Drive-In Joy: Easter Service looks past virus

The rain came down Easter morning at Kingdom Celebration Center in Odenton. Worshipers prayed, sang and preached together until the sun came out again. About two dozen cars gathered at the center's parking lot at 1350 Blair Drive to listen to Bishop Antonio Palmer's reflection on the Gospel. Minister Juan Brown Sr. from Son Light Ministries in Glen Burnie preceded the bishop, with hopeful words of his own. He also brought an assembled group of singers and musicians with him. They helped lead the Christian worship service in the center parking lot at 1350 Blair Drive, The rain came down, so the performers opened up umbrellas. About two dozen vehicles were gathered. The services were also being recorded as well as livestreamed on Facebook. The Kingdom Celebration Center, Palmer has said, has around 150 congregants. "Honk if you love Jesus!" Palmer said. He was answered by a cocophany of horns. Volunteers from the center and other local organizations have supplied over 10,000 people in the area with food and supplies over the last month. The have offered a weekly food pick-up since the COVID-19 emergency started. Palmer said his church members love God, love people and want to fulfill needs. His sermon centered on Christians being justified by the open tomb of Jesus on Easter morning. He reflected on St. Paul's writings that if Jesus did not resurrect on Easter morning, the Christian faith would have been in vain. The gathering of more than 10 people, safely separated by their vehicles, was a rare local event. Many area faith communities have chosen to worship solely through internet technology. The drive-in worship "experience" as Palmer called it, gave worshipers an opportunity to reassemble during the emergency and express their faith through microphone, speakers, and musical instruments. This Easter that music includes filling the air with the bellows and beeps of vehicle horns. It's an unconventional act of faith for an unconventional time. Bishop Palmer's message of hope also filled the air. He said God had plans of peace and not of evil, Looking beyond the current pandemic, the preacher looked forward to a time where things would be better for both his congregants and those outside of his church. "We have some amazing things that are ahead of us," he said. "We have a great future."