SEOUL, April 13 (Korea Bizwire) — At the height of the protracted outbreak of the novel coronavirus infection, so called “drive-in worship” services have emerged in the Christian community, garnering attention.
Onnuri Community Church, one of the leading Christian churches in South Korea with some 75,000 followers, held a drive-in service on Sunday and celebrated Easter with believers maintaining proper social distancing in their cars at an outdoor parking lot in Seocho District, Seoul.
Members of the church, who participated in the service from about 200 parked vehicles, tuned in to a temporarily licensed church radio channel.
The church said it could offer safe social distancing as believers listened to sermons through their own car radio in designated parking places.
It is estimated that 23 churches across the country held drive-in services on Easter.
The move to drive-in services is being made with the active cooperation of the government.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said on April 7 that it has permitted drive-in services to maintain social distancing and meet the demand for on-site religious activities.
The government temporarily allowed low power radio stations to be operated for churches wishing to offer drive-in services.
Until now, there have been cases in which low power radio stations have been licensed for on-site guidance for fairs and international film festivals.
However, the ministry reported that it has temporarily allowed people to have drive-in services to respect the social distancing guidelines enacted in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Drive-in services are the best way to keep the tradition of worship that is held together while maintaining social distancing without a high cost,” said Rev. Cho Hee-seo, the pastor of the Seoul City Church.
There are still obstacles to overcome, however, in order to spread the new trend of drive-in worship. Most churches do not have enough parking spaces to accommodate believers’ cars.
“If the government lends vacant lots such as parking lots at schools and public institutions, many churches will be able to participate in car services,” said another pastor who runs a small church.
D. M. Park (firstname.lastname@example.org)