Tucson drive-in church holds final service

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Next Sunday, about a dozen Tucsonans will miss a huge part of their morning routines, worship at their south side church.

Sunday the city's only drive-in church, the Park Avenue Christian Church, held its final goodbye ceremony.

After 59 years, the facility's out of funding.

"It's been the center of our lives," said 91-year-old Hazel Coatsworth.  "It's where my children grew up."

For years Hazel's family and so many others have leaned on the Park Avenue Christian Church for support.

It was built in 1952 and since 1966 its been Tucson's only drive-in church.

"It has been a place for this part of Tucson to come and worship and be a part of the community," said Coatsworth.

But Sunday, inside the church's chapel, the community said goodbye to the historic facility.

For years, membership has been on the decline.  At last count it had only about a dozen, and two years ago the financial problems began piling up.

"That is the reality that has faced us and we are unable to keep the lights on and pay the bills," said Pastor Kevin Prahar.

While the end might have been expected,nothing could prepare long-time members for the years of memories that come flooding back with a goodbye.

"You realize that people don't live forever," said Coatsworth.

Hazel knows their memory and the church's legacy will live on forever, beyond the pews and pages of prayers, because spirit is something lack of membership or money can't diminish in time.

The church plans to sell the land.  Remaining members say they'll join other congregations.