With coronavirus worries looming, several local churches brought their worship services to the web last Sunday.
Dahlonega United Methodist Church’s Pastor Steve Schofield said the Bishop asked churches Friday to suspend in-person worship and large gatherings.
“I made the decision to open the church for prayer. I and an associate pastor were present to pray and talk with people. In my view, the house of God does not close,” Schofield said. “We have suspended large gatherings, but we are open for prayer.”
Schofield said this time of avoiding others and remaining at home is an opportunity for the faithful to take on the Christian disciplines of fasting, study, reflection and prayer.
“We have time for solitude, time to pray and to look for ways to help others. In the midst of this we don’t need to panic, we don’t need to live in fear. We can trust fully and reside in God,” he said.
Schofield said online services will again be available on the church’s website, dahlonegaumc.org on Sunday, March 22.
“Right now we plan on having services at the church on the 29th. We’re going to play it by ear,” he said.
'ALL CONNECTED' EFFORT
Georgia Mountains Unitarian Universalist Church will be closed for all in-person gatherings through April 4th, Rev. Charlotte Arsenault announced last week. She and church leadership will be “reviewing the information on a daily basis to determine whether we can resume a regular schedule,” she said.
Arsenault encouraged members to reach out to one another during this time.
“Isolation can be difficult, especially when there is such an unsettled sense of what will come next. It is our hope that we will all take this opportunity to practice connection in different ways. Through cards, emails, video chatting, phone calls, or even a neighborly wave from our porches. When times are difficult we are reminded of our UU values, which tell us that we are all important, all deserving of compassion and all connected. Acting with generosity and patience, helping one another, living out our values, these will be key to getting through this epidemic together,” she said.
The church draws people from several surrounding counties. A list of friends and members, arranged by county, has been distributed to members in hope people will connect and see if there are any needs.
Sunday services and a Wednesday Vespers service are available online at gmuuc.org.
'MEDICINE OF OUR SOULS'
After consultation with church members, the vestry and colleagues throughout the Episcopal and other churches, Rector Fr. John Hamilton made the decision to hold services online at least through March 22.
“Public worship is very important. The sacrament is the medicine of our souls. Yet, caring for our neighbors, showing them love, is also worship. It is my belief that by joining the great team effort being taken throughout these 50 states by countless churches, sports agencies, school systems and universities, civic groups, festivals, businesses and others to help us socially distance we are loving our neighbor. We are halting the rapid spread of this virus. We are giving our health system breathing room. We are loving God by loving our neighbor and there is no doubt in my mind that God savors this worship with enormous delight,” Hamilton said.
Services for next Sunday will be streamed live at 9:30 a.m. on Facebook, facebook.com/stelizabethdahlonega After the service we will load the service to the church's YouTube Channel: youtube.com/channel/UCePgTKucuKIl1-5iVaSGj8Q.
'FAITH, NOT FEAR'
Dahlonega Baptist Church will be live on its Facebook page Sunday, March 22, but, said Pastor Steven Wright, “we are taking it one week at a time. Our leadership is meeting weekly.”
He said in-person services would remain cancelled “until we feel it’s safe to regather, which no one knows when that will be at this point. We’re taking our cue from government leadership.”
All activities at the church have been cancelled until further notice.
“We’re making the decision to try to prevent the spread of this virus. We’re trying to love our neighbor. God expects us to make wise decision to do that,” Wright said. “But, we are a people of faith, not fear, and we are looking for ways to do that, to be the salt and light in this world during this temporary time we find ourselves in.”