Austin-Travis County officials ask church leaders to limit in-person services

Austin-Travis County officials are urging church leaders to limit personal service

Austin and Travis Countyofficials say these places could see large groups of people during the holiday season.

City and health officials in Austin and Travis Counties are urging church leaders to limit personal service. They say with the holiday season these places could see large groups of people.

St. David’s Episcopal Church in downtown Austin agrees to limit the number of contacts.

“We want to be responsible and we want to be responsible citizens,” said Chuck Treadwell, principal of St. David’s. “We don’t want to be the place where people came to church and got sick. That’s a little bit opposite to what we’re trying to do. ”

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They’ve been out of the way since March and say that while it’s not ideal, it’s the best right now.

“Kind of at the heart of the Church is worship together,” Treadwell said. “Gathering at the altar of the Lord, saying our prayers and singing songs and greeting each other, fellowship and the holy embrace, and that is exactly the definition of church. So we had to learn how to do it in a completely different way. ”

The Austin Church is making changes to services related to the coronavirus

There have been over 80,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus or COVID-19 worldwide. A church in downtown Austin is responding by taking extra steps during its meetings to protect its worshipers.

They pre-record their sermons and publish them on Sundays. Treadwell said they tried to stream live but found the pre-recording fit better. He said it allows those who lead the service to be at home and worship with their families and practically simultaneously with the congregation.

Treadwell said that there will always be times of struggle or hardship in life and that is the backbone of faith.

“It’s not a new experience, it’s an uncomfortable experience,” he said. “But we have a lot of tradition to draw on that gives us hope, encouragement, and a scripture to read that points us in the direction of trust in God and patience.”

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The Diocese of Austin said their parishes will continue with in person and live streamed crowds. They said they would continue to follow the CDC and recommendations from health officials.

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Below is the full statement on FOX 7 Austin News:

“During the pandemic, parishes in the Diocese of Austin followed safe protocols for celebrating Mass based on CDC guidelines and recommendations from health professionals. These protocols, which continue to be followed, encourage all parishioners to wear masks at Mass, maintain safety clearances between households, wash or disinfect their hands when entering church, and receive Holy Communion by hand. In addition, parishes disinfect the pews and other touched surfaces between masses.

We hold to our belief in the sanctity of human life, which calls us to be vigilant with one another through these proven protocols. We are grateful to our civil and health leaders who have walked with us through this challenging time and continue to advise us on how to keep everyone safe. The Church will carefully follow these protocols for the sake of all of God’s people and the common good of our community. “

Regardless of whether the services are personal or virtual for this holiday season, Treadwell says it’s important not to lose sight of what it’s really about.

“It’s times like these when the word has its greatest power,” he said.

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