June 26, 2020
Dear People of Grace,
Your Wardens and I have been hard at work for the last several weeks putting a plan for us to safely regather for in-person worship. Our “Imagine Regathering” plan has been approved by Bishop Monterroso. We have been looking forward to our first opportunity for public worship since mid-March, tentatively scheduled to take place on Sunday, July 12.
Yet, I must share with you that we will need to wait a little longer. I received a letter from Bishop Monterroso last week, asking that congregations in the Houston area suspend in-person gatherings until the current surge in the COVID-19 situation improves. Also announced was the postponement of the Deacon's Ordination service scheduled for this coming Saturday at Christ Church Cathedral. The delay in this ordination impacts people close to our congregation: Marcia Sadberry, our former seminarian intern, and Luz Cabrera Montes, granddaughter-in-law to Padre Alejandro and cousin to Ellis. Once we know the new date of the ordination service, we will be sure you are informed.
As I have said from the beginning, our decision to say apart as a congregation is motivated by love for one another; not by fear. We will continue to be leaders in the community, examples of self-sacrifice for the good of others. Out of love for our neighbor, I ask that we all continue to be diligently conscientious about contributing to public health during pandemic: we should be staying home as much as we possibly can, wearing masks when we must be out and about, maintaining a minimum 6 ft social distance from anyone not living in our homes, and washing our hands and sanitizing thoroughly. As Christians, the central event of our faith is the total sacrifice of our Saviour for the sake of all. Our commitment to follow Jesus means, at a very minimum, that we will always choose our own inconvenience for the good of others.
All of this leads me to announcing, sadly, that we will not regather, as planned, on July 12th for in-person worship. Please know that we continue to monitor the data coming out of the CDC, state & local governments, The Houston Medical Center, and any other credible scientific information we can obtain and absorb. As soon as the data supports physical regathering as the reasonably safe, responsible, and LOVING thing for us to do, an announcement will be made. Our hope beyond certainty is that we may regather in August.
I am pleased to share with you that we are moving forward with a contract to assemble, install, and train our team to use higher quality technology for our video recording and editing efforts around weekly online worship. These improvements will be a great help to us during this time apart, but they will also be able to support our commitment to continuing our online worship presence into the future, even after we have begun to gather at the church for worship once again. This work is being made possible in large part by an anticipated grant from the Diocese of Texas and a generous donation by a member of the Grace family.
I am so proud of our church community and how we have tenaciously stuck together during this unprecedentedly trying time. Please take time this week and reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in the last couple of months. Check in on them. Pray with them. Ask if you might be able to help one another in some way. Continue in the way of love.
With you on the way,