Friday, June 19, 2020

Amending Guidelines For Phased Reopening of Churches

19 June 2020

From Bishop Reed today.  Some good news!

Amending Guidelines for Phased Reopening of Churches

Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 2:15 PM
June 18, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Diocesan staff and I have been working for the past two weeks on guidelines with next steps
for more extensive reopening of our churches. Then, the much-predicted post-Memorial Day
surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases, along with increased hospitalizations, hit Texas. And it
continues to hit numerous communities and counties within the Diocese of West Texas.
Even knowing that there are a number of towns in the Diocese blessed with low case counts, it
would not be wise to ignore the present situation and move towards a substantial reopening of
our churches and their ministries at this time, especially since many congregations are just
beginning to ease back into in-person worship.
So, for the time being, the current Phase 2 guidelines governing public worship and the
reopening of church offices remain in place at this time, with the following two limited

1. Beginning July 1, Vestries and Bishop’s Committees may resume in-person
meetings, following all protocols for gatherings outlined in the Guidelines for Reopening.
Whenever possible, provision is to be made for members to participate remotely.

2. Beginning July 1, AA and other 12-step groups; other support groups; and
ministries related to social services such as mental health and feeding the hungry,
may return to church facilities, with the permission of the Rector/Vicar and
Vestry/Bishop’s Committee. Because of the critical need for these groups, clergy and lay
leadership may choose to give them access to church facilities, even if the church has
not yet begun in-person worship. All in-person meetings or gatherings at the church should
follow protocols outlined in the Guidelines for Reopening.

These amendments are made with the expectation that diocesan and local guidelines will
continue to be communicated and followed. Physical distancing, use of masks, careful
sanitizing of spaces, and common-sense hygiene remain key to reducing risks of gatherings.
Prior to the above-mentioned groups returning to your church’s facilities and grounds, church
leaders must provide them with their local plans for reopening, and also with the Guidelines
for the Phased Reopening of Churches in the Diocese of West Texas, sent to all churches
on May 1, and available on the diocesan website. Leaders of these outside groups must agree
to abide by physical distancing and sanitation protocols. Unless the church provides cleaning
and sanitation for the group, that group must have their own plan, in writing, for maintaining
standards set in the guidelines. A copy of that plan is to be given to the church’s
leadership. Your church’s leadership is responsible for determining the maximum capacity of
any room used by outside groups.
Questions will surely arise about why this kind of meeting, but not that kind of meeting. Please
keep in mind that we are all having to learn new ways of being together. Adding gatherings in
small, incremental ways allows people to experience, assess, and adjust much more easily
than if we were to begin all things again, all at once.
Finally, this surge in confirmed cases and hospitalizations comes at a time when quite a few of
our churches had just begun to reopen for in-person worship. The combination for many has
been unsettling—joy at being together in church, mingled with fear about the risks, and/or that
they may have to reduce programming or return to online-only worship again.
I remind Clergy and Vestries/Bishop’s Committees that the diocesan guidelines give you
full authority to make that decision based on your own congregation and the local
COVID-19 situation. We have said all along that the pandemic has not gone away; surges are
likely; paying attention to local health officials is crucial; and we must all understand that we
may need to backtrack. All plans these days are subject to change. As much as we share in
common, each church has its own particular characteristics that should be considered when
deciding whether to hold in-person worship services.
Size of the congregation, age of members, number of families, size of the worship space,
number of available staff and volunteers are all significant factors that make it hard to come up
with a one-size-fits-all plan for the entire diocese. Church leaders should remain focused on
what they believe is best for their congregants and staff in regard to resuming or continuing
public worship. They should also value and seek out regular conversation and collaboration
with neighboring churches to support and learn from one another.
Please note, the 14-day consistent decline in confirmed cases, which has been such a
significant part of government and public health rules and recommendations, and thus, a
consistent piece of diocesan communications, is no longer being emphasized nearly so much.
Instead, as testing for the virus has become more widely available, health officials have begun
emphasizing the “positivity rate” (positive test results, relative to all tests administered), as well
as hospitalizations. While the statistics can be confusing and, at times, interpreted in
contradictory ways, the present reality is that none of the measurements are trending in a good
direction statewide.
For any questions or concerns that arise, you may contact the Rev. Mike Besson, Archdeacon,
at or 281-787-6311.
Please know that you are constantly in my thoughts and prayers, and that if I have to go
through a pandemic (which apparently, I do), I would not choose to go through it with anyone
other than you, the clergy and people of West Texas.
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face his face to shine upon you
and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
David M. Reed
Bishop of West Texas
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas | (210) 824-5387 | 111 Torcido Drive, San Antonio TX |

Friday, May 22, 2020

Phased Reopening of our Diocesan Churches for Worship

Good morning!
My apologies.  It has been WAY too long.  I hope all is well with you and yours.  Although we are all looking forward to being together again, we must do so safely.  I'm sure y'all know that on the day of Pentecost, this year 31 May, we can get back to some new type of public worship.  It will have some restrictions, but be "public" none the less.  I have included the link to Bishop Reed's direction here.  God bless!

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Next Right Step: Apportionment and Public Worship

Hi, All,
It's been a few days since my last post.  Bishop Reed did a Blog post today.  Also, this was published in several places.   I have included the link to his post.  The Diocese has a page dedicated to COVID-19.  I miss y'all, but it looks like it could be 30 April before we can get together.  The Bishop said depending on life in general, that date may change.  God bless.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Worship Service Live Stream Within the Diocese

The Diocese has a COVID-19 resource/info page.  Here is the link:

Scroll toward the bottom and you will see a heading, Worship Services Live Stream Within the Diocese.  There are links to several of our churches that have live streaming or recorded services.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Next Right Step: Public Gatherings Suspended

This was sent out this afternoon from Bishop Reed's Office.  All public meetings and in person worship is suspended until 1 April.  Below is a link to his article.  Remember, we are the church.  Check the PIM web site for some links to online resources.  We will get thru this.

5th Sunday Canceled

Sadly, due to the virus, our gathering at St. James, Hallettsville has been canceled.  The Diocesan Standing Committee is meeting with the Bishop today and we should have more info and guidance regarding worship later.  Stay strong!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Worship Online

Good morning,
Seems we may not be gathering in some places for a time.  I want to make online resources available by providing links.  Please, send me any you ma have as well for this blog and out PIM website.  Thanx.  Stay safe.