Florida on a Tankful: Drive-in church offers nostalgia, salvation

By Scott Fais, Feature Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, April 13, 2017, 6:17 AM EDT

America is fascinated by big cars — from dining in them to worshiping in them.

"This church has been operating here since 1953," said Rev. Bob Kemp-Baird of the Daytona Beach Drive-in Church.

While the era of the great American drive-in has dimmed, its faithful still gather.

"The movie screen would have been where our altar building was now," said Kemp-Baird.

Rev. Bob Kemp-Baird takes a final sip of water before facing his congregation, wearing sunglasses from a second story balcony.

"We ask that you would be with those who are in harm’s way," Kemp-Baird prayed.

Since 1953, the Daytona Beach Drive-In Church has welcomed Floridians and vacationers from all "wheels" of life at this former Drive-In Movie Theater.

Larry Mann passes out programs, along with communion grape juice and wafers.

Gone are the speakers of old and replaced with shortwave radio.

Plus, there's biscuits for man's best friend.

The former snack bar "rose again" and is now home to Friendship Hall, which draws parishioners out of their cars with donuts.

There's a choir and live organ music as communion is given in-vehicle.

Without any pews, you may be wondering, "How do you pass the offering plate? Well, here, ushers will visit your car."

And some feel compelled to hand their offering on the way out, but not before sounding the horn of praise.

"That's our way of shouting AMEN!" said Kemp-Baird.

Revered Bob says it took about a month to get used to preaching to folks in cars, after moving from a church in Kentucky.

You can find the Drive-In Church just south of Daytona Beach, in Daytona Beach Shores on Atlantic Avenue, just a block from the beach.

Sunday worship services are at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.

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