WAYSIDE, Wis. (NBC 26) -- With group worship disbanded for the forseeable future in the era of social distancing, Zion Wayside is going above and beyond to engage their congregation.
"This church is a place that has a strong sense of community," Senior Pastor Austen Welter said. "Closely knit, family ties. But also engaging, and open, and welcoming."
"It's a special time because you've got extended family coming in, you've got friends coming in as well," Associate Pastor Kyle Wangelin said. "Unfortunately given the circumstances now, maybe not the case, but wanted to do something special that they could still at least have that feeling."
To reconnect in isolation and provide hope, Zion Wayside organized three Easter Sunday services to be held in their parking lot. Attendees parked like they would at a drive-in movie and listened to the service broadcast over their car radio. Church leaders estimated that 500 worshippers attended their services Sunday morning.
"We're in line with everything the governor has said," Pastor Wangelin said. "We checked in with the Brown County Sherriff's Office to make sure we had the all-clear here."
"While withholding to those social distances, it was incredible to just be able to turn and see someone -- a familiar face -- next to you and give a wave," Pastor Wangelin said.
Those in attendance were encouraged to honk their car horns each time a pastor proclaimed 'He is risen,' and the community did so resoundingly.
"A saying I heard that's stuck with me is, 'we're alone together,'" Pastor Welter said. "You see it in the parking lot there. We're all alone. We're each in our own vehicle, social distancing. We're being careful, but we're in this together. And not only in that parking lot, but in our region, in our nation, and across the world."