Detroit church adapts to pandemic with drive-in services, loaner laptops for students

A statewide ban on large gatherings influenced one Detroit church to lean on a vintage experience to spread the gospel

Triumph Church Pastor Solomon Kinloch (via Facebook)

Detroit has been hit hard by coronavirus and one local church is offering assistance to the community with safe services and laptop giveaways amidst a statewide social distancing mandate.

When the state’s governor in March banned large gatherings in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, Triumph Church moved Sunday worship from inside the church house to the parking lot where members can participate from their cars in drive-thru fashion. Now, the multi-site church, with locations across Metro Detroit, is helping underserved students in need with technology resources.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Triumph Church is providing free laptops for Detroit Public School Community District students on a weekly first-come, first-serve basis. The giveaway began on Friday at the church’s east campus in Detroit and will continue until the end of May. This will ensure students in the majority-Black city have access to learning tools after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ended the public school year for the entire state earlier this month.

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“We need to bridge the digital divide in our community right now,” said Pastor Solomon Kinloch, who has led Triumph Church for more than two decades. “We know that DPSCD and their corporate partners have some ideas in the works to help families in need with this issue, but we plan to offer our resources until that happens.”

On Twitter, one user said the laptop program will help low-income families in need.

In addition to the laptop loans, the Free Press also reported that Triumph has been hosting drive-in church services at its suburban campus. In true Motor City fashion, parishioners in recent weeks have driven their cars to the church parking lot to watch Kinloch deliver weekly sermons on a projected large screen attached to a semi-truck. Attendees can tune in to hear the sermon on the radio. This, in addition to online streaming for those staying home, gives the congregation an opportunity to gather while still practicing social distancing.

Schools and churches, along with nonessential businesses, all over the country have shut their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. Michigan’s Black community has been hit hard disproportionately by COVID-19. Of the state’s 22,400 coronavirus cases as of Saturday morning, nearly half are in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

There are more than 501,000 confirmed cases in the United States and 1.7 million cases recorded around the world.

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“We wanted to ensure the voice of God could still be articulated out to the community and do it in a way that wasn’t irresponsible to the safety of our members and visiting friends,” Kinloch told the paper.

This all comes at a time when drive-in theaters are seeing a resurgence. The Los Angeles Times reports that many of the 305 drive-in theaters still open in the country have seen large increases of attendance.

Business at Los Angeles’ Paramount Drive-In has doubled since the pandemic began.