Many churches across Georgia remained closed despite the executive order

Sunday, April 24. 2020

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Governor Brian Kemp's executive order gives churches the green light to hold in-person services, but it requires strict guidelines to do so.

Today most churches kept their services online saying it's too soon to transition back safely.

Churches are still allowed to have to in person services, but the executive order makes it difficult to do so.

Some churches are using phases given by Governor Kemp as a guideline to reopening their doors.

It's a tough call deciding whether to re-open or stay closed.

"It's a very disappointing and sad thing not to gather our members together, and even when we do begin to gather it will be in very limited ways," said Mike Hearon, the pastor of First Presbyterian Church.

He says he's keeping his doors closed, and he thinks it's too soon and too tough to follow the strict criteria to reopen.

The criteria includes social distancing, providing PPE, and limiting gatherings of ten or more people unless the "grouping is transitory or incidental."

"We felt that rather than pushing and having to restrict our interactions and limit that we would open in phases," said Pastor Hearon.

Pastors of other churches in the area are following in suit and choosing to stay closed, but some have been talking about moving their services outdoors.

Pastor Hearon says the size of his congregation makes it a little difficult.

"Our membership has two thousand members, and over on Sunday we have about 1,900 that gather here for all three of our services," said Pastor Hearon.

He says he hopes to open the church at the end of May, but until then virtual services will have to do.

"We are encouraging our members to be patient, and we are encouraging everyone to be safe by staying home," said Pastor Hearon.

Moving forward many pastors are hoping they will be able to reopen their doors no later than fall.

Tomorrow state officials including Governor Kemp and faith leaders from across Georgia will participate in a day of prayer service.

It'll be live streamed at 10 a.m, and we'll have that link up on our website and on our Facebook page.