It’s ‘worship on wheels’ at Bengaluru church under COVID-19 glare

The faithful took part in as many as six drive-in services

Published: 15th June 2020 04:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th June 2020 04:52 AM   |  A+A-

Members of Bethel AG Church International Worship Centre in Hebbal attend Mass in their vehicles. (Photo | Shriram BN, EPS)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The three-acre property of this Bengaluru church resembled a drive-in facility on Sunday as the faithful ‘gathered’ in their vehicles, to be physically present at the Eucharistic Celebration. Cars and bikes drove into the ground, masked passengers were thermal-screened and given sanitisers, and also handed over a hygienically pre-packaged communion element at the gate, which was consumed during the service. Vehicles occupied slots and the Mass began.

This is a new format that Bethel AG Church International Worship Centre, Hebbal, has tried out for attendees. “The church which started in 1997 has a floating population of worshippers who attend online, but there are many who would like to be physically present as coming together is part of our belief,” Johnson V, Pastor-in-charge of the centre, told The New Indian Express.

“This is the first time the church was attempting ‘worship on wheels’ . There was no trial run, but the church used a computer-based simulation for arranging the entry and exit of the vehicles,” Johnson said.
The church met after a gap of 13 weeks. “We made meticulous arrangements to ensure that all the government guidelines are followed and social distancing is maintained at all times,” Johnson added.

The church held six services altogether, two for bikers at 7am and 5pm, two for those with cars at 9am and 7pm, and also two for those walking in at 11am and 1pm.

“It was a 100% contactless service, the church is contemplating a similar service on Saturdays,” he said. For those above the age of 65 and below 10 who are disallowed from coming to the premises, the church continues to stream its service online to ensure they are safe at home. During lockdown, when services were taken online, the church saw participation from over 100 countries on their website.

Full Gospel Church slots for daily mass

At the Full Gospel Assemblies of God, Indiranagar and Kannuru, which has a congregation of 27,000, meticulous planning is under way to accommodate all members and maintain social distancing. Faithful are divided into 70 zones and asked to attend the specific service marked for them on the given day and time.

As many as 48 services are scheduled per week. At the church building, they will be thermal-scanned and sanitized. Founder and Senior Pastor Rev Paul Thangiah said the church has planned six services, Monday to Saturday, at 8 am, 10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, 4 pm and 6 pm and seven services on Sunday with an additional service at 6 am.


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