More time for free prayer on Jekyll

The Jekyll Island Authority on Tuesday backtracked, somewhat, on plans to charge $5 to enter Faith Chapel.

Instead of requiring a fee to pray, reflect or simply visit the 112-year-old non-denominational church, the Authority decided the fee would be waived each day between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Critics, though, remain opposed to the so-called pay-to-pray proposal for the chapel in the historic heart of the state park which, by law, must remain “available to people of average income.”

“Our association would like to see it open at all times for prayer, mediation and reflection,” said Franklin Duncan, a retired Atlanta psychotherapist and president of the Jekyll Island Citizens Association. “They need income to care for that building. But they need to find other sources rather than charging anybody.”

Jones Hooks, the authority’s executive director, recently instituted an entrance fee for the ornate wooden chapel to defray maintenance costs as well as the roughly $9,000 spent annually on utility, insurance and fire district fees. He proposed keeping the chapel open more hours each day and allowing free entry for visitors who buy historic tour tickets. Sunday mornings too would be free to the public.

Volunteer docents currently keep the chapel in the state park open two hours daily. Come Feb. 1, it will be open six hours each day. And, unless Hooks changes his mind, cost $5.

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