‘We have the message, and we need to proclaim it’: Churches experiment with drive-in sermons because of social distancing

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Churches are taking inspiration from drive-in movie theatres in order to continue worshipping through COVID-19 concerns.

Gethsemane Baptist Church in Lynchburg and Faith Mountain Baptist Church in Lexington both tried out drive-in Sunday services. In both cases, the pastors preached from the church’s parking lots while their congregations listened to the sermon inside of their cars.

“We are the church, we have the message, and we need to proclaim it," said Pastor Carlton Duck of Gethsemane Baptist Church. “I can preach anywhere. As the old saying goes, some people preach at the drop of a hat. I don’t even need a hat to drop.”

Gov. Ralph Northam has banned gatherings of more than ten people in Virginia because of the coronavirus crisis.

Faith Mountain’s pastor, Bill Thomas, said he urgently needed a way to bring his congregation together. Thomas canceled Faith Mountain’s prior Sunday service, and soon realized the church could not handle being apart for any more Sundays.

“It was one of the most difficult days that I’ve had in a long time," Thomas said. "I just could not get comfortable at all because I knew I wasn’t where I was supposed to be.”

Duck and Thomas both say they’re going to continue their drive-in sermons until they’re allowed back into their sanctuaries for service. They agree that faith leaders have a role in helping people cope with coronavirus concerns.

“We have never had a more pressing time than we’re in right now," Duck said.

“We need encouragement, comfort, and assurance that despite everything going on, God still loves us,” Thomas said.