Earlier this week, the Governor of Texas held a press conference in which he announced that Texas will open 100%, including lifting limitations on gatherings and the mask mandate. You may be wondering how this decision will impact us at St. Martin-in-the-Fields.
The protocols we follow at St. Martin’s were developed by a team of knowledgeable people assembled by Bishop Scott Mayer and in conversation with clergy across the diocese. Those will continue to be the protocols under which we operate until the Bishop and those upon whose counsel he relies believe it is safe to relax them. Until then, we will continue to operate as we have been.
That said, recent trends suggest that our protocols may move to another phase in a few months. We are encouraged by the increased number of vaccinations and the decreasing number of COVID-positive cases in Tarrant and surrounding counties. In fact, we believe that the practices we have been following have contributed to these positive trends.
Our own regathering team, which has met almost weekly for the past year, our Liturgy and Music Commission, our Christian Formation Commission, and our Vestry have begun having conversations about how we can take the first steps toward return to in-person worship, study, fellowship, and other parish gatherings in the not-too-distant future, perhaps even sometime this summer.
Initially, we anticipate two Eucharistic services on Sunday morning, the second of which would be live streamed. The distribution of Holy Communion would continue in the same safe manner as we have for some time. We would have to limit the number of worshipers in the Nave and require hand sanitization, face coverings, and assigned seating to facilitate distancing. Drive-in worship in the parking lot would still be an option and we would have the ability to provide additional seating in the Parish Hall where we have large screen televisions on which to view the service. Seating outside on the lawn between the Nave and the parking lot might also be possible if the weather permits. These conversations are allowing us to anticipate logistical and practical challenges that will require management by members of the parish.
What this means is that, while we will abide by whatever laws or protocols are required by public officials, we will continue to exercise controls that we believe are in the best interest of those given into our care at St. Martin’s. When the community trends reach the point when we can begin to regather, we will be ready!
In the meantime, thank you for your patience and understanding. Please continue to join us online for worship and other opportunities. Help with our ongoing outreach ministries. Sign up to work in the Good News Garden or join the Holy Mowers. Pray for the Rector Search and pray for progress in the effort to subdue this virus. Love one another, be mindful of others with whom you come into contact, wear your masks, wash your hands, maintain distance, get the vaccine, and stay in touch. If you need the help of your clergy or our St. Martin’s Helping Hands Team, please let us know.
The Very Reverend Ron Pogue
St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church