Honoka’a Corps holds drive-in church
Corps members practice social distancing while still meeting for Sunday worship.
Attendees of the Honoka’a (Hawaii) Corps on the Big Island’s northeast coast were able to congregate for worship March 22—they attended a drive-in church, led by Honoka’a Corps Ministry Leader Gary Todd.
“Most of the other islands in the Hawaiian chain are more restricted in terms of gatherings than the Big Island,” Todd said. Social distancing is recommended everywhere and a stay at home request is spreading across the islands. Many churches are using recorded media or live streaming to stay in touch with their congregations. Honoka’a is a country town where at least half of the population does not have media connections to receive these messages.”
The corps building has a wide lanai—an outdoor area where people can gather—on two sides suitable for the service. Todd knew he could move the chapel sound system to the lanai stairway. He just needed to get the word out that church was still on.
Todd sent a text message to congregation members, which gave people the necessary details and concluded with: “Hear prayer requests, testimonies and a gospel message to enrich you spiritually. Remain socially distant and be blessed this Sunday.”
Ten people came to the first drive-in worship—a significant number in the small town of 2,700 residents. Worship music filled the air, Todd said, and he preached a sermon on grace.
Todd got the idea for the drive-in church through a chance encounter while he was removing the Ohana Thrift Store sign; the store is temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. He ran into a fellow pastor who mentioned he planned to preach from his church’s lanai, and Todd realized he could also do this.
He plans to continue offering ministry and outreach. “For now the Honoka’a Thrift Store, prayer meeting and Bible study will remain closed, but the Sunday worship will continue and the Wednesday food pantry will remain open as part of The Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands emergency services and safety response,” he said.
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