Grace Church Updates

COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus disease 2019, is a respiratory illness with symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  If you experience these symptoms, contact your health care provider and stay home to prevent the potential spread of the disease.  The best way to prevent infection is to take simple, everyday actions that prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.  General information, updates, and resources will be added to this page. as needed.


ALSO of interest at Connect/Facebook Live/:

  1. Morning Prayer Online Sunday at 10:30 am

OR find more at Connect/Connecting during COVID-19/:

  1. Pastoral Care Plan
  2. Communication Plan

OR visit Worship/Grace Live Online/ to see the imbedded live events on this website.


Grace Church

Worship Safety Protocol Video

... for public worship at New Building.


Click here to view.


Grace Church
Provisional Public Worship


August 30, 2020 10:35 am
Outdoors at the New Building

We will have our third public worship service at Grace on August 30. Our vestry has approved a provisional plan that complies with our diocesan guidelines for phased re-opening of public worship. Please take a moment to read through our plan for Sunday's worship service.


General Guidelines for Public Worship at Grace

  • Masks worn by all participants, volunteers, & worshippers
  • Six foot social distancing at all times
  • Do not enter the building except to use the restroom
  • Check-in with Grace hostess prior to being seated

Worship Site Procedure

  • Check-in with Grace hostess
    • Temperature and Illness check
  • Hostess will guide you to your seating area
    • Each household unit will be six feet away from all surrounding household units
  • Worshippers will gather on the porch of the new building and on either side of the porch in parking lot and in grass
  • Worshippers will be assigned a 4' by 6" area per household unit with seating area marked by red tape
  • Worshippers are encouraged to bring camp chairs for sitting (Grace will NOT provide chairs)
  • Grace will provide shade tents for areas alongside the porch
  • The Altar and music team will be in-front of sliding glass doors
  • Worshippers should orient themselves toward the sliding glass doors
  • Worshippers MUST stay within their assigned space for the duration of their visit
  • No food or drink will be proved by Grace Church
  • Every item, including trash, worshippers bring to worship MUST be taken home by them
    • Anything left behind will be assumed to be contaminated and thrown away
  • Grace Church shade tents must be cleaned by those using them, to Grace specifications, immediately after worship

Order for Service

  • Liturgy for worship, including songs will be posted here on the Grace Church APP (click "MornPraySUM" from the bottom of the home screen)
  • Those seated on the porch can view the liturgy on the overhead monitor
  • Passing the Peace - no physical contact outside your household
  • Communion in One Kind
    • Only the Communion bread will be served to the people
  • The priest will bring communion to each family

Bathrooms

  • Only the front door to the building will be unlocked for use
  • Please follow sanitizing instructions posted in each staff
  • Sanitizing spray, paper towels, hand sanitizer, and soap are provided

GRACE CHURCH WILL CONTINUE TO LIVE STREAM WORSHIP EVEN DURING PUBLIC WORSHIP.


Link to a 4-page PDF document explaining the procedures for Public Worship under the Phase 2 Guidelines established by the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas:  Grace Church Covid Protocol-072620.pdf

Public Worship Continues at Grace



Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 10:35am

Outdoors at Grace Church


Public worship at Grace on Sunday, July 26 will celebrate our graduating Seniors during the Eucharistic service. Our vestry has approved a provisional plans that comply with our diocesan guidelines for phased re-opening of public worship. Please take a moment to read through our plan for Sunday's worship service.


Excerpt: 

PUBLIC GATHERINGS INHERENTLY CREATE SOME RISK OF EXPOSURE TO THE CORONA VIRUS. While we will do our best to minimize the risk of exposure, we cannot eliminate this risk entirely. You must accept some personal level of risk in attending public worship. If you are not comfortable with this risk, we encourage you to stay home and enjoy worship online.


ANYONE EXHIBITING FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE. If you feel sick, help everyone stay safe by staying home.


ALL PERSONS CONSIDERED TO BE IN THE HIGH-RISK CATEGORY ARE ENCOURAGED TO AVOID PUBLIC WORSHIP AND STAY HOME. This includes, but is not limited to, persons who:

  • are elderly,
  • have pre-existing physical conditions,
  • are immuno-compromised.


GRACE CHURCH WILL CONTINUE TO LIVE STREAM WORSHIP EVEN DURING PUBLIC WORSHIP.


Please click image or here for the full document in PDF format.

