The COVID-19 pandemic may have forced churches to radically adjust their standard operating procedures but for Redcliffe Uniting Church there are some things that still require a safe in-person experience. Ben Rogers reports.
Most people are used to getting hamburgers or fried chicken from a drive-through but with COVID-19 forcing everyone to innovate and develop creative solutions to meet safety directives, Redcliffe Uniting Church turned to the drive-through service option to continue offering communion.
For Redcliffe’s minister Rev Paul Clark drive-through communion was inspired by the need to find a safe way to include the vulnerable in the worship experience.
“Our church personally cares for something like one per cent of the Redcliffe population, and many of them are older,” says Paul. “As we returned to our building we didn’t want those who are vulnerable and staying home to feel left out, so enabling them to watch online and then drive through for the final part just made sense.
“I appreciated providing the opportunity to people who are currently isolating from crowds for their own health. Worship is really central to who we are as churches—the word ‘church’ derives from the Greek word for ‘gathering’, so for a church not to be able to gather goes to our core identity.”
While a smaller number of members decided to use the drive-through option, those that did attend were thankful for the innovative and safe approach to worship.
“Those that made use of the service were glad to be able to come out, but also to have been thought of,” says Paul.
While Redcliffe returned to face-to-face worship on 2 August, their online church services have opened a new chapter for expanding their audience well beyond the Redcliffe region.
“We’ve got people from Victoria, Western Australia, North Queensland and New South Wales joining us each Sunday,” confirms Paul. “The church has been wondering how to grow our audience, especially with younger people; God threw us a curve ball that makes it happen.
“People have really appreciated the online communion. There is a sense of intimacy as people are right ‘in the front row’ of communion.”
And for those churches considering following the route of Redcliffe’s drive-through communion Paul’s advice is clear: “Go for it! Make sure your team and church council are all on board and part of making it happen.”