Texas Churches Can Open for Worship?
Friends, these are confusing times. You may have heard that Governor Abbott has allowed Texas churches to resume in-person worship. While true, the headlines and sound bites you have heard are
not the whole story. In the official order, there are
3 pages of requirements for churches to meet, the first of which instructs churches to "strongly encourage" at-risk populations to continue worshiping remotely! Given the definition of "at-risk" persons as "those who are 65 or older, especially those with chronic lung disease; moderate to severe asthma; chronic heart disease; severe obesity; diabetes; chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis; liver disease; or a weakened immune system," this applies to the
majority of our congregation.
It would be not only careless for us to resume worship in our sanctuary; it would violate our first General Rule: "Do no harm!"
Our Bishop, Michael Lowry, has issued a statement strongly encouraging churches NOT to resume in-person worship and further specifying that churches wishing to do so must submit a written plan to their District Superintendent that addresses all the guidelines in the Open Texas Report. Therefore, the Board of Davis Memorial UMC and I are in agreement that Davis will remain worshiping ONLINE ONLY until we are sure that we can SAFELY transition to in-person worship and not put our vulnerable population at risk.
In his letter, Bishop Lowry states: "Our desire to reconnect with each other via in-person worship must not disregard our Christian responsibility to care for our community. The vulnerable are not disposable and we must not put them at risk. As the Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 (CEB) 'Everything is permitted, but everything isn't beneficial. Everything is permitted, but everything doesn't build others up. No one should look out for their own advantage, but they should look out for each other.' Now is a time for us to behave like the Christ we serve, not demanding our rights, but showing care and compassion for our neighbors."
As your pastor, I dearly miss seeing you all in person and greeting you with hugs and handshakes! However, I love you too much to put you in danger. I am doing my best to stay connected with you by all other means possible. I invite you to call, text, or email me! I am praying for all of you and for the future that our church is building together in this new, changing era. God is still with us!
Pastor, Davis Memorial UMC
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