Hundreds attend Ohio church’s drive-in church worship service

Genoa Church of Westerville, Ohio, holds a 'Drive In Church' worship service on March 22, 2020.
Genoa Church of Westerville, Ohio, holds a "Drive In Church" worship service on March 22, 2020. | John Evans Photography

A congregation in Ohio decided to host “Drive In Church” services as a way of gathering people together for worship while being wary of concerns over spreading the coronavirus.

Genoa Church of Westerville held two “Drive In Church” worship services on Sunday morning, one at 9:15 a.m. and another at 11:00 a.m., with around 600 people in 300 cars attending.

The church had a raised platform for speakers, with attendees remaining in their parked cars to listen to the music and preaching through an FM transmitter.

Genoa Church Pastor Frank Carl told The Christian Post in an interview on Monday that this was the first time that his congregation had held such a service, having been inspired by the famed Crystal Cathedral of California offering a similar worship experience years earlier.

“We decided to do this as an alternative way to allow people to worship collectively in a safe environment of their own car and to honor the guidelines of our governor,” explained Carl.

The services followed a similar order of worship to their usual church service, including sacred music led by their Music Pastor Kerry Buck and a sermon by Carl.

Pastor Frank Carl of Genoa Church of Westerville preaching at a 'Drive In Church' worship service on Sunday, March 22, 2020.
Pastor Frank Carl of Genoa Church of Westerville preaching at a "Drive In Church" worship service on Sunday, March 22, 2020. | John Evans Photography

“We had a complete worship set, sermon, and offering buckets were in the exit as people left if they wanted to contribute — and they did so very generously,” continued Carl.

“Yesterday, instead of folks saying 'amen,' our outdoor gathering would enthusiastically ‘honk their horn’ to show support in the moment.”

Genoa has contacted other local congregations about doing similar services, with the church thinking about possibly making it a regular part of their weekly worship post-coronavirus.

Starting next week, they intend to hold three drive-in services each Sunday, with as many as six possibly being offered on Easter Sunday next month, according to the church.

Over the past few weeks, large numbers of churches in the United States and elsewhere have closed their doors due to concerns over spreading the coronavirus.

As a result, many congregations have looked toward alternative means of holding worship, usually through online streaming services or pre-recorded sermons posted to social media.

For example, Jentezen Franklin, senior pastor of the multi-campus Free Chapel Church in Gainesville, Ga., moved his megachurch’s service to an exclusively online format earlier this month.

“All that’s here are empty seats because the building and the seats are not the church. The people are the church,” preached Franklin on Sunday, March 15.

“In the Old Testament, God had a temple for His people. But in the New Testament God has a people for his temple. He said I’ll live in you and your body will be my temple.”

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