SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease across the country, life is starting to trend back to normal. For churchgoers, that means ditching their laptops to return to in-person service.
“It feels great, it was more emotional than I thought it was going to be,” said Billy Hester, Senior Minister at Asbury Memorial Church. “Boy, it just hit the heart strings having everybody back together again.”
Sunday served as a homecoming of sorts for the dedicated members at Asbury Memorial Church in Savannah. The return of in-person worship for the first time in over a year.
During the pandemic, services were pre-recorded and uploaded weekly to their website. Now, as the group switches their focus back to in-person service, a live streaming option will remain available for those who might still feel uncomfortable meeting in person.
“Anything we could do to stay connected, it’s obviously been very difficult on older people who live by themselves so we especially tried to emphasize connecting with them. This place means a lot to people, it has quite a history,” said Hester.
Judy Wilburn, Asbury Memorial Church member, described the service as safe and welcoming.
“We definitely felt safe, the restrictions are probably more than you have in most places with the masks, no congregational singing, but we still had the music. We have not been away from each other in spirit or communication, but the in-person is just so special,” Wilburn said.
Asbury Memorial prides themselves in being an inclusive place of worship for all members, regardless of race, age, gender, or sexual orientation. With June being LGBTQ+ pride month, that mission is on full display as Associate Minister Claire Marich dawns a rainbow sash on her cassock.
“This church has always been a sanctuary for people in the LGBTQ community, and it feels wonderful to be gathered again creating a safe space for people emotionally, spiritually and physically. I’m really grateful that our health has gotten us to a point where we can be here and support one another in-person,” said Marich.
Asbury Memorial held two services on Sunday to allow their members to spread out and better socially distance. Other precautions included no passing of the plate, only allowing a small choir to sing, and recommending that those in attendance continue to wear masks while inside. Each of the two morning services were capped at 100 people.
Those interested in attending Asbury Memorial Church’s in-person worship services are required to register either online on their website or by calling the church office at 912-233-4351.