Places of worship are on the list of businesses that can reopen in Georgia: Many church leaders are questioning whether or not to open

Georgia News

EVANS, GA. (WJBF) — In-person church service is now allowed, but it must be done with strict social distancing guidelines. Some Georgia pastors believe just because it is approved, is it the right time to do it.

“We believe in submitting to authority, and the governor is that authority for us,” said Todd Sturgell. Hopefully, he has all the information to make the decisions we need.”

For weeks, places of worship have transitioned from in house to online service. Now churches in the Peach State can open on Sunday, and many faith leaders are wondering should they. The associate pastor for Stevens Creek Church says it depends on the size and makeup of the congregation to make the decision.

“We want to make sure we are creating a safe space where people can come without not have any fear,” explained Sturgell.

If they were to open, Stevens Creek is thinking of a ticketing method, like how the movie theaters use.

“We would either assign people or have them signup for reserve seating in each of those services,” said Sturgell. “Once one service fills up, then they will have to choose another service.”

For now, Stevens Creek Church will continue with online services until further notice. Additional churches in Augusta that will not have in-person services until further notice include Tabernacle Baptist, Good Hope Baptist, Liberty Baptist, Mt. Calvary, and Greater Young Zion.
All Georgia Mosques will also remain closed.

“Those who feel comfortable coming, we are going to make that atmosphere safer,” explained Sturgell. “However, there are going to be some folks that may have compromised immune systems, or they fear to come out just yet; that is fine.”

Stevens Creek’s associate pastor says trust and making sure churchgoers feel comfortable will play a huge role in many churches’ decisions.

“That’s a blessing, but that is also a huge responsibility because they do trust us,” said Sturgell. “We want to make sure when we do a make a decision; it’s the right one, and it’s thought out.”

Sturgell adds they will assess whether to reopen both Augusta campuses if the shelter-in-place order is lifted April 30th.

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