Southwest Suburban Church Offering 'Drive-In' Services

By WBBM Newsradio 780 AM & 105.9 FM

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A church in southwest suburban Worth has found a way to have Sunday services in-person, but without people sitting or standing unsafely near each other.

Services are broadcast into parishioners' car radios as they sit in the parking lot of St. Mark Lutheran Church.

Pastor Jay Trygstad said St. Mark's first in-person services since the Governor’s stay-at-home order was on Easter.  

"It’s like the old drive-in movies where you put that big clunking metal think on your window. Well, it’s been modernized since then. And, the words and the music come through an FM station," he said.

"People come sit in their cars. They keep the windows up. They don’t go outside. They don’t use the church for the bathroom. I warn them ahead of time you should use the bathroom at home before you come."

Pastor Jay Trygstad said that having car windows closed created a bit of an awkward moment on Easter.

"I said ‘Christ is risen’ and there was this deafening silence ‘cause I couldn’t hear a thing," he said. "But then, somebody in the group had the idea that they were going to honk their horn and they did, then somebody else. Pretty soon, the whole parking lot was honking their horn, to say, ‘He is risen, indeed.’"

The pastor said parking spaces with obscured views of the minister are blocked with orange cones. Pastor Trygstand conducts the services from underneath a canopy at the front entrance to the church.

The pastor suspects he may have to continue doing services this way through the summer, because he suspects social distancing rules may not be eased enough before then and he does not believe there's enough room in the church to allow people to sit six feet apart, even though there are two services on Sundays.

The parking lot radio services are a novelty, the pastor said, something he never in 39 years of ministry considered doing. He calls the services "great fun."

He said that people had their car engines turned off, at first during the services, but realized they were draining their batteries, so they turn their cars back on about 15 minutes into the service. Pastor Trygstad also said he trims his sermon by a few minutes, too. He kiddingly calls that "a bitter pill."