Drive-in movies are more or less relegated to nostalgia now, but for a creative response to COVID-19, you can choose to drive in for worship at Dickinson’s Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 1725 State Highway 3.
“In 28 years of pastoring the Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, I’ve never imagined a worship service in our parking lot,” said the Rev. William H. King III, its pastor. “Since Easter Sunday that’s exactly what our congregation has done. It’s been an amazing experience with the anointing on high for all in attendance. This pandemic has literally pushed us to think out of the box.”
Some 80 or so cars, SUVs and trucks have populated the automotive equivalent of pews bringing worshipers from near and far.
“Just recently an elderly man that lives across the street from the church shared how much he loves and looks forward to Sunday mornings,” King told Our Faith. “Last Sunday, two gentlemen on bicycles stopped to enjoy the presence of peace, praise and preaching, but we also have families and friends from Galveston, Brazoria and Harris counties parking and praising God in the parking lot every Sunday morning.”
A BARBER AND A BAPTISM
A local barber sits on her porch nearby, rain or shine, for each outdoor, New Hope service. Baptisms are performed in a reinforced baptistry on wheels, King added.
Instead of a drive-in lot, the Rev. C.L. Yancy Sr. of Dickinson’s New Vision Baptist Church chose a local park for their COVID-19, corporate worship.
“We’ve had a total of four park services, and they’ve all been phenomenal,” Yancy said. “Our congregation has loved being able to see each other. We take so many things for granted and gathering for church is one of them. You don’t know how much you miss your fellow churchgoers until you can’t gather with them for a season. We’ve not gathered in our building corporately since March.”
It shouldn’t come as any great surprise that local pastors are contesting COVID-19 with this kind of creativity. In the Middle Ages, the church faced the problem of communicating its gospel to a largely illiterate populace.
It turned to sequential stained glass patterns that reinforced the message from its pulpits, sharing their message in a what could be viewed as a solid-state comic strip. It also used street theater and even puppets to bridge the gap and reach those outside the church’s walls.
JUST ADD MILK
The Rev. Carlos R. Phillips leads La Marque’s McKinney Memorial United Methodist Church. You’ll find them only online for now at Facebook, Zoom or a conference call on the phone, but they have continued a special in-person outreach to those in need.
“During COVID-19, our congregation has discovered a whole new way to serve its community,” Phillips said. “We have been offering prayer to anyone via a conference call touching the lives of over 400 people in four months from all denominations who are in fear, grief and disparity. And, with the help of Borden’s Milk, we have donated over 1,000 gallons of milk. We also do drive-by pickup, feeding over 500 folks and providing some much needed masks. Even though we’re in isolation, and even though the church doors are closed, we are still being the church, helping people in our community. The church is still the church.”
FERVENT, BUT NOT FEVERISH
In-person, onsite services are starting soon at many local congregations, but Texas City’s Greater Barbour’s Chapel has already resumed Sunday meetings — with a high-tech twist.
“We are taking extra precautions including the installation of thermal imaging technology that records the temperatures of everyone entering the sanctuary,” the Rev. Kenneth L. Cotton, Barbour’s leader said. “If a high temperature is recognized by the system, the information will be recorded, and my office will be discreetly notified.”
For further assurance, newly installed touchless hand sanitizer dispensers adorn the sanctuary’s entrance.
“Let’s not forget that every person at all times entering the campus is required to wear a facial mask,” Cotton said. “Mask and gloves are also available. And, we provide online services for our elderly members and congregants with major health issues who must stay at home.”
Next week in Our Faith: Best practices for online services as well as a disinfection guide for in-person meetings.
Future: How has your faith-based charity dealt with the challenges of COVID-19? Please email to update us.