Typical church services might have a choir singing an anthem or a pianist playing a hymn for a time of reflection.

They also might feature the honking of car horns.

Some Central College Presbyterian Church members honked their car horns in praise during a drive-in service held March 22 at 975 S. Sunbury Road in Westerville. It was held again March 29.

The Rev. Malcolm Davis, head pastor at Central College, said the church has held a drive-in service in the summer months for more than 30 years. Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus, he said, the option seems like a unique way the congregation can still worship together while staying separated.

Attendees sit in their cars in the parking lot while sound is broadcast both through speakers and on 89.5 FM, a low-power radio station that can be tuned into via car stereo.

Davis and other church leaders offer scripture and songs from the worship pavilion to followers, who arrived in 107 vehicles March 22.

"We thought (the drive-in) would be a neat option where people could certainly be safe from touching other people or things," Davis said. "Even before that, we quit doing things like passing the offering plate and anything that put people in physical contact with others. The bulletin to follow along with the hymns was online."

During these unprecedented times, Davis said he's encouraging the church's approximately 1,500-member flock to be "the people of God."

"This is a time that, I think, believers ought to be the best citizens," he said. "We're encouraging people to exercise their faith in God, rather than exercise fear. Whatever we feed, grows.

"And so we're saying, feed that faith. And to spread praise to God, not panic. And, finally, to offer help, not to hoard," he said.

In appreciation of a musical medley featuring "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" and "This is My Father's World," performed on trumpet by David Meulenberg, director of worship and music, and organist Ann Marie Robinson on keyboard, attendees honked their car horns instead of clapping their hands.

In place of passing an offering plate, members were encouraged to give through the church website, ccpc.us, and by texting or mailing.

Davis said the church is particularly encouraging people to get connected by phone or email with their neighbors.

Like most churches, Davis said, Central College streams services using available technology.

"We normally have four services on a Sunday morning here," he said. "We have two services at the same time every Sunday morning, a contemporary and traditional service. We're streaming both of those."

At 9:30 a.m. Sundays, the livestream can be found on the church's YouTube channel, CCPChurch.

Kaye Singer of Westerville said the drive-in service is "wonderful."

"I watched it stream last week. I come to the contemporary service," she said.

Church member Charlie Driscoll calls the drive-in "great."

"It's a great compromise," he said. "I don't like doing the TV service."

Johnstown's Polly Moore said prior to the coronavirus, the drive-in services were just a neat summertime option for worship.

"But now, they may be more important than ever for folks who still want to come out to worship together, but at a safe distance from one another," she said.

"Streaming the service is always a great option, too, and doesn't even require you to leave home, which may be necessary in the weeks ahead."

Moore said she was glad the church community was able to come together, even if all they could do was wave to each other through the windshield.

In a March 20 letter to the congregation, Davis said the church is working to organize small groups and Bible studies through online meeting apps such as ZOOM or Go-to-Meeting.

"But don't wait for us -- feel free to organize your own," he wrote. "We will continue to be here for our members and our community."

Davis said worship would be evaluated on a week-by-week basis, along with all the ways the church is responding to the pandemic crisis.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla