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July 26, 2020

Rector on vacation: Wendy and I will be taking some vacation time starting July 27 and returning August 10. Julia will lead Morning Prayer each day and on Sunday. Bible Study will meet on Tuesday at 9 as usual. The Theology Lunch group is finishing up their first study today and will take a bread until August 12. Theology Lunch will resume with a look at atonement theories through the Franciscan eyes of Fr. Richard Rohr. This will be a study based on a weeks worth of meditations he did a couple years ago, that I have compiled. If interested in getting the packet please email me. This will go out to the Theology Lunch distribution list.

Time for installation: The last piece of equipment for our upgraded video system in the nave has arrived and we are working on scheduling the installation work. I hope to be able to get this up and running when I get back from vacation. I still have room for 2 more video volunteers to help run the system on Sunday mornings.

Food and supply drive: Please take a moment to read the article below from Joyce Davis about the need for donated food for Katy Christian Ministries and our annual donation of school supplies. The need in our community is huge this year.

Mark+

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July 19, 2020

Looking ahead: The vestry met Wednesday evening and spent time discussing the way ahead. The challenge is that we really do not know what things will be like in late August. The information seems to change daily. We are watching what the schools are doing and will be in conversation with the diocese as well. We will have Christian Formation programs but they will be different. Julia is in conversation with other formation directors in the diocese about what we might offer. The other discussion is about when to resume in person worship. Bishop Hector is suggesting early September. A summary of the meeting will be sent out next week.

We are also looking at how we can engage more people in our online worship as well as reach out to our community. We met with Jason Evans from the Diocesan Mission Amplification team to look at ways to engage our community and grow our parish even in these challenging times. He gave us some options about how we do online ministry. He also showed us some great tools available to study demographics of our area and data that tells us a great deal about the area we serve. Several vestry members will be investigating this information over the coming month.

Video equipment: We are still waiting for one component of our new video system to arrive. I have two volunteers to help run the broadcast equipment but could use two more.

Talking with our teens: One thing we discussed at vestry was a concern shared by Julia about what our teens and youth are thinking and experiencing as they look at the prospect of returning to school. They are listening to what we say and watching how we respond and there is concern on their part about how school will be and how safe it will be to return. Julia will be sending out some information about talking with teens and youth about school in the fall. Do know that you can always call Mark or Julia if you need some support at this challenging time.

Mark+

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July 12, 2020

Looking ahead: In the midst of all the disruption the vestry is continuing to look ahead to when we do get back to some semblance of normal life and programming. As Andrea mentioned in her summary of the vestry meeting we are meeting with members of the diocesan Mission Amplification Team. These are people who are trained in how to deal with and connect with the changing demographics and needs of today’s world. We hope to put together some programming over the next year to involve the whole parish in new and exciting ways to connect with our community.

Making plans: In terms of Christian formation, we are discussing offerings that include in person gatherings, online classes, or some hybrid of both. Julia and I talked at length about creative possibilities for Christian formation that will allow maximum participation, while being pastorally sensitive to the needs of our congregation, whether those needs are to stay safe at home or venture back into the walls of St. Paul’s. Along with the Vestry, we are working hard to create programming for the fall that is accessible and meaningful, in a variety of platforms. The vestry will be meeting Wednesday evening to begin those plans. The challenge is we have no idea what the situation will be a month from now let alone in September.

Mark+

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July 5, 2020

Something different this Sunday: sung or chanted Psalm: While we continue with our Livestream services this also gives me a chance to introduce you to a couple of the things I wanted to add to our liturgy. The sung or chanted psalm is something I had planned on adding in during the Easter season as a different way to do the psalms. When we do resume in-person services, one thing we have to be careful about is anything where there is a spoken response. Starting this Sunday I want to introduce you to a way to have the choir chant the psalms. Click here to watch some seminarians at Virginia Theological Seminary chant a psalm. There are several ways to do this and we will begin with Simplified Anglican Chant. As we look forward to getting back together it will be time to be a little creative and this is a start.

Prayer requests: In the past couple of weeks we have had an increase in the requests for prayers especially for those who are ill. We are delighted to include your family members and close friends in our prayers. We normally put a person on the list for 2 weeks unless we know it is a long term condition, like chemo for cancer. Christie maintains the list and would greatly appreciate it if you would send her updates every couple of weeks if you want the person to stay on the list. We also have a Daughters of the King prayer list. The DOK prays for those on this list every day. When asking for prayers please let us know if you want them on both and if you want us to share more specific information with the DOK. This is a confidential prayer group and information is not shared.

Mark+

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June 28, 2020

TECHNOLOGY UPDATE: We have most of the items needed for the update to our livestreaming capabilities. One key piece has not yet arrived and once that is here we can get the new system up and running. Now I need some volunteers who would be willing to be trained to run the livestream. This is not a complicated system it was designed for ease of use. I’m looking for hopefully 4 people who will take turns each week sending out the livestream. If you are interested, please contact me.

VBS: I want to thank Julia for the outstanding job she did on putting together a fun and creative VBS experience for our church. Thank you to many of you who also assisted. One thing I was most pleased about is the number of you that invited friends and neighbors to take part. If they enjoyed VBS, maybe they would enjoy Julia’s Children’s Chapel messages or our virtual services. Follow up with them and send them links or have a watch party with some of the other services that we broadcast. Encourage them to like and follