Greater Atlanta Church Guidelines for Re-opening

June 2, 2020

To the Clergy and Clerks of Sessions of Savannah Presbytery,  

“God is our refuge and strength,” proclaims the Psalmist.  We draw on this promise especially in times of turmoil and change. Though we have not been able to gather in our churches for the past three months, we know that God has not abandoned us. God has been guiding us during this sabbatical period.

As you know, there is a lot of discussion about opening our country and resuming normal activities such as worship within our sanctuaries. With differing opinions on how and when we resume our community life, we must keep in mind the vulnerable populations within our congregations. While it remains up to each Session to determine when its congregation resumes in-person worship, we strongly recommend for your consideration the three-phase guidelines from the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta for reopening their churches.

In Christian Service,

The Savannah Presbytery Council

 

Click the Link Below for Re-opening Guidance:

Greater Atlanta Re-opening Guidance 

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Savannah Presbytery News and Update

June 2, 2020

To the Pastors and Clerks of Session of the Savannah Presbytery,

Attached is a statement on the murder of Ahmaud Arbery that has been adopted by the Savannah Presbytery’s Council to be shared with churches and within our community. In light of all that has happened over the past week, I felt it was necessary to bring you up to date on the work of this document.

After two weeks of hard work, a subcommittee of our Presbytery’s Council, working hard with a subcommittee of the council of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, created this document to speak to the issues of racism as seen through the lens of the Ahmaud Arbery murder in Glynn County (Brunswick), Georgia neighborhood. The day after this was approved by our council and the day before it was approved by Greater Atlanta’s Council, George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis.

Unlike the case of Ahmaud Arbery’s death, in which it took two months for the video to be made public, videos of the white police officer putting his knee to the neck of Mr. Floyd were spread across social media almost immediately afterwards. Protests have broken out across our country. Some have turned violent.

As followers of Jesus, we are called into a family where all people, regardless of race, are one in Jesus Christ. While this statement does not address the death of George Floyd and others, it is important that we speak out on injustice within the boundaries of our presbytery. I encourage you to share this letter with our churches and within our communities.

Let’s live into that vision created by that childhood song we all sang in Sunday School which reminded us that we’re all precious in Jesus’ sight.

In Christian Hope,

Jeff Garrison
Chair of the Savannah Presbytery’s Council

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May 28, 2020

We, the Council of Savannah Presbytery, in alliance with the Council of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, honor the life and grieve the death of Ahmaud Arbery, beloved child of God.  Further, we hear God demanding faithful action in this teaching from Jesus: “’Lord, when did we fail to help you when you were hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in jail?’  God will answer them, ‘Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it to me’” (Matthew 25:44-45).  God calls all persons of faith to notice how we indeed fail our neighbors, especially our brothers and sisters of color.  The murder of Mr. Arbery in a neighborhood in Glynn County (Brunswick), Georgia, is a tragic case in point.

Re-committed to the struggle for racial justice, we highlight the anti-racism statement of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)*:

+ We affirm that “Racism is the opposite of what God intends for humanity. It is the rejection of the other, which is contrary to the Word of God incarnate in Jesus Christ.”

+ We affirm that “Racism is a lie about our fellow human beings, for it says that some are less than others.”

+ We affirm that we “will stand against, speak against, and work against racism” whenever it is expressed in the world around us, in our homes, in our workplaces, in our neighborhoods, and in the church.

We invite all who believe in the redemptive power of God’s justice, truth, and love to stand with the Councils of Savannah Presbytery and the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta in our pledge to:

+ Pray for all parties involved in Ahmaud Arbery’s murder;

+ Walk alongside his family as they endure the journey of grief and the quest for justice;

+ Hold local and state officials accountable as they investigate this crime;

+ Watch for God’s reign of love with hopeful eyes, grateful hearts, and unwearied hands.

Working together we can — we must — eradicate the sin of racism.  Please join us.

