Episcopal CHurch of the Holy Trinity, Midland TX
Midland Reopen Guidelines and Procedures June 2020

Episcopal church of the Holy Trinity – Midland Reopening Guidelines and Procedures

June 1, 2020


Since March 15, 2020, all “in-person” worship has been suspended in the diocese of Northwest Texas due to COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning May 8, 2020, the governor of Texas has allowed certain business and other public venues, such as churches to open under certain conditions.

This has raised questions as to when and how Episcopal churches will reopen.

On May 7, 2020, the bishop of Northwest Texas issued a set of guidelines detailing certain conditions necessary for reopening as well as some issues that must be addressed at the parish level before he will allow a congregation to open.

A parish task force has been meeting to determine how best to implement the diocesan guidelines given our unique circumstances. This document presents the process and procedures for such reopening. It has been approved by the vestry and the bishop. While it won’t address every contingency, we do believe it provides a solid and safe framework for gathering together,

This document borrows heavily from the diocesan document. When the diocesan document is quoted, it will be set off and followed by a citation of (DNWT).


From the bishop:

I write to communicate a phased approach for returning to in-person worship in the Diocese of Northwest Texas. I would like to begin by expressing gratitude to all who have worked so faithfully and tirelessly to adapt our ways of worship, study, outreach, and pastoral care during this COVID-19 crisis.


Next, I want to acknowledge that our current reality is a source of deep grief. With any loss we experience a corresponding grief, and it's highly likely that every one of us has experienced some level of loss. And as the Apostle Paul writes, we weep with those who weep. Finally, as we have physically distanced ourselves from one another, our longing to "be together'' reveals that human beings are designed to be connected; we are created to be in communion as one human family.


The guiding principle for what follows comes from the words of Jesus: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your

soul, and with all your mind.

This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."



A phased approach provides a vision for:

  • Imagination about our future
  • Helping everyone understand the reality of our situation
  • Beginning to put into place adaptive mission options
  • Creating agility across regional contexts

We entered (globally, nationally, and locally) through a phased approach. It feels as though we entered it all at once, but we did not. We saw the virus move through phases of initial contagion then to community spread. Likewise, we saw churches move through phases of instruction: washing hands, no peace, no cup, physical distancing. Our work here, as we anticipate returning to in-person worship, is to lean into the clarity of a phased approach rather than the certainty of a date approach.


ONLY (we are currently in this phase) …




This document addresses only phase II.



The decision to begin worshiping in-person again is one that is made by the rector/ clergy in charge with the approval of the bishop, and the approval of state and local authorities.


The key we are looking for is 14 days of declining COVID-19 cases in a particular church's county, and that local hospitals are not overloaded.(Emphasis added) Only at this point may churches begin to meet in person after securing the specific permission of the bishop, though we will need to practice health protocols, including physical distancing, throughout Phase 11.


We know that having the diocesan churches opening at different times will

be difficult. This is an inherent problem with having a large diocese spread over 77,000 square miles with churches in very different size cities and towns.


As testing, treatments, and community-spread data now varies from place to place within the diocese, we cannot expect to resume in-person worship together as one church. Therefore, congregations will have to work with the bishop to identify the best time to move into Phase II protocols using locally available data. (DNWT)


Specific procedures for Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity (Holy Trinity hereafter).

  • We will continue 2 services, 8:00 and 10:30. The 10:30 service will be live- streamed.
  • The Monday healing service will remain suspended because of the restrictions on physical contact which is essential in the healing
  • Funerals and weddings will be considered on an individual basis and must be in accordance with the parish
  • Baptisms will require the bishop’s
  • The nave and sanctuary will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before Sunday services and sanitized between
  • Restrooms will be cleaned and sanitized before Sunday services. Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes will be provided in each restroom.
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be placed in various locations of the
  • Please enter the nave through the narthex (Illinois Ave) doors. For those who park in the Ohio Ave lot, the “Musikgarten” door will be open to walk through the building for access to the narthex.
  • In order to maintain appropriate physical distancing, households may sit together. Individuals must remain 6 feet from another individual or household group.
  • Every other pew will be
  • All books will be removed from the nave and sanctuary. Full-service bulletins will be used and must be taken home or recycled after each use. Individuals may bring their own prayer book and or
  • Altar guild should have only 2 members working at any time
  • Choir members and the altar party will maintain a 6-foot physical Only a small choir will be used.


  • Congregational singing will be
  • Cloth or paper masks should be worn upon entering and leaving the church or when a 6-foot physical distance cannot be maintained. They may be removed for congregational responses. It is strongly recommended by the bishop that masks be worn at all times (DNWT)
  • The altar party and ushers will wear masks or speak behind plexiglass shields at all times
  • There will not be more than 2 people other than the celebrant in the sanctuary (altar area). Acolytes will not be
  • There will not be the passing of the plates at the offertory. Plates will be placed at the entrances for congregants to place their offerings. They will not be brought to the
  • Communion will be given in one kind only (the bread). The celebrant will drop the host into the recipients’
  • Communion will be administered from the center of the chancel steps. Individual rows will be invited to come up and receive by the ushers.
  • Those wishing birthday or anniversary blessings will rise in place and the celebrant will offer a non-physical
  • At the end of the service, individual rows will be dismissed by the
  • There will be no coffee hour, breakfast or congregational meals. Inside gathering is discouraged even with 6-foot physical
  • Because of the difficulty in maintaining physical distancing and adequate sanitizing, the nursery will remain
  • Children’s and adult classes will be suspended, at least at
  • No outside groups will be allowed to meet on church property without

vestry review of their safeguards and the rector’s approval. permission.

  • The pre-school may open with the rector’s approval and must follow the guidelines set forth by the appropriate licensing
  • In the case that these standards are not followed, an usher will gently remind the person of our congregational policies. Repeat disregard may result in being asked to leave. In this case, the senior vestry member will speak with the person in question.

From the bishop:


Whenever we read of historical events - whether the challenging events of recent centuries such as wars and plagues, or the events of our salvation history in Holy Scripture - we are reading with the advantage of knowing the outcome of the story. The faithful characters in the story did not know the outcome. We are in that place today. It is a moment of faith, hope, and most of all, love.


I would like to conclude with a prayer written by Thomas Merton.


"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone." Amen. (DNWT)


From the rector:


Like you, I am anxious to resume our normal pattern of worship and fellowship. I know that day is coming. I wish I knew when. What I do know is that we are a community of faith and love. Faith that God is with us always. Love for one another which is shown in mutual concern for each other’s health and safety.


May God bless each of us in this difficult time.



Rite 1 Sunday, Jul 12 @ 8:00 AM
Rite II 10:30 Sunday, Jul 12 @ 10:30 AM
Healing Service Monday, Jul 13 @ 5:15 PM
Rite 1 Sunday, Jul 19 @ 8:00 AM
Rite II 10:30 Sunday, Jul 19 @ 10:30 AM

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1412 West Illinois Midland, Texas 79701 Map | Phone: 432-683-4207 | Contact Us Here

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