You’ve heard the saying that originated in the early ‘70s, “Honk if You Love Jesus”? Well, that is exactly what First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in El Dorado Springs did for their “meet and greet” time Sunday morning. Honking horns, flashing lights, and waving hands wildly to their neighbors is how the congregation greeted people from their vehicles in the parking lot of the church, and still kept their distance from one another.
Because the congregation is small and the Wi-Fi strength is not strong enough to do the normal FB Live, Zoom, etc. that many other churches are doing during the COVID19 restrictions, the church board voted last week to have outdoor “Drive-In” services. Kyle Vickers, chair of the church board said he didn’t know how many to expect, but it was worth a try in order to not have to cancel worship services. “I don’t know how many people will get out and come to church during this Coronavirus thing, but we might as well give it a try. We’ve done this sort of thing in past summers when the weather was nice so people could attend an earlier service and then head to the lake, family gatherings and other Sunday events, and yet still be a part of a regular service.”
Since the church already had an FM transmitter in place that broadcasts up to 500 ft. from the building, the ideal spot for services was the church parking lot. People turned their radio dials to 100.7 (100 for the Perfect Christ, 7 for the holy and spiritual number of 7) while listening from inside their vehicles. Normally, First Christian Church has about 40-50 folks attending each week, and were happily surprised that 35 people came to show their support and worship from their vehicles. In order to protect everyone, the people received a weekly bulletin and a song booklet inside a ziplock bag which was handed out by a greeter wearing gloves. First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) practices open communion, and all believers are welcome to partake of communion. To go along with safe practices, the deacon serving the communion wore a mask and gloves. The communion was a small individually packed wafer and grape juice communion set.
The small Southwest Missouri congregation is currently without a pastor so they have been using different men and women from a pulpit supply list. Nick Rodenberg, from Mt. Vernon, Missouri, and a UCC (United Church of Christ) member, was the guest speaker on Sunday. Nick, the worship leader, and the sound person were the only three inside the empty church, while the rest of the congregation promoted social distancing and their faith as they worshipped outside in their cars and trucks. As one member of the church put it, “This is one way we can spread the Good News and not the germs in our community!”
Stay tuned for the future of First Christian Church. “If we aren’t in “lockdown” in two weeks for Palm Sunday, we might get creative in our waving of the branches and driving around the block while we welcome Jesus riding into town on a donkey (or possibly a miniature horse)” said one church board member.