DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – As the coronavirus forced the faith community to worship online, the Antioch Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood is still working to keep members safely connected behind masked, but smiling faces.
“Yes, it’s crisis,” says Pastor Chris Wesley. “But for us, crisis has kind of birthed creativity.”
They call it, “Drive-Thru Thursdays.”
Every week since in-person worship was prohibited, the church has rallied to provide support and still remain connected to members, especially their so-called ‘senior saints’ who may be less comfortable with the technology required to communicate online.
“It’s different,” admits Floyd Turner. “I can’t follow that machine, not too good.”
So the church has worked to connect both safely in person, and through the drive-thru effort which always has cars lining up early and with good reason.
“The connection is really important,” says Cheryl Wesley, Director of Community Services, Missions & Outreach. “We are called ‘Antioch Fellowship’ and when we are not together, we miss that!”
And Bessie Harris, a member for some 25 years, was quick to agree.
“That’s right!” says Harris from the safety of her car, “I miss them hugs. I miss someone walking up telling me how much they love me! I miss all that!”
And yet Harris say she will do what is necessary for as long as it is necessary to avoid exposure to the lethal coronavirus.
“Church isn’t cancelled, it’s changing,” says Pastor Chris Wesley of how his leadership and congregation are adapting. “People coming from all over, from all walks of life to come and get prayer, pick up food, just wave and see some smiling faces outside the house.”
Some drove through to drop off donations, grab a hot dog or virtual hug.
It’s all evidence, they say, of ministry that’s gone beyond the building.
“We went to one person and she didn’t know we were coming and she said just the day before she had gone to a food bank, but it was closed,” says Cheryl Wesley. “She didn’t want to call the church for help. But, the church went to her. And that confirms that we are doing what we are supposed to do in this hour.”
Although stay at home restrictions have been eased, Antioch will continue to stream Sunday services on line to help members stay safe.
“One thing about it, I don’t have to worry about nothing, because I know my family members here at church got me, got my back, going to take care of me! So it is wonderful,” says Harris.