On Tuesday, March 2, Governor Gregg Abbott issued an Executive Order (GA-34) that ended the current statewide mask mandate in Texas and sets Wednesday, March 10 as the date in which all businesses, organizations and facilities in the state are allowed to reopen to 100 percent capacity if they so choose. According to the executive order, businesses may still limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols at their own discretion.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemics arrival in Texas, the policy of the Central Texas Conference has been that decisions regarding in-person services were to be made at the local church level and be in line with appropriate local civil, county, state and federal mandates. Today’s executive order from Gov. Abbott does not change that policy. The decision on how to best move forward with the ministries and services of your church are to be prayerfully made by the clergy and lay leadership of each church, with deep prayerful consideration given to the most vulnerable in your community and congregation.
I remind all of the great parable of Jesus found in Matthew 25:31-45. “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’” Matthew 25:40 CEB
|Texas Gov Abbott's Executive Order ending the statewide mask mandate and allowing businesses to open to 100% capacity as of March 10 does not prevent businesses and other organizations to limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols at their own discretion.|
Many in the medical community and county governments believe that it is still too early to rescind the mask order and reopen the state. “We need the cases to go down further, and especially we need the positivity rate to be 3 percent," said Dr. John Carlo, who's on the statewide COVID task force. While COVID-19 case and hospitalization numbers have been ticking down recently, declines are starting to plateau, according to federal officials and University of Texas Southwestern models.
As Gov. Abbott announced his decision to rescind the mask order and open up business, he did point out that the time for caution and good health practices still remains. “Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not disappeared…” Gov. Abbott stated. “Today's announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, it is a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others.”
Again, I remind you that the decision on how to reopen your services and ministries belongs to the clergy and lay leadership each local church. Your District Superintendents are ready to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have. However, as one who served as a local church pastor for more than 30 years, I believe that a full opening is premature, unwise and unwarranted at this time. I encourage all Central Texas Conference churches and ministries to continue to follow the safety protocols that have been in place since last spring and to consider the counsel and advice of medical experts and county judges when prayerfully making your decisions on how and when to reopen.
Together with the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit, we will all safely move Forward to a New Spring and continue our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.