First Baptist Decatur suspends services as local congregations adjust to coronavirusThe First Baptist Church of Decatur. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt.
This story has been updated.
Decatur, GA – Local communities of faith are finding their own way through the coronavirus pandemic.
First Baptist Church of Decatur has suspended all worship services.
“In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, First Baptist Church of Decatur (FBCD) has made the decision to suspend all activities, worship services, meetings, and events for the remainder of the month of March EFFECTIVE AT NOON ON FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2020,” the church announced. “This includes First School, First Camp, and our highly anticipated combined worship service and celebration lunch with Scott Boulevard Baptist Church on March 29.”
There are no known cases of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, within the congregation. The church described it as a proactive move to protect its more vulnerable members, like the elderly and immunocompromised.
“Church leadership and staff will meet on a regular basis and evaluate reports and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Public Health (DPC) to create an effective plan moving forward,” the church announced. “Ministerial staff is presently developing alternative educational and inspirational opportunities to maintain engagement with church and community members (video sermons, virtual Bible studies, conference calls, etc.). Once decisions have been made, FBCD will communicate this plan via email, the website, social media, and phone.”
First Baptist Decatur isn’t the only local congregation reacting to the virus.
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Oakhurst Baptist will hold its Sunday worship service via Zoom Conference Call.
“We are either canceling or holding electronic gatherings for all events previously scheduled for Sunday, March 15,” the church announced. “We are learning that slowing the spread of the coronavirus is vital to ensuring that the medical system can keep up, and that our most vulnerable populations continue to have access to the treatment they will need.”
Tucker First United Methodist isn’t canceling services, but it’s changing the way the services are conducted.
“Communion will be offered in a way that minimizes the spread of germs, using individual serving pieces,” the church announced. ” … Offering plates will not be passed in the pews. Instead, they will be placed in the front of the Sanctuary and Chapel. You will have the opportunity during the worship service to place your gift in one of the plates. They will also be available after the service for those with limited mobility.”
The church is working on developing a live stream of its services.
The Congregation Beth Jacob synagogue has also implemented changes.
“There will be no childcare of any kind this Shabbos,” Rabbi Ilan D. Feldman announced. He also said, “Shalosh Seudos will not be held in Shul. You are asked to either daven at one of the early Mi nchas and eat at home afterwards, or to eat Shalosh Seudos at home and then attend the 7:20 p.m. main Mincha.”
He advised vulnerable populations to stay home.
“To be clear, members who are immunocompromised or experiencing symptoms of illness should daven at home,” Feldman said in a letter to the congregation. “For those attending Shul, please note that for all Tefillos, members are encouraged to avoid crowding each other, and should avoid handshakes. Additionally, please wash hands with soap or make use of the wall-mounted hand sanitizers upon entering the building.”
The Masjid Abu Bakr mosque in Atlanta is encouraging members to follow CDC guidance on coronavirus prevention, which includes encouraging people to wash their hands and stay home when they are sick.
If you’re a member of a local faith congregation in the Decatur and greater Decatur area, Decaturish would like to know how your congregation is responding to coronavirus. Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message in our comments.
Update: Here’s what some of our other local congregations are doing in response to COVID-19:
The Common Table:
We are a smaller church in Decatur (Clairemont and erie – near Clairemont Elementary) but we are also shifting our worship gatherings to a virtual platform called Zoom. We didn’t want to be part of spreading the virus further, especially among our older and vulnerable folks. – Josh Linman, Pastor.
Decatur Presbyterian Church:
Based on our desire to love our neighbors, and based on the best information we have available, your session, pastors and staff have agreed that our most prudent course of action is to suspend all on campus gatherings of the DPC congregation for the next two weeks. DPCC and Global Village Project have already closed. This decision was not made lightly, but done so in consultation with other local churches, schools, and universities. The Church Office will remain open and the pastors will be available to you, but we encourage all groups to pause from meeting for the next two weeks, including session, Sunday School classes, choirs, Bible studies, youth events, councils and committees, etc. We will reevaluate this course of action over the coming days, but in the meantime, we encourage everyone to follow this guidance as part of a wider community effort to “flatten the curve” of this pandemic. You are certainly welcome to meet by conference calls or virtually through various online options like Zoom. – Rev. Dr. Todd Speed
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