The Salvation Army’s York, Pa., Citadel Corps posted worship services on Facebook Live throughout the COVID–19 shutdown, but access to a computer was a problem for some people.
“We wanted to give them an opportunity to worship with us,” said Major Dennis Camuti, the corps officer in York. “We didn’t want them to be left out simply because they didn’t have a computer.”
On the last Sunday in May—Pentecost Sunday—Major Camuti got permission from the PENDEL Division to hold a “drive–in church” in the corps parking lot. Another drive–in service followed on June 7. About 25 to 30 people attended each service.
Corps staffers carefully marked parking spots to comply with social distancing guidelines. They also provided chairs for people who wanted to sit outside their cars.
Camuti and his wife, Major Erma Camuti, led the services with the help of Lieutenant Staci Ferreira, the assistant corps officer in York. They spoke into a microphone and sound system, which staffers had brought outside and positioned behind a simple table with a white covering. An open Bible sat atop the table.
The services included many aspects of regular ones that happen inside the church, such as a welcome, announcements, a call to worship, Scripture reading, congregational singing, praise & worship, prayer, and a sermon.
Major Erma preached the first week and Major Dennis the second week, both on the Holy Spirit and its impact on people and churches.
“It worked out quite well,” Major Dennis said. “It really was borne out of a desire to see the congregation again and do it in a way that wouldn’t subject them to any real danger.
“The people who chose to come out were happy and excited to see one another again. I think it was therapeutic for them and for us. I think everyone was pleased and it was a positive experience.”
The corps continued to post on Facebook Live and drew 75 views the first week and 91 the second. The York area was close to resuming in-person services in early June.
Major Dennis said he sees a silver lining around the COVID-19 cloud.
“I think folks recognized how much they need one another,” he said. “They appreciate the fellowship more than perhaps they did before the COVID situation impacted us. That’s a positive sign.
“I’m hoping people are using the time to get into the Word and expand their devotional life. I’m hoping they’re thinking about spiritual things as they find themselves having significantly more free time than they had prior to COVID.”
by Robert Mitchell