Worshiping together, enjoying close fellowship is the heart of most church services. This is especially true of Easter Sunday, a very special celebration for Christians.

With the reality of the COVID-19 virus, churches have had to forego meeting physically. Most have found other ways to hold services, from streaming live online or posting videos on websites and Facebook.

Ripley Baptist Temple has been doing the same. But Easter will be different. The church is offering a Community Easter Drive-In Service on Sunday, April 11. The gathering, which will be on the Ripley Plaza, will begin at 11 am. The Plaza is the location of Cozumel restaurant and other businesses.

Rick Perrine, pastor of Ripley Baptist Temple, said this idea started out as a way to bring his church together but then transformed into an open service for the community.

“We want to encourage people,” he said. “There is joy and hope to be found in the Lord and we want to share that message.”

This drive-in service will require people to stay in their vehicles the entire time.

“We won’t have any physical contact with anyone,” Perrine said. “We won’t be handing out a bulletin or any type of announcements. We will be guiding people to park a safe distance apart as well. We even hope people on their way to Wal-Mart will see us and come join us. The main thing is we’ll all be together worshipping the Lord. It’ll just be following social distance guidelines.”

Perrine, who will be delivering the Easter message, said that radios will need to tune in to 91.1 FM. The service will also be live-streamed on Facebook.

“We’re going to have special music and a message from God’s word,” he said. “What better time to bring a message of love and hope than on resurrection Sunday?”

In addition, Perrine said there is going to be special recognition of people in the community who have given so much to the medical crisis the area is facing.

“We can’t even begin to express our appreciation for all those in the medical field and first responders, as well as grocery stores and restaurants and so many others.” the pastor said.

The unique situation the world is in has forced the church to take a different course said Perrine.

“Because we can’t meet with each other inside a building,” he said. “In effect, the church has been deployed. We’ve had to be creative with ways to spread the gospel.”

For information about the Easter drive-in service, visit ripleybaptisttemple.org, find the church on Facebook or call 304-372-3413.