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Triumph Church reaches out to parishioners with drive-in service

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

Southfield — A line of cars filed into a parking lot on Sunday as men dressed in bright hazard vests directed traffic into rows facing a big screen. 

Like a drive-in movie, people lined up their cars for church service at Triumph Church’s north campus in Southfield. 

A sermon is broadcast in the parking lot at Triumph Church North Campus in Southfield on Sunday. The church is streaming their services on Facebook Live, radio station and for some, services are playing on the large screen where parishioners watch from their cars.

Triumph started holding the drive-in services Sunday for members who wanted to attend service but still practice social distancing after the governor said there would be no penalty for houses of worship with gatherings of more than 50 people. 

“This is not a time that the church should shrink from spiritual responsibility,” said Solomon Kinloch Jr., the pastor for 22 years at Triumph.

Hundreds of cars were parked at the drive-in services forthree sermons: 8:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. About 300 parishioners watched a screen while listening to the sermons on their radios on 87.9 FM. 

"I'm using precautions but I'm not allowing it to jeopardize my lifestyle," said Oron Walker, 51. "You don't want to jeopardize the health of the membership."

Church-goers clapped along with the worship songs and raised their hands in praise from their cars. Some members even  ate breakfast during the services and wore hats and head scarves, violations of decorum inside the church.

“One of the things I like about him (Kinloch), he thinks outside the box. He does things that are unique,” said Walker.

Triumph also offered in-person services for 50 people or less. The sermons also could be found online.  The church said more than 10,000 viewers watched the online services. 

“I really think it’s essential for us to try and flatten the curve and limit as many gatherings as possible,” said Amanda Keys, 30, a member of Triumph who watched the online services.

Triumph has also provided prayer calls at 6 a.m. weekdays since last week. Kinloch said around 3,000 people dialed in for the calls. 

"We wanted to do this for the people who wanted to get a break out of the house but at the same time follow the guidelines," Kinloch said of the drive-in sermons.

Once Kinloch heard about the governor's ban on church gatherings, members of  Triumph came together to brainstorm ways to continue to spread their gospel the virus outbreak. 

The church retrained staff on how to effectively clean the buildings and hired a third-party vendor to deep clean, made sanitizers and disinfectant wipes available for members and stopped passing out handouts for those who chose in-person services. 

"We're still servicing God as well as being able to feel like we're in church, and we're not missing anything," said member Amber Ester, 30, of Detroit.