While the stay-at-home order has prohibited gatherings of more than ten people, the churches of Raymond have proved that God’s work never really ceases.
Most churches around the globe have shifted their focus by live streaming services for their congregation, though one local church has taken its efforts a step further.
Members of the Raymond Baptist Church gathered on Sunday morning, May 10, to participate in their first drive-in service conducted by their new pastor, Ron Butler of Irving.
“I knew several other churches have been doing it and luckily, my daughter is head of the tech team and she has some of that knowledge with doing some of the jobs she has done, so we jumped on it pretty quickly,” said Pastor Butler. “We’re still tweaking a few things–sometimes the sound is difficult and we’ve kind of figured some of that out. It’s kind of trial and error, unfortunately.”
The new pastor borrowed a lift from a friend in town and moved church equipment outside to hold the services in front of the church on Broad Street, which was partially blocked off, with permission from Mayor Denny Held and blessings from nearby residents.
“It was great to see people–church family and other members–sitting in their cars and honking their horns for Jesus,” he added. “It was different and because it was so windy and cold that day, it didn’t quite go as I was hoping it would.”
Though the church did not have a transmitter to allow people to tune in over their car speakers, their equipment was efficient enough to get the word out to those in attendance. The church has since then purchased a transmitter to improve future drive-in services.
In addition to the sermon, mothers among the congregation were recognized in honor of Mother’s Day and two individuals committed their lives to the Lord. Nine-year-old Julianna Kinney of Raymond, who has been preparing for her special moment for nearly a month, was baptized in a trough in front of the church while practicing social distancing measures set forth by the CDC.
“After the baptism, one of our members was able to speak and witness to a 68-year-old man who came to the drive-in church,” said Tammy Butler, the pastor’s wife. “He accepted the Lord that day, in his vehicle. God is so good!”
Pastor Butler hopes to organize a drive-in service at least once a month, however, he will continue to live stream his sermons each week.
The pastor, who has been a member of the Raymond Baptist Church for 18 years, served as deacon for about five years and was appointed following the passing of Pastor Keith Halsey, who had presided over the church since November 2014. Pastor Butler felt a calling to the ministry last year and after losing Pastor Keith, who he described as a wonderful Godly man, was ordained on April 1.
“We had talked previously about my calling and he had been discipling me and teaching me what it means and how it feels. And through the grace of God, I had my pastor pouring into me, then the church family made the decision.”
He added, “It’s amazing how God works things into people’s lives if you sit back and pay attention.”
The decision to open their doors is not one to take lightly, as Pastor Butler stated, and he’s taking every precautionary measure to ensure the safety of his congregation, which consists of roughly 40 to 50 members.
“I’ve been talking to some deacons and other church leadership and trying to decide what to do next,” he said. “I want to do the right thing. The church family is ready.”
Raymond Baptist Church will also continue to hold Wednesday meetings and Sunday School through Zoom.
“We’re getting close to having church in the church again,” said Pastor Butler.
In addition to the Raymond Baptist Church, other local churches such as A Community of Faith Church, Pleasant Hill Christian Church, Blessed Hope Baptist Church, St. Raymond’ Catholic Church in Raymond have live-streamed their services and other weekly meetings. For more information or to view their streams, please visit their Facebook pages.