Re-opening Update for In-person Services at Messiah

Your Church Council met earlier this week and had an extensive discussion on whether to resume in-person services in July. We considered what other churches on Skidaway and in the wider Savannah area were doing, as well as guidance from our Southeast Synod. As you may know, two Skidaway churches are already conducting in-person services or planning to open in early July. Two others appear to be staying closed for the foreseeable future. Area Catholic churches are open, while some 75 Savannah churches are staying closed for now, including the large Compassion Christian Church.

One other consideration for us: In the past two weeks, new COVID-19 cases have risen significantly in Chatham County and Georgia overall. There continue to be new cases on Skidaway. A higher number of people being tested now are testing positive. Our state health officials say that the rising number of cases is not just due to more people being tested.

Given those different scenarios, we struggled to come to a clear-cut decision to quickly reopen. We wanted to balance the desires of the majority, who are happy watching online services, with those who are ready to attend in-person worship services. We decided to begin opening the sanctuary to congregants for the taping of the service on Saturday, July 18, at 4 pm . This service will then be posted to YouTube as usual by 9 am on Sunday, July 19. This is a way to ease back into in-person services and further lets us experience worshiping within the guidelines laid out by our Re-opening Task Force. Note that, for now, in-person services will be during the service taping on Saturdays.

To attend the July 18 service, you must pre-register with Sandy Cooper, our office administrator, by Friday, July 17, at 9 am. You can reach Sandy by email ( messiahsk@gmail.com ) or by phone during office hours weekday mornings (912-598-1188).

A number of safeguards will be in place. For example, you and others in your party will be assigned a seat that reflects safe social distancing. Seating will be somewhat limited as a result. You will need to wear a mask. No exceptions. You will be asked not to sing. The virus has been shown to spread indoors by speaking and singing, even with masks and social distancing. The fellowship hall, conference room, nursery and Sunday School rooms will remain closed, so social gathering cannot occur inside before or after the service. A full discussion of the safeguards will be shared over the next two weeks.

We are all tired of COVID-19! We want to return to normal. Please know that we are acting out of an abundance of caution…while offering an alternative, starting in mid-July, for those ready to be back in the sanctuary for a service. If you prefer watching services online, you can still do that.

Please contact me (tel: 610-413-0048; email: Katharine.marshal@gmail.com ) or Pastor Jason (tel: 770-570-7407; email: skidawaypastorj@gmail.com ) with questions or concerns.

On behalf of your Church Council, I wish you continued COVID-free health! May God bless you and your family.

Katharine Marshall
Church Council President