Diocesan Ministry and Programming Updates
The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas staff remain ready to support churches, Episcopal schools, and individuals during this season of physical distancing. Continue reading for program updates from diocesan ministries, whose leaders are adapting their programs in new ways to follow Christ during this pandemic and to serve our neighbors "with the eyes of our hearts enlightened."
Changes to the Camps & Conferences Summer 2020 Calendar
The diocesan Camps & Conferences Department will postpone Camp Capers Summer Camp until July 5, cancel youth programs and June retreats at Duncan Park, and begin Mustang Island Family Camp sessions later, starting with Session 3 on June 11. These difficult decisions have not been made lightly, and take into account guidelines and information from the American Camp Association, the Centers for Disease Control, the Episcopal Camps and Conference Center organization, local pediatricians, local, state and the national governments, and other camps in Texas and across the nation.

Vital University Missions Finishes Spring Semester of Online Programming
Following state and local guidelines, university campuses within the diocese did not reopen in-person classes after Spring Break, scattering students involved in Vital UM programs across the state. In response, Vital UM moved its campus worship services and Bible studies online and added handwritten cards and letters to its student outreach toolkit. Allie Melancon , Director of College Missions, shares, "One thing remains the same: we are still present in the lives of college students. In a recent conversation with the Executive Director of St. Mary’s University Ministry, he communicated that we were the only on-campus, Christian ministry able to adapt and move to online platforms during the spring semester. He said, 'your ministry is the one thing keeping our students connected in this time; please don’t stop.' And so, we remain committed to being flexible and agile."

World Missions Focuses on Navajoland Partnership and Prepares for Future
While all mission teams have suspended travel plans for the time being, the World Missions Department is working to update curriculum and stay connected with partners worldwide, including collaborating with the Episcopal Church in Navajoland and Texas Water Mission to support hand washing stations and other solutions in areas without reliable water sources. Marthe Curry , Director of World Mission, shares, "I see this global pandemic as an opportunity for us to do what we do best:  be the church.  The crucifixion and Easter were all about ushering in the Kingdom of God - righteousness, joy, and peace - where we take on the image of Christ and live out his message of love in word and deed." Click here to read more.

Episcopal Schools Wrap Up the Academic Year Online
Episcopal schools in West Texas have spent the Spring semester converting curriculum and programming to fit a distance learning model, using Zoom as well as email and social media to connect with their students and families. Mary Katherine Duffy , Deputy for Episcopal Schools, shares, "It's definitely a challenge, but most everyone I talk to feels good about the programming they are offering. Chapel has been a big deal and most schools are doing virtual chapel which has been fun to watch." Mary Katherine continues to host regular online meetings with Heads of Schools to discuss best practices for future reopening.

Thank You for Your Generosity
The Director of Development, Anne Spears , thanks all of the individuals and churches who have responded generously to the World Missions Mother Day Offering, Vital UM fundraising letter, and the Camps Scholarship Fund campaign. She is also available to help churches with questions about setting up an online offering portal.
Click here to make an online donation and help the Diocese continue reaching out to its communities, sharing the many blessings that we have received.

In addition to these ministries, the diocesan office staff continue to work diligently to support and sustain its ongoing missions. Canon Caroline Mowen is available for questions about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, Church and School Workers’ Compensation Insurance, and other administration questions. Archdeacon Mike Besson continues his work with congregations and clergy in search processes and helping congregations consider and develop their own Church Protocols for the next phase of gradual reopening. Director of Marketing & Communications, Emily Kittrell , and Communications Manager, Laura McGrew , are available to help churches set up ways to gather together online well, using online meeting and worship platforms.