EVANSVILLE, Ind. – In trying times like these, many people turn to their faith for comfort and answers, but social distancing guidelines are making it hard for churches to congregate. Hard, yet not impossible.
Worshipers around the country are finding creative ways to practice their religion together at safe distances amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
While some churches have turned to the internet to stream video of their services online, others are turning to an activity from the past – the drive-in.
Like the drive-in movie theaters that were widely popular in the 20th century, people are attending services from their cars, in the parking lots of their churches.
Bethel Church in Evansville, Indiana, is among the congregations giving drive-in services a try. In photos, you see rows and rows of cars, evenly spaced and all turned toward a big screen.
From their car radios or the church’s mobile app, churchgoers were able to listen to the sermon by Lead Pastor Dr. Prince D. Samuel. Congregants were also able to text in prayer requests and donate to the church online, in lieu of physical offerings, The Evansville Courier & Press reports.
The message of last week’s sermon was “faith flattens fear.” Samuel told his congregation not to live by the fear and discouragement that they may constantly be hearing. Instead, he said to “live by the faith in God.”
Bethel Church is not alone in trying drive-in services. New Beginnings Christian Church in Tampa, Florida, has actually offered a drive-in service for 48 years.
When the coronavirus forced New Beginnings to close its indoor services, the drive-in became its “flagship” service. The sermon is actually given on a ship in front of cars filled with churchgoers.
Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, also turned to a drive-in service to help its congregants practice their faith. The church serves thousands of local families and students on a regular basis.
Additionally, Idlewild Baptist started a drop-off donation drive to continue supporting the local community and members’ new needs as well.
While there are many U.S. churches taking the necessary steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus, some aren’t heeding the warnings from government officials. Some churches have ignored stay-at-home orders, which ban large gathering.
Another church in Florida, The River at Tampa Bay Church Church remained open Sunday to the public despite a "Safer At Home" order issued by the county — an order that includes places of worship. The pastor of that church was later arrested, charged with unlawful assembly and violation of a public health emergency order.
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