July 29, 2021
New Worship Guidance in Response to Rising Spread of COVID-19 and Delta Variant
On July 28, Bishop Andy Doyle sent out a diocesan communication to heads of congregation responding to the latest CDC guidance for COVID-19. These guidelines recommend that fully vaccinated people wear a mask indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission due to the rising spread of COVID-19 and the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant. Our region is currently an area of substantial or high transmission. While the bishop is not at this time issuing a mask mandate for congregations in the Diocese of Texas, he has charged your leadership “to make safe and appropriate decisions” on your behalf.
We, therefore, recommend the following for the people of St. Mark’s Church effective immediately:
1. Per the CDC: “As of July 27, 2021, the CDC recommends that all persons (even those fully vaccinated) wear a mask indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission.”
2. Unvaccinated people have always been expected, for their own safety and to protect the health and safety of others, to wear masks and maintain social distancing from others in the congregation at all times.
3. Ushers, choir, altar party, musicians, and priests will return to wearing masks while serving until further notice.
4. Communion will continue to be by intinction only at the altar rail. You may choose to receive the bread only as we believe the grace conferred in communion to be effective in either kind.
5. Pew signs will return to limit seating to every other pew.
We understand that this feels like a step backward, but we know that we cannot do nothing. We trust that there is enough latitude here for individuals to make the decision that is right for them while also introducing some necessary barriers to transmission. We believe that the most important thing for us to do now is to pull together and pull ourselves back from the brink. We have made great strides in our pandemic response, but we are not out of the woods yet. Only by limiting the transmission of the virus will we be able to finally move beyond it.
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Clint Brown