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Parking lot prayer: How a local church is reinventing religious services mid-pandemic

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Age-old religious traditions have been turned upside down in the past months, as the pandemic inhibited indoor services. Religious groups have had to come up with creative ways to worship that aligns with stay-at-home order guidelines.

On Sunday St. Margaret's Episcopal Church was among those to take on a different kind of mass that allowed people to gather, but in a socially-distanced way.

"One of the hallmarks of Christianity is community and how do you build community? Especially coming together physically," said church rector, Father Andrew Butler.

The church has adopted 'Drive-in Worship.' One-by-one vehicles pull into the parking lot as church officials usher them into a neatly organized mobile audience.

"We have wonderful staff that greets folks out in the parking lot and they handle a bulletin and they welcome them warmly," said Fr. Andrew.

The vehicles park at a distance, while mass is held outside on the second floor of a church that overlooks the parking lot. Worshipers are then able to tune into a radio station, 92.5 fm, which is exclusive to the church.

"That’s our own radio station. It only reaches a certain distance and so you have to be here in the parking lot to hear the service," said Fr. Andrew.

After having learned that people were discouraged from singing together in congregation, "now everyone can sing from their cars and do it safely," said Fr. Andrew.

Toward the end of mass churchgoers distribute the bread car-by-car, which symbolizes the body of Christ.

"We know that people of any faith and no faith are looking for community and faith and a way to express their beliefs and we just want to create a welcoming opening environment," said Fr. Andrew.

The unconventional services have brought relief to those seeking worship at a difficult time.

"This is our way of trying to create a sense of community where people can actually be together and see one another, albeit in a whole different fashion."

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Shelby Nelson

Shelby Nelson is a News Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. She joined our team in September 2019 after living in San Francisco for 6 years. Learn more about Shelby here.

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