URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Drive-in events soared in popularity during the pandemic – even at church.
Countryside United Methodist Church raised the bar by holding their service on the roof.
“I didn’t think that his wife had let him,” says Member Phillip Hartke.
“I’ve been up here now for about a half an hour, and it’s so far, it’s okay, getting down maybe the trouble,” says Pastor Jeff Stahl.
It first started as a bet.
“Ted made me a bet a few weeks ago, that if we have 40, or more in attendance for like, three Sundays in a row, for the next week, we would be up here on the roof. And I said, okay, you’ve got it then,” says Stahl.
Last year, COVID-19 hindered their numbers. Their doors were closed for months. Services had to be live streamed.
“What we were trying to do was just kind of survive from week to week,” Stahl says.
Now, with both virtual and in-person services, they draw over 40 to 50 members each week.
“It’s worked out well,” he says. “The attendance has been building back up steadily. And so that’s been a blessing.”
Members like Phillip Hartke agree – seeing each other through a screen doesn’t compare.
“I can definitely say that i prefer in-person a lot more, because virtual was so difficult. It’s better in every way to be here in person,” Hartke says.
And to this church, it’s being together that matters.
“Churches that pray together will stay together,” says Church Treasurer Ted Hartke.