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Local churches consider changes to gatherings

By Lisa Tindell

At a time when prayer is needed most in this country, many area churches are making changes in services to prevent the spread of viruses during a nationwide pandemic.

Area churches are moving to make changes including abbreviated services, canceled sanctuary services and on-line only services.

“We had to make a difficult decision,” said Jeff Scurlock, pastor at First Assembly of God Church in East Brewton, according to a public post on Facebook. “We made a decision to align with the request of President Trump to not have gatherings over 10 people due to the Caronavirus Pandemic.”

The church plans to cancel all normal services until Sunday, April 5. Until that time, the church will live-stream services on their Facebook page on Sunday mornings at 11 a.m.

“Please join us in praying for our nation and the world as we face this crisis together,” Scurlock said. “Remember that nothing has caught God by surprise and He is on His throne.”

Rodney Adams, chairman of deacons at Alco Baptist Church, said changes in the way the congregation gathers is the plan at the moment.

“We are asking the congregation not to shake hands and no hugging,” Adams aid. We will also be keeping the doors open so that they won’t have to touch door handles.”

Adams said the church will discontinue services on Wednesday nights until further notice.

Brewton Church of Christ has already made some changes with other changes yet to be decided, according to pastor of the church, Richard Rogers.

“We will not have any night services going forward,” Rogers said. “That includes Wednesday and Sunday nights. We are still, at this point, determining what we will do on Sunday mornings. We will not have Sunday school, but we will be meeting to decide about our Sunday morning services later this week.”

Rogers said the church typically has about 90 people in their Sunday congregation with some in the group falling into a higher risk category as indicated by health officials.

“We have one couple who has already decided to stay at home and not go out for any reason,” Rogers said. “There are others who have illnesses that may affect attendance.”

Some decisions on future service schedules for many area churches will be made today (Wednesday) and that information will be published for public information as soon as it is available.

Other churches planning changes in services and public gatherings are:

• First Baptist Church in East Brewton: As of press time, the church is planning services for tonight but will be meeting to determine future changes.

• Cedar Hill Methodist Church: No Sunday services until further notice.

East Brewton First United Methodist: Will meet tonight and discuss a service plan for the coming weeks.

• Brewton First Baptist Church: No Wednesday services with a meeting of leadership planned to make decisions on services for the coming weeks.

• First Presbyterian Church of Brewton: No Wednesday services until April 15th and Leadership has already considered social changes in services including a deviation from the usual meet-and-greet aspect of services and passing the offering plate but expect to make scheduling decisions regarding Sunday worship services this week.

• East Brewton First United Methodist Church: Church leadership will meet during service time tonight (Wednesday) to determine if changes are warranted.

• First United Methodist Church: All services, including any meetings, have been cancelled for the next two weeks. Any needs or prayer requests can still be called in at the phone number listed for the church.