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Starting a new chapter

Ryder church holding last drive-in worship service on Sunday

Submitted Photo From the left are Pastor Jonathan Starks, pastor of Calvary Church in Ryder; his wife, Pamela; and their daughter and son, Priscilla Starks and Daniel Starks. This Sunday will be the church’s last drive-in worship service. The church has been holding drive-in services since Easter Sunday in April 2020.

RYDER – After one and a half years of holding drive-in worship services, Calvary Church in Ryder will hold its last outdoor service this Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

The drive-in worship services were done in response to COVID-19 pandemic so people could maintain social distancing. They have been very well attended since they began on Easter Sunday 2020.

Pastor Jonathan Starks said moving from outdoor worship services to again holding services in the church is the beginning of a new chapter for them.

“We’ll move inside and we’ll have Sunday school at 9:30 (a.m.) and the service at 10:30 (a.m.),” Starks said.

Starks said he does not recall that they ever missed a Sunday while holding the drive-in services over the past months. “We had a couple Sundays that were like 20 below and we still had a good turnout, especially when you consider the weather. I was kind of surprised.”

Sometimes services were held in rain, snow and wind. “We had a little bit of everything,” he said.

The outdoor services are broadcast by short-range FM transmitter to people in vehicles in the church parking lot who listen to the services on their vehicles’ radios.

Starks said the number of cars with people at the services have totaled up to “into the 50s.”

When they held a pulled pork and bluegrass gospel concert, he said around 126 cars with people were there. “That was probably our biggest Sunday,” Starks said.

Besides cars, SUVs and pickups, people have driven their motorcycles, hot rods, 4-wheelers and even a tractor to the services. Some have brought their pets to the drive-in services.

Services outdoors were held from a flatbed but when the weather got colder local resident Rod Johansen loaned his deer stand parked on a trailer near the church.

The church holding services from a deer stand also got the attention of Gov. Doug Burgum who talked about it in his press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic this past November.

“It’s been quite an adventure,” Starks said

Starks said the decision to move indoors came because they didn’t feel they could do another winter outside. “Some people really liked the drive-in and others said we really need to go inside. We were blessed with a wonderful winter last year. Who knows what it will do this year but it’s time for us to go back inside,” Starks said.

Starks said they are hoping people who attended the outdoor services will return for services in the church. “It will be fun just to see each other face to face,” he said.

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