Tucson is about to lose its only drive-in church

After operating for 45 years, a south-side drive-in church will hold a goodbye ceremony Sunday. The Park Avenue Christian Church’s final service was held last month.

The church opened in 1952 and in 1966 added its unique drive-in Sunday service, in which the pastor would preach alongside an organist to a congregation in parked cars with speaker boxes or low-frequency FM radio broadcasts of the sermons, said Harold Snapp, 82, who chaired the church board.

He said the drive-in option provided an alternative for those who didn’t want to get gussied up to worship.

“People who didn’t feel like getting ready for church or brought their dogs or cats or kids or whatever could listen through the drive-in-theater speakers,” Snapp said. “I never did use it very much, but it was handy.”

Hazel Coatsworth, a church trustee, said Sunday’s event will be a sad occasion, but an inevitable one since the church has been on wobbly ground for years.

She said the church has struggled financially and membership has dwindled to about 10 members. Snapp said most of the members are elderly, and what few newcomers the church could attract didn’t stay long.

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