I am writing to inform you that the Diocese has notified us that we are not to hold our regularly scheduled services at the Church Building for the Sundays of March 15 and 22. The Diocese of Texas and Bishop Doyle sent all of the Churches in the Diocese a memo requiring that we do not gather for our regularly scheduled services for the next two weeks.

Below are the reasons the Diocese gave to us in requiring us not to gather for our regularly scheduled weekly services for two weeks.

  • The virus is contagious up to 5 days before clinical symptoms appear.
  • No gatherings of 10 or more people are recommended.
  • The Governor announced the virus is spreading throughout the state.
  • We must work to stay below surge capacity – we do not have hospital capacity.
  • We have the highest uninsured rate with some 1 million people without care. These people tend to continue to go to work as many of them are hourly laborers.
  • What caused the growth in Italy was treating this as business as usual.
  • What this means is that when we gather it is possible to spread the virus without us knowing it.
  • We are sick before we are symptomatic.
  • When we gather we share the virus.

Dr. Peter Pisters, president of MD Anderson Cancer Center and Dr. David Callender, president of Memorial Hermann, were very clear:
"This is not about the food, not about the bread and wine, and not about the pews and plates. This virus is spread from human crowds and gatherings."
"The behavior of the virus has not changed" across the 165,000 cases globally; and, "we still don't know very much about it."
(Taken directly from the Diocesan Memo)

We are taking these actions in hopes of preventing the Covid 19 Virus from spreading more rapidly than it is currently. Hopefully, in two weeks, we may have much better knowledge in preventing the spread of this disease. Since we have community spread in the Houston area and since it is possible for some to have the disease without showing symptoms, it is prudent at this time to not gather in crowds of ten or more people. Anything we can do to slow the spread is the right thing to do.

We will not gather at our church building for worship in the next two weeks, so I encourage all of you to worship at home. I am looking at the best way to offer online church services to you, and I will keep you posted as soon as I come up with the best possible means of doing so. In the meantime, online Sunday Worship services can be found through www.christchurchcathedral.org , our Episcopal Cathedral located in downtown Houston.

Simply because we are not gathering together for the time being, does not mean we stop being the church. Reach out to your fellow church goers; call them, text them, email them, whatever it takes to let them know you care. Let us hold each other up in prayer as we find ways to worship and study God's Word through online communications, to serve those in need and to care for the sick and lonely.

Finally, this is a very fluid situation, and I ask that you please pay attention to our emails and text messages in order to keep up with the very latest as to how we will continue to be the People of God under our present circumstances.

In closing, I offer the following prayer from Bishop Doyle:

I plead with you in Christ's Name to help us with your prayers to God so that we may prevail against the forms of sickness and death that now are before us. Join us in prayer that Christ may preserve in us strong faith, fervent love, and strength to meet the challenge of the days ahead. Help us to become a missionary people following the example of the woman at the well. Help us to understand how to worship not in temple or mountain top but in our homes, communities, and neighborhoods. Pray that God will give us a vision for how to gather God's people in a time of sickness. Show us how to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to you. Reveal the way to care for the infirm, the dying and the dead. Help us to strengthen the faithful with the hope of Christ's Good News. Inspire us to continue to serve without reproach, so that your people may be strengthened and your Name glorified. Amen.

God's Peace,
Mark McDonald+