Drive-in Church 



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Americans love convenience. ATMs and drive-thru restaurant windows are a familiar sight but one you may not have seen is a drive-in church. One congregation has an empty chapel most Sundays but has seen attendance grow since moving morning worship outside into the parking lot. It’s come as you are, even if that means dressed in pajamas with your dogs in the car. Reed Galin rode in with this report.

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(Cemetery with 1800’s dates on stones)

The cemetery beside New Hope United Methodist Church testifies to the congregation’s longevity- 150 years . But Pastor Norman Markle has become concerned about how much longer.

The Rev. Norman Markle, Pastor, New Hope United Methodist Church: “We’re a wonderful little church; we’re just in a bad location.”

Surrounding homes gave way to strip malls as Marietta became a city.

The Rev. Norman Markle, Pastor, New Hope United Methodist Church: “So I said, you know, every Sunday morning we hear these cars going up and down that road. What if we did some sort of advertising and we could entice ‘em to just come into the parking lot?”

... only as far as the parking lot…

Pastor speaks to people in cars: “I’m glad you made it! How are you today?”

…for the new early morning drive-in service.

The Rev. Norman Markle, Pastor, New Hope United Methodist Church: “I think it’s what’s in your heart that really counts. So we welcome everybody.”

Chuck Allen:As you see I have on sandals and shorts; it’s very comfortable to me.”

Pastor preaches: “Forgiveness and true happiness go hand in hand…”

People come with their morning coffee and donuts, and pets, and -

Linda Martin: “Oh, that’s my Bible.”

Some of them have not been to New Hope before.

Linda Martin: “All the comforts of home I can kinda, I hate to say it, almost roll out of bed on Sunday morning and just throw on some clothes and come to church.”

It’s not just about being easier for folks in their cars.

Cheryl Ellis: “You just know you’re out there with God.”

(Choir sings)

Cheryl Ellis: “Not that you’re not when you’re inside, but you know it’s just a totally different environment.”

(More choir singing)

Some who once just drove by now turn into New Hope on Sunday mornings. It’s hardly a traffic jam- yet- but Pastor Markel doesn’t measure results one car at a time... but one heart.

The Rev. Norman Markle, Pastor, New Hope United Methodist Church: “To me if we get just one person that has changed their life, then we have a winner.”


People don’t have to stay in their cars; they can also attend the services in a small chapel at the church.

New Hope uses AM radio to broadcast sermons. Pastor Markle had help setting up the system from a pastor in Pennsylvania who’s offered drive-in church services for three decades.

To reach New Hope United Methodist Church in Marietta, call 770-428-4859.