Senior members of First Baptist get luxury ride

Saturday, May 16, 2009
First Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau is using two six-door Cadillacs to transport some of its senior members to church. (Fred Lynch)

The First Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau had a problem. The church has many older members who aren't getting around as well as they used to.

The congregation always provided these members a ride to church, but the van they used was too high for most of the riders to step up into and once they got in, it was hard for them to maneuver in the seats.

The church also tried having people give rides in their personal cars, but there was some concern about liability and schedules that left the transportation committee searching for a more practical solution.

Now First Baptist brings seniors to church on Sundays in six-door family cars -- the sort usually seen carrying family members around during a funeral.

"They are specially built Cadillac Fleetwoods that are sold to carriage companies who basically cut them in half and add their own whole new middle section to the car," said Joe Dirden, who was instrumental in obtaining the cars for the church.

Joe Dirden assists a member of First Baptist Church in getting into one of the two limousines used to transport some of its senior members to church on Sunday. (Fred Lynch)

"They come from livery companies who take them out of service at funeral homes in bigger cities," Dirden said. "We didn't know how people would react, but we've had nothing but appreciation."

The cars have three doors on each side and bench seats. They sit lower to the ground, therefore eliminating the need for the older members to step up. They hold nine people and a driver and look like limousines.

"I feel like Queen Elizabeth riding in that car," said Edna Pollard, a senior member at First Baptist Church.

Dirden said the drivers enjoy serving the older members with a little pomp and ceremony.

"We love driving for them and it has become a special part of our service to the church community," Dirden said. "I'd hate it if they told me I couldn't drive anymore."

The church now has two family cars and plans to use them for various church functions.

But no matter what else the cars are used for, the seniors who get a ride in style to the First Baptist Church said it's nice to be pampered even if it's practical.

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