With the cancellation of church services across the nation, at least one Beeson alum has found a creative way to continue serving communion to church parishioners.
Michael Novotny (M.Div. ’13), rector of Christ the King Anglican Church, Birmingham, provides drive-thru communion, or drive-thru reception as he likes to call it, to parishioners each Sunday following livestream of the service.
“As Anglicans, we are Word and sacrament people, so I wanted to do whatever I could to offer a way for people to get communion,” Novotny said. “It gives an opportunity for the people who participate in the liturgy to come and receive.”
In the drive-thru reception, only the bread is served. Novotny said this is intended for people who are baptized Christians, who are trying to live repentant lives, and who have participated in the livestream service. Following the end of the service, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., parishioners and other Christians who participated in the livestream are invited to drive their cars underneath the church awning to receive communion bread.
Novotny has a hand-sanitizing station set up next to the wafers, which are inside individual, new plastic bags, and he sanitizes his hands before and after giving communion to each person inside the car. After the individual or family receives the bread, they pray the Lord’s Prayer before consuming.
"Being able to receive the sacrament is such a vital part of our service as Anglicans," said Lindsay Bearden, member of Christ the King. "We are so thankful that Fr. Michael is making this available to us in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic when we are not able to gather as a community, so that we can celebrate and receive the grace of Christ, not only through the liturgy with the livestream but also with the bread, as the body of Christ."
This Palm Sunday, April 5, Novotny will give enough communion wafers for the whole week of Holy Week, including Easter, during the drive-thru reception. He is encouraging his parishioners to put it in a “holy spot in their home” so that they can receive communion with the clergy on livestream for the Maundy Thursday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday services.
Additionally, the church has developed a Holy Week In-Home Participation Guide for their church members, which includes instructions for palm branch waving, foot washing, and bell ringing.
“We as Anglicans are not Gnostics; we’re Christians. So we want to have some real physical ways for people to be involved,” Novotny said. “The primary objective is to allow people to participate during Holy Week that makes Holy Week as powerful as it can be in their own homes. It breaks up the kind of monotony and allows there to be a special something on each of those days.”
You can find more information about Novotny’s church and livestream at ctkbirmingham.org.