Update Regarding In-Person Worship

Dearest hermanos y hermanas en Cristo,

I write to you to give an update regarding in-person worship services at El Mesías. The Administrative Council and I met on April 29 to discuss Governor Abbott’s latest executive order, which allows his previous shelter-at-home order to expire on April 30. The current executive order (Phase 1 of the larger plan created by the Governor’s Strike Force) allows movie theatres, shopping malls, retail stores, and restaurant dining rooms to open at 25 percent capacity. Social distancing is still in effect, requiring people who are not in the same household to maintain a distance of 6 feet from one another. Face coverings are not required in public places but are strongly encouraged. Depending on the effects of Phase 1 on COVID-19 cases, we will either move to Phase II or return to stricter social distancing. Under the current order, churches may gather, provided they are able to observe certain protocols for cleaning and social distancing.

On Monday, April 27, Bishop Schnase and 300 clergy members of the Río Texas Annual Conference met via teleconference to discuss relaunching in-person worship services in our local churches. The Bishop reminded us that as Wesleyans, our first General Rule is to “Do No Harm.” Members of the Body of Christ are called to care for the least of these – the vulnerable among us – which includes those who are most susceptible to COVID-19: our elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Many of our members fall into these two categories. Just because we can meet for worship, doesn’t mean we should. The Bishop’s recommendation is that local churches should not resume in-person worship before May 31, 2020.  

Therefore, the Administrative Team and I have set a tentative date of May 31, 2020 to resume in-person worship services. This will give us time to evaluate the effects of relaxed social distancing measures in our community while protecting the most vulnerable among us. Even after we resume in-person worship, we will continue to offer digital worship options through our Facebook page and YouTube channel, as well as printed materials for those who prefer them. We encourage anyone who is particularly vulnerable to consider remaining at home, utilizing these alternative worship experiences.

This pandemic has been unpredictable in many ways – rapidly changing and filled with unknowns. While we have set a tentative date to resume in-person worship, it may change based on public health guidelines from our county and state officials and recommendations from Bishop Schnase. The Administrative Team will be meeting weekly via teleconference to discuss any updates and to reevaluate our timeline if necessary. We will communicate any changes through our social media and in mailings to the congregation. We will also send out information before relaunching in-person worship to give more details about the protocols we will ask everyone to follow.

Let’s not grow weary, dear brothers and sisters, but encourage one another. Let’s lean into our shared faith to keep us moving forward together. In the words of the Apostle Paul,

Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.

Ephesians 4:2-6

¡Firmes y adelante!