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Phase One Workbook

Diocese of the Rio Grande: Phase I Congregational Workbook

In Phase I we learn skills and develop practices that will be essential to sustain our congregations as we move into Phase II and Phase III. This can be a highly creative time. By getting good at living and ministering with physical distancing in place we deepen our faith in Jesus Christ and our trust in Him. That strong faith means we do not need to feel pressure from government or economic pressures but can choose what to do as a church based on what God is calling us to do and with the safety of the most vulnerable among us as our priority.

Phase I is an opportunity for the church to remember what is essential about what we do and to strengthen our ministries, our churches, and our relationships with our neighbors. Try new patterns of prayer, find spiritual practices which can sustain you if you have to be at home for a long time. Find ways to connect with others to share God’s love and care. Some of the things we learn in Phase I will become part of what it means for us to be church in the future. We need to be intentional about what we carry forward and what we let go of. God is present now, God is not waiting for us to gather in church, God is with us.

If Phase I lasts for months, we will keep our focus on Jesus and he will provide for our daily needs.

As we get good at being church in phase I, please ensure that any steps or activities are done in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local laws. You should check with legal counsel for your congregation, and/or one of the Chancellors, if and as needed.

This workbook is meant to help congregations methodically review their Phase I activities as we work together to establish a solid foundation for our congregations as we move forward through Phase II and Phase III.

This workbook will ask a series of questions in the areas of Liturgy & Formation, Administration & Finance, Pastoral Care, and Outreach & Community Ministry, to help you detail the steps your congregation has already undertaken in Phase I or may need to consider before moving to Phase II.

Every Vestry/Bishop’s Committee is required to certify the answers to this form. We recommend that you distribute the PDF version of this form 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

Liturgy & Formation

1.) Select the option that best describes your congregation. (If selecting “Other” please elaborate as necessary.)
1a. Please describe your process for streaming those services.
One camera in the church.We use Facebook live. Through Mailchimp, we let people know times and links as well as being able to receive the liturgy as well as through instagram.
1b. What has challenged your congregation in moving to digital delivery of liturgy? What have you learned?
The challenge was doing it in the first place. We have learned how to do it and how it is drawing people “in” in numbers that would not fit into the church itself and from all over the world.Some members in our congregation are not comfortable with technology and social media. Others do not have access to a computer or internet.The internet service in our rural area is not consistent.
1c. How have you regularly recorded viewership?
We take the numbers a week after the broadcast.
We have no more than four people present for broadcasting our Sunday worship. The vicar does some work once in a while during the week from the church. We have one person, Connor, who offices in our church for our bi-lingual youth ministry program and Young Life. When the vicar and Connor are in at the same time, they keep their distance.

3b. In what ways have clergy and staff been encouraged to work remotely? What steps have been taken to enable that remote work?
Many Zoom meetings.

4. Describe your congregation’s plan to provide for the security and monitoring of your physical plant during this period of reduced use.
We keep our church doors open 24 hours a day and have not had any difficulties. The office area is locked. up. People will come and work in our yard and see if everything is good inside. We also have people come in twice a month to clean.

5. Describe the ways in which your congregation is going about committee and governance work. (Vestry/Bishop’s committee, Finance committee, etc…)

6. Please select the following option that best describes your congregations current financial and operational situation. (If selecting “Other” please elaborate as necessary.)

7. Has your congregation applied for loans/grants under the Payroll Protection Program?

7a. Please describe your Vestry/Bishop’s Committee’s reasoning in declining to apply for PPP.
8. In what areas do you feel you need help or support from the Diocese, your Deanery, or neighboring congregations in regards to administration and finance?
We will need assistance in completing our audit. We are also grateful for the trustees who paid off our mortgage and took over the insurance, maintenance and upkeep of the vicarage.

Pastoral Care

1. Please describe the considerations and challenges your congregation has faced in providing pastoral care in Phase I.
We have worked with the telephone and zoom to compensate with our being at home.

2. Describe the ways in which your congregation is reaching out to all members of the congregation, not only those on the sick or shut-in list. (Phone tree, small group zoom meetings, postcard ministries, etc…)
In a few cases, there are safe distanced/masked home visits. Most of it is done through a phone tree.
3. Does your congregation have a clearly publicized protocol for receiving emergency pastoral calls? How is that line monitored?
People have access to the vicar through cell phone and landlines as well as email. This information is included in our weekly email newsletter.

4. Describe the visitation protocols for your local hospitals, nursing homes, hospice facilities, or funeral homes, and how your congregation’s pastoral work has changed with these protocols.
We have no nursing home or hospice facilities in our area. When the vicar has received calls from the hospital, the hospital has provided protective gear. We have not had to deal with a funeral home.

5. In what areas do you feel you need help or support from the Diocese, your Deanery, or neighboring congregations in regards to pastoral care.
Prayers are always welcome.

Outreach & Community Ministry

In what outreach and community ministries was your congregation participating prior to social distancing measures, and how has that work changed?
Most of our outreach and community ministries are yearly events and most of those are in the Fall. Our Seder was cancelled. We provide clothes and supplies to the border and have people pick up supplies or we meet at a mutually agreed upon place. We also have our doors to the church open and people bring food by and then once a week we deliver the collected food to our local food pantry. We have contributed money to a couple of Big Bend organizations aiding those who are affected by the pandemic response. We continued with our Way of Love-rule of life which began in Lent and in person and when the response to the pandemic came about we went online. When we went online, people from the area and out of state began to join us. These people were not members of our congregation. The book study which will begin later this month will be done over zoom with people who are not members of our congregation as well as members of St. Paul’s.
2. Has your congregation been discerning new opportunities for outreach or community ministry in this new season? If so, please describe the opportunities and challenges in pursuing that new ministry?
We are in the process of discerning how and to whom we can reach out. We are also using Social Media to reach out in ways we have not done before.

3. In what areas do you feel you need help or support from the Diocese, your Deanery, or neighboring congregations in regards to Outreach and Community Ministry.
If you know of anything to do as far as outreach, let us know. Prayers are welcome.


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. Michael Wallens, Vicar. michaelwallens@gmail.com and cell phone: 214-862-7292