ATLANTA — A big part of going to church or any other house of worship is the fellowship with other believers. But, as many move away from in-person, toward online services during the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the rituals and customs just can't be done as normal.
That's why Pastor Steven Dial of the Rainbow Park Baptist Church in DeKalb County found some new ways to keep his congregation connected to their faith and to each other.
For many Christians, missing church is bad enough.
"To not be able to see them, to shake their hand, things of that nature is difficult for a person," said Pastor Dial.
So, having to miss out on sacred traditions, like communion is even worse.
Pastor Dial said it was divine inspiration from God that led to an idea that would make the changes resulting from COVID-19, a little easier to bear.
"I know how important communion is to the believers and especially with this becoming Palm Sunday and then Holy Week," explained Pastor Dial. "We just figured out how can we make sure people can still participate in Holy Communion and I said, 'Well let’s just mail them out and deliver them so that everyone can get it'."
Rainbow Park shipped and delivered communion to about 335 members and friends of the church, and they were able to take it together Sunday morning as Pastor Dial streamed his sermon online.
Members liked it so much, they took and shared pictures from the experience.
Rainbow Park had already been streaming services and holding meetings online for several weeks, but Pastor Dial said this delivery of communion was a way to get creative and adjust to what's going on.
He said that while the methods may have changed, the message remains the same.
"People should strengthen their faith in God," said Pastor Dial. "I think that, during this time of sheltering in place, while we’re doing social distance, I think it’s a time for everyone to deepen a relationship with God in such a way that when we come out of this, our faith will be stronger."
The new communion isn’t the only change. Pastor Dial said Rainbow Park will hold its first drive-in service to celebrate Easter.
They got permission from the governor's office and worked with them for guidelines on how to do it safely.