Faith over fear: One church’s ingenuity in a time of isolation

Living Hope Church hosts drive-in church during COVID-19 outbreak

VANCOUVER — Walk in faith not in fear. You’re not alone. Continue to build community.

These are the messages you will hear if you attend, from the safety of your car, one of Living Hope Church’s drive-in services. Audio of worship and speaking broadcast through your FM radio, while you gather together in the parking lot. Just like a drive-in theater.

People gathered in their cars last night for Living Hope Church’s drive-in church service. Photo courtesy of Living Hope Church
People gathered in their cars last night for Living Hope Church’s drive-in church service. Photo courtesy of Living Hope Church

“Even though we have to keep some distance, we can still work collectively together, we can still band together even though you know, we’re in our cars, there’s still that sense of community,” said Living Hope Lead Pastor Neil Curtiss. “That sense of being together and rallying together for our community and for our neighbor and for our country. We can invite people to hear a message of hope.”

Lead Pastors Doug Fraizer and Curtiss thought of the idea after the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, caused Gov. Jay Inslee to ban gatherings of 50 or more and encourage social distancing.

Curtiss, who hails from Southern California, remembered several churches in that region who used to do drive-in church every week. After learning that a member of the church staff had picked up an FM transmitter, they decided to run with the idea too.

“We would tell people first of all, to walk in faith not in fear,” Curtiss said. “And not to panic and to be driven by fear and worry and anxiety. And ultimately, we’re going to come through this. God’s not left us. He’s alive today and working in our lives and even more so than ever.”

As long as restrictions are in place, Living Hope plans to continue hosting the drive-in services, Curtiss said. Service times will be Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. with weekend services on Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday morning at 10 a.m. 

An aerial view of Living Hope’s first drive-in gathering since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo courtesy of Living Hope Church
An aerial view of Living Hope’s first drive-in gathering since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo courtesy of Living Hope Church

Curtiss also mentioned how many members of their church face homelessness every week. The services are a time they find community and hope as well as help, he said. They placed chairs, still six feet apart, in the parking lot for the homeless to sit on during the first service last night. 

With cities like Vancouver closing homeless centers like the Navigation Center on Grand Boulevard, distanced gatherings such as Living Hope’s are rare instances of continued connection. 

“These are historical times we’re living in,” Frazier said in a video statement. “The coronavirus is impacting us all, but we at Living Hope Church believe we’ve found a creative way for us to still gather. We hope that you’ll consider joining us.”

The FM transmitter broadcasts clear audio a radius of one mile, and the entire service will be live streamed to Living Hope’s Facebook page, much like many churches across the country.

People worship in their cars during the church’s first drive-in service on Tue., March 17. Photo courtesy of Living Hope Church
People worship in their cars during the church’s first drive-in service on Tue., March 17. Photo courtesy of Living Hope Church

The vast parking lot of the church, which was once a store, has already begun filling up with cars as of the first service this week, Curtiss said. FM 102.7 is the station the church uses to broadcast the live worship and message. 

“It’s an option for people and I’m thinking by the weekend, they’re gonna want to be getting out and getting around and doing something,” Curtiss said. “It’s also really a time to pull together in prayer for community, for people that are now losing their jobs and our country as a whole and just the crisis that we’re facing right now.” 

Living Hope Church is located at 2711 NE Andresen Rd. in Vancouver. For more information on Living Hope’s drive-in church or to contact them with questions about services, visit their website or Facebook page.

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About The Author

Jacob Granneman is a filmmaker and writer from Clark County. He is a graduate of WSU Pullman’s Edward R. Murrow College where he studied journalism and media production. He has produced documentary stories all over the Pacific Northwest and abroad in Argentina. He has won a regional Emmy and Mark of Excellence award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his film work. His passions range from sharing the love of Jesus, to cinematography, to going on adventures in the most beautiful place on earth, i.e. his backyard. He lives with his wife and son in Vancouver, WA. Proverbs 16:3

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