Apr 10, 2020 6:01 PM

COVID-19 forces St. Joseph churches to get creative

Posted Apr 10, 2020 6:01 PM
"Drive-in Church" is how one St. Joseph church is connecting with its congregation while still social distancing. Photo courtesy The Keys Christian Fellowship Pastor Richard Bradley.
"Drive-in Church" is how one St. Joseph church is connecting with its congregation while still social distancing. Photo courtesy The Keys Christian Fellowship Pastor Richard Bradley.

by Sarah Thomack

St. Joseph Post

As churches comply with the shelter-in-place order in St. Joseph, Easter services will look different this year.

“One thing I feel like is really significant for this moment is that families will be together in their homes,” says Tim Doyle, Lead Pastor of Restoration Church. “There won’t be the pressure of ‘I’ve got to get ready for church!’ and ‘Get your dress on! Ah you’ve got grass stains on your pants!’ None of that stuff will be an issue anymore, we’ll be together in our homes, celebrating with the people that we care about and love the most.”

Doyle says they have been live streaming services on their Facebook page or at restorationstj.com and being creative with connecting outside of services.

“I think the most important thing is for each pastor and church leader to recognize, what can I do to help my people have the most connectivity that we can in this limited and unconventional moment in history and still bring the hope, the joy, the anticipation that Easter brings for all of us," Doyle says.

Other churches in town have been creative in finding ways to social distance, but still see each other. The Keys Christian Fellowship Senior Pastor Richard Bradley says they came up with the idea for “drive-in” church, which is the same concept as a drive-in movie theater.

“God has created us to be relational people and in a time like this, it’s hard to be relational,” Bradley says. “So my thought was that if we can at least be in the same area together and still maintaining the social distancing ruling that has been given, at least people can see one another through their windshield or through the side glass on their car and my thinking was that might help them get over some of their inability to be social.”

Weather permitting, The Keys Christian Fellowship will hold a drive-in Easter service and they will live stream the service either way. You can find more details on their Facebook page or website.

Holsey Chapel Senior Pastor Mary McDonald took a different approach to adapting services. McDonald says she wanted to offer an option for those who might not be as tech savvy.

“We’ve adapted for Sunday morning service, we call it Holsey Chapel Church On the Line and that we are open for God’s business.”

McDonald set up a service so people can call a number to join by phone to hear her preach from her office.

“My congregation is a congregation that, when the preacher is preaching, the congregation talks back,” McDonald says. “They say, ‘Amen’ and ‘Praise the Lord,’ they wave their hands and they shout ‘Hallelujah.’ Because of the connection we’re having… we don’t get that feedback that we like to get when we’re preaching, so that is something that I miss.”

McDonald says it may be a very different experience but it's helped the congregation connect and be together during uncertain times.

"The connection points are so important just because of the power of relationship," McDonald says. "It's amazing to me that God can use a conference line to fill that need for folks who are in a place where there's some doubts, some fear, some challenges, but it's a great place for us to lift each other up."

You can find a Holsey Chapel group on Facebook to find out more about their church services. McDonald says they are planning to include video with their Easter service and to check their Facebook page or email [email protected] for more information.