“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” (Psalm 122:1)
I don’t know the context for the psalmist saying those words, but I know his (or her) gladness at hearing them and I’ll bet you do too. We’ve waited a long time to hear someone say those words. Bishop Reed has now said those words to the Diocese and I, as your priest, now say them to you. “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
I say those words to you with thanksgiving and in joyful anticipation of celebrating with you the Holy Eucharist. I say them also with concern for your health and well being, knowing that the virus is not gone and we are not returning to things as they used to be.
While we cannot eliminate the risks associated with gathering in person, the vestry and I have prepared a plan to manage and, hopefully, minimize those risks. Please be mindful of this and your own risk factors such as age and health as you discern whether or not to resume worshipping in person. Some will choose to resume now, some will wait a bit longer. There is no one right answer for everyone.
As you may have read in last week’s e-news, Bishop Reed has given churches permission to resume a modified form of in-person worship beginning May 25. St. Philip’s has received diocesan approval to resume in-person worship (Holy Eucharist) on Trinity Sunday, June 7, at 10:30 a.m.
Our plan is to celebrate the Eucharist each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. in the church. At this time we are not resuming the 8:00 a.m. service on Sundays or the healing service on Thursdays. Meetings and classes will continue on Zoom.
We will continue to live-stream the Sunday service even after resuming in-person worship. You can access the live-stream on our Facebook page (even if you do not have a Facebook account).
The church office will reopen on Wednesday, May 27. Office hours will be 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
Between Now and Then
- The Sunday services for May 24th and 31st will be Morning Prayer. They will be available by live-stream only, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
- In accordance with the diocesan Guidelines for the Phased Reopening of Churches in West Texas, the vestry has approved a plan for resuming in-person worship. Our plan for reopening has been approved by the Diocese. The documents outlining the plan and protocols will be published in the e-news, on our Facebook page, and on our website.
- The church and offices will be cleaned and sanitized.
- Orientation and training regarding liturgical changes and health and safety measures will be provided for employees and volunteers (altar guild, acolytes, readers, ushers, greeters).
- Additional equipment and technology resources will be put in place to enhance our worship and promote health and safety.
What You May Expect
- We will observe social distancing guidelines and wear masks. Please bring and wear a mask. Masks will be available at church if your forget to bring one.
- Ushers will assist with seating and dismissing the congregation. Please do not gather in groups before or after the service.
- Prayer Books and hymnals will not be used. We are not able at this time to have congregational singing. Music and the liturgy will be on television screens in the church.
- Please refrain from shaking hands, hugging, kissing, or other physical contact including at the peace.
- Communion will be distributed at the bottom of the steps in front of the altar. Only the bread will be distributed.
- The church will be cleaned and sanitized before and after each service. The offices and restrooms will be cleaned and sanitized daily.
- Please enter and leave the church through the Getty St. doors.
- The kitchen, Briscoe Hall, Grace Hall, classrooms, nursery, and playground will remain closed.
As you’ve seen from the last couple of months things can change quickly and often. The vestry and I will keep in contact with the Diocese, stay abreast of guidelines and recommendations from medical experts, and be mindful of our local conditions. We’ll adjust our plan as necessary to fit what is happening.
We’re all “faithing” our way through this and figuring it out as we go, and I am grateful to be doing that with you. I am grateful to be your priest. Thank you for your love, support, and trust. I am inspired by your faith, care of one another, and the many ways you continue to be “a public face of Christ.” I look forward to being with you, whether in person or online. You remain in my love and prayers.
Glory to God whose power, working in us,
can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine:
Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church,
and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.
God’s peace be with you,