Newport News Drive-in Easter Service

Lifting Up the Word


Story by Tonnetta Stiff
Photos courtesy of CC Newport News, VA

Pastor Tony preaching

Pastor Tony Clark of Calvary Chapel Newport News, VA, shares the Gospel from a motorized lift.

Pastor Tony Clark, Calvary Chapel Newport News (CCNN), VA, was positioned on a motorized lift in front of his church on Easter Sunday to ensure he was visible to all who attended the drive-in church service. As he delivered his resurrection sermon entitled “When Hope is Lost” from Luke 24, the congregation honked in solidarity with a vehicular Amen. More than 300 cars jammed the parking lot while over 1,200 viewed the service online.

Pastor Tony preaching from lift

Pastor Tony taught the Word on Easter Sunday, at the Calvary Chapel Newport News Drive-In Service.

“He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee.” Luke 24:6

Several congregants described their experiences worshipping together at their first drive-in Easter service.

Shelby Estrata: There is just something about being (even in a parking lot) with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Having the ability to physically see those around me worshipping and enjoying the service just filled my heart with great joy! I felt the Holy Spirit speaking words of comfort to me as soon as I was ushered into His presence by the worship team. It was exactly what I needed during that time. God showed me who He is so lovingly and gave me such peace while I was there that Sunday. The message of Jesus and the resurrection revitalized, refreshed, and restored me. God’s presence was so strong all I could do during the entire worship was cry! Lastly, the song “The Blessings” just confirmed who our God is and the promises that I must remember and stand firm on. Tears of comfort and joy all over again. 

worship team

The CC Newport News worship team leads the church in praising the Lord.

Emily Barlow & her son Levi: I wasn’t expecting it to be so different than live streaming from the couch. But it was! Looking around during worship was so fun. Our CCNN family was having a blast together. I can always count on Pastor Tony to bring the Word … and he did not disappoint. Reading the account of that first Resurrection Sunday in light of what’s currently going on … turning to the Lord FIRST for my hope … was so good.

Levi’s thoughts (4 years old): Pastor Tony on the lift was cool! As cool as a construction worker! I don’t think he’s scared of heights. How did he think to do that? How did he not fall? I got [to see] my teacher, Miss Lexi. It was fun to say Hi to everyone on the top of the car (sunroof). We couldn’t get out of our cars because of the sickness. We were keeping each other safe.

driver with cellphone

An attendee at the CC Newport News Easter Service listens to the message on her cell phone.

Dr. Teresa Wright: Leading up to Easter Sunday I had a conversation with my husband. I said, “If we are social distancing, then I will livestream the service from home; what’s the point of going out?” My husband was adamant that since we had the option of a parking lot service, we should venture out of our home for church. I am happy he persisted; our newborn son had his very first social outing on Easter Sunday at our church. Service was wonderful and refreshing. It was exciting to see our church members be innovative and proactive given all the state and federal restrictions for social distancing. Some of my favorites were the horn honking during praise and worship, the selfies we were asked to take and post on social media as a form of greeting each other, the altar call using our blinkers, and of course being able to see Pastor Tony perched high on a lift so that the whole parking lot could see him.

Easter Sunday is about Jesus’ sacrifice for our salvation. In that moment sitting in the parking lot, I felt eternally grateful to still be able to worship freely and publicly—albeit with some modification. I felt grateful for our church leadership who persisted in providing options for fellowship which I now realize was so important, especially for a new mom who has been in isolation for over seven weeks. The Holy Spirit revealed in that time that God is still to this day fighting for my time and attention, and if I would only make the effort, he would meet me in new and exciting ways.

“’The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’” Luke 24:7

Like most states, Virginia has been under stay-at-home restrictions for several weeks due to the COVID-19 health crisis. This caused churches to approach Easter celebrations very differently because of social distancing guidelines observed around the country.

Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” Luke 24:45

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.