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Gaines Chapel AME Church of Waycross: Lingering effects of COVID threaten building, legacy

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Gaines Chapel AME Church of Waycross: Lingering effects of COVID threaten building, legacy Submitted photos

By Caitlin Wolfe




Gaines Chapel AME Church in Waycross is a historical church that has sat idle since COVID struck in 2020. Jay White, a 39-year-old Douglas business owner, has been a member of the church since he was born. He says that after the decision was made to stop attending in person services due to the rise of COVID, the church began holding services over the phone every Sunday. However, over time, the inability to maintain the building itself has caused some major wear and tear on this beautiful brick church. 



Gaines Chapel AME Church, one of the oldest churches in Waycross, dates back to the late 1800’s and is said to have been a pillar of strength and hope for many generations. The historical significance of Gaines Chapel in Waycross is even told in their local museum. With its current youngest member being around 60 years old, the church doesn’t have a lot of access to social media. Jay says he recently reached out to the Gaines Chapel pastor, Dr. Kathleen Joseph, and offered his help in hopes of restoring his childhood sanctuary. 



Since 2020, the building has faced flooding and shattered windows that have allowed the elements to really take a toll on its structure. Jay states, “We’re really trying to bring in some donations and anything to help right now.” The ultimate goal for him and the members of Gaines Chapel AME Church of Waycross is to get the building up and running again. As stated on the church’s GoFundMe page, “Every contribution, no matter how big or small, will make a significant difference. Together, we can breathe new life into Gaines Chapel AME Church and preserve its historical and spiritual significance.” 



To make a donation, you can visit the church’s GoFundMe page titled, “Helping Restore Gaines Chapel AME Church.” For non monetary donations or help, you can also reach out to Jay White through social media or visit his local business in Douglas, PC Virus Busters. 

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