The Rev. Mary Anne Kingsborough is used to preaching from a pulpit.
These days, she delivers sermons from the back of a pickup truck.
In June, Kingsborough started leading the Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church congregation in worship in the church’s parking lot in Columbia.
Ushers guide attendees to parking spots, and worshippers remain in their cars for the duration of the 35-minute services to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The church still offers recorded services on its website, as well, for those who wish to worship at home.
Before COVID-19, Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church would see 60 to 80 attendees over a weekend. Its Sunday drive-in services have been a hit, attracting about 50 attendees weekly.
“There is a sense of togetherness, even though we’re all in different vehicles,” Kingsborough says.
Kingsborough says a highlight of the drive-in service is the call-and-response dismissal. When services were in the church’s sanctuary, she’d say, “Go in peace, serve the Lord,” to which the congregation would respond with “Thanks be to God.”
Now, they reply with a choir of beeping car horns.
“It is a lot of fun,” Kingsborough says.
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Kingsborough preaches from the bed of a church member’s pickup truck. Even in the recent oppressive heat, she says, the services have been bearable, thanks to good air circulation provided by the church’s vantage point on a hill and adaptations like a big beach umbrella.
She says she’s thankful the church has a parking lot big enough to make a drive-in service possible.
“I think instead of looking at all the negatives, we need to look at the positives, and part of it is learning we can be church even outside of four walls,” Kingsborough says. “And maybe we needed to learn that.”
Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church is located at 3825 Concordia Road, Columbia. It hosts drive-in services every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. For details, visit concordiaelc.com.