. Worship lyrics will be online, and Communion will not be distributed.

“We will have Communion meditation,” Chamberlain said. “But we’re asking people to bring their own, and if they don’t bring their own, then it will just be something people do in their own hearts.”

Many in his congregation are receptive to the idea.

“I’ve heard nothing but positive things,” he said. “I think people understand that we are keeping social distancing rules and are respecting that.”

Chamberlain said he and church leadership had worked to find a way to have Easter service when they closed the church doors to the public a month ago. Since then, services have been livestreamed. In order to hold the drive-in service, Chamberlain reached out to Maryville’s mayor. His only stipulation was that the cars be spaced out in the lot.

“We really, really want to be good neighbors, and we want to be good stewards in our community,” he said. “So we don’t want to be breaking rules. Because ultimately, we may want to do this again another time, and we don’t want to burn those bridges.”

Chamberlain said those who are uncomfortable attending the service will still be able to livestream it.

Follow Marissanne on Twitter: @Marissanne2011

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Marissanne is the afternoon newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.