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By Rylie Friesen–
About fifty vehicles pulled into a vacant lot on Auburn Boulevard across from Rusch Park on Easter Sunday, each being directed to park six feet apart.
Congregation members and guests remained in their vehicles, while Pastor Kyle Conley of Pioneer Baptist Church in Citrus Heights delivered an outdoor resurrection-themed sermon from behind a pulpit positioned on a flatbed trailer, generally maintaining social distance from any non-family members on the stage.
Conley told The Sentinel in an email Saturday that the church plans to continue the drive-in format of its services during the COVID-19 crisis. He said attendees will remain in their vehicles at all times.
“We seek to go above and beyond the Social Distancing Guidelines given to us,” Conley said.
Services will be held each Sunday at 7828 Auburn Blvd., where the congregation plans to construct a new church building in the future. The church normally meets at 7600 Old Auburn Rd.
Pioneer has also started a mask-sewing project to give back to police officers who remain on the job during the coronavirus pandemic. Conley said seamstresses in the church are purchasing material on their own and making the masks themselves. Each mask comes with a prayer “built in.”
Rocklin Police Department posted a photo of several officers wearing masks last week, along with a thank-you message to Pioneer for donating the masks. Conley said 40 masks will be given to the Citrus Heights Police Department this week.
Prior to Easter Sunday, Citrus Heights Police Chief Ron Lawrence urged congregations to utilize technology to avoid in-person services, and on Wednesday he said his department had joined a regional effort to step up enforcement of stay-at-home heath orders.
Asked whether the stepped up enforcement policy will have an effect on churches opting to hold “drive-in” services, Lawrence said his department “will not be proactively regulating any church services.”
Apparently referencing Pioneer Baptist Church’s drive-in service, Lawrence said his officers had observed “at least one church on Easter Sunday carefully using social-distancing with parked cars remaining more than six-feet apart and taking good safety precautions such as wearing facemasks or coverings and gloves.”
“I think this demonstrates the cooperative spirit of adhering to the Health Order, and in this uncertain time I certainly respect that Faith is a crucial foundation for many of us,” said Lawrence.
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