REDMOND, Wash. — In a church parking lot overlooking the Sammamish Valley, one eastside church congregation celebrated Easter Sunday in a new way.
"As the service went on I was just realizing how much I missed it. I didn’t plan on feeling that. I just was like, 'oh wow, I really miss belonging to a group,'" said youth pastor Jared Gallardo, who attended the service.
A year into the coronavirus pandemic and this Easter Sunday marked the Washington Cathedral's first drive-in service in Redmond.
"To be apart for a year and then get back together with people we dearly love has been fantastic," said founding Pastor Tim White.
White co-founded the church with his wife more than 30 years ago and in that time they have formed a strong relationship with the Life Care Center of Kirkland. The long-term care facility made national headlines last year as the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
"It was really hard because I wanted to go there, and I wanted to go to the hospital. So many times people went through so many difficult things and pastors couldn’t be there," White said.
"After so many funerals and so many people have passed away last year, it’s [the drive-in service] something that we all desperately need," he continued.
In a year of so much loss, this Easter Sunday was about rebirth. The pandemic isn’t over but for the first time in a long time the future looks bright.
"I just felt so much hope which isn’t like a normal feeling during COVID. To like, feel good and hopeful for the future and sure about the future, which is very strange for this year," Gallardo said.
This drive-in service is the closest they’ve had to an in-person service in a year – come May they’ll open the building for in-person gatherings again.
"The new normal is not permanent, there is going to be a new new normal that’s coming and that’s what we’re celebrating now," White said.