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The House Hilo offers drive-through prayer, blessings amid COVID-19 lockdown

As Gov. David Ige’s stay-at-home order continues through April, churches have not been immune to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most churches have been closed for about four weeks and have limited services to online only. Many of these services can be viewed live or afterward on church websites and social media.

The House Hilo has put services online as well as offered drive-through prayers and blessings every Sunday for the past month. Members and passersby can drive into the parking lot to pray with church leadership and receive blessings without ever leaving their car.

“We thought it would be a good way to connect with people while our building is closed,” said Pastor Tom Smith. “We’re showing people that you can receive Christ anywhere.”

Although there was a slow start, more people have driven through the parking lot to pray and receive blessings each week. Easter Sunday was the best turnout, with a parking lot full of cars there to hear Smith’s sermon, which was also posted online.

Driving to the church and seeing leadership just for a minute has been a way to break the monotony and help people through this hard time. It also helps people who might not have the ability to watch video of the services online.

“I think giving people access to prayer outside of the internet is important,” said church member Sheilla Villena. “Many people can’t get on the internet or watch the live streams, so driving through gives them another option.”

With a sign on the side of Kanoelehua Avenue, nonmembers have been able to slow down and drive up for a prayer.

“We’re here for anyone that needs us,” Smith said. “Some people just need to see and connect with someone in front of them.”

Outside drive-through prayer and livestreams, The House Hilo has worked to connect members to services to help them through this time of staying at home. Volunteers have helped drop off groceries and pick up trash for older members.

“It’s so hard and I’m missing my church family,” said church member Judy Arruda. “I am happy to be able to be here next to the church and see people from the car, but I am really missing the love and hugs.”

Email Kelsey Walling at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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