ROCKTON — Old Stone Church, 101 E Union St., is offering everything from Communion and prayers to hot dogs and donuts to lift people’s spirits this summer.
“People have been starved for human contact,” said Pastor Dan Hermann.
Old Stone Church started offering drive-through outdoor Communion two months ago following the last indoor service held on March 5 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The drive-through event has become a big hit, attracting 80 people on one Sunday.
“People are coming through and getting connected with something bigger,” Hermann said. “Twenty-five percent are non-members or have no church. There is a spiritual thirst in this chaos.”
Hermann said everyone is welcome to the sacrament of Communion at the church, and people do not have to be members of the congregation. The event is held from 9—11 a.m. each Sunday. It’s expected to continue until the church possibly reopens on Aug. 1.
This past Sunday, people were driving, biking or walking by for their blessing. Although masked, Hermann said he was smiling underneath. He doled out wafers, noting he opted against pre-packaged grape juice as it might have been a bit “contrived.” With a gloved hand and black flowing robe, Hermann greeted a steady stream of visitors and said the Lord’s Prayer with them.
Dean and Jenny Middleton, Old Stone members for 30 years, walked over for the event. They said they are grateful for what Hermann is doing.
“He really gives us the connection we need to stay hopeful,” Jenny Middleton said.
Bob and Bonnie Estrada drove to the event. They said it’s been great to get together in addition to following Hermann’s homilies online.
“You do the best you can in this time,” Bonnie Estrada said.
After parishioners received their Communion and blessing, they went to the tent to pick up coffee and donuts provided by Louie’s Tap House in Roscoe. Louie’s Tap House investor Anthony Cellitti joyfully doled out the goodies and spread the word about the business owned by Ryan Asta.
With such success with drive-through Communion, Old Stone is going to diversify its offerings. The church is buying a variety of goodies to serve in the coming weeks.
“We want to connect with local businesses, and we are going to buy products from them,” Hermann said.
On June 28 there will be strawberries; July 5, hot dogs and brats from Mark’s Pizza; and July 12, coffee and drinks from DeeDee’s Main Street Coffee & Decor.
“We can have fun. We can support each other and learn what businesses are here,” Hermann said.
Hermann also plans to lead a collection to benefit area police and fire associations and other charities.
During these recent Sundays Hermann said he’s usually on his feet until 11:30 a.m. with people coming through. He said it’s great to see Old Stone continuing to serve the community.
“It was founded the same year as Rockton was founded, 1838. This church has been the heart of the community since its inception,” Hermann said.
During the ongoing pandemic, Hermann also has his phone number on the marquee for those who need to talk.
One woman recently dialed his number.
“I had never met her before, and she just needed to talk,” he said. “I have a passion for helping people remember they are part of something big, and God hasn’t abandoned us.”