North Street Church hopes to hold drive-in services
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North Street Community Church of the Nazarene at 235 North Street was founded in 1979 by the late Reverend John Scott Newell and his wife, Dorothy, who is still a member. Originally located on Jerusalem Road in Cohasset, the church purchased a house on Rockland Street in 1982 and became officially organized. In 1996 they sold the house and purchased the current chapel. The chapel is almost 200 years old and was once located on the other side of the street. It was moved to its current location in the 1880’s and has undergone several renovations over the years, most recently in 2004. The church owns a second building in Hull that operates a ministry which has been serving the recovery community on the South Shore since 2017.
Reverend Jeremy Scott became pastor of North Street Church in 2006. During these challenging times, he has been encouraging his congregation to engage in simple practices “to keep from spiritual, mental, relational and physical atrophy.” He also wants to make sure they see this current situation as an opportunity to live out “response-ability,” which he teaches is found in their ability to respond. “The historic Church is no stranger to periods of pandemic,” he points out.
Rev. Scott is grateful for the financial contributions of his congregants. Some had previously set up automatic giving by mail, and others had already been tithing electronically through online offerings. “Thankfully, we have been able to maintain our full-time staff throughout the pandemic,” he said. Modern technology has also made sacraments like the weekly Eucharist possible. “A priest can consecrate bread and wine at the same moment in different places,” explained Rev. Scott. “Coming to the Table is an important part of continuing to practice as the Body of Christ, and these unprecedented times call for unprecedented practices.”
Unprecedented times also call for creative measures. Several weeks ago, Rev. Scott purchased an FM transmitter. He hoped to hold drive-in services at their location in Hull so that people could park nearby and listen on the radio in their enclosed vehicles. “It’s still my hope to perhaps do this in coming weeks,” he said, “if Hull officials agree or if we can find another parking lot in which to do so with Hingham’s blessing.”
The church traditionally holds two weekly worship gatherings on Sunday. “We opted to continue the first service online during the pandemic,” said Rev. Scott, “but have reduced its content to about half for the online format.” His son Brayden helps him conduct the first service on Facebook Live, and they are hoping to make services available on YouTube in the coming weeks. “For our second service, I go on (Facebook) Live for a minute or two of encouragement and then recommend the live stream of another church,” he adds. “It’s a good time for us to experience the broader Church.”
Other programming has also continued. “We were already doing an online Bible study with Zoom,” said Rev. Scott, “so that was a natural thing to continue.” There are other things they are still doing online, including programs for kids and teens and a daily email encouragement from Rev. Scott with scripture, prayer and a practice for the day. “Only about 10-15% of our congregation actually lives in Hingham,” he pointed out. “So we have been wrestling with ‘community-at-a-distance’ for a while.”
Quincy resident Chris Brooks has been attending North Street for the past couple of years. “It’s my home,” he said. “It’s my family. From the very beginning I felt very comfortable.” That family atmosphere and vibe was further solidified for him at a church family retreat that was held a few months ago. Although times have been challenging, “those connections are still there,” he said. “We are a family, and we welcome everyone in that way.”
Chris anxiously awaits the devotionals that are sent out every morning through email and Facebook and looks forward to Rev. Scott’s daily check-ins which he uses to interact and engage with parishioners, find out what’s going on in their lives and ask for prayer requests. As far as Sunday worship is concerned, Chris finds that Rev. Scott has been managing the virtual nature of it quite nicely. “Jeremy is very intentional,” he said. “He conducts the service as if we were all there with him.”
As with other congregations, the members of North Street miss worshipping together in person. “We are at our best when we’re together whether in worship or in service,” said Rev. Scott. “We miss being together, but I will not rush the re-entry to gatherings.” The church is carefully abiding by all government mandates relative to social distancing during the pandemic, and Rev. Scott has been using it as a teaching tool. “This is an opportunity to know better what it is to be a neighbor, not just in proximity, but in care,” he said. “I’m trying to encourage all of us to assume that pretty much everyone is doing their best in these times. Let’s give one another that space and grace.”