“Enter as strangers…leave as friends!”
I am writing to you at the behest of Bishop Doyle. In obedience to my bishop I am required to share with you the following, which he sent to the heads of all congregations in the Diocese of Texas this afternoon:
“I am asking all parishioners to worship with us from home for the next two Sundays.
I am asking all clergy to organize virtual opportunities for worship, bible study, and small groups.
If you are not able to provide virtual worship this Sunday, the Cathedral will be offering online worship (www.christchurchcathedral.org).
My expectation is that churches will organize their own offering by next Sunday and the Diocesan office will continue to provide resources to help with that.
I am not requiring you to cancel every event on your campus; you must use your best judgment for support groups and other small gatherings.
However, experts are recommending no gatherings of more than 10 people. I would encourage the use of virtual support groups for those in recovery. A.A. has communicated alternatives on its website, including the use of intergroup, which offers online gatherings. The bottom line is that you will need to figure out how your work continues in your context. Take the necessary steps to put safety first. Clergy can go to the church to lead, record, and livestream virtual services with our people and may continue to go into the office if necessary. It is my Godly counsel that we refrain from gathering for worship and in large groups at our churches during this time of Covid -19 outbreak - enabling us to slow the spread.”
**In accordance with the above recommendations from the Bishop, we will not be gathering for worship on Sunday.**
We will be worshiping together in spirit on Sunday morning and not in person. I am hoping to arrange for a virtual live broadcast of Morning Prayer from our sanctuary at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning for you to follow along with at home. If this is possible, I will send you a link that you can click on in order to follow the service.
Beginning with worship this Sunday, it will be our policy at St. James, in accordance with diocesan policy, that for the next two weeks we will not gather in any groups of more than 10. (In accordance with the national and state emergencies declared by the Governor and the President, this is to slow the spread of the virus so that our healthcare system does not become overwhelmed).
We will keep you posted as to when we will resume our regular worship schedule.
I have been in contact with our preschool director Laurie Krupala, we are awaiting news from LGISD. If the determination is made to cancel public school, our school and church office will follow suit.
All Choir activities have been suspended until further notice.
More information from The Episcopal Diocese of Texas can be found here: https://www.epicenter.org/health-resources/
Please keep me updated on your individual health situations. If you are in need of prayer and do not want to leave your home please email me at email@example.com and I will arrange a time to call for prayer. I will be available for one on one meetings throughout next week.
Remember that Christ is with us at all times, we gather as a sign of our Oneness in Christ but even as we stay home for virtual worship over the course of the next two weeks, remember that we are inextricably linked as the Body of Christ. Know that you are all on my heart and in my prayers. We are a people who proclaim the love of God and we persevere knowing that the Love of God will sustain us through any and all tribulations of this mortal life.
This congregation has been through many trials and tribulations we have weathered many difficulties throughout our history, the Yellow Fever Epidemic of the 1860s the Spanish Flu of the early 1900s, hurricanes, and floods, most recently your valiant response to Hurricane Harvey. We are a people of strong faith and Christian love and service. I am proud to be the rector of such a strong parish!
I leave you with these scripture quotations and I invite you to pray them with me.
“The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
Yours in Christ,
Our mission is
to be a welcoming worship community,
where God's presence is felt and from which,
we are sent to proclaim Christ’s love and serve others.
Worship...providing a prayerful, learning environment that touches every heart and enriches every soul.
Fellowship...offering social and spiritual interactivity, sharing the peace and love of Jesus Christ both within the church and beyond the doors of our church.
Service...doing God's work in our community and the world.
Historical Presence...celebrating over 150 years of the Anglican tradition in our community and creating the spiritual foundation and means to ensure the future of our parish family.
Church Family...sharing a Christ-centered relationship that welcomes, loves, and cares for each individual.
Jesus said, "I do not call you servants any longer...but I have called you friends..." (John 15:15)