When Shall We Gather?
I am, as a most assured extrovert, like many of you, ready to get back to “normal,” especially as it concerns our church life. Regarding Governor Greg Abbott’s more recent communication, some houses of worship are resuming more typical in-person opportunities sooner rather than later. So the question on your minds may be, “When are we able to gather in-person for worship?”
The answer to that question is naturally tied to our ability to return safely and that has been spelled out by our Diocesan Bishop, The Right Rev. C. Andrew Doyle in consultation and communication with numerous sources, by examining our work as a church alongside guidance from leading infectious disease specialists and epidemiologists. The bottom line is our return will be a phased-in approach. In other words, we will not on one Sunday get back to things as we knew them. Rather, we will be allowed to enter into a new phase of gathering, the details of which are being worked out by individual Episcopal Churches in communication with their regional bishop. Meaning, I, as your Rector, have submitted a draft plan to Bishop Jeff Fisher of what it might look like to begin to come together in person. Many of the things spelled out in that plan are in accordance with the guidance and direction of Bishop Doyle. I assure you that we are working on a plan.
However, please know that we will not have clearance to move forward with our next phase of returning to in-person worship until Palestine demonstrates “a sustained reduction in cases [of COVID-19] for at least 14 days” (Church Imagined Gathering, The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle).
We are therefore closely monitoring numbers on a daily basis and continuing to firm up the details in consultation with our regional bishop of what it looks like on the Sunday following those glorious 14 days of a sustained reduction of cases in Palestine.
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church was one of the first churches in Palestine to recognize the importance of moving to online services for the health and well-being of others created in the same beautiful image of God as you. We will continue to be equally vigilant in doing our best to not only offer a safe and loving place to come back to in-person, but will continue to be vigilant, using our God-gifted abilities of reason, memory, and skill as we make decisions that can have life and death consequences.
Please continue to pray for me as your leader in Christ, the Vestry of St. Philip’s, our diocesan Bishops and their faithful leadership, for each other, and for our neighbors, as we all continue to face uncertainties with faith and love that are possible by our Lord Jesus Christ’s grace and mercy!
Thank you for joining us online for worship each Sunday at 10:30 AM and Wednesday at 5:30 PM, please continue to do so at fb.com/stphilipspalestine, and consider inviting others, there’s little to lose and much to gain. Also, thanks to your diligence in giving during this challenging time (take advantage of our online option for giving by clicking on the "Donate" button to your left on this page), we continue to have the ability to carry out our work as a church, please keep up the great work you’re doing of being Christ to our community and the world.
Continued Easter blessings,
Fr. Justin Briggle +