JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga. - A Southeast Georgia town says an influx of tourists is forcing it to charge people to come through the doors of a historic church.
Faith Chapel on Jekyll Island has become an attraction, but it’s not free to operate.
With 112 years of rich history, from the stained glass windows to the beautiful architecture, visitors have come far and wide to see faith chapel.
“It’s always interesting to see a house of faith, so we thought we’d take a peek in,” said tourist Tom Davis.
Starting Feb. 1, that peek will no longer be free. Soon, it will cost $5 to get a tour, or step inside for contemplation, prayer or reflection. Some feel like it’s paying to pray.
“If they wanted to put a ‘donation please,’ that would be one thing – but to say ‘$5 please to look at the pretty stained glass windows.’ That’s sad,” said tourist Mary Cooper.
Action News Jax reached out to island leaders about the concerns and they said there are benefits.
Right now, these ornate doors are only open from 2 to 4 p.m. daily. The new fee would more than double that accessibility and allow it to be open six hours each day.
According to the Jekyll Island Authority, the church will remain available for organized religious services at no cost. The chapel will also be available for wedding rentals. The goal is to enhance and preserve its historic role.
Some tourists we spoke to aren’t feeling it. They say after all, it already costs $6 per car to get onto the state-run island.
“That’d be a shame. It’d be nice to be able to go into a church. Who pays to go into a church?” said Barbara Raible.
Those who buy a museum tour ticket can bypass the fee. It is all part of a re-vamping effort by the Jekyll Island Museum.