During the COVID-19 pandemic, many things have changed from how students are educated to going out to eat.
But one area significantly altered was church worship.
According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, many churchgoers reported that their congregations have closed regular worship services to the public.
But congregations like Community of Grace Church in downtown Bennettsville have adjusted their way of worship for a temporary new normal.
Since the first Sunday in April, the congregation has met in the parking lot of the old Carl’s Food Center.
On Sunday mornings, the sounds of singing and praise were heard as 75 to 100 cars parked.
Pastor Eddie Davis said those numbers have always been there.
At the time, a whole lot of churches were not having services or going virtual.
“We decided to try the parking lot and the social distancing within the cars,” he said.
In addition to Community of Grace Church members, there are people from other church congregations in the county and North Carolina who come to the service.
The service starts at 10 a.m. with Davis keeping it at a little over an hour.
“It maintains everyone’s attention span,” he said. “We are able to do what we need to do.”
The service is just like a regular service with music, an offering and a message.
Davis noted singing is a big part of their worship experience.
“Our people love to sing and our people love to hear singing,” he said. “They love to sing along with the singing. It is songs, opportunities to give, preaching, blessing, and then go home.”
Davis hoped it was one way people can see some normalcy during the pandemic because at least once a week, people get to see other people.
“I think it is some type of normalcy for people to be able to see other people,” he said. “It is a place where they can meet and be in fellowship and be encouraged to live through this pandemic.”
As the weather continues to get cooler, Davis said he is seeking direction on what to do about the services.
“I am going to stay out in the parking lot as long as I can,” he said. “I am praying about a plan now.”
But Davis is optimistic that this is not the new normal for worship.
“I feel that we will eventually go back into the church,” he said. “I really do believe that and I believe it will come to pass real soon but until then it is what it is.”