St. Simons Presbyterian Church
Canceling Worship and On-Campus Activities
March 13, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ:

Last week I wrote to you about some precautionary steps we were taking here at the church as a result of the coronavirus. At the time, the advice for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 focused on hand-washing, avoiding touch with others, and staying home when ill. The sentiment among public health officials has now shifted to stressing the importance of creating "social distance" by eliminating or reducing the number of large group gatherings.*

As a result, session voted yesterday to cancel all worship and regularly scheduled on-campus activities for the next two weeks.  This action includes canceling Sunday worship, Wednesday night dinners, children and youth programming, on-campus Bible studies, and other church sponsored gatherings of roughly ten or more people through March 27. More details are provided at the bottom of this email.

Please know that we are not taking this step lightly. Church is supposed to be the place where we come together in times such as these, not a place we stay away from. But after conversation with several experts including a member of our congregation who is a retired CDC researcher, two things have become abundantly clear:

  1. Although the number of confirmed cases is still relatively low in coastal Georgia, the consensus among these professionals is that there are significantly more unconfirmed cases and that this number will continue to grow in coming days.
  2. While COVID-19 is not the plague, it is a highly contagious virus that is especially dangerous for older adults as well as those with pre-existing conditions. This population, of course, includes many in our own congregation and congregation’s like ours. 

For these reasons, we have concluded that we have a responsibility to help protect our community - especially the most vulnerable in our community - by taking steps that will aid in mitigating the spread of the virus. One way to do this is by temporarily halting all large group gatherings where germs are most easily spread. 

We will continue to assess the situation in the coming days to make a determination about whether or not we need to extend the cancelation beyond March 27. In the meantime, the church office will remain open during normal office hours. Pastors and staff will continue visitation, one-on-one gatherings, and planning for future ministry. We will also continue to communicate any changes or updates via email and online at .

Please continue praying for all of those already impacted by this virus and for the many, many others in our community and beyond who are actively working to bring about healing . May we each seek to be agents of Christ's peace in these anxious times, trusting and knowing that God goes with us regardless of when and where we gather.

Peace ,

Alan Dyer

* See below for further information on "social distancing."

What Events Are Canceled?

All worship services, meetings, classes, and rehearsals are to cancel, postpone, or meet virtually for the next two weeks. Among other things, this includes Sunday worship services, Wednesday night dinners, youth and children programming, all Bible/book studies, and music ministry programming. 

Please note that the funeral for Mike Harry -- already scheduled for this Saturday, March 14 @ 11A -- will happen as scheduled. There will be no reception following the service. We are asking anyone who is sick or with underlying/preexisting medical conditions to please attend the service "virtually" via the live stream that will broadcast at .

Barbara Cowden's 100th birthday party on March 21 has been indefinitely postponed. Kate Buckley's ordination service on March 22 will be rescheduled to a later date. A decision about the Day of Service - currently scheduled for March 28 - will be made later this week.

Sunday Worship Video Online

The worship team is currently working to plan an online worship opportunity. We will share this via email, Web site, and social media as plans are finalized.

Church Office and Staff

At this time, the consensus is that our staff can safely continue working during normal weekday hours. People will still be welcome to come by the church office at any time individually or in small groups, pastors will continue making visits, etc. We will also be stepping up our communications and other ways of staying in contact with parishioners while we are dispersed. O bviously, we will adjust as needed if a staff member feels sick or the situation changes in a way that makes it no longer safe to keep the office open.


The longstanding policy of the St. Simons Presbyterian Preschool is to follow the decisions of the Glynn County School System. If the school system closes then the preschool will follow suit. Currently, we plan to stick to this approach.

Social Distancing & Practical Considerations

Please read the following articles for more information on the importance of Social Distancing and how it can help during a pandemic.

Other practical thing to continue doing during this pandemic include:

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds. Frequently.
  • Keep your hands off your face, particularly your mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Get a flu shot.
  • Disinfect the surfaces in your home and office.
  • Don’t go to work (or school, or church) if you are feeling sick.

Giving and Church Finances

The expenses of the church continue during this hiatus and so we are hoping that pledges and donations will also continue. We realize many people already give online or at particular times of the year; however, if you desire to give in a "non-digital" fashion, know that donations can be mailed or dropped off anytime.

Are Other Churches Canceling Worship & Events?

Yes. We are not the first and will not be the last to take this action. Many churches throughout the state and nation are now taking this step for the same reasons we are. As of this morning, in our own community, this includes Christ Church Frederica on the island and Temple Beth Tifilloh in Brunswick.


As of Thursday, March 12 the contractor did not anticipate stopping work on the renovation project. Obviously, if a member of the work crew becomes sick or it is not safe to be on the worksite for any reason, we will support the contractor's decision to temporarily halt work. There is also potential for unforeseen delays as a result of supply chain interruptions but at this point that is not an issue. The building committee and session will continue monitoring.