Anglican church in West Ashley resumes in-person service with new safety protocols

Updated: May. 17, 2020 at 12:36 PM EDT
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WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCSC) - Some churches in the Lowcountry are beginning to hold in person services during the coronavirus pandemic while others have decided to wait.

On Sunday, Old St. Andrews Parish Church in West Ashley welcomed backed parishioners for the first time in two months.

Leaders of the Anglican church located on Ashley River Road say the bishop gave them the option to reopen.

They have several safety precautions in place.

People who attend Old St. Andrews Parish church have a few options for joining service that include in-person, out on the church lawn or virtually.

Marshall Huey is the rector of the church.

"Even though we've had live streaming of our services we're about connection and we're a family and being a part from one another has been tough," Huey said. "I had a hard time sleeping last night I was so excited."

There are three in person services on Sundays at 8 a.m., 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Church leaders are requiring church goers to wear a mask before entering the building and families must social distance when seated. People are handed communion wine and wafers individually to take in the pews instead of at the altar rail. The offering plate is not longer passed around, but remains in the center aisle.

"I have an appreciation that I've never had in my life from these past 60 days of how important church family is," Huey said.

For those who might feel uncomfortable returning to church he encouraged them to continue to watch the live-stream of service from home.

Doors to the church remain open for air circulation, capacity is limited and people have the option of listening to service from speakers outside as well. There's no more coffee chats or hugging for now.

"Our gospel lesson today was from John 15 about abiding with one another and Jesus the vine and we're the branches," Huey said. "Christian faith is about relationship and these 60 days a part have been very difficult."

A church member who attended service says it's great to be back at church. She says she's been watching online, but it's not the same.

"To back together again in the Lord's house is an amazing blessing," Huey said.

The church’s safety protocols say the church is not responsible for any health condition that may arise after people come to church. They say each individual family must decide what is best for them.

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