MCBEE, S.C. (WIS) - As religious institutions turn to new technologies to stay connected and worship as the coronavirus spreads, communities like Beauford Baptist Church were left behind.
Not only does Beauford have fewer resources than larger churches, they also serve a predominately older and less technologically connected congregation.
Tim Williams is the Senior Pastor at Beauford and says many of his congregants don’t have smartphones, aren’t familiar with live streams, and don’t have internet access. And he says the majority of the people who attend his church are elderly, so they are at a higher risk of getting seriously or fatally ill from COVID-19, according to medical experts.
In fact, Williams recently canceled services to keep his community safe.
So, standing in the shadows of the church he has headed for 21 years, Williams found a new way to lead his community.
He called and texted his congregants and told them this week they would have a drive-through service in the church parking lot.
Adam Mintzer spent the morning at a church that has had to cancel services since the coronavirus outbreak started, but refused to do it again.
“People kept calling and asking how can we connect,” Williams said, “So we set up the equipment and started coming together, and we said, ‘this is a way community can connect.’”
The drive-through worked. About 40 people showed to pray Sunday morning, which Williams said is slightly more than they usually have each week.
“It brought it to me,” Karen Threatt, a member of the church said. “I don’t do a lot of socializing on the media. I’m one that goes and visits. That’s the way we are in this part of the country,” Threatt added.
Other churchgoers felt the drive-through service was better than watching a live stream from home.
“If you have something like this where you can bring people together it produces a better fellowship,” said Larry Howell.
At the end of the service, Williams said he enjoyed the experience and called it a success.
“It felt good to see each other in person, I felt good to speak with each other, it felt good to socialize even from a distance,” he said,
He now looks forward to next week if the weather holds up, and even using the same set up during larger service on Easter.
This way his community can safely sit away from each other, but to be together in prayer.