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Congregants flock to Las Vegas church for drive-in Easter service

Scores of cars filled a portion of the International Church of Las Vegas parking lot Sunday morning as part of a drive-in Easter service, marking a new way to gather in the age of the novel coronavirus.

A group of people peeked over a wall to watch from their yards, and more cars parked in an overflow lot on another side of the church, 8100 Westcliff Drive. The service played over the radio for people to listen from inside their vehicles.

The gathering almost didn’t happen. The church’s plans for the service were upended Wednesday when Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a directive banning the gathering of 10 or more people at places of worship. The order specifically includes a ban on pop-up and drive-in church services.

Pastor Paul Marc Goulet gathered on Thursday with other religious leaders and Las Vegas City Councilwoman Victoria Seaman to speak out against the governor’s order.

Seaman said she received a call from the city attorney Thursday evening. According to Seaman, the service was allowed to go on as long as people stayed in their cars and items were not passed out. She said she later talked to Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.

Asked Sunday whether he was involved with letting the church hold the drive-in service, Lombardo replied, “With the guidelines asked. I saw the ability to blend social distancing with the ability to abide by the parameters set forth by the Governor.”

Churchgoers honked to applaud the full band that filled a stage in front of the church, and held up their hands during prayer.

Gloria Sawyer said she has never missed an Easter service, and Sunday was no different for her.

“There’s just nothing like being around God’s people, for me,” Sawyer said.

Pam Dunleavy waved a colorful flag from a convertible. Dunleavy, part of the church’s worship dance team, said she attended because of what the lord means to her. She said she understands the governor’s directive.

“But if we can do something like this safely, where we all honor the orders and we stay in our cars and we stay away from each other,” then churchgoers should be able to gather like they did, she said.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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