Holding church services drive-in style amid COVID-19

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church has been holding its weekly services in the church parking lot to help keep parishioners socially distanced amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

SALAMANCA — At St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Sunday services have been held in the parking lot — drive-in style — ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These casual and almost picnic-like services are enjoyed by most of the congregation, especially on a sunny day.

The Rev. Michael Lonto augments these services with a weekly newsletter sent to each parishoner’s home. These contain the weekly Bible readings, important church news and the names of those in need of prayer.

During the outdoor services, Jon Wilder assists with the readings and leads everyone in song. Matthew Lonto provides accompaniment on a portable keyboard.

Christine Lonto distributed bags of hymnals and prayer books for each family to take possession of until the pandemic is over and church goers can return to their beloved house of prayer.

This week, Lonto announced that he has received information from the Bishop outlining the guidelines for returning to normal indoor services. The vestry will meet this week to discuss how these regulations might be met.

During each service at St. Mary’s, a current birthday is celebrated. This past week, the congregation wished Happy Birthday to Lonto.