By Beacon Staff
The defunct JCPenney parking lot at Westland Mall in West Burlington teemed with faithful Easter parishioners Sunday morning, and not one of them came within breathing distance of the other.
Members of the Burlington First Assembly of God Worship Team belted out their love for Jesus as they strummed their guitars on a mobile stage at the south end of the parking, their voices filtering through the car radios of those in attendance.
Unable to leave their vehicles without breaking Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ social distance mandate to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the drivers elatedly pounded their car horns after the opening song. Normally a noise of annoyance, the applause substitute did not go unappreciated.
“Lord, you let there be a way. We didn’t think it was going to happen,” First Assembly of God pastor Scott Collier said.
The non-denominational drive-in Easter service was simple and efficient and open to everyone. Parishioners arrived and left as they pleased, some settling into the back pews (the north end of the JCPenney parking lot) shortly after the service started.
Most of the vehicles were separated by a parking space, allowing for social interaction at six feet for those who rolled down their car windows.
Collier reiterated the only rule of the service as he led the radio broadcast prayer.
“Please, do not leave your vehicles,” he said.
Collier didn’t dwell on coronavirus during his sermon, nor did he ignore it. Most churches across Burlington, including First Assembly of God, have been delivering church services online. Collier treated the virus as the constant it is likely to be.
“God, we pray for the essential workers, and we pray your hands to be upon them,” he said.
Upwards of 50 vehicles could be counted at the service, and the only ones wandering around outside were church volunteers taking coffee orders for parishioners. Worshipers who brought their own supplies performed communion within the mobile isolation units that got them there.
“If you can hear me, honk your horns,” Collier said, the air once again filling with a sharp sound. “Be grateful the grave was empty."
Photos by Jeff Abell
Area residents attended a non-denominational drive-in Easter service Sunday at Westland Mall in West Burlington.