Bethel AG Church International Worship Centre in Bangalore hosted a drive-in Sunday mass for its parishioners in order to maintain the rules of social distancing, while continuing operations, during the COVID-19 catastrophe. The concept, termed Worship on Wheels, was the church’s initiative to conduct contact-less mass for its congregations after two and a half months of lockdown. The service had a turnout of 260 cars and 85 bikes, according to church authorities.
Hundreds attend ‘Worship on Wheels’, a drive-in Sunday prayer service that took place in Bethel AG Church International Worship Centre, Hebbal, Bengaluru. pic.twitter.com/H94PlJdygX
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) June 14, 2020
Worshipers parked their vehicles in a three-acre plot, named Temple of God, adjacent to the Bethel AG church. The mass was divided into three batches and six services – two each for the congregation in cars, in bikes and those using public transport or pedestrians, who were seated inside the church (to avoid overcrowding). To further hinder the contamination, a six-feet distance between each vehicle and its seated passengers was regulated by volunteers. “Church-goers will be able to attend the service from the comfort and safety of their vehicles while ensuring that they adhere to the guidelines of social distancing,” said the church on its website.
In the last twelve weeks, Bethel AG Church broadcasted daily devotions and Sunday mass on their website and social media sites (Facebook and YouTube). As the norms of lockdown were eased by the government of India, ‘Worship on Wheels’ was Bethel AB Church’s strategic attempt to unite their parishioner. The service was telecast on multiple LED screens and speakers hoisted outside the church, for its worshipers who prayed from the comfort of their automobiles. It was also streamed online for those unable to attend.
Watch Prayer in the time of Covid via Bethel AG Church International Worship Centre on Facebook
The Church set up thermal scanners and sanitizers for the worshipers. They were mandated to wear masks inside their cars, have their windows rolled down, and their mobile phones switched off. To ensure safety protocols, all other common touch-points such as toilets, canteens and resource centers were kept off-limits. Those below the age of 10 and above the age 65 (children and elderly) were also not permitted for the service, instead were offered live streaming of the Mass on their website.
Volunteers distributed pre-packaged communion elements (sacramental wine and bread) for those who partook in the Holy Communion service. Similarly, offering boxes were set up at the gates for devotees wishing to donate. “Our Worship on Wheels service will bring us together and at the same time, ensure that we honor the safety instructions given by the government. We have procured all the necessary permissions required to arrange the service and are ensuring that it will be 100 per cent contactless,” said Reverend Johnson V, Pastor-in-charge at Bethel AJ Church.
Bangalore city police were in attendance to ensure the regulations and guidelines of the government were followed.
Many churches across the globe have implemented drive-in Mass for its devotees during the pandemic. Chalons En Champagne in France; Moyvanne in Northern Ireland, Marshfield in Wisconsin, United States of America, Auckland in New Zealand are few of cities who eased the religious obligations of its churchgoers amidst the norms of physical distancing.
Featured Image Via Canva