When St. Andrew’s began meeting almost four months ago, to explore regathering in-person, we purposefully named ourselves the “Grace-filled Reopening Options Task Force.” The acronym: GRO (pronounced “grow”) indicates our commitment to growth as a parish during the process. We agreed that if all we were doing were trying to get back to what was “normal,” we would be missing the opportunity to follow God’s call to stretch in new ways to create greater accessibility for more people.
But as we discussed ideas for how we might regather, the conversation quickly returned to what was comfortable and familiar for each individual. So, when a task force member suggested that an easy solution to addressing the regathering restrictions would be to worship in our cars in the parking lot using an FM radio transmitter, the idea was abruptly shut down. “I wouldn’t come to that,” one member proclaimed. When someone suggested that Drive-in Church would allow those in high-risk categories to join us, another member argued, “they can continue to worship online.” The consensus was our time and energy should be focused on perfecting our plan for a “Mass on the Grass”.
Then, as many things have, the guidelines about how we could regather in-person changed. When the task force realized Mass on the Grass was a long way off, we revisited the idea of worshiping in the parking lot. Suddenly our energy coalesced, and our creativity soared. We enrolled a spouse to figure out the technology. Another member invented a tool to spray paint new spaces in the parking lot, angling vehicles for better views. Others took on the role of “parking ushers” donning safety vests with our FM station pinned on their backs. A couple of others figured out how to create a QR code for ease of downloading the bulletin.
Included in the many wonderful benefits of Drive-In Church is parishioners’ ability to sing and respond to their heart’s content as their windshield is the perfect barrier to any misbehaving droplets they may have released! And to emphasize our sense of community, vehicles are dismissed in a fashion that creates a parade complete with honking, many smiles, and lots of waving.
Reading some of the feedback assures me the Holy Spirit is definitely at work among us, helping us to grow our faith during the pandemic. Here are a few:
“Sitting together, even though we were in our cars in the parking lot instead of the pews, brought me to unexpected joyful tears”.
“Seeing everyone’s faces as they came in the parking lot, experiencing musicians, readers, and our rector all in the same sacred space was a really uplifting spiritual event.”
“It was so nice to be back on Sunday and feel the ‘community’ again!”
And now when someone on the GRO taskforce has a new suggestion, others say, “Let’s give it a try, because what we’ve learned is we don’t know whether people will appreciate it or not until they’ve actually had the opportunity to experience it!”
If you’d like more information on the FM transmitter, antennae, and soundboard we’re using, or some help in getting your system set-up, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.