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Local religious leaders to continue online worship services

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Monday that in-person religious services are allowed under the federal government’s guidelines for reopening the country, but he urged faith-based leaders to follow the guidance of public health officials.

In Troup County, some religious leaders are still planning to continue with online services for the next few weeks.

Adam Camp, pastor at Rosemont Baptist Church, said they would continue with online services for the foreseeable future. He said having in-person services is on the church’s radar, but they aren’t ready to pull the trigger yet.

“We want to do what’s right, and we want to be safe and make good choices,” he said. “We are actively talking about it as a team.”

Dr. John Beyers, senior minister at First United Methodist Church of LaGrange, also said his church will continue to provide services digitally for now. He said the health of his congregation is important, and the church has found a way to enhance their relationships with its members without in-person services.

“We are blessed that we have been given the ability to connect with our people through technology,” Beyers said.

As for coming back to in-person services, Beyers said the church has nine actively engaged physicians, who he is in regular contact with about the virus. He said the church will make that decision with those physicians, while also monitoring the community and caring for those in vulnerable situations. 

“It is a hard decision to make, and we are not going to rush into that decision,” Beyers said. “We are going to be very careful, employ great discernment about when is the best time to return to campus.” 

Michael Jackson, pastor at Confidence Missionary Baptist Church, said he would also continue to use virtual worship.

“I have no plans to open back up anytime within the next week or so,” he said.

He said the COVID-19 outbreak has not gotten to a good enough point where people should be close to each other.

“Once it’s safe, we are going to put in several precautionary measures even when it’s time to come back to worship,” Jackson said. 

Cade Farris, senior pastor of First Baptist Church on the Square, said the church is following the advice of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. He said although the governor said in-person services could be allowed, they are going to continue to host digital services for now.

He said to do in-person services right now would require a host of issues to think about and work through.

“That day will come, but we will not be in a hurry,” Farris said. “We want to be safe and cautious and make sure we have a clear plan.”

He said the situation remains fluid, but they will continue with online worship, but they do want to come back to in-person services when it’s advisable to do so.

“When we do come back together, we will make it as safe as possible,” Farris said.

Evan Kirby, pastor at Broad Street Church of Christ, and Brad Thompson at Callaway Baptist Church both said they will continue to have online services for now.

Kirby said the decision is being looked at each week.

“We will evaluate this on a weekly basis moving forward and make each decision with prayer and wisdom,” he said.