July 2, 2020
Dear Heavenly Rest Family,
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Over the last several days, Abilene and Taylor County have seen a surge in cases of COVID-19. Of particular concern is the fact that the number of Coronavirus-related hospitalizations has increased from 3 early in the week to 18 as of Thursday, July 2: a 540% increase in a matter of days. During the early conversations of the Return Task Force, the number of hospitalizations was the data point that we decided to pay attention to most closely, as it is the figure that is least subject to interpretation. Due to the surge in cases, especially those serious enough to require hospitalization, I have decided, in consultation with members of the Return Task Force, to return to Phase I of our Return to In-Person Worship and suspend in-person services for the month of July. Like many of you, I am disappointed that we have to take this step, but I believe it to be the most prudent course of action in light of the alarming increase in cases over the past week. Virtual worship in English will be broadcast via Facebook Live at 10:30 on Sunday mornings. Worship in Swahili will take place on Sunday afternoons via Zoom. The church offices will remain open to the church staff at this time. If you need to visit the church offices for any reason, please make an appointment.
I pray that this increase in cases will provoke the people of the Abilene community to take the precautions recommended by healthcare professionals and civil authorities seriously. As I’ve said before, the only way we can weather this storm is if we behave with an understanding that our actions as individuals have a profound impact on the life of the wider community.
The Return Task Force will continue to meet in the coming weeks to evaluate the feasibility of returning to in-person worship later in the summer. Please be attentive to any communications that come from the church, as they will contain important information about these conversations.
When we first returned to In-Person Worship a few weeks ago, I indicated that the words that would be guiding the life of our community in the coming months were “flexible” and “faithful”. This temporary return to virtual worship is an example of the need for both of those qualities. Know how grateful I am for your flexibility, and for your faithfulness. Please stay healthy and safe. May God bless, preserve, and keep you today and always.
The Reverend David F. Romanik