Letter from Father Jay, May 17, 2020

My friends and partners in the gospel,


Grace to Resume Public Worship in June


           Do you want the good news or the bad news? I’m not sure how you like it, but I like to hear the bad news first. So let’s get that out of the way. The bad news is that Bishop Reed has extended the suspension of public worship through May 24. 

           But that’s also good news. Because that means we have diocesan approval to begin worshipping together again as early as May 31, which is, not insignificantly, the date of Pentecost. However, as I stated in my last letter to you, this does not mean worship as usual. When we gather again for public worship, our worship experience will be very different.


           Our vestry met this past week to discuss if, and when, Grace Church should resume public worship under the diocesan guidelines. As much as we all want to worship together, we have a responsibility as Christians to love our neighbors. This often entails setting aside our own desires for the good of the wider community. It certainly does so in this instance.


           In order to allow us sufficient time to prepare for public worship as safely as possible, and to give us more time to gather data on the spread of the corona virus in light of relaxed government restrictions, our vestry has decided we will hold our return to public worship on June 28, outside at the new building, at 9:00 am. Another part of the reason we are waiting so long is that I will be on vacation the first three Sundays in June. We will continue to worship online each and every Sunday, however, even while I am on vacation.

           So here’s where we are right now, in bullet points, to be clear:

  • The diocese is allowing restricted public worship to resume after May 24.
  • Grace will hold public worship on June 28, outside at the new building, at 9:00am.
  • Online streaming worship will continue every Sunday, even when we gather together in person for worship.
  • We do not currently have permission from TMI to resume worshipping in All Saints Chapel. This is why we plan to worship outside at the new building.
  • There are many, many restrictions placed upon our public worship gatherings, including but not limited to:
  1. At risk persons are encouraged to worship from home
  2. No nursery or childcare will be provided
  3. No Sunday school, Story Groups, or fellowship time will be allowed
  4. All worshippers, volunteers, and leaders must wear masks at worship
  5. Social distancing of 6 feet or more must be maintained at all times
  6. All buildings, spaces, and surfaces which may be touched by people during worship must be cleaned and sanitized before and after each worship service

           These are the major guidelines we must adhere to in order to hold public worship. As I mentioned, there are many more. We are currently creating the “Grace Church Guidelines for Provisional Public Worship”. As soon as that document is ready, we will post it in multiple places so you can access the information you will need to know in order to attend worship.


           It must be stated that no one at Grace Church is required to attend public worship. I certainly hope everyone wants to attend public worship. But you need to understand that not everyone should attend public worship at this time. And if you are uncomfortable taking the risk of being in a group of people, then you should consider worshipping online, instead.

That said, we are going to hold a “dress rehearsal” for public worship on May 31 at our usual time of 10:35am. We will use this run-through to practice, check our technology, and clarify our provisional worship plan. We need a limited number of households to attend this in-person worship dress rehearsal. If you are interested in attending the worship dress-rehearsal, with the full application of all restrictions and guidelines, please email me and let me know.


           I hope to see you this Sunday after worship at our new Zoom Fellowship Time”. See more information about that below.


As always, I remain your partner in the gospel,

Fr. Jay

Letter from Father Jay, May 2, 2020

My Friends and Partners in the Gospel,

 

Can we resume public worship at Grace?

 

This week, I have been in Zoom meetings with diocesan leaders and other clergy to begin to answer this question. Today, Friday, we received an email from the Bishop outlining plans and guidelines for a phased re-opening of public worship. HOWEVER (and that’s a big however), we do not yet have permission to gather in person for worship. None of the 87 congregations in the Diocese of West Texas have that permission. Regardless of what our elected officials may decide, we operate under the authority of our diocesan bishop, The Rt. Rev. David Reed. And we may not return to public worship until he expressly grants us permission to do so.

 

The current diocesan suspension of public worship runs through May 15, and will likely be extended.

 

BUT (and that’s a big but – hahahaha) we may now begin the planning process to resume a heavily modified version of public worship. We are not there yet, but we can begin to see the first glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Your vestry and I have already begun to develop a Grace Church Plan for modified worship under covid restrictions. So IF and WHEN we are ready to resume public worship, our plan will be in place. This plan must meet all of the newly published diocesan guidelines for Phase 2 of the diocesan re-opening protocol.

