Local church seeks clarification after criticism from judge

HARLINGEN — The board of Treasure Hills Presbyterian Church is weighing whether to continue holding drive-in church this Easter Sunday in the wake of apparent criticism from the county’s top official.

On Monday, Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. referenced “drive-thru services” held Palm Sunday but did not mention any specific congregation.

“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.

On Palm Sunday, Treasure Hills Presbyterian held services for members who listened from inside their cars in the parking lot via a simulcast on FM 87.9.

Rev. Charlie Palmer oversaw the service and delivered a sermon from under a nearby canopy.

Between 30 and 35 vehicles were in the lot for the service.

Palmer said Tuesday his church was having difficulty reaching Treviño for guidance, conceding there might have been some “confusion” about the drive-in church services.

“We’ve tried but we haven’t heard back,” Palmer said. “We sent emails and left messages but we haven’t heard back.”

As of Tuesday, Palmer said holding drive-in church on Easter Sunday is still being discussed by his church’s board.

“I would say at this time, our board is deciding, because I did make them aware of the judge’s comments and so we’re checking to see what’s in writing he might have supplied or whether there are any other directives,” Palmer said.

On Monday at his press conference, Treviño was asked by a reporter to name the church or churches he referred to earlier.

“I’d rather not say, specifically, which church it was because there might have been a miscommunication,” the judge responded. “They may not have been on the call we had and they may have been given different information from municipal leaders.

“If that’s the case, and it appears that that might have been the case, that’s probably what occurred,” he added. “We’re just going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Parking lot services or not, Palmer said his church is making full use of Facebook to deliver what would normally be in-church ceremonies to church members.

“We’re doing a devotional each night, a little vesper devotional that I’m doing,” he said. “And we’re going to be having Maundy Thursday kind of a communion service so people can take communion in their homes themselves and it’s a candlelight ceremony.

“So we’re going to have that and then Friday we have seven different speakers from the community and they’re going to speak on the seven last words of Christ,” he added. “We’re going to put up each of their little devotionals one after another on the Facebook.”