HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — At the Christian Tabernacle Baptist Church the love and fellowship has has remained as strong as ever- throughout the pandemic.
The only difference: going to Sunday service is now an outdoor experience right from the church’s parking lot.
Senior pastor Keith King said, “many of our members I discovered were isolated and getting depressed, young people and seniors, so being able to fellowship together, to stay together, to gather together and encourage each other was really important.”
Senior pastor Keith King calls the Sunday morning service “Parking and Praise.”
With COVID restrictions in place for most of last year, and the sanctuary inside unavailable, pastor King began the outdoor services last August.
For parishioners like Claudette Beamon, at a time when COVID was claiming thousands of lives every day, being able to worship together was a gift.
“We were really getting something important around hope and forgiveness, and love and peace, and helping people alleviate the worries and fears we had about what was happening around us and all around the world,” said church member, Claudette Beamon.
These outdoor services have gained in popularity over the months, and not only on beautiful days like today, but also when conditions aren’t exactly perfect outside.
Some of those Sundays were a bit of a challenge.
“There was one particular Sunday, when it was 36 degrees and I said ‘let me see if people are still interested in worshipping God outside and surely they came out in great numbers because I think the fellowship was important,” said senior pastor King.
It didn’t take long for church members to figure out how important it is to arrive on time on Sunday morning, or better yet, a couple of hours early to beat the crowd.
“I park on the street and I sit there right in the front in my chair,” said church member, John Knox.
Like many congregations- Christian Tabernacle’s service has also been available online during the pandemic.
But, longtime church deacon Clinton Robinson tells News 8 that although technology is great, there’s something special about being together as a church family in-person.
“I prefer the outside, you get a chance to be with nature and maybe spread the word to neighbors,” said deacon Robinson, “they can hear us, they can’t see us when we’re inside, now they can actually hear us…we’re planting seeds and maybe they’ll want to join the church and God’s team.”