Several local churches suspending services

Published 5:24 pm Saturday, March 14, 2020

Several area churches will not have services Sunday out of precaution to limit their congregations’ potential exposure to the coronavirus, COVID-19.

“Based on the numerous phone calls and texts, (and) encouragement from congregational leaders, we have canceled our services in the morning, just to err on the side of caution,” said Dr. Matt Buckles, senior pastor at First Baptist Church.

Hawkins United Methodist Church has also canceled Sunday service.

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“Just as a precautionary measure, we’re not going to meet,” said the Rev. Tommy Miller, music minister. “We’ll make a decision this coming week about what to do (about future services) if we do anything else.”

The Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi announced Saturday it was canceling Sunday’s services and church services March 22.

“After much deliberation and prayer, I have decided that all face to face services of public worship in our Mississippi churches shall be suspended beginning tomorrow, March 14, through and including Sunday, March 22,” wrote the Right Rev. Brian R. Seage, bishop of Mississippi.

“This suspension includes all midweek face to face services of public worship. This is not a decision I make lightly. It is one I believe is justified, given the gravity of the circumstances of the moment.”

Seage said the decision was made “to protect and promote the health and safety of many of our communicants, and, I hope, to slow the spread of the pandemic in our corner of God’s kingdom.”

While there will be no formal services Sunday, Christ Episcopal Church Rector Sam Godfrey said the church will be open Sunday starting at 8 a.m. for individual prayer. “We’re just going to let people who want to just come in and pray,” he said.

Bishop Joseph Kopacz, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, Saturday granted a dispensation to all Catholics from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice, according to information from the diocese.

While Mass will still be celebrated, according to the diocese, the obligation to attend is dispensed.

King Solomon Baptist Church, which is celebrating its 160th anniversary Sunday, will hold services, pastor the Rev. R.D. Bernard said. “We are going to have our anniversary service as planned.”

Bernard said the church congregation will be doing something to help the community Monday.

“In light of the fact that many in our community live below the poverty line, and school lunch is so important, we’re going to feed the community on Monday,” he said.

He said church officials decided on the program Friday after officials with the Vicksburg Warren School District announced the schools would remain closed Monday.

“When we found out the schools were going to be closed Monday, we decided to feed whoever drove up from 11:30 (a.m.) to 1 o’clock on Monday,” he said.

The Rev. Bill Talbert, pastor of Solid Rock Pentecostal Church, said the church will have services Sunday.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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