The year of 2020 was Piedmont Park’s 10th year to offer Light Up the Dark to our community. As a Christ-centered, family-friendly, free event held on Halloween evening, LUTD shares about Jesus in nearly every activity. Sometimes people are introduced to Jesus for the very first time!

Typically, Light Up the Dark takes over nearly the entire church building as well as several of the green spaces outside with 600-800 people attending. Each Sabbath school room tells a different Bible story, Women’s Ministries provides a craft, live music is shared, food is prepared and enjoyed in the fellowship hall and bouncy houses are filled with jumping, laughing children.

But this year was different. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, gathering a large group of people together indoors in enclosed spaces was not recommended. So for Piedmont Park, as for most everyone in church ministry, 2020 has been a year of questions: Can we still do that program? How? What is the safest way to bring people together? Do we have enough volunteers to make it happen?

We were reminded just how much of a tradition the event has become for many families when a young child called the church office asking, “Are you still going to have Light Up the Dark?” So, as summer ended and we looked ahead to October 31, Pastor Michael and Jeanette Halfhill (LUTD ministry chair) began talking to various church members, gathering ideas and figuring out how we could still bring Light Up the Dark to life for our church and community.

Who, What and How?

After much prayer and consideration, it was decided that we would host this year’s LUTD as a drive-thru, much like our annual Journey to Bethlehem Live Christmas Nativity each December. As attendees drove through, they would view the scenes while they listened to the narrated story on their car radio. The theme would be the story of Daniel with four scenes spaced out along the church driveway and parking lot:

  • Daniel and his friends being brought as slaves to Babylon
  • Daniel and his friends being offered unhealthy foods at the king’s banquet
  • Daniel and his friends refusing to bow down before the golden image and being joined by Jesus in the fiery furnace
  • Daniel praying three times a day and being thrown into the lion’s den but being saved from the lions by an angel

Even though Light Up the Dark is a traditional annual event, since it was being done in a brand-new way, preparations were intense! Many new décor items needed to be created, and our fantastic Family Bible Adventure design team came through with pieces like an amazing paper mache roasted pig on a platter and a lion’s den with giant yellow lion eyes staring from the blackness! Cheryl Wallin, Piedmont’s costume designer, pulled from her costume stock, but also made several brand new beautiful costumes for the actors.

Adam and Miles Schaecher recorded Pastor Halfhill narrating Daniel’s story, and 15-year-old Miles edited it and added sound effects. Darrell Daniel and our audio team made sure the recording was coming through loud and clear on 90.5 FM.

It is wonderful when young and old can be involved in ministry together, and over 40 actors of all ages did just that as they brought scenes to life for the full two-hour event! Women’s Ministry members helped hand out bags with treats and literature at the end of the drive-thru, and many volunteers helped with set up and clean up. Overall an estimated 70 volunteers came together to make the event a success!

Pastor Halfhill greeted the carloads of people before they left, and he says, “I wish everyone could have been with me to hear all the wonderful comments and thanks from our guests. People were so excited!”

As we continue to live each day during this unique time in history, we hope that the choices we make and the events we offer at Piedmont Park Church are a light to our community providing hope and encouragement. We pray that the 675 people who drove through Light Up the Dark were drawn closer to Jesus and that their hearts felt Him calling to them as they experienced Daniel’s story in a new way.