FULTON — A church in Fulton is holding drive-in services in its parking lot as it practices social distancing to slow down the coronavirus pandemic.

Roughly 35 people gathered in their cars outside Ebenezer Baptist Church for the first drive-in service March 22, with more joining the service via Facebook. The service featured music, prayers and jokes as snowflakes hit the ground, The Fulton Sun reported.

"Just so you know, the snow is my fault," the Rev. Mike Hibbard joked. "All day yesterday, I fervently prayed that God would prevent the rain. He answered my prayer — it's not raining."

Although churches in Missouri haven’t been ordered to stop meeting in-person during the coronavirus outbreak, Ebenezer’s leaders decided to hold the service this way as a precaution. Hibbard said a service inside the church would draw people even if he advised at-risk populations to watch remotely.

"That's just the way that generation is — they were raised to be in church every time the doors were open," Hibbard said. "I see the safety aspect of it and as a shepherd it is my responsibility to keep the flock safe."

Attendees sat in their cars with their windows open as they listened to Hibbard’s sermon and music flowing from speakers, occasionally marking “amens” with honking. The church planned to have a new FM transmitter by its second drive-in service on Sunday.

"These are unique circumstances, unique times, and it requires a unique response," Hibbard said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

For more COVID-19 related news, see our section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.

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