Rev. Dr. Alan Baroody
Transitional General Presbyter of Savannah Presbytery

Rev. Aisha Brooks-Lytle
Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta

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Savannah Presbytery Invites You…

…To Worship With Our Churches!

Listed below are links that some of the Presbytery’s churches have provided to allow us to worship virtually.  Easy access to Sunday services via the internet can provide those who cannot, or will not attend services during these challenging times. A big thank you to those churches who are providing this valuable way for all of us to connect!

Montgomery Presbyterian Church livestreams Sundays at 10:30am on FaceBook Live: https://www.facebook.com/MontgomeryPresbyterian

Wilmington Island Presbyterian Church, 10:25 AM, Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/wilmingtonislandpresbyterian/

Jekyll Presbyterian Community Church    11am Sunday on Facebook   Search for Jekyll Presbyterian Community Church

Iglesia Latina Swainsboro  Service hours: 11:00 am https://www.facebook.com/iglesialatina.swainsboro

Christ Presbyterian Church Pooler.    Link  https://www.facebook.com/ChristPresbyterianChurchPCUSAPooler/

Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church    www.sipres.org

A pre-recorded 30-minute worship service is posted each Sunday on the website of First Church Savannah.  The link is:   www.savannahfpc.org

Christ Presbyterian Church Pooler.    Link  https://www.facebook.com/ChristPresbyterianChurchPCUSAPooler/

First PC Statesboro
https://www.facebook.com/First-Presbyterian-Church-Statesboro-379236202130574/

Alan N. Baroody, D.Min., LMFT-S
Transitional General Presbyter
Savannah Presbytery
(800) 616-3671

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Important Message from the Savannah Presbytery

April 23, 2020

Dear Pastors, Clerks of Session, and Members of Savannah Presbytery,

With this week’s announcement by Governor Brian Kemp that churches may resume worship services this Sunday, we have come together to discern what guidance we might provide to the congregations of Savannah Presbytery.

On a Wednesday call with more than a dozen pastors from every district in our presbytery (representing both small and large churches), there was unanimous agreement that their congregations were not ready to take responsibility for the health risks that would come with opening our sanctuaries and meeting as a community.  Many of our church members and pastors are either over 60 years of age or have health conditions that leave them compromised, and thus more susceptible to the severe consequences of infection.  The federal guidelines informed by the CDC recommend that communities have a 14 day decline in COVID-19 cases.  Georgia’s rate is still on the increase. One of our churches has already had to experience the ramifications of notifying congregation members that someone who had been in worship with them before the stay-at-home order had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

We applaud the efforts that our presbytery pastors and church leaders are making to continue to worship and “do church” remotely.  We highly recommend that this continue and that church facilities remained closed.  During this time of waiting, sessions should continue to explore how the CDC’s suggestions for mitigating health risks (i.e. numerical management, social distancing, increased attention to sanitation, wearing masks in public) would alter their “pre-pandemic” practices for gatherings on the church campus.  A good resource for developing new and healthier practices is a blog article by Ken Braddy, the director of Sunday School for Lifeway Christian Resources, titled “24 Questions Your Church Should Answer Before People Return.”   (www.kenbraddy.com)

Savannah Presbytery is a covenant community.  We value a reformed heritage that looks after the needs and well-being of the “least of these” within the context of the covenant community.  While we are not yet able to recommend a date in which we can once again worship as the Body of Christ gathered in one place, we look forward to rejoicing when all who are able can celebrate under one roof in our houses of worship.  We will listen to the advice of the CDC and maintain contact with all of our churches as we look forward to safely meeting together in the near future.

May God bless you and your congregations during this unfamiliar and anxious time.

Sincerely,

TE Alan Baroody, Transitional General Presbyter
TE Eric Beene, Acting Stated Clerk
RE Doty Dunn, Presbytery Moderator-Elect
TE Jeff Garrison, Council Chair
TE Andy Meeker, Committee on Ministry Chair
TE Deanie Strength, Presbytery Moderator