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Maryville church offers outdoor worship during pandemic

Bradley said the outdoor service is starting to attract visitors in addition to regulars.
St.  Andrew's Episcopal Church hosts a regular outdoor service during the pandemic
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church hosts a regular outdoor service during the pandemic(WVLT)
Published: Aug. 9, 2020 at 9:34 PM EDT
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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -As cars arrived at Mountain View Church of God near Maryville on Sunday morning, not everyone got out. Some, like Joe Medlin, chose to roll down their windows and stay in the car while others walked under the tent for worship.

Medlin was content with his Bible on his lap in the car, enjoying worship music and the message from the pastor.

“The preaching is fine. This preacher does a good job,” said Medlin.

Senior Pastor, the Reverend Randall VanHoose said he was willing to try an outdoor service again this summer because the church had free use of outdoor tents. The church had a previous outdoor service in the spring during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and VanHoose said he was open to the idea of more outdoor worship events if his congregation wanted them.

Music Minister Robert Haskins said with many elderly members in the church family, some had not been comfortable attending indoor events since the pandemic.

“These outdoor services have been a wonderful outlet for us to utilize. They’re able to come. They’re able to be a part of the atmosphere and the singing and the praise and worship and they’re able to take part in all that. Our church members are the backbone of our church. And we want to continue to strengthen and encourage them in every way possible, especially right now.”

In downtown Maryville, the 1871 Quaker meetinghouse now is the traditional place of worship for St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Yet, since early summer, part of the congregation has been meeting at 8:00 o’clock each Sunday morning on the lawn outside the building.

The Church Rector, the Reverend Amy Bradley said, “So there are people who are able to come and worship and be together outdoors that wouldn’t otherwise be able to be with us.” Three Sundays consist of a traditional prayer service, while one Sunday per month is an outdoor service of Holy Eucharist.

Church member Pam Miller said she chose to attend the outdoor service for the sake of health and because she loves the outdoors, “And I just look at the beauty of this world and I feel His words and His presence speaking to me.”

Bradley said the outdoor service is starting to attract visitors in addition to regulars. “We do have some people who have started visiting us because they know that we have an outdoor service. And they also know from seeing our website and our Facebook pages that we are taking the precautions that we’re taking.”

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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