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Some metro Atlanta churches requiring vaccinations for in-person worship

Piney Grove Baptist Church said it's requiring its worshippers to sign a waiver, get a temperature check and show proof of vaccination for in-person services.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — More vaccine requirements are popping up across metro Atlanta including at a DeKalb County church.

Atlanta has more than half a dozen mega churches alone with some averaging more than 10,000 parishioners on any given Sunday.

With the crowds and the spread of the Delta variant, some faith centers are taking extra precautions to keep people safe.

"We are not apologizing for being the most cautious and conservative during this period," Piney Grove Baptist Church Rev. William E. Flippin Sr. said.

Piney Grove Baptist Church in DeKalb County said it's requiring its worshippers to to sign a waiver, get a temperature check and show proof of vaccination before attending in-person services.

"We said we were going to follow the science…everyone wanted to come to church, but we were going to follow the science and we did just that," Flippin Sr. said. 

The church has about 3,000 active members and 5,000 total members. Church staff said they began requiring proof of vaccination several weeks ago. 

Mount Ephraim Baptist Church in Bankhead is also requiring vaccination proof. 

"Congregations and their leaders are in a very difficult place right now because we want to be welcome and open to visitors, and our congregation and that bumps up against for example – 'you can only enter this space if you're wearing a mask' or 'you can only enter this space if you're vaccinated,'" Associate Professor at Emory University's Candler School of Theology Edward Phillips said.

Phillips has been working with church leaders and scholars nationwide to create guidance for congregations. He said there's no one right way to respond. 

"Let's be willing to be really open and forgiving of people who are struggling…who might make decisions that we as individuals might worry about….at the same time to not allow misinformation to hold sway any kind of decision," Phillips said.

According to the CDC's website, other recommendations for communities of faith include avoid sharing worship materials and avoid poorly ventilated indoor spaces.