Churches get creative, show that faith crosses social distances

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  • Eric and Misty Wilcox sing at The Torch’s drive-up prayer service Saturday to promote social distancing during this COVID-19 crisis. Photo courtesy of The Torch
    Eric and Misty Wilcox sing at The Torch’s drive-up prayer service Saturday to promote social distancing during this COVID-19 crisis. Photo courtesy of The Torch
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   With Easter Sunday approaching, families will have to face the possibility of celebrating at a distance with their local churches.

   The Northeast Georgian spoke with church leaders from The Torch, Clarkesville United Methodist Church and First Baptist Church Cornelia Monday to see how they are coping with the spread of COVID-19. Soon after these interviews, Governor Brian Kemp announced an executive order mandating a “shelter-in-place” order for those at high risk for contracting coronavirus.

   He also mentioned there should be no public gathering of 10 people or more unless six feet can be maintained between people at all times.

   The Torch Worship Center Pastor Mike Franklin said this is unchartered territory in his 40 years as a pastor. However, they have still managed to maintain social distancing by having attendees gather in and stay in their cars for a parking lot service recently.  

   “You break the community down for the church,” he said in having to discontinue regular services. “I think the biggest element of the church life is the community.”

   While The Torch’s outreach efforts have included partnering with the county senior center to serve hygiene items to the stay-at-home elderly, they are also experiencing record numbers at their food bank all while maintaining social distancing. 

   Minister of Worship and Music/interim administrator Randy LeBlanc of First Baptist Cornelia said they are having to adjust their outreach efforts as well. They have had to postpone their benevolence appointments, which assists individuals or families with utility bills and other needs.

   Keith Cox, Pastor of Clarkesville United Methodist Church said they encourage everyone to pray at 12:12 p.m. to recite Romans 12:12 to encourage hope and patience.

   Their main focus as a church has been to assist the elderly; community outreach; continuing worship services and maintain a healthy “financial flow,” with online and mail contributions.

   “I think the best thing is to look after yourself physically, but also reach out to your neighbors,” Cox said.

   All of the mentioned churches are either streaming or recording their services and plan to continue following the recommendations of public health officials. Efforts to record and stream Bible school related activities are being put forward in these churches as well.

   “I think simply, as a church and as a community of faith, that we care for each other,” LeBlanc said as to what people can do to help others.