AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — The doors at Tabernacle Baptist Church will continue to be closed, even though Governor Brian Kemp is allowing places of worship to be open. Several pastors across Georgia are calling on other churches to follow suit.
“We understand that data equals decision,” said Rev. Dr. Charles E. Goodman Jr. “Look at the data; it seems as this is too premature.”
Georgia pastors are coming together to call on other leaders in the faith community to refrain from opening their doors prematurely. They are pushing back Governor Kemp’s decision to allow in-person services. Rev. Anthony Booker says the choice to open up Georgia should’ve included mayors from other cities.
“The bible says there is safety in the multitude of the council,” said Rev. Booker. “When you do something that affects everyone without inviting them into the conversation, that’s crazy to me.”
The group outlined its concerns and demanded the governor and public health officials ensure a process that protects all Georgians. Mayor Hardie Davis says the state has only tested about 90,000 people for COVID-19. He says the numbers will only continue to increase.
“That is in a city of 10.7 million people, and we only been able to do 90,000 plus test,” said Davis. “We got about almost 23,000 people confirmed positive.”
Mayor Davis says churches aren’t the only concern. He is worried about making sure business owners who did not get federal funding through the paycheck protection program are taken care of.
“We’re not going to wait whether or not if there is going to be another federal stimulus packet that shows up in our community,” said Mayor Davis. “Where many of our small businesses are waiting to see action come to their doorsteps.”
The Augusta Mayor is launching a new campaign to effort help. He’s asking folks to post a selfie in front of your favorite business with the hashtag; #IAmThePPP.
“Take a picture of the haircut that you have not gotten,” said Mayor Davis. “Take a picture of the nails that you didn’t get done, and I want you to post that. But just don’t post it; I want you to take an opportunity to send what would have been your regular fee to the person who you do business because we are the ones who are the paycheck protection program.”
For these community leaders, the message is simple.
“Until the virus is flattened and our colleagues, kinfolk, and neighbors stop dying, we urge you to wash your hands,” said Pastor Karlton Howard. “Continue to shelter-in-place, and continue to remain safe. That is our prayer for this community.”
Rev. Booker says he believes churches should reconsider opening sometime in the summer.
Full Press Conference: