Updated COVID-19 guidelines for churches

June 3, 2020

Sunday worship should continue to be offered online where available. A senior/at risk service is helpful where possible. Continue to sanitize, practice social distancing, refrain from passing the plate, and encourage the use of masks.
 
Meetings, groups, and studies can we done in person using social distancing, sanitation, and encouragement of mask use.  Please consider the space and the number of attendees when preparing the space. Make sure there is adequate ventilation.
 
Coffee hours can be done in person with social distancing.  Outdoors is the safest environment. It is a good practice to have one person serve coffee and another place snack items (cookies, donuts, etc.) on plates or napkins so that handling is at a minimum. Wearing gloves for this task is safest.
 
Communion in one kind is still the safest way to receive the Sacrament. The chalice can be used at the discretion of the Rector or Vicar, taking overall safety into account.  We all may choose to only receive in one kind. Intinction by the distributing priest is encouraged.
 
For all special services such as baptism, please employ social distancing and current sanitization practices.

____________________________

May 12, 2020

Instructions for Additional Services

Regarding additional sacraments in a time of pandemic: 

As the virus remains among us and as time passes, we are going to have to make adjustments and pastoral exceptions with the sacramental acts of the Church.

Baptisms should continue while providing social distancing between candidates and their families, and between other candidates and their families. Clergy should sanitize their hands before and after touching anyone. Outdoor baptisms are encouraged. 

For weddings, the couple is encouraged to have the wedding in a church if possible, with a limited number of witnesses present and an online viewing opportunity. During this pandemic, outdoor weddings are permitted only with my permission.

I am returning to doing confirmations this week. I will use a sanitizing towel between one confirmand and the next, and social distancing will be required between each household.

Confessions can be heard with accommodation for social distancing or some form of barrier between priest and person. Please sanitize the space and any books or forms used, before and after.

Funerals should be done as a graveside service when possible. If gathering in a funeral home, follow their rules. If using a church building, follow the previous pastoral directive guidelines.

There will be three ordinations this summer. I will sanitize before and after the laying on of hands. For priestly ordinations, since at least two presbyters must be present for the bishop to confer Holy Orders, these two will serve as presenters and join me in the laying on of hands. The laying on of hands will be limited to me and these two priests.

For any questions that arise, please contact me or the Canon to the Ordinary. 


May 1, 2020

To the people of the Diocese of Fort Worth,

Greetings in the name of the Risen Lord and Savior of the world. Our hope is in Jesus Christ, and now more than ever, we need to affirm that truth.

Despite living in a time of pandemic and economic upheaval, we are blessed. One hundred years ago, during the Spanish flu, churches were shut down for months on end. With the benefit of technology, most of our churches have been able to continue worship, Bible studies, and other events in an online format.

COVID-19 disease remains prevalent in our community, and the number of new cases continues to increase on a daily basis. While we have used the state’s orders to help inform our decisions, we moved to online worship before the state “stay at home” order was issued out of love for our neighbor and a desire to not have the Church as a source of risk or infection. At same time, I know of no one who has been turned away from Sunday worship in our diocese. We are taking more direction from the State of Texas when it comes to how we reopen Camp Crucis for Summer Camps and are awaiting guidelines from Governor Abbott.

Many of us are ready to get back to “normal,” but we must recognize that it will be a “new normal” for quite some time. It has been frustrating for some clergy to preach to empty rooms and to be banned from visiting the sick in hospitals, but we are attempting to continue ministry with grace.

The clergy have received both recommendations and guidelines for in-person worship from the CDC and from the State of Texas to assist us as we increase in-person worship. This week I have spoken individually with every priest in charge of a congregation, and I have to say that I am so proud of – and impressed by – the clergy and wardens of this diocese. They have been innovative, positive, and bold in ministering in this age of pandemic. The clergy have put a great deal of work into thinking through how we gather as Christians while at the same time limiting the risk to the most vulnerable among us. This has included outdoor worship services, drive-up Communion, and ever-expanding online offerings.

As we move forward into the summer months, I am issuing an updated directive, but I also recognize that each of our congregations is dealing with its own unique demographics and geographical realities and will need to operate accordingly. Both Canon Atwood and I are available to answer questions or discuss ideas going forward as needed.


