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'A lot of tears': Durham pastor says drive-in church service was emotional

The attendees have to keep their car windows up or wear masks if their windows are down.

Posted Updated

Mikaya Thurmond
, WRAL anchor/reporter
DURHAM, N.C. — While most local churches have turned to YouTube and social media to livestream their Sunday services, others are starting to offer drive-in sermons.

Jonathan Barbee, lead pastor at Bethesda Baptist Church, said dozens showed up to his second ever "drive-in" church service on Sunday morning.

Sunday's service included live music and worship. "Folks can come into our parking lot, separated by 6 feet, and worship together," Barbee said.

Barbee said Durham County leaders gave the church permission to host the service. The attendees have to keep their car windows up or wear masks if their windows are down. The church has a transmitter that allows the cars to tune into a radio station -- 90.9 -- to listen to the sermon.

"I think that's the biggest thing for us," Barbee said. "Just a way for people to be together. Whether it is separated by 6 feet and the windows may be up. It's a way to feel like they're with the body."

Church members like Sarah Layton said they love the idea.

"Right now, in this world, we can’t get out and we can’t see people like we used to," Layton said. "It’s a really great way to be able to get out and not expose yourself."

Until the church doors are back open, this drive-in service may be a new normal that allows fellowship from a distance.

"I definitely see a lot of tears," Barbee said. "Just simply seeing each other through a car window was very moving to them."

Bethesda Baptist's first drive-in service was on Easter Sunday. Church leaders are still deciding whether they will host another this week.


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