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Coronavirus: ‘Symbolic day’ as worshippers attend drive-in churches


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Coronavirus: ‘Symbolic day’ as worshippers attend drive-in churches

Image copyright PACEMAKER Image caption The congregation of Dunseverick Baptist Church in Bushmills attended a service in their cars on Sunday Church services in Northern Ireland have changed.This weekend, congregations didn’t gather in buildings – but car parks.It’s after the Stormont Executive relaxed coronavirus lockdown restrictions and allowed worshippers to gather in their vehicles.Churches recently…

Coronavirus: ‘Symbolic day’ as worshippers attend drive-in churches

Dunseverick Baptist Church in BushmillsImage copyright
PACEMAKER

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The congregation of Dunseverick Baptist Church in Bushmills attended a service in their cars on Sunday

Church services in Northern Ireland have changed.

This weekend, congregations didn’t gather in buildings – but car parks.

It’s after the Stormont Executive relaxed coronavirus lockdown restrictions and allowed worshippers to gather in their vehicles.

Churches recently reopened for people to pray privately, with appropriate social distancing and the cleaning of shared-contact hard surfaces.

But drive-in services are permitted, as long as people stay in their cars.

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PACEMAKER

Image caption

The service was led by Pastor Billy Jones, who said it was a “symbolic day”

A number of drive-in sermons took place on Sunday, like the one at Dunseverick Baptist Church outside Bushmills in County Antrim.

An orchestrated beeping of horns got proceedings under way.

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Worshippers were able to attend church from the comfort of their cars

This definitely wasn’t your typical Sunday at church.

The service was led by Pastor Billy Jones who said the day was hugely symbolic.

“Yes, I know socially isolating in our own cars, but the fact that we can come to one place together to worship God means an important amount to many, many people,” he said.

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PACEMAKER

Image caption

Drive-in services are permitted in Northern Ireland, as long as people stay in their cars

Several members of the congregation spoke of the service symbolising “light at the end of the tunnel”.

Another said: “We don’t need a church because the people are the church, but it’s just lovely to come together again.”

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It wasn’t the first drive-in service at Dunseverick Baptist Church. In previous summers it has staged similar services for tourists. Now it was for necessity, not novelty.

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It was all smiles as the congregation got back to church

About 100 vehicles lined up in front of the outdoor stage where Pastor Jones delivered his service, helped by two powerful speakers.

Worshippers sat with their car windows down amid plenty of waves, smiles and sing-a-longs.

This event isn’t likely to be a one-off. Pastor Jones says he is happy to facilitate other drive-ins until the congregation can once again gather inside.

After an hour, an orderly queue of cars formed for the exit.

For the 200 or so present, it was a return to some kind of normality.

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