Church backs away from parking lot services for now

HARLINGEN — A local church criticized this week during the county judge’s press conference has announced it will forgo repeating its drive-in church until cleared to do so by the county.

Treasure Hills Presbyterian Church’s board of directors issued a statement Wednesday saying for the good of the community it would end its parking lot services.

“We are in this together and what we sacrifice in the short term is for the collective safety of all for the long term,” the board’s statement reads. “Our collective goal is to keep everyone healthy and safe.

“Our church’s governing board and pastor respect our county judge and his leadership and judgment and we all lift him and all of our leaders up in prayer and united support,” the statement continued. “Together we are stronger as we battle the giant before us.”

On Palm Sunday, the Rev. Charlie Palmer led services in the church parking lot while church members watched from inside their vehicles with the windows rolled up. The service was simulcast on a local FM station.

On Monday, County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. made reference to an unnamed church holding parking lot services, and although he did not mention Treasure Hills Presbyterian by name, it appeared to be the church to which he was referring.

“I will advise everyone, in spite of the fact that this is Easter, that we will not be allowing those type of services because of the danger and the risks associated with them,” Treviño said.

The Treasure Hills church board did not rule out such services in the future, or variations on the drive-in church, depending on how long the coronavirus shutdown continues.

“There may be a need in the future for innovative services like this as together we proceed back to a new normal,” the board statement reads. “Safer alternatives to traditional worship services may be helpful if people are anxious of being in crowds at church or those with underlying health conditions believe an alternative is helpful.

“God is good and our Lord’s Spirit will continue to guide, help, comfort and strengthen all of us through these times,” the statement read.

Treasure Hills’s pastor is using the church’s Facebook page to reach church members and others interested in options during Holy Week.

The church is hosting Maundy Thursday services today on Facebook, and will include a communion service that people can participate in while remaining at home.

On Friday, Treasure Hills Presbyterian will have seven speakers, each discussing one of the last words of Jesus Christ. These devotionals can be found on the church’s Facebook page.