 

In light of all the proposed diocesan guidelines for public worship in Phase 2 (there are four pages of them), I am asking our vestry to consider five questions about re-opening public worship at Grace.

 

Will TMI allow us to worship in All Saints Chapel at this time?

Should we come together publicly to worship once we are allowed to do so?

Whether we may worship at TMI or not, should we worship outside at the new building instead?

If we do resume public worship, should we offer communion?

Is our Grace Church Safe Worship Plan sustainable over the long haul?

 

It may seem like there are simple and straightforward answers to all of these questions. But I assure you, they are more complicated than they appear. Because even if we do resume public worship as soon as we are allowed to do so, this worship will not look or feel like what we are used to. It will not be a return to normal. It will establish a new version of normal, a very different version of normal.

And this new version of normal is likely to last for a while. No one will speculate as to how long. But I presume it will be at least a month, and more likely much longer.

 

Plus, we must understand that permission to worship publicly may be rescinded at any time. Just because we will have permission to worship publicly one Sunday does not ensure we will have that permission the following Sunday. Any increase in confirmed covid cases will most likely cause us to fall back to a position of online worship only.

 

About the only thing I can promise you right now is that we will continue to stream our worship online, whether or not we can gather in person.

 

Well, with that we will continue to BE THE CHURCH. I am proud of how we have handled all of this

  • I am proud of our staff and our vestry.
  • I am proud of our volunteers.
  • And I am proud of you, Grace Church. 

We will continue to find our way forward, together.

 

Your Partner in the Gospel,

Fr. Jay


Link to The Rt. Rev David Reed's Letter May 1, 2020


Link to "Diocesan Guidelines for Phased Re-opening of Public Worship"

Letter from Father Jay, April 22, 2020

My Friends and Partners in the Gospel,

 

As we roll into the numbing sameness of the quarantine, I want to encourage you. God is with us. And our God redeems all things. I am reminded of this verse from the prophet Joel,

“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…” (Joel 2:25).


God’s promise to his people is a promise of restoration, resurrection, and redemption. If we will only turn to him, we can share is his restored land, we can live in his resurrection kingdom. But we must turn to him.


If you are working more hours, and/or spending more time parenting, and/or working from home, and/or struggling to learn new strategies and systems, do not despair. Set aside a time every day to be still and connect with God. Set aside a specific place in your home – be it a room or a closet or a chair - where you do no work. Invite God into that space. Let it become holy space for you, where you are present to the presence of the Lord.


If you are working fewer hours, struggling with parenting adult children who returned home, spending all your time in your home, growing bored and listless with the sameness of every day, do not despair. Set aside a time each day to go outside, into the weather, and connect with God. Set aside a specific place or route or area outside your home – be it your porch or a park or a walk in your neighborhood – where you are alone. Invite God into that time. Let it become holy time for you, where you are present to the presence of the Lord.


We will continue to be the Church, the Body of Christ, with and for and through each other. Grace will continue to find ways to connect with Christ, self, and each other. Take advantage of this strangely changed time to connect with God in new and different ways. Do not despair. Our God is with us wherever we go, even if we go nowhere.


I have three very important pieces of new to share with you about the life of Grace Church.
These things will impact our life together and reveal the redemptive work of God.

 

Sabbatical Postponed

The Grace Church Sabbatical in 2020 has been postponed to next Summer. Yes, this is disappointing. But after extensive conversations with our leadership, there was simply no other choice to make. All of the money that has been donated toward the sabbatical will remain in the sabbatical fund to be used only for a sabbatical in 2021. The good news is we have another chance to apply for a Lilly grant. We will begin working toward that this week. I want to thank Diana Mamori and Robby Turner for their leadership of the sabbatical committee, and everyone on the committee who has worked so hard. Committee Members are: Julie Turner, Kari Phillips, April and Krysten Gutchess, Gerald and Donna Hill, Mike Monroe, Aubrey Tolentino, and Melanie Geist.

 

PPP Loan

At the direction of the vestry, Grace Church applied for the PPP loan being offered through the Small Business Administration. We were informed last week that our application was approved. Today, we received the $32,300 funding of that loan. These monies are allocated for payroll and benefits for Grace employees. And if we apply these funds strictly in accordance with the loan agreement, then the total amount of the loan will be forgiven and we won’t have to pay it back. We are very excited to receive this loan because it will enable us to keep our staff paid and employed for eight weeks.

