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Charleston church holds drive-in communion, expects similar holiday plans

Charleston-Huntington WSAZ-TV logo Charleston-Huntington WSAZ-TV 11/21/2020 Kim Rafferty
a person taking a selfie: The church makes plans for worship during the holidays amid spiking COVID cases. © Provided by Charleston-Huntington WSAZ-TV The church makes plans for worship during the holidays amid spiking COVID cases.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - It was not the cooler weather that kept Martha Hill and the congregation at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in their cars for worship Friday night; it was the spike in COVID cases in Kanawha County.

“It is just really nice to see people in the flesh. I mean, you can’t hug and you can’t touch but at least you can see each other,” Hill said.

St. Mark’s United Methodist Church and those involved in the planning of the their holiday events are finding creative ways to worship together.

Hill and her friends have to settle for waving through car windows. They tune in on the radio to hear the Rev. Cindy Briggs-Biondi’s sermon.

“We are very used to having communion every week at St. Mark’s, so when the virus hit and we were unable to get together for communion, it was extremely difficult for us,” Hill said.

The congregation is doing the next best thing -- a drive-in communion with to-go style bread and wine packages.

“Want to take care of our community,” Briggs-Biondi said. ”We don’t want to become a vector for spreading COVID.”

As she prepares for the Christmas season, she knows worship likely will not take place inside.

“We are probably going to do some parking lot drive-in Christmas Eve worship similar to this, but a little bit more special for Christmas,” Briggs-Biondi said.

The outdoor services are held Fridays, while church services and most gatherings affiliated with St. Mark’s Church are done by video conferencing and live streams.

“We do Zoom devotions every night so we have stayed connected through all this. It is just really nice to see people in the flesh,” Hill said.

Briggs-Biondi had hoped for some sort of in-person service for Christmas.

“I had been hoping we might be able to do some sort of Christmas, something inside for Christmas Eve, but we know that is just not a smart idea,” she said. “So we’re pivoting.”

Briggs-Biondi said they will hold Christmas Day services virtually, just as they do for Sunday services each week during the pandemic.

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