Mark Peterson’s images of a drive-in service at a Virginia Beach megachurch feel both wholly of this pandemic and wholly retro.
Honk once for “Amen,” twice for “Glory hallelujah”: those are the newest liturgical instructions for the Rock Church, an evangelical congregation in Virginia Beach. The megachurch normally gathers in an enormous auditorium that seats more than five thousand, but, as the coronavirus has limited the ability of congregations to come together physically, members began meeting instead in the parking lot, where drive-in services are taking the place of regular worship. The praise band and the pastor took to a temporary stage erected outside the building, while a local FM station offered the church airtime, so that congregants could tune in to the service, as if it were a drive-in movie. The photographer Mark Peterson captured one of those services the week before Palm Sunday, beginning when ushers helped orchestrate the parking of cars and continuing until the parishioners dropped their offerings and prayer cards in buckets on their way out of the parking lot.