Mapleview Community Church is evolving with the changing times.
The church in Barrie has moved some of its services to a new drive-in format through a Park and Praise program now being offered at 10 a.m. on Sundays.
“I think people are anxious to get back into a worship setting,” said Pastor Jay Davis. “It’s very different than what they’re used to. We’re learning as we’re going. Everybody is just so excited to see each other, honking horns and celebrating. The worship service on Sunday is, for many, a key moment in the life of their faith. It’s really special.”
Mapleview Community Church has been in Barrie for 23 years, with Davis at the helm for all that time as part of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.
“My wife and I actually began the church,” he said.
When COVID-19 restrictions first came into effect back in March, Davis said it was a fairly seamless transition for the church to move to online-only services, as they already had a decent online presence and had been streaming services for about eight years.
“We’ve been doing two livestreams, at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to try to mimic our Sunday services,” he said. “Like many, coming into some of the nicer weather now... and many, I think are getting screen fatigue. About three weeks ago when the provincial government allowed parking lot services to resume, we decided we would begin with that.”
When the church decided to switch one of their Sunday services to Park and Praise, Davis said the church took many precautions to stay in line with social distancing rules.
He said most patrons stay in their vehicles, and the Eucharists are individually wrapped and sanitized. Lyrics to any songs of worship are texted to attendees and posted on the church’s Instagram page.
The church’s float, typically used for parades, is now used for band members and singers who are also socially distanced.
In the two weeks it’s been running, Park and Praise has been a hit with about 130 attendees the first week, and about 150 the second week.
“For the most part, I think all the people who attended today were a good example. There were a few people who got out of their cars, but most stayed in their cars,” said Davis. “It went really well. It was safe and secure.”
Davis said plans are in place to continue Park and Praise throughout the summer months.
“On rainy days, this could be a bit tricky in the field,” he said. “We’re just trying to honour the Lord’s day the best we can with the people and equipment we have. It’s a beautiful expression of what we can do.”
Park and Praise runs at Mapleview Community Church in Barrie on Sundays at 10 a.m.