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At The Movies: Oakdale Church Screens Films
Little Jacob Peugh reaches out for his snack bag before the movie starts. All snacks and attendance at the family-friendly Saturday night movies hosted by Oakdale Church of the Nazarene are completely free. Photo By Autumn Neal

Most of the community has had to stay inside for their summer, foregoing fun parties, nights out on the town, or even just getting work done in their favorite coffee shop. Oakdale Family Church of the Nazarene saw a need for family-friendly and COVID-friendly activities and came up with a new event: drive in movies.

“We couldn’t do Vacation Bible School, so we were just brainstorming what we could do instead,” Pastor of Children and Family Ministries, Marilyn Gaines, explained.

Cue a few volunteers, building a structure to hold the screen, and spray painting the parking lot to arrange for cars – and so the drive in movie nights were born.

“We just wanted to do something for the community because it’s such a hard time,” Co-lead pastor, Chelsea Peugh, added. “There’s such a need especially because (the pandemic) isn’t ending anytime soon and people need something to do that’s safe.”

Though families can sit in their own homes and watch a movie themselves, there’s something different and unique about going into town for a drive-in. The event is completely free and church volunteers put together some snack bags full of Pirate’s Booty, candy, Capri-suns, and an informative brochure for families to take.

“We’ve taken every precaution to make sure everything is safe,” they assured.

Not only did they prepare the snack bags days in advance and left them sitting to remove any lingering threat, but they also pass them out on trays so the families are the only ones touching their snack bags, with each bag including treats enough for four people. The church is also opening up their bathrooms, with one family allowed in at a time and they’re cleaned after each use.

Anyone from the community and surrounding area is allowed (and encouraged) to come to these movie nights; it’s not just limited to members of the church. In fact, Peugh noted that out of the 30 cars that showed up for their last movie night, only five cars were families from the church. Several people saw the event on Facebook and decided to join in.

“If I see someone interested in the event that I have a personal connection with, I try to be intentional and just provide a space of hospitality, even if they don’t come,” Peugh shared.

So far, they’ve played movies like Rogue One, Aladdin, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Trolls 2. Their parking lot has room for about 40 cars, but they’ve only been about three quarters full so there’s still plenty of space for more movie-goers. 

“The 29th of August is going to be Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse and September 19th is going to be The Greatest Showman,” Gaines reported.

To get in on one of these movies, just come by the Oakdale Family Church of The Nazarene, at 1700 W. F St., in Oakdale, and park your car between 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Turn your radio to 87.9 to tune in on the fun, and maybe even see some characters from your favorite movie.

The church’s mission – Love God, Serve Others – is being lived out through this community event. For more information about the church itself, visit or call 209-847-4215.

“Our goal this whole time is to be safe and provide a time where kids and families can come together,” Peugh summarized. “It’s been really beneficial for the community.”

Church volunteers dressed up like Jasmine and Aladdin at the movie night a few weeks ago to take socially distanced photos with some of the kids present. Look out for Spiderman this Saturday, Aug. 29. Photo By Autumn Neal