Drive-In Christmas: Praise Fellowship Gets Creative With Holiday Services

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RUSSELL, Pa. – The COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone to adapt, pivot and be creative. 

That’s no different at Praise Fellowship in Russell, where a little creativity has gone a long way. 

After a positive experience with a ‘Drive-In’ service on Good Friday back in April, the church is bringing it back for Christmas. 

“We had to be real creative,” said Praise Fellowship pastor Rick Rohlin. “We did it on Good Friday and it worked really well.”

The idea for the drive-in was simple, and the execution brilliant. 

“We thought what’s the most effective way to fit the culture, to bless the people,” Rohlin said. “It’s about taking that eternal message and putting it into Warren County. That’s the transition. All the work is preparatory. It doesn’t take a lot of work during the event itself.”

The recent surge in COVID cases across the region led Praise Fellowship to go virtual for its regular weekly services.

“Looking at Christmas and with cases on the rise, we actually had to shut down for two weeks,” Rohlin said. “We didn’t want people to miss Christmas because of us.”

The services are usually packed and the church wanted to give people something that would allow them to maintain a little normalcy in this abnormal year.

“We thought we had to do something for Christmas,” Rohlin said. “Our Christmas Eve service is packed and people come from all over. It will be a drive-in but people can stand outside if they want. It gives everyone the opportunity to be a part of the rhythm of Christmas.”

There is no charge for the event, and everyone is invited to attend.

“We had so many people say after the Good Friday service that we need to make it an annual thing,” Rohlin said. “Good Friday is more reflective, whereas Christmas is celebratory. Christmas will be a little more fun for kids. We’re going to have a series of Christmas songs geared toward families.”

Services will be held at 6 and 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. The audio program will include music, scripture and drama. Those wishing to attend should park facing the hill at the back of the parking lot and tune their radio to 87.9 FM.