• May 26, 2020

Sunday celebration at drive-in - Odessa American: Local News

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Sunday celebration at drive-in

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  • A New Way to Easter

    Big Sky Drive-In sits closed on Tuesday morning due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. This upcoming Easter weekend, Big Sky plans to allow for Easter services to be carried out at their facilities to allow church-goers a safe environment to attend service.

Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2020 5:07 pm

Some Permian Basin churches are thinking outside the box in regards to conducting Easter services in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the assistance of Big Sky Drive-In, churches will be able to conduct services Sunday at the drive-in theater.

“The theater’s honored that we have a facility that we can share for the people of both of these towns — we’ve got some Odessa churches and some Midland churches — that we can share with the churches and honor God this Easter,” Big Sky owner Sam Kirkland said. “We’re looking forward to the time we get past this pandemic we’re in, but we’re just thankful that we have the facilities that we can do this with.”

Mid-Cities Community Church will conduct evening services on Saturday and Sunday, using a multimedia presentation that will make full use of the theater’s capabilities.

“We won’t have anything live,” Mid-Cities senior pastor Daniel Stephens said. “Everything will be produced. The message and stories and testaments will be through the screen and the radio.

“We feel like the sense of gathering, even in the cars, will create a sense of hope for our people.”

Stephens said gates will open at 8 p.m. each night for the Mid-Cities services, which will begin after sundown and last right at an hour.

“It’s very significant for us and I know for the other churches taking part,” Stephens said of being able to hold the services. “The (Christian) Church historically has had a difficult time and weathered many difficult times throughout the last 2,000 years. This is probably not comparable to some of the challenges the Church has had to overcome in the past.

“We are grateful to get to worship, grateful to Big Sky for allowing us to worship there and working with our community leaders to keep people safe, but also offer hope, which is what we believe. There are medical concerns that are very legitimate and we will abide by those. We also understand the very real emotional need people have, and this is such a great way to meet that.”

Kirkland said Big Sky’s three-screen layout will enable congregations to conduct services while still following the Center for Disease Control’s social distancing restrictions.

“We’re under pretty strict guidelines to be able to do this,” he said. “We have to space the people apart. The drive-in is lined off like a parking lot. We’re going to start out by having cars skip a space. That’s why some churches are going to take more than one screen depending on the crowds that they have. We’ll skip spaces and there’ll be, like, 14 feet between each car to make sure there’s a lot of spacing. If we run out of room, we’ll have to start filling in the gaps, but we can hold a lot of cars out there.

“People are not going to be allowed to get out of their vehicles. They can roll the windows down and wave at their neighbors, but we’re under pretty strict requirements on that end. We can’t have the restrooms open. That’s the part that might be the hardest. We’re recommending to these churches that its Easter service and we’d like for you to get your message over to your people and celebrate God, but let’s keep it short.”

Kirkland said the churches are able to make full use of the theater’s projection system.

“The ones that are doing video, we have equipment that will play their DVDs and we can put them up on the screen,” he said. “In the case of a couple of churches that had DVDs, we converted them over to digital. We have the equipment to do that.

“Most of them are going to be DVDs. They’ll look really good on the screen. They’re not quite as good as the Blu-Ray. Blu-Ray is, like, 1020 or 1080 (DPI) and DVDs are, like, 700. Either one is going to look good on the screen. Most of the churches are producing that for us and we have the equipment to run it through our projectors.”

Audio for services will be delivered over one of three FM radio bands.

“Each of those screens has its own FM radio station.” Kirkland said. “If you’re watching something on that screen, you can tune in to that FM station and they’ll be able to broadcast it over that system.”

Kirkland said while the system is mostly automated, the services will require a little more involvement of the theater staff.

“Normally when we run a movie, we have everything on what we call a playlist,” he said. “We put it in and tell it to play this stuff at this time and it does it by itself. The way we’re doing this, we’ll have to physically do it for it. We’ll have to start it and maintain it, but this equipment that we have is pretty advanced.”

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