Drive-Up Church


Sometimes it’s the folks down at the local racetrack who can get it done so you can have church.
Mary Lou Toft
With in-person worship cancelled, Rev. Mary Lou Toft of Memphis (Missouri) UMC quickly setup to have their service on Facebook live, but she knew that wasn’t for everybody. She had heard of drive-up churches and mentioned the idea to one of the members of her congregation.

“She told me they had something that could do it at their racetrack,” Toft said. The couple’s business, the ShowMe Speeday, uses the broadcaster to call races so the pit crews can clearly hear what’s going on over the roar of the engines.

The cars aren’t the only thing that are speedy. Toft asked her question about broadcasting on a Thursday, and the racetrack couple had her set up by the weekend. Due to the low-wattage system there was no license required. The broadcast device plugged right into the church’s sound system.

“Things came together a lot faster than I thought they would,” Toft said. “I think God is in the midst of it.”

That first Sunday during the blowing snow there were six cars in the lot, with an average of two people per car. Last Sunday in better weather she had 11 cars and 22 people.

A small group from the church sang and someone played the piano, while they made sure they maintained distance between them. Because it has been cold Toft preached from inside the sanctuary in her usual location. After church she came to the front door and waved to the cars from the top of the church steps. Toft plans to continue having church this way until they can come back together in the sanctuary.

“Folks were waving and honking. They like seeing each other,” Toft said.

For next Sunday Toft is adding a drive-up communion service.