For six years, Joshua’s House in Owego has been giving teens and young adults a safe space to be themselves while also taking part in its teen ministry. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, some of their normal operations have halted, but the organization, along with CASA Trinity and Tioga ASAP, hosted a drive-in movie night last Saturday to bring families together.
“We had to reevaluate what we were doing and how we could reach the community,” Chuck Relyea, founder of Joshua’s House and associate pastor at Abide in the Vine Fellowship said.
Following guidelines, the organizers took advantage of the need for social distancing by having families stay in their parked cars while “Trolls World Tour” played on the big screen, just like drive-in movies that were so popular in the ’50s.
“There’s not much going on in our community,” Relyea said, “and it didn’t take too much to put a screen up and invite people to come and watch a movie with their family.”
Volunteers served food and drinks, and masks and sanitizer were provided if needed. Relyea estimates there were at least 200 people in the parking lot of Abide in the Vine Fellowship on Saturday.
The attendance surpassed what the organizers were expecting, but to them it reinforced the need for family activities within the community. Relyea said that now, more than ever, families need time to simply relax together — to forget about discourse of the world for one night while they watch a movie.
Relyea added, “I figured I could try to figure out a way to bless our community and give a moment where our community could come together and not be anything — just be families. Apparently the need for that in our community is much bigger than I realized.”
Joshua’s House is planning to host one more movie night while the weather still permits, but is hoping to have monthly events next summer. For now, while COVID-19 restrictions are still affecting their teen attendance, the fellowship is holding weekly bible studies and dinners on Mondays.
“Anything that can bring elements of our community together for some reason in a peaceful and loving way is worth the effort.”