DeKALB – Grant Minnihan of Sycamore was disappointed that he was unable to attend church at Crossview Church in DeKalb last Sunday because of Gov. JB Pritzker’s orders to refrain from meeting in large groups.
On Saturday, Minnihan, his family and members of about a dozen churches came together to pray in an unconventional way because of the threat of coronavirus.
A community drive-in worship service took place in the parking lot of School Tool Box, 12107 Barber Greene Road in DeKalb. More than 150 cars were parked in the lot for the nondenominational Christian worship service.
The time of the event was moved an hour and a half earlier because of Pritzker’s order to stay at home.
The worship service, which lasted about an hour, featured music, prayers, preaching and announcements of volunteer opportunities.
Minnihan attended the service with his mom, Tracy, dad, Josh, brother, Jonah, sister-in-law, Chelle, and his girlfriend, Demeaus Wong, from Seattle. Minnihan and Wong were home visiting from college at Colorado School of Mines.
“We attend church every week, and we didn’t go to church last Sunday,” Minnihan said. “It’s nice to get out of the house to see other people. It’s important to remember that we’re all in it together. Stores and businesses might be closed, but God is bigger than all of that. You can’t shut down God or our faith.”
During the drive-in service, Brandon Arneson, lead pastor at Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in DeKalb, gave a sermon titled, “Hope in Jesus.”
“Now is the time to have unshakable trust in Jesus,” Arneson said. “It’s important for people to come together and worship together because we draw strength from each other.”
Arneson said that with the threat of the coronavirus, “we must bring hope and healing to our community and make sure everyone knows that they are loved.”
Stephen Persson, pastor at large at First Baptist Church of Sycamore, said the idea for the event came after a discussion during a weekly prayer group of pastors on March 18.
“When we met, we talked about ways we could help, how we could share a worship experience and provide information about ways people could volunteer in the community,” Persson said. “It’s important for people to know they have the support of the local churches. They’re in their prayers and they have a place to turn to for help. We’re hoping it will encourage people. It may become a weekly event, depending on the response we get.”
Persson said most churches are not hosting services, they have turned to live-stream capabilities to remain connected with their congregation online and through social media.
“We wanted to provide a semblance of regularity and of meeting together,” Persson said. “Although we have denominational churches, we are all followers of Jesus. We should cooperate with one another, not compete. We should unite, follow Jesus, preach the good news and pray together.”
Mary Lynn Walters of Genoa attended the worship service after hearing about it from friends.
“God is critical and the center of my life, and I wanted to hear the words of encouragement,” Walters said. “It’s important to remember that God loves us. It’s a difficult time for everyone, but it’s comforting to see everyone here praying and being united in Christ.”