Updated Pastoral Directive
May 1, 2020

  1. The safest place for all of us to worship continues to be at home, where we can maintain maximum social distancing. Individuals with significant health problems including obesity, lung, liver, kidney or heart disease or those who have impaired immune systems, including those on chemotherapy for cancer, should take the maximum measures to stay safe during this pandemic and should refrain from attending public worship.
  2. The dispensation from physical Communion continues through the end of June for all of our
    senior members or at-risk members and anyone concerned about being infected with the virus or infecting others with the virus. This will require a continued online offering of worship and Spiritual Communion integrated into the liturgy.
  3. The norm for reception of the Eucharist will continue to be in “one kind” through the end of June.
  4. For us to safely gather in groups, we will have to maintain social distancing by household.
    Alternating pews or spacing between chairs will need to be maintained in the nave and elsewhere.
  5. Hand sanitizing for all members before and after worship services is encouraged. Clergy should sanitize their hands before and after distribution of Communion or after any contact is made with someone else.
  6. Church surfaces and items that are regularly touched must be sanitized before and after gatherings.
  7. The alms basin or collection plate must not be passed, but can be set out in an area where
    people can make their offerings.
  8. Dismissal should be done by pew or household to avoid a gathering at the door.
  9. All attendees are encouraged to wear face coverings or masks out of love for one another.
  10. Please do not shake hands or hug at the Peace. A simple verbal greeting, or head nod, is sufficient.
  11. All other church meetings and gatherings outside of Sunday worship services need to observe social distancing guidelines and are at the discretion of the Rector or Vicar.


I am working on plans to resume confirmations at my visitations, and we are expecting to do a number of ordinations this summer. Please continue to pray for those impacted by this virus either physically or economically. Please pray for the first responders and the health care workers who are ministering to so many at this time.

Finally, brothers and sisters, remember that, in St. Paul’s words from Romans 8, “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” In Christ, there is nothing for us to fear as we move forward with Gospel ministry in this age.






 Updated: April 21, 2020 

“May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing
through the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

To my brothers and sisters throughout the Diocese of Fort Worth,

 I want to begin by saying how proud and humbled I am by the way our clergy and leaders have adapted to ministry and worship in these trying times. So many creative ways to offer Word and Sacrament have been implemented so that the work of the Church can move forward! My prayers are for the health of everyone and for God’s provision for our families and congregations.
 
As the state prepares to open up to increased public activity, we will keep the seven requirements established last month (see below) in place through May. Rectors and Vicars are free to make changes based on any local or state guidelines that may apply.

As we return to more normal activity in our churches over the coming weeks and months, please stay informed and follow national and state guidelines for maintaining health. The diocesan office will open soon under new guidelines which will be posted on signs, on our Web site, and by e-mail.  
 
Please continue to pray for first responders, medical staff, and all families who have been impacted by this virus. 

 

Issued March 19, 2020

  1. I strongly recommend that all Rectors and Vicars enforce social distancing as recommended by the CDC by offering the Eucharist on a virtual platform or in groups of less than 10 persons, with the necessary precautions being observed. We will provide a resource page where Sunday worship can be observed online. Churches that are offering Morning Prayer are encouraged to use online platforms as well.
  2. Beginning today, March 19, 2020, I am Dispensing with the Obligation of our members to make their Communions until further notice.
  3. All non-essential meetings are to be postponed or conducted remotely. Church support staff are encouraged to work from home as much as possible.
  4. The Diocesan office will continue operations with a minimal staff, and the door will be locked during the day for safety reasons. Essential business will continue being conducted.
  5. Baptisms can be done in emergency situations, but please keep me informed by email or phone call.
  6. Burials must be graveside only and with as limited a family presence as possible with priest or deacon leading the prayers.
  7. No weddings may take place without my consent and will require limitations for safety.

Directiva Pastoral del Obispo Reed

  1. Recomiendo encarecidamente que todos los Rectores y Vicarios hagan cumplir el distanciamiento social según lo recomendado por el Centro de Control de Enfermedades Infecciosas (CDC) al ofrecer la Eucaristía en una plataforma virtual o en grupos de menos de 10 personas, observando las precauciones necesarias. Proporcionaremos una página de recursos en línea donde se puede observar la adoración dominical. También se les anima a las iglesias a ofrecer la oración matutina usando plataformas en línea.
  2. A partir de hoy, 19 de marzo de 2020, estoy prescindiendo de la obligación de nuestros miembros de hacer sus Comuniones hasta nuevo aviso.
  3. Todas las reuniones no esenciales deben posponerse o llevado a cabo a distancia. Se anima al personal de apoyo de la iglesia a trabajar desde casa tanto como sea posible.
  4. La oficina diocesana continuará operando con un personal mínimo, y la puerta estará cerrada durante el día por razones de seguridad. Los negocios esenciales se continuarán ofreciendo.
  5. Los bautismos se pueden hacer en situaciones de emergencia, pero por favor manténganme informado por correo electrónico o llamada telefónica.
  6. Los entierros deben ser solo junto a la tumba y con una presencia familiar tan limitada como sea posible con el sacerdote o el diácono dirigiendo las oraciones.
  7. No se pueden celebrar bodas sin mi consentimiento y requerirán limitaciones por motivos de seguridad.