precautions to take while traveling and strict guidelines on social distancing and hand washing. For essential errands, it suggests drive-through services at banks and pharmacies and curbside pickups of food and supplies.
Large gatherings are not permitted under stay-at-home orders in many states and countries, but some churches have been able to conduct services that cater to worshipers in their cars. The Genoa Baptist Church in Westerville, Ohio, calls it “Come as you are, but stay in your car.”
The church offers at least two avenues for worshipers — they can stream the service online or drive up and park.
“Is anyone here today for the very first time, will you toot your horn?” the pastor, Frank Carl, said during a May 17 sermon. He was speaking from a scissor-lift platform customarily used by construction workers to tower over the parking lot.
A few car horns sounded.
“Now Genoa, let’s make them feel welcome!” he said, and the rest of the faithful pressed their car horns in unison.
In an interview, Pastor Carl said he started delivering parking lot sermons on March 15, and was considering adding a fourth Sunday sermon because they have become so popular. The parking lot holds 600 cars, he said, and sometimes there are more spilling over onto the street.
“For families with younger children, they feel like they have been out of their house,” he said. “They feel like they have gone somewhere, even though they can’t get out and mingle.”
“Sometimes there are cars parked around the building where they can’t even see me but they can hear it,” he said. “People come together, but separate, in cars. There is an emotional and social element that is being filled this way.”