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Drive-in 'songs of praise' in Sutton St James could see two beeps of the car horn for 'Amen'




With churchgoers still unable to enjoy singing hymns inside their churches due to COVID-19, a special ‘drive-in songs of praise’ will be held this Sunday.

Rev Michael Ongyerth, the Rector of the Benefice of the Elloe Fen Group, which includes six churches, has organised the event in the grounds of the Sutton St James church hall.

With space for up to 40 cars, people will be able to enjoy the service with social distancing in place and sing to their hearts’ content within their own vehicles.

Reverend Michael Ongyerth. (41230837)
Reverend Michael Ongyerth. (41230837)

Mr Ongyerth said: “Because we cannot sing in churches it takes a lot of joy out of worship. We will be having a joint service the day before Bank Holiday. People will be able to sit in their cars with the window up and sing. We don’t know what will happen with upcoming events, such as Remembrance Sunday, Harvest festivals and Christmas.

“The cars will be socially distanced and we will be following Test and Trace. It is for people to have a chance to have a joyful afternoon singing.

“I will be doing six readings and there will be six hymns, including ‘Lord, for the Years.’

“It’s the first time we’ve done this but there have been one or two throughout the country. They have a code such as two beeps of the horn for ‘Amen’ or starting the windscreen wipers.

“One Catholic guy hosed the cars down with water at the end as a blessing but I won’t be doing that. That might be a step too far for Sutton St James!”

Mr Ongyerth added: “Churches have been hit quite hard during the lockdown and we have not been able to have our flower festivals.”

“It’s the first time we’ve done this but there have been one or two throughout the country. They have a code such as two beeps of the horn for ‘Amen’ or starting the windscreen wipers."

Explaining how the drive-in service will work, he said: “We will have a keyboard player inside the church hall and a PA system outside. The order of service is being emailed to each individual member to print out at home.

“Church services are now shortened services and of course we cannot do the bread and wine. Instead, individual pieces of the toast are handed out with tongs.

“Everybody has to be masked up. Some people are quite reluctant to come back so I have been recording a ‘podcast’ and emailing it over.”

The drive-in songs of praise will be held at 5pm on Sunday.



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