As the state starts to re-open, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has allowed drive-in church services to take place which started last Friday. While some leaders are thankful for the efforts made to try to get the faith-based community together during this pandemic, they say drive-in services are not conducive for many churches. Part of the reason is the lack of parking spaces.

But there is one church in East Honolulu that will be doing drive-in services. King’s Chapel Oahu says it has a large parking lot and it’s one of the certified drive-though food distributors for the Hawaii Food Bank. The church also has the capability to air their services over the radio.

“Of course we will park them quite a few distances away from each other,” said Pastor Joshua Marocco of King’s Chapel Oahu. “We are feeling like we need to take advantage of this moment. There’s a lot of people in this current moment, they are in isolation. They need to get out. They need to be a part of a particular experience.”

In the Mayor’s order, there are limitations to distributing food, beverages, or materials during the drive-in service. Reverend Larry Silva, Bishop of Honolulu, said in a statement:
“We have been working with government officials to see that we can reopen our churches as soon as possible, with social distancing, controlled numbers of attendees, masks, and sanitizing protocols. While I know Mayor Caldwell is trying to be diligent about the health of our community, and am happy to see restrictions for gatherings for worship are going to be eased, the “in-vehicle” services, especially with the prohibition of distributing anything, simply is not what is needed for Catholic worship. At the heart of our service, the Eucharist is receiving Holy Communion, and people have been longing for this communion with the Lord. Having people “attend” a service from their vehicles when they are prohibited from receiving Communion is of little value to us. People would be much more comfortable viewing a live-stream from home if they could not receive Communion. We are working toward responsibly getting people back into church, so that they can receive Communion during the celebration of the Eucharist. I hope that, just as restaurants are soon to be open with proper protocols, we will be able to open our churches VERY SOON to celebrate in a way that respects our own religious practices.”

“The majority of churches gather together, our reason for coming is the community, not just information,” said Pastor Waxer Tipton of One Love Ministries.

Pastor Waxer tells us the sense of community is a crucial need for people during this time. Like many churches, they’re preparing a strategy to re-open when that time comes. At One Love, rows of chairs are pulled apart to create six feet of distance, and members will be wearing masks. Kupuna, people with underlying medical conditions, and families with small children would be encouraged to remain at home and watch church services online for the time being.

“We want to follow every rule that we would if we were asked to go into any other store or business,” he said. But allow people to have that human interaction which is lacking and desperately needed right now.”