How We Come Together
Behind the Scenes at the Best Drive-in Christmas Eve Ever
Three weeks ago, a team led by Melissa Tokstad, armed with her logistical super powers, clip boards and spread sheets, began imagining a Christmas Eve service, outdoors, in a parking lot, with twinkling lights, wreaths, ribbons and bows, audio piped into worshipers’ cars via a radio frequency, a live manger scene, singers, two preachers, a trumpeter, a pianist and a candlelight “Silent Night.” Overly ambitious? Nah.
The set-up, in the icey cold afternoon, took three hours. Melissa sends a big shout-out to husband Kevin who managed a giant stand of expensive sound equipment that threatened several times over the previous days to not work at all. But it did, beautifully, rendering voices and instruments as clear as bells.
The manger scene, created by the whole Cook/Reitman family, included Katie’s rather low-to-the ground white bulldog Marshmallow, who was dressed as an angel; a goat from the Tokstad’s house that the Reitman kids transported in the cab of their pickup; and a potbellied pig dressed as lamb, which the pig enjoyed as it was quite cold out there. The goat ate a half-bag of Doritos in the back seat of Annika’s pick-up on his way back to the Tokstads.
Melissa offers many other thank-yous:
- Elaine Johnson made the beautiful bows that decorated the railings, with only a few days notice.
- Discover Rentals in The Dalles set up the stage and backdrop (and gave us a nice discount), and came out late on Christmas Eve to take it all down.
More than 15 volunteers from both RCC and Bethel were involved: parking cars, lighting candles, handing out programs, setting up and taking down. Melisssa said the whole thing would not have happened without Kim and John Vogel who were on site for set-up and take-down, and even jump-started the Watsons’ car at the end because they were too filled with Christmas ecstacy to know you can’t run heated seats in a car for 90 minutes on battery and hope to start the thing after that.
On stage, RCC Pastor Vicky Stifter and Bethel Pastor Laura Robinson, wrapped in down under their vestments, told us the story of Jesus’ birth, while Evelyn Charity and Jessica Metta led us in song, accompanied by Tim Mayer on keyboards and Kate Dougherty on trumpet.
When that moment came, the moment we all love on Christmas Eve – the passing of the light from candle to candle as we sing – we all stepped from our cars and held our candles high. To our great delight, Kate and her trumpet, standing up above us on Sherman St., filled the night sky with tender notes: Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright.
More than 30 cars filled the lot that night, full of families, dogs, and even, it was reported by one wag, a bottle of wine. We had visitors, too. People who live along Sherman St. came to stand at the rail and listen with us. They might never have visited our sanctuary, but the cold December night on Christmas Eve belongs to us all.
– Kathy Watson
Church in the time of Covid has made our Sunday services a very different experience. Instead of meeting in our historic sanctuary, complete with stained glass, pipe organ, choir and offering plates, we have been meeting via Zoom. You are warmly invited to Zoom in, where the miracle of togetherness, music and joy still abounds.
Connect by 10:15 if you’d like to visit with Riverside friends or at 10:30 for service. Stay after for virtual hospitality time.
Here is the Zoom link for Morning Worship.
Join the Zoom Meeting by clicking here.
Meeting ID: 814 2267 6581
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Meeting ID: 814 2267 6581
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Meet New Friends
Read, quilt, gather and talk: Riversiders come together to build and serve community and each other. Here are a few ways you can join in:
Art and Spirit Circle
Art and Spirit Circle: When we can meet together, we create art, such as family altars, crowns, mandalas. Like so many things at Riverside, no experience required! For more information on upcoming Art and Spirit Circles (when we can circle together again) contact Karen Harding.
Our book group meets once a month to discuss a book. Currently, the group is meeting via Zoom and in person, at the same time, so that those who can’t meet in person, and those who want to meet in person, can all meet together. Contact Karen Roof to learn what’s on everyone’s nightstand this month, and when the group meets next for discussion.
One Saturday morning a month Riverside men get together to figure out what it all means.
Hilarity often ensues, as does the “word of the month” and reflections on life.
Usually, they destroy a coffee cake or a box of donuts, but right now, the group meets via Zoom.
Contact Doug Roof for information about the next meeting, and to receive a Zoom link.
Prayer shawl group
It’s a comfort to draw a warm crocheted or knitted blanket around the shoulders of someone grieving, or a new mother. Join this group to help create shawls to be given as gifts by Pastor Vicky. To learn more, contact Nancy Pavlenko.
We have a Riverside tradition of creating a personalized quilt for each graduating high school senior.
Sewers are needed, but so are those who can simply iron and organize quilt pieces.
To find out more, contact master quilter Kim Vogel