SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Instead of a feature film, church services were on the big screen at West Wind Capitol Drive-In Theater in San Jose on Sunday.
With a line of cars circling around and the word of God broadcasting over the airwaves, Easter Sunday looked and sounded a little different for Southridge Church this year. Instead of filing into rows, the congregation stayed in their cars as they listened to a 15-minute ceremony.
It was a bittersweet celebration For Deatra Amick. “I feel like we all miss each other a lot and it was pretty emotional because we can’t see each other anymore. And so, it was nice to see everybody but also it just brought up a lot of feelings of that we aren’t able to see each other because of the pandemic.”
Her kids got to see their grandparents during this holiday, but only from a socially acceptable distance. Despite the lack of hugging, Grandpa Skip Amick says it was still special to see their faces in person.
“I’m a big believer in, your glass can be half full or half empty, your choice,” Skip Amick said, “and there’s been a lot of good things. Different communications that your busy life doesn’t allow.”
“I’m telling people, practice social distancing, not spiritual distancing,” said Southridge Church’s Pastor, Micaiah Irmler.
Pastor Irmler founded this start-up church six years ago and says pastors and spiritual leaders have had to get creative to continue to care for those in their congregations lately.
“Our feelings follow our focus. Right now we’re watching the death count and it’s real and it’s serious out there. But then when you come to an event like this, you can kind of lift up from the depressing news,” Irmler said.
Thinking outside the box is nothing new for him. Just last year, Southridge organized an Epic Easter Egg Drop in which 50,000 eggs were dropped from a hot air balloon over San Jose Giants Stadium. This year, while the energy is certainly a bit different, Pastor Irmler says brighter days are ahead, and that’s the message he’s trying to get out there.
“And you can see that, you know what? We’re going to get through this. We’re Bay Area Strong. We’re going to make it through.”
The church also handed out free masks, food, toiletries, and Easter eggs to members of the community. During non-pandemic times, Southridge Church gathers at Oak Grove High School on Blossom Hill Road in San Jose.