Lowcountry churches continue protocols as COVID-19 cases rise

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 9:58 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2021 at 11:53 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Faith leaders in the Lowcountry are amping up church protocols as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Last March, many of them closed their doors because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and instead found other ways to continue services. Now, as they start bringing more people back inside some pastors are concerned about the Delta variant.

The Charity Missionary Baptist church created a ‘return to church’ committee during the early stages of the pandemic to look at public health and CDC guidelines.

Rev. Nelson B Rivers III says they originally shut down last year, only holding small in-person sermons in the sanctuary.

The church started bringing vaccinated members back in this July with a registration process and temperature checks at the door. Now they are calling on those members to wear masks within the church.

Un-vaccinated members can still watch the sermons on YouTube or the church’s Facebook page, but Rev. Rivers is encouraging people to get vaccinated.

“We are close and if we get out of the ship now, we’ll lose members to COVID-19 unnecessarily. We’re so close, so a little more patience, a little more discipline, and a little more faith in each other that we’re going to do the right thing, and before you know it will be back down,” Rev. Rivers said. “If we don’t do it now, what happened last year will look like a picnic. If you hated the last shut down, if you don’t get vaccinated you won’t just get shut down, you’ll get shut out.”

At Greater Unity AME Church, Rev. Randolph Miller started holding services on the porch every Sunday since the start of the pandemic.

He said people drive up to the church and stay inside their cars while they listen to the sermon. In the meantime, they have been renovating and setting up protocols in anticipation of resuming services inside.

Rev. Miller said he is trying to have services back inside on the first Sunday of September, but he is worried about the Delta variant.

“I’m yet on the borderline of what I should do because even though we have the clearance to go back, I have to be concerned about the welfare of my members, especially my children and my seniors,” he said.

If they do return to indoor services soon, he said there will be protocols for social distancing, masks, and sanitation.

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