 

Benevolence Grant

Additionally, Grace Church has received a private, one-time grant from an anonymous benefactor. This grant is in the amount of $10,000. Its purpose is to help Grace families who are in need because of reduced income due to the Covid-19 crisis. The goal of this grant is to assist with major needs like mortgage, rent, food, and life-saving medicine. This is not a general grant to help the wider San Antonio community, but a grant specifically to help those at Grace Church. This grant has been deposited into the Rector’s Discretionary Fund to be dispersed by him. Should you find yourself in a position where you need financial help because you have lost income due to reduced work hours, layoff, or termination of employment, PLEASE CONTACT FATHER JAY.

 

As always, I remain your partner in the gospel,

Fr.  Jay

Letter from Father Jay, March 31, 2020


My friends and partners in the gospel,

We will continue to live out our mission of connecting people to Christ, self, and others.


To connect people to Christ, we are expanding our streaming options for worship, the Triple J Morning Show, and the Tuesday night Bible study.  All these online events will now stream on our website, our YouTube Channel (Grace Church SA) and on Facebook. That's right, we now have a YouTube channel where we will stream live content and upload videos.


We are opening three Zoom Story Groups for you to participate in. Monday night, led by Bill & Susie Cruse, Tuesday night after the streaming Bible study, led by Jay, and Wednesday night with Jamie. Jamie's Wednesday night Bible study will no longer stream on any of our platforms. It will only be offered as a Zoom conference call. We are moving Story Groups to Zoom so we can see each other, hear each other, and have actual discussion about scripture instead of just watching a presentation. 

 

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. We will have the Liturgy of the Palms, though it will necessarily be different than normal. I have decided that we will NOT distribute palms this year, for safety's sake. I realize that may be disappointing to some of you. So I invite you to reimagine palms for use in worship. If Jesus had come to south Texas 2000 years ago, I doubt they would have used palm branches in the first place. I bet they would have used cedar branches, or mountain laurel, or live oak. I encourage you to cut your own "palm branches" from trees or bushes that are available to you. Lancy will be sending out ideas on how parents can craft homemade palm fronds with their children.

 

Check out this website to participate in a Palm Sunday challenge.


Because both Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday are important feast days in the life of the Church, we will use a Communion liturgy instead of Morning Prayer on these days. There is no reasonable way to safely distribute the sacrament, however. Instead, we will practice "spiritual communion" wherein we will receive the body and blood of our Lord spiritually instead of physically. This practice will be explained more fully during worship.

 

We will help you connect with your Grace family with a new online opportunity - Zoom Happy Hour on Thursdays, 5:00-7:00pm. It's like an online open house where you can drop in for 3 minutes or 30 minutes to hang out and visit. I hope you we will see you there.

 

We will have a full compliment of Holy Week worship next week, including Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. See the EVENTS calendar here.

 

In closing, I offer you this encouragement from Jesus, our Lord. "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."


With God's Peace,

Fr. Jay

Letter from Father Jay, March 27, 2020

My friends and partners in the gospel,


I am deeply saddened to inform you that at the direction of our Bishop, with the support of our diocesan Executive Board and the Grace Church Vestry, I am extending the suspension of public worship through April 30.


This is the diocesan mandate for all our congregations in the Diocese of West Texas, as directed by Bishop Reed and the Executive Board, in accordance with the latest safety recommendations and with the guidance of our diocesan chancellor, the Honorable Kelley Kimble.


As before, this extended suspension includes, but is not limited to: public worship, story groups, meetings, events, and service projects. Grace staff will continue to work from home through the April 30 deadline.


As your spiritual leader, I remind you that our mission has NOT been cancelled. Our ministry has been changed, not ended. We don't go to church; we ARE the Church. And we will continue to develop innovative ways to BE the Church in the midst of this pandemic. 


We have added a new Pastoral Care Protocol in response to Covid-19. Our pastoral care team has teamed up with our Grace staff with the goal of reaching out to every Grace Church family EACH WEEK. So expect a phone call from your assigned pastoral care provider.


We will continue to adapt and improve our online offerings to stay connected and provide you with spiritual content. See below.


WORSHIP THIS SUNDAY and EVERY SUNDAY. We will live stream Morning Prayer at 10:35am via Facebook Live on:

SPIRITUAL FORMATION EACH WEEK. We currently have 3 online Bible studies for you to engage on Facebook Live. We will start experimenting with Zoom meeting Story Groups next week. 

