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Drive-in services continue

Ryder pastor holds services from deer stand

 Pastor Jonathan Starks of Calvary Church in Ryder waves from a deer stand parked on a trailer. The deer stand, provided by a local resident, offers protection for holding the drive-in worship services. The church, in the background, does not have room to for social distancing.

RYDER – It’s definitely a first for Pastor Jonathan Starks of Ryder’s Calvary Church, his family and parishioners, and likely would be for many other churches.

As of this past Sunday, Starks delivered the church’s service from a large green-colored deer stand parked on a trailer near the church. The service is broadcast by short-range FM transmitter to people in vehicles in the church parking lot who can listen to the service on their vehicles’ radios.

Calvary Church has been holding drive-in worship services every Sunday since Easter Sunday during this time of social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This past Sunday was the church’s 28th week of holding outdoor services.

Starks said the church building does not have enough room for social distancing.

But with the weather starting to turn colder, holding services from a flatbed trailer, as has been done for past weeks, might not be possible much longer. Starks began searching for a way to continue to hold services.

Rod Johansen, an area resident, came to the rescue and offered his deer stand to use for the outdoor services.

Starks said Johansen said, “You can use it as long as you need it.”

This past Sunday when the temperature was around 25 degrees Starks said it was a comfortable temperature for him in the deer stand. He said an electric heater provided some warmth.

Starks said the first Sunday of preaching from the deer stand “was a great success. What a blessing to be able to stay warm even though it was 25 (degrees Fahrenheit) outside,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

Starks said about 30 cars – with a total of around 70 people – were at this past Sunday’s service.

People have been enjoying the drive-in worship services, Starks said. Some attending bring their pets along. People have also driven their motorcycles, hot rods, 4-wheelers and even a tractor to the services.

Starks said one man who attended the drive-in services this summer told Starks he “drove 5,000 miles” to attend. The man, from Tyler, Texas, had been driving all over the country attending church services and learned about the drive-in worship services being held in Ryder.

The Starks family members all help with the services – Starks’ wife, Pamela, their son, Daniel Starks, and daughter, Priscilla Starks. Daniel, a musician and now music teacher at the Max School, provides music at each service. Kaylee Capp, a Minot State University music education senior from Max, has also joined in at times to sing at the services.

As for how long the services will continue using the deer stand due to the weather, Starks said, “We’ll see how it goes.”

The drive-in worship services are held Sundays at 10:30 a.m. in the Calvary Church parking lot in Ryder. Services are open to anyone who would like to join in.

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