Local church leaders respond to governor’s order

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – As Gov. Brian Kemp reopened the state of Georgia by executive order, many religious leaders statewide and locally said they think the situation is still dangerous.

“Put your people ahead of what the politicians are saying,” said Reverend Chester Ellis as he participated in a meeting on Zoom of Savannah area pastors and Mayor Van Johnson.

Johnson said he couldn’t tell pastors not to open their churches as Kemp’s order allows, but he was urging them not to do so.

“You seem to recognize as I do that we can reach God without going through a building,” Johnson said.

All of the nearly two dozen pastors who signed into the Zoom meeting said they were not going to open churches — at least not now.

The Catholic Diocese of Georgia announced it will not reopen churches through the month of May. Statewide, mosques will not open either despite the fact Ramadan is beginning.

Abdullah Jaber from the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) says they are concerned about the health of the many they service.

“And the danger of this virus spreading and then the possibility of seeing a surge and a much greater spike and the loss of life,” said Jaber.

Mickve Israel will remain closed as well, with one official indicating Friday they have many who attend synagogue who are over the age of 60.

Pastor Eric Mason from Jesus First the Community Church told News 3 that many local pastors remain worried about their constituents.

“We are talking specifically about those with underlying health conditions especially in the African American community who have diabetes, heart disease, asthma, things that would kind of be an issue in the long run with this virus,” said Mason. “So our goal is to try to keep people sheltered and at home.”

Many local religious leaders say they will continued to follow science and the fact that cases in Chatham County increased again on Friday.

“Does economics come before lives? In my mind, that’s a no,” said Reverend Ellis.

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