Taylor sent an email to church leaders explaining the directive late on Friday, April 3. Taylor is resident bishop of Holston Conference.
She acknowledged church leaders’ desire to find new ways to celebrate Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday on April 5, in midst of government orders to stay at home to save lives during the pandemic.
“I celebrate the creative ways our congregations have been connecting,” Taylor said. “Many of you have planned for drive-in worship services in the church parking lots.”
Citing two posts by blog writer Steve Gardner, Taylor said vehicle passengers who travel to and sit in an enclosed space together while participating in drive-in worship could unknowingly infect each other with coronavirus.
She also noted that leaving the home for drive-in church does not meet requirements for social distancing under government orders or her prior mandate to cease public worship.
“Friends, it pains me to think about not gathering with all of our friends and families during this holy season. But it pains me even more to think that if we did gather we could be one of the causes that increases those deaths,” Taylor said. “So, after discussing this information with the cabinet we decided the best thing to do is to maintain our mandate to cancel all in-person worship services, including drive-in worship services.”
Read Bishop Taylor's complete letter.
Holston Conference includes 864 United Methodist congregations in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and North Georgia.
March 18 update: Bishop Dindy Taylor has closed Holston churches until further notice. "The good news is medical experts know social distancing is helping slow the spread of the virus. The bad news is it is still spreading," she said. "Like you, we ...