North Carolina pastor holds services at drive-in to avoid coronavirus

A pastor at a North Carolina church held Sunday services at a drive-in theater due to coronavirus social distancing practices, according to a report.

Instead of preaching at the Harriet Baptist Church in Henderson, Pastor Will Breedlove took to an outdoor stage for the second-straight Sunday at the Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre, where parishioners honked their horns in praise, the News & Observer reports.

“I just wanted to be able to gather and keep people safe,” Breedlove told the newspaper prior to an 11 a.m. service.

Although attendance was capped at 50 worshipers, Breedlove’s earlier service at 9:30 a.m. was packed. Among other precautions, church volunteers directed drivers to park in every other spot and to listen to Breedlove’s service using their radios with windows rolled up, the newspaper reports.

“It’s very hard to be Southern Baptist and not be hugging,” Stephanie Gupton, who attended the unorthodox service with her husband, Jimmie, told the newspaper. “But we’re following the rules.”

Breedlove, who lives in Henderson, approached the owner of the theater — which opened in 1949 as the Moon-Glo — to inquire about paying to host services there amid the growing coronavirus outbreak.

But owner Mike Frank turned down that proposal, prompting the pastor to offer the services of church members to rebuild a wooden stage in front of a mammoth screen at the drive-in.

Breedlove, meanwhile, delivered a message from the Book of Job during his service, which also included hymns by performers who stood 6 feet apart, according to the newspaper.

“Its easy to praise God’s holy name in the good times,” Breedlove said. “We learn from Job to praise God even when times are bad.”

One couple who attended Sunday’s service just hours before showings of “Sonic the Hedgehog” said they held hands throughout the entire uplifting sermon.

“It builds me back up,” Jackie Hoyle told the newspaper. “And gives me the strength to go forward.”

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