Greetings in the Name of Jesus Christ!
At the end of May, most of the buildings of United Methodist churches in the North Texas Conference will have been closed for public worship for 12 weeks. At the time of announcing the closure in March, I wrote that I had never closed a church for public worship and that included Sundays with ice and snow. Never did I imagine we would be worshiping online for this long.
Words cannot begin to express my appreciation to United Methodist clergy and laity in the North Texas Conference for your faithfulness to the mission of your churches and the compassionate acts to care for people in your communities. God bless you!
Beginning June 1, churches in the East and Northwest Districts may begin to gather for public worship, provided that the guidelines from the Texas Department of State Health Services are followed and the Trustees agree to uphold those guidelines, which provide some protection for worshipers. These guidelines have been emailed to pastors and can be found at Checklist for Churches/Places of Worship.
Some churches in the East and Northwest Districts may think it is best not to reopen yet. I trust and know that clergy and laity will do this with great care. If COVID-19 cases increase in counties in these two districts, there is a possibility that churches will be closed again for public worship. I hope and pray that COVID-19 does not spread and threaten the health in your communities.
At this time, it is not in the best interest of community health for the churches in the Metro and North Central Districts to gather for public worship. The White House and the Centers for Disease Control say that Phase I reopening of states and regions can begin after 14 days of downward trajectory. Currently, the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to increase in the Greater Dallas area.
It is not possible to predict a date when churches will open for public worship in the Greater Dallas area, but I will be watching the data carefully and will communicate again in June. In the meantime, please use this time to develop a team to implement the guidelines and ensure after reopening that those guidelines will continue to be followed for the foreseeable future.
This is a difficult time, but difficult times call for the Church to be faithful followers of the risen Christ and serve our neighbors. I have been fortunate to worship with many of you during the last 13 weeks. Thank you for sharing your church’s stories with me.
These simple words attributed to John Wesley continue to guide me during this time: Do good. Do no harm. Stay in love with God.
May we all experience the presence of Christ during these days.
Bishop Michael McKee