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As Springfield Churches Evaluate Safety, Hybrid Options Begin To Emerge

 

As Missouri lifts restrictions on public gatherings, churches face a choice to hold in-person services or keep them online. One Springfield church is trying a creative compromise.

 

Redeemer Lutheran Church has two campuses; one in Springfield and one in Nixa.   When authorities issued a stay-at-home order, the church transitioned to online worship. But for the last few weeks, it’s offered a drive-in service.

On Sunday mornings, cars line up in the church’s Springfield branch parking lot to listen to music and hear sermons without leaving their vehicles. The church broadcasts services using an AM radio frequency that worshipers tune into using their car radios.

 

Stephen Moser is the associate pastor at Redeemer. He said the services are designed to be as safe as possible. Cars are expected to park nine feet apart, and communion and offering are put on hold to avoid chances for germs to spread. The pastor uses a podium to deliver sermons. 

 

“There’s something different about being there and being live and seeing someone up front, leading you in worship, that you just can’t get online,” Moser said.

 

The church plans to transition to in-person services in the coming weeks. But there will still be restrictions to keep churchgoers as safe as possible, including “socially distanced” services. Moser said his church will still offer online and drive-in options in addition to the regular service.

 

Ricky Herman, a college student who’s a member of the church, said the option to go to a drive-in service will bring members of the church closer together.

 

“You feel like you’re not doing everything alone," he told KSMU. "You feel like, 'Hey, there’s people that understand what I’m doing and why I’m doing it,’ and it’s honestly an amazing sense of community.”

Josh Conaway is a graduate of Missouri State University with a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in International Affairs. He works as a news reporter and announcer at KSMU. His favorite part of the job is exploring the rich diversity of the Ozarks and meeting people with interesting stories to share. He has a passion for history and running.