CHILDREN'S MINISTRY AT HOME. Lancy sent an email two days ago with information and ideas for Christian education under quarantine. If you missed it, you can find it here: https://conta.cc/3dBGSmP


FELLOWSHIP ONLINE. Kerry has begun experimenting with online fellowship opportunities. As those develop, we will let you know. You can follow her on Facebook at Kerry Engelbert Green.


MEETINGS ON ZOOM. We have opened a Grace Church subscription to Zoom. If you're ministry needs to meet between now and April 30, please contact Lisa DeHart to schedule a Zoom meeting.



We will continue to respond as new and updated information becomes available. Please know that you all remain in my prayers.


Your partner in the gospel,

Fr. Jay

Letter from Father Jay, March 17, 2020

My friends and partners in the gospel,


With a heavy heart, I share with you that yesterday afternoon [Monday, March 16] our Vestry voted unanimously to support my decision to suspend public worship and all other gatherings of Grace Church now through April 4.  This includes, but is not limited to: public worship, story groups, meetings, events, and service projects. Furthermore, I am requiring that all Grace staff work from home for the foreseeable future.  I have been in contact with Bishop Reed, and he assures me that we have his full support in making the decision to suspend public gatherings.


I believe it is likely that in the near future we will extend this suspension of Grace gatherings beyond April 4.


This does not mean, however, that our mission has been cancelled. Nor does it mean our ministry is on hold. Our ministry has been changed, not ended. We have developed immediate responses for this week. And our staff and leaders are creating additional responses for the coming weeks.

  • WE WILL WORSHIP THIS SUNDAY. But we will worship online with streaming video. I will lead us in Morning Prayer at 10:35am. 
  • WE WILL HAVE SPIRITUAL FORMATION. Most of our story groups have opted to suspend their groups. So we have added 3 new online Story Groups for anyone at Grace Church (and beyond) to attend.
  • WE WILL HAVE CHILDREN'S MINISTRY. Lancy will be sending out some at-home ministry options for parents to lead for their little ones.
  • WE WILL HAVE FELLOWSHIP. Not in person. But we are creating new ways to gather online with facebook, videos, chat sessions, and more.

Any meetings which cannot be postponed or cancelled can be held online via Zoom or Skype.


As you are well aware, this is a constantly and rapidly evolving situation. We are working hard to respond in appropriate ways. And we are implementing an updated communications strategy to keep you informed. Please read the articles below for more specific information.


Your partner in the gospel,

Fr. Jay

Letter from Father Jay, March 13, 2020 

My friends and partners in the gospel,


Well now, this is getting interesting, isn't it? The danger to health and life and the devastating economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented in any of our lifetimes. There is so much fear and panic and information and mis-information running around that it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Many of you are concerned for your families and loved ones. I share your concern. But I also share your Faith. I calmly remind you that nothing, neither quarantine nor cancellations, not empty shelves at HEB, not travel bans, not extended Spring Break, not postponed Fiesta, not even the corona virus itself can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nether life nor death, neither sickness nor health, neither fever nor fellowship can overcome the love of God. Now, more than ever, we must rest in what it means to be an Easter people. That doesn't mean there is no Good Friday, no suffering or loss. We know that, we have already known that, all too well. No, it means that Good Friday is not the end of story. The grave does not have the last word. Suffering may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning. Easter morning. When the tomb is empty and our God is raised, triumphing over death and sharing with us his victory.


Even in dark and desperate days we are Easter people. Therein lies our hope. Therein lies our salvation. Stand on this hope. The hope of Christ is a deeper and stronger truth than any other you can be offered. Rest in the hope of Christ. Take a deep breath and remember your redemption. God is with us. God is always with us. And God will be with us in the days to come.


Your partner in the gospel,

Fr. Jay

EPISCOPAL DIOCESE

of West Texas

During this season, the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas invites clergy, lay leaders, and congregations to commit to standard hygiene practices, to consider reasonable liturgical adjustments, to contact public health officials for local conditions, to extend care and compassion to those in their congregations and communities who may be affected by the disease, as well as healthcare workers.


To review all the information and resources made available by the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas click:  https://www.dwtx.org/resources/covid-19-resources/

Other Helpful Websites and Resources


  • List Item

    Type content here...

  • List Item

    Type content here...

  • List Item

    Type content here...