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Phase 2 Workbook

Diocese of the Rio Grande: Phase II Workbook

This workbook is meant to help congregations methodically prepare a plan to provide for congregational safety and to build on the solid foundation established by our congregations in Phase I.

All relevant background information for this form can be founding in “Learning to Manage Risk: Phase II Guidelines.” A link to that document can be found here:


This workbook will ask a series of questions to aid you in thinking through preparing your Clergy and Staff, your building, your liturgical team, and your congregation.

Every Vestry/Bishop’s Committee is required to certify the answers to this form. We recommend that you distribute the Phase II guideline document above to the members of your Vestry/Bishop’s Committee in advance in order to give participants time to reflect on the questions before submitting the form.

On the line below please submit the email of the best person for the Diocesan office to contact as we follow up to these form submissions.

Email address *
Congregation Name *
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Preparing as Clergy and Staff

For Clergy: Describe your level of comfort with the idea of returning to public worship. Please include those things which cause you concern, and those possibilities which excite you.
I am very much looking forward to being able to worship in our church again. Even with things in place to protect each other, the idea of being physically present to one another is part of what makes St Paul’s such a beautiful place to worship and a wonderful community to gather together with. My only concern is keeping it safe for everyone so they can worship in comfort and focused on our Lord.
Current guidance for the State of New Mexico and Texas recommends masks or other appropriate face coverings be worn by employees in all common areas. Describe your strategy to implement this guidance.
I am the only employee and staff in the building except on Sunday for our live-streaming when masks are worn.
Describe your strategy to reduce contact as much as possible among your clergy and staff while in the office.
The only other person in the church from time to time is someone who uses the back room. We keep our distance from one another.
Describe your congregational strategy to ensure continuous operation of the church in case one or more members of the clergy and staff contract COVID-19.
Someone else would lead MP on Facebook live. We would stop in-person services.

Preparing your Building

What is the capacity of your worship space as identified by the Fire Marshall.
We do not have a certificate on file that can be found. We estimate about 80-85 people.
Describe the ways your congregation can plan for sectioned seating ensuring social distancing of 6 feet between each household. (Please note: Family is not equivalent to household. Members of the same extended family who live in different households need to maintain social distancing between those different households.)
St. Paul’s sanctuary has 18 pews in which 6 adults can comfortably sit, and six folding chairs against the back wall. We will allow seating in every other pew. One side will be the even-numbered pews while the other side will be odd-numbered pews allowing for 6-ft. distance in all directions. Two people from different households can sit in one pew at opposite ends allowing more than 6 feet of distance from each other. If we have more than 9 family groups or all 9 pews are filled, we can safely seat 10=18 people (depending on household) in the adjoining parish hall. If services are held outside, 10 chairs can be placed on the north-south sidewalk and two rows of 10 chairs can placed on the lawn. This will allow for more than 6 feet of distance in all directions.
If the air in your worship space is treated by an HVAC system do you have access to the filters? If so, have you ensured that your current filters can be changed to a MERV-13 or higher rated filter?
Are you able to open your worship space to outdoor ventilation, or utilize a combination of outdoor and conditioned ventilation?
Yes, we have four windows which currently open. We will need to fix the other 4 windows so they can be opened. We have 3 citing fans and 2 floor fans. We can also open the south door.
If you are planning on worshiping outdoors, describe your plan for creating appropriately distanced seating when creating your outdoor worship space.
We have a PA system which would allow us to space people out across our yard. We could handle a typical Sunday attendance easily. During the summer months, we will adjust our starting times to take advantage of the cooler morning temperatures.
Does your congregation currently have an established written protocol for cleaning and sanitizing your facilities? If so, please describe.
Please describe your congregation’s plan to provide for the following additional sanitation considerations specific to houses of worship. — Before and after each service, clean and disinfect the following high-contact surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, and electronics. Disinfect any items that come into contact with attendees. (Prayerbooks, Hymnals, pew-racks. Bulletins should be one-time use only.) Make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water or similar disinfectant readily available. Place readily visible signage to remind everyone of best hygiene practices.
We will create a checklist in sections of the building wth volunteers assigned by section to complete a pre-service sanitation regimen using CDC approved disinfectant sprays for surfaces, and a solution of Murphy’s oil and bleach for wood surfaces from the exterior hand rails up to the altar, in zones: Zone 1 Exterior – Handrails and door handles and frames Zone 2 Rear entry of church (overseen by an usher as congregants enter) – Exterior surfaces of hand sanitizer dispensers – Donation box – Clean pens in a cup for the resister; a “used pens” basket for discards – Organ and bench – Light switches – Baptismal Font (emptied of water) – Table where bulletins are placed Zone 3 Pews, including racks (emptied) for hymnals – Left side – Not only pews marked as allowed seating, but empty pews where hands may rest on backs – Window frames where hands open and close the same Zone 4 Same as 3, but right side Zone 5 – South door – Fan – Piano – Altar rail Zone 6 – Pulpit – Lectern – Seats for each – Altar surface – Candle lighters – Candle snuffer Zone 7 – Church hall for overflow, in any, where seats will be set up and distanced, wiped down – Light switches Zone 8 – Restrooms: toilet, sink, door handles and frames, light switches (2 Bathrooms are very small) Zone 9 – Kitchen – It is recommended that the kitchen door be closed to discourage passage in and out, but the sink should be scrubbed before and after, with small paper cups available for water for those needing it All who participate in the clean up will have designated zones with checklist, wear gloves, and have their own bottle(s) of cleaning supplies that are rinsed and stored when finished. Post services, when the church is geared, the same will be repeated. The church sanctuary is open 24/7. Bulletins will be collected in a single track container that is closed up and taken to recycling.
Does your congregation have a relationship with a wholesale supplier of cleaning and sanitation products? If so, please describe. If not, please describe your strategy for ensuring access to appropriate sanitation supplies given supply chain strain. (E.g purchasing concentrate, and diluting appropriately, soliciting donations of cleaning supplies, etc…)
We order on line as needed with no issues to date.

Preparing your Liturgical Team

It is the expectation of the Diocese of the Rio Grande and the recommendation of the States of New Mexico and Texas that all ministers, volunteers, and congregants attending public worship in Phase II will wear a mask, or other suitable face covering. Please describe your strategy for communicating this guideline, and ensuring congregational cooperation?
We will send it in the weekly bulletin and newsletters as to the requirement of wearing masks. An usher will greet people, join tot he sing, which says,”Masks are required.” We will also have masks available of those who do not come with one.
Describe your strategy for ensuring that usage of shared items in worship (offering plates, common cup, prayerbooks, hymnals, etc…) does not violate social distancing standards of 6 feet between congregants not of the same household.
Use of shared items will be kept to an absolute minimum. Offertory plates will be placed just inside the church entrance. Guests may leave donations before, during or after worship. Congregants will be encouraged to bring their own prayer books and hymnals. They will also have the option to use their smart-phones or other electronic devices to follow the service and the hymns. Small number of hymnals and prayer books will be set aside for use during the service, should anyone need one. Afterward, the books will be collected and quarantined for at least 72 hours. A common cup will not be used. St. Paul’s is evaluating small disposable cups for bread and wine during communion.
Recent studies indicate that singing in worship greatly increases the risks of both the singers and those congregants present in the same room. Link here: () Please describe your congregations strategy for informing congregants of this information, and either ceasing or providing a distanced way to continue congregational singing.
We do not have a choir; our leader of song is our organist, who is seated at the rear of the church, distanced from seated congregants. We will require all congregants to wear masks, and they will be distanced in the pews.
Please describe your congregational strategy for training all servers and liturgical volunteers (Eucharistic Ministers, Acolytes, Ushers, Greeters, etc…) in the ensuring that social distancing and personal hygiene recommendations are followed.
The Vicar will conduct appropriate training on Zoom.
What is your plan for interacting with congregants who do not comply with social distancing and personal hygiene requirements?
We will have two ushers, one outside the doors and one inside. The outside usher will let all visitors know we have masks, we have spacing plans inside so we all social distance; and have handouts instead of using the books. If someone refuses to comply with our plan, we will let them know we have older susceptible members, and travelers from out of town, and we have masks, to please reconsider for the good of all in the congregation. If they still refuse, we will invite them to sit outside and listen to the service or watch online. And if they still refuse, we can refuse to begin the service until they comply, sit outside, or leave.
Current guidance from the State of New Mexico states that congregations may only be opened at 25% capacity, and the State of Texas requires that congregants maintain a safe social distance of 6 feet between households. Both guidelines require a reduction in seating capacity. Describe your strategy for managing attendance and traffic flow in such a way that your services would not exceed capacity under those guidelines.
St. Paul’s will have ushers at the door to greet people and escort them to a seat. If the maximum number is reached, ushers will direct people to the parish hall. Traffic flow for serving Eucharist will include one of the following: when only the host is given, Fr. Mike will walk to each pew and serve individuals so there is none to move. If/when wine is served, individual cups will be placed at the front of the congregation. Each pew will come up to receive and then exit through the north door, walk around the buying and come back through the main door. For people in the parish hall, each person will come to the hallway to receive communion and then walk through the church office and back to the parish hall.
Describe your process for ensuring that those in high-risk populations or those who do not wish to return to public worship will continue to have access to streamed/digital services. Some thoughts include: Streaming your digital service at a separate time, positioning cameras and streaming equipment in a way that is unobtrusive, providing for contact-free delivery of the sacrament, etc…
We plan on continuing live-streaming when we come back to public worship. Not all of our members have access to computers. Since the church started to have our worship live-streamed, our Vicar makes appropriately distanced, masked house calls and brings Communion form the reserved sacrament along with a fire liturgy to be done by the person receiving communion.

Preparing your Congregation

What sources for local public health information does your congregation have a relationship with, and what channels have you established for receiving current local public health guidance?
Our Vicar and the Bishop’s Committee refer to the Center for Disease Control website and releases, as well as diocesan updates. Our local reporting of the three-county area [Presidio, Brewster, and Jeff Davis] includes a designated COVID19 reporting link in the The Big Bend Sentinel’ reporting by Maria Public Radio, the announcements issued by Dr. Escovar, who tis the designated coordinator for the tree county area who advises the Bishop Bend on risk and responses; and Reverse 911 announcements in Jeff Davis County that provide updates on cases, testing sites, and quarantine requirements.
How will you clearly communicate that those not using face coverings will not be permitted to enter the facility, or that those who attend without an RSVP may be turned away at the door?
We will post protocol on our website. We will have the usher explain to people who show up unexpectedly about our protocol. We will provide masks. We will also hand them a card with our live-street link. They will also be invited back to receive communion at a later time after worship is over and people have left. We will also inform them that our doors are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if they wish to come back and say their prayers.
How will you communicate to your congregation that members of the congregation who are part of a vulnerable population should remain home?
We will continue to livestream all services via Facebook Live and continue to send out a weekly bulletin for each service by email to all members and friends of St. Paul’s This will insure that those who are at high risk or wish to remain at home will be able to join us in worship by following along with liturgy, prayers, hymns and the service in its entirely. This can be done either live or by viewing the recording at any later, time, from any location. We will do this for all regular Sunday services as well as for any special worship service held at St. Paul’s. Once worship is able to resume at St. Paul’s we will move all recording equipment to appropriate production locations, so that in-person worship will not be interrupted or obstructed in any way as we continue offering online streaming.
One of the conditions of reopening in Phase II is the ability for local health officials to “contact trace” outbreaks as they occur in particular institutions and locations. Please describe your congregation’s strategy for gathering contact information for all attendees and following up on that information should an outbreak occur.
We have a list we use for preparing the weekly deposit that we can use to note regulars at each service to note who attended that week. For anyone not a member, the usher can ask frothier basic contact info so that if an outbreak occurs, we can contact them to let them know. If they refuse to give their contact information, the usher can note their name and general characteristics.
Describe your preparations for responding pastorally to those for whom a socially distanced liturgy may generate strong feelings of grief, loss, or anger.
We have a congregation that is not shy about expressing their feelings. We also have a Bishop’s Committee and a Vicar who are good listeners. Since we have closed worshipping the church, the Bishop’s Committee members have kept in contact with people in our faith community on a regular basis and could respond to their feelings. In addition, we have people who understand the importance of social distancing and the requirements of it. We do not foresee any problems from members of our congregation. There might be occasional pushback from visitors.
Depending on the size of your congregation an RSVP or ticketing system may be necessary in order to smoothly conduct multiple services at reduced capacity. What ideas or strategies are you developing to respond to this?
The only time this may need to be done would be Christmas, Easter and other major feast days.


Please click the following to certify that your Vestry/Bishop’s Committee has reviewed and approved the responses in this workbook.
Please provide the name, title, and contact information of the individual submitting the workbook responses.
The Rev’d Mike Wallens, Vicar michaelwallens@gmail.com 214-862-7292