Christmas 2009…Part 3…The Drive In Church

Because we knew she would want us to, my sister’s family and mine attended the Christmas Eve services at the Daytona Beach Drive In Christian Church.  My parents joined a more conventional congregation when they first moved to Florida but lately, this has been the church they have more regularly attended. 

The drive in church is exactly what its name suggests.  You drive in, receive your order of worship and communion from the greeter at the gate, find a place to park, tune your radio to the correct station, sit back and relax as you meditate and worship.  We have worshipped there on the few occasions that we have been visiting my parents over a weekend.  My children love the ritual of stopping by a fast food joint (or a 7-11) for breakfast (or a Slurpee) on the way to church.   They – we – also love the minister.

Reverand Larry Deitch has been extremely supportive to my mother in this illness and the one in ’06.  Not a day has gone by when he hasn’t visited her in the hospital.  When she was ventilated and sedated he would hold her hand and pray for her.  When she was in isolation because her infection hadn’t been identified, he donned the gown and the gloves and the face mask along with the rest of us….and still came to her bedside.  When she was awake and getting fiesty, he told her to get dressed so they could ‘break outta there and go get something to eat.’ 

While the congregation has been in place since 1953, Reverand Deitch has been there since 1995.  He is their third pastor.  It is amazing to me that they have created a church that passes beyond what it could be.  People meet and talk with one another at their car windows instead of in a church foyer.  Offering is taken by by helpers who go from car to car.   They actually know people – or at least their dogs – by name.  Sunday School meets in the rooms beneath the altar.  The “Family Life Center’ is the building that would normally house a projector and snack bar.  This is an active church, people.  And they are all about giving back.  In fact, for three nights before Christmas Eve, the congregation created a ‘Drive Thru Bethlehem’ that saw 25 to 28 THOUSAND cars passing through.  (Pop forgot to mention it to us so we missed it!)  On Christmas Eve there were 625 people in attendance at the evening service.

We were all given one of those glow in the dark sticks with our communion and Order of Worship.  The service began with music that sounded a bit tinny coming through the radio but was up lifting never the less.  There was a children’s choir that ended their gusty repetroire with ‘Feliz Navidad.’   The huge advent wreath was lit.  We partook of communion, shared our offering, listened to a wonderful sermon that was thought provoking and then got out of our cars.  There, in the middle of down town Daytona Beach, with the sound of ocean waves on both sides of us and the glare of the hotel strip behind us, we snapped our glow in the dark sticks and held them high as lights were turned down and we all joined in with the song ‘Silent Night.’  Probably your standard Christmas Eve service…..but oh so memorable for us in 2009.

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2 Comments on “Christmas 2009…Part 3…The Drive In Church”

  1. randy mckeever Says:

    There is a drive in Catholic Church in North Myrtle Beach that we have seen in years past. It is an interesting concept for sure!


  2. How wonderful of you to include us.. Thank you so much.. Melissa told me that your Mom was discharged yesterday.. Blessings always.. Larry


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