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Church hosts first drive-in worship service
A HAMPSHIRE church will host its first ever drive-in worship service, with a vicar leading worship in a car park.
Worshippers from St Barnabas Church, Swanmore, will gather in the car park of Swanmore Village Hall from 10am on Sunday 5 July for a ‘Songs of Praise’-style service in their cars. It will be the first drive-in service in the Diocese of Portsmouth, and is thought to be one of the first such services across the UK.
Because that day is also the first Sunday on which the government is allowing public worship to happen in church buildings, there will also be a simple, traditional Communion service at 8am that morning inside St Barnabas Church itself. Although the government is yet to produce detailed guidelines about such public worship services, the church is preparing to offer places for up to 15 households, who can attend and remain social distanced.
Those churchgoers and others will then head in their cars to the village hall car park, where the vicar – the Rev Claire Towns – will lead the drive-in service from 10am.
Participants will have been asked to book places beforehand, and also to choose which hymns and songs they would like to sing. Musician Peter Fellows will lead the singing from an electrical piano, and the Rev Claire Towns will lead the service using microphones and a PA system. Worshippers will be asked to sing within their cars with members of their own household.
The Rev Claire Towns said: “We decided that we wanted to offer people the chance to sing, as that is an important part of Christian worship. Our assumption is that the government guidelines will prohibit singing in churches, at least to start with, so we thought we would offer a drive-in service that revolved around singing – as well as our first act of public worship in the church itself.
“I’m sure we’ll all be able to hear each other singing, so that will help us to feel a real sense of community. For people in the village, it’s another sign that the church is at the heart of this community.”
St Barnabas Church has been offering live-streamed worship services during the lockdown, and has opened the church to villagers and others so they can pray privately at various times over the past two weeks.
Participants can be emailed the lyrics and prayers used in the drive-in service beforehand, or they will be accessible via the St Barnabas Facebook page. For more information see www.facebook.com/StBarnabasSwanmore/.
Church Road, Swanmore, SO32 2PA