People’s United Methodist Church in South Thomaston held a “drive-in” service Sunday, March 22.

The Reverend Michelle Wiley did not allow the CDC guidelines to keep her parish from holding services this weekend.

The idea for a drive-in service began when Wiley saw another church group holding a meeting outside in lawn chairs, she said. “They were in a circle with at least six to eight feet between them.”

South Thomaston’s Emergency Response Officer said she was concerned about people still having contact with lawn chairs, so she told Wiley they could have the service “if everyone attending remained in their cars and only worship leaders came to the mic.”

Wiley set up a music stand, microphone, amplifier and speaker outside in the driveway. Church-goers parked in a circle around her, “noses in, where we could all see and… hear, too,” said Susan Jones, Music Director.

The service began with hymns, with an electric Clavinova piano for accompaniment.

Fred Newcomb read the scripture.

Jones said Reverand Wiley spoke about community and checking in with fellow citizens, and encouraged those in attendance to “get outdoors and get some vitamin D.”

During the service, Jones said members were “encouraged to blink our headlights, holler ‘Amen!’ out the windows and to bang lightly on our car roof.”

Jones said they do not have permission yet from South Thomaston and neighbors to honk their horns during the service.

Wiley said she might encourage attendees to bring bells to ring next week.

The service was less than an hour, and Jones said they did not take an offering, but “parishioners were encouraged to mail their offerings during this time.”

“For a first attempt at this, I think it went great,” Wiley said. “We had no real time to advertise. Twenty people by word of mouth I think is great. Hopefully we'll have more people join us this Sunday.”

People’s United Methodist Church will hold services in this manner for at least one more week, according to Jones, “depending on the recommendations of our District Superintendents.”

Wiley described herself as, “a low tech pastor who is on a very fast track learning curve on how to pastor to our church members and the community via Facebook, Zoom, YouTube, etc.”

Wiley is also the pastor of John Street United Methodist Church in Camden and the Called Preacher for the Finnish Congregational Church in South Thomaston.

She has been ministering to her congregants through the internet for a week now.

Wiley said, “We are demonstrating a new way to be community by offering drive-in worship. Come as you are, bring your coffee or tea, perhaps your breakfast, and see others of faith connecting in new ways.”

Wiley said her other parishes are in discussion of how to proceed.