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Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,


Many in the congregation are asking, “when will the doors of Christ Episcopal Church reopen for public worship?” The answer is June 7, 2020, at least for now. To be very clear: reopening could be delayed by weeks or even months! When open CEC might need to re-close should it be necessary! The live streaming of the Sunday service will continue.

Reopening the church requires reaching several benchmarks. Also, a complex and thorough plan must be designed. Bishop Doyle requires each parish, in the Diocese of Texas, to develop a reopening plan. The plan must follow specific guidelines set forth by the Bishop. Once developed, it needs the approval of the regional bishop: Bishop Ryan. 


The reopening will take place in four phases. Bishop Doyle states: “For our purposes phase I is oriented around the work of slowing the spread [of the virus]. Phase II includes lifting of “stay home – work safe” protocols while still prohibiting large groups. Phase III is about returning to work and a regularity of public life. Phase IV is the work of preparing for future pandemics.”


According to Bishop Doyle's guidelines, CEC is in Phase I (Civil governments may be ‘reopening’ areas under their jurisdiction, but the Bishop Diocesan has ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the Episcopal churches of the diocese). Before executing the approved reopening plan, the town and or county where a church is located must be in Phase II.


What are the Phase II benchmarks?

According to the Diocese Phase II will look like:

"-There is a sustained reduction in cases [of COVID-19] for at least 14 days. 

-Local hospitals are safely able to treat all patients requiring hospitalization without resorting to crisis standards of care. 

-The city or state is testing all people with COVID-19 symptoms (though recommended by all epidemiologists, this is unlikely to happen due to differences in government vs 

health protocols).

-The state is able to conduct active monitoring of confirmed cases and their contacts. 

-Case-Based Interventions are implemented, including quarantine while waiting for results, traced relationships over 14 days, and quarantine for close contacts, accompanied.”

(Church Imagined Gathering, By The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle) 


Only when these benchmarks are reached, will the approved plan for reopening go into effect. Please note, many of the parameters are regionally dependent. Therefore, not all Episcopal churches across the Diocese of Texas will open on the same Sunday. Churches will begin opening when the local criteria and Bishop allows them to open.  


The planing is underway at Christ Episcopal Church. I, the Vestry, and staff are working together, planning a safe reopening. 

The following requirements drive the shape of our plan. Our plan must:

1. Receive permission from the regional bishop. 

2. Encourage staff or community members to protect their personal health. 

3. Post the signs and symptoms of COVID-19: fever, cough, shortness of breath. 

4. Clergy and church employees will be tested for COVID-19, with negative results, if such testing is required by local civic leaders. 

5. People will be required to wear fabric non-medical face masks while in the community (church buildings) to reduce their risk of asymptomatic spread. 

6. Clean surfaces that are frequently touched- such as shared desks, countertops, kitchen areas, electronics, and doorknobs. 

7. Limit events and meetings that require close contact. In worship this means: 

A. No sharing of the common cup.

B. No physical touch during the passing of the Peace. 

8. Stay up to date on developments in your community. 

9. Create an emergency plan for possible outbreak. You will need to close if someone contracts COVID-19. And, participants with proximity to the individual who is sick will have to be quarantined. Surfaces will have to be cleaned by an outside contractor. 

10. Assess which community members are at higher risk and plan accordingly. We would advise that vulnerable populations of individuals “older than age 60 and those with compromised immune systems or compromised lung and heart function, should continue to engage in physical distancing as much as possible until a vaccine is available, an effective treatment is available, or there is no longer community transmission.” 

11. Ask those who are sick to stay home and seek testing for COVID-19. Testing should become more widespread and routine. We will want to pray for them and follow up ensuring safe distancing and 14-day protocols prior to reentering offices and gatherings. 

12. Each congregation will need to receive permission from the regional bishop to reopen the office and to regather for bible study or worship. Permission during phase III will also need to be sought to restart service ministries. (ibid)


Please be patient and flexible. If the benchmarks begin to deteriorate or there is an outbreak, within the congregation, the church will re-close. Then the church will reopen as circumstances permit.


Why are we following such elaborate requirements? We are doing so because Christ commanded us to love one another.

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

(John 13:34–35 NRSV) https://accordance.bible/link/read/NRSVS#John_13:34


Reducing the spread of the SARS-COV-2 virus is one way the parishioners of CEC share the love of Christ. 


I will do my best to keep you all informed about the plan to reopen the church and any delays opening.


In Christ,

The Rev. Robert K. Chambers

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The disciples, walking on the Road to Emmaus, were fleeing the horrible events that took place in Jerusalem. They experienced tremendous loss. The man they gave their lives to follow was betrayed. Their Rabbi died a dishonorable death. All their friends scattered out of fear. A way of life they believed would lead them to better life ended. All hope was gone.

Currently, people are stuck at home, and much of the economy is shut down. Many have lost jobs. Some have lost their way of life. 

Just because the economy is shut down, the demands of life do not take a break. Families must eat. Utility bills must get paid. Cars need gas. Medical bills pile up. When out of work and short on money, life seems hopeless. 

We must be ready to help our sisters and brothers who have been affected by Covid-19. We must prepare to help parishioners feed their families, pay bills, gas up the car, access medical care. We can give them hope. 

Christ Episcopal Church is now collecting money for the Covid-19 Assistance Fund. 

On the road to Emmaus, when darkness fell, Christ opened the eyes of the disciples. Christ prayed. He broke bread and gave it to them. The disciples saw it was Christ by his actions. They understood Christ had been walking with them the whole time. With hope and joy restored, they ran back to Jerusalem proclaiming, the Good News.

Walking by our side is Christ. As Christ walks with us, we walk together with our brothers and sisters of Christ Episcopal Church. Together we will make our way through the darkness cast by Covid-19. We light the dark road by praying for one another and helping each other. Giving our people "bread to eat," in the form of financial assistance, we will restore hope.

Please, contribute to the Covid-19 Assistance Fund.

"Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

(John 13:34–35 NRSV)

In Christ,

Robert+

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Dear People of Christ Episcopal Church,

Due to the developing news about COVID-19, Bishop Doyle is asking parishioners to worship from home for the next two weeks and to suspend in person gatherings of more than 10 people.

For Sunday Worship

We are not canceling worship. We would like for you to praise God and hear God’s word with us from home. This Sunday, worship will be provided from the Cathedral online (http://www.christchurchcathedral.org/).

For families, we have provided lessons from Sermons 4 Kids that are free to download so you may continue to worship with your children at home:

(https://web.sermons4kids.com/free-sunday-school-lesson-church-home/?maropost_id=744283067&utm_source=maropost&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=S4K-coronavirus-freelesson-200313&mpweb=256-8686875-744283067)

Starting 3/22, we will have the full service sheets and recorded sermons provided for download on our website and Facebook page.

We have online donation via PayPal available on our website if you would like to make an offering or continue your pledge. https://www.cectx.org/giving

For Meetings and Fellowship this Week

Our office staff will be working from home the next 2 weeks. Please email them if you need to reach them.

All meetings and gatherings will be held virtually, including the Lenten Series. Please look for further information from your ministry heads this week.

What Can YOU Do Right Now?

Please spread the message with others who may not have internet access. Ministry heads, please contact those in your ministries. Friends, please contact your friends. We want to let as many people know as possible. 

As We Move Forward

We do not want to stop being present. The way we connect and worship with each other may be different, but we are called to be there for others in Christ's love. It will be difficult in the upcoming weeks, but we will make it through together.

Deacon Jan sent me this last week that may provide comfort during this time:

Lura Steele fr ERD said she recently learned that the Prayer Book for the Armed Forces (1988) has a section entitled When You Cannot Attend Worship. It includes this prayer: 

In union, O Lord, with your faithful people at every altar of your Church, where the Holy Eucharist is now being celebrated. I desire to offer you praise and thanksgiving. I remember your death, Lord Christ; I proclaim your resurrection; I await your coming in glory. And since I cannot receive you today in the Sacrament of your Body and Blood, I beseech you to come spiritually into my heart. Cleanse and strengthen me with your grace, Lord Jesus, and let me never be separated from you. May I live in you, and you in me, in this life and the life to come. Amen.

We will continue to follow the recommendations of the Diocese, local health officials, and the CDC. Know that the safety and health of our congregation is extremely important to us, and we will continue to show God's love and presence in all that we do. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. I am here to help you in any way I can.

Jenn Landreneau CEC Senior Warden


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3520 W Whitestone Blvd, Cedar Park, TX 78613, USA

(512) 267-2428

©2019 Christ Episcopal Church, Cedar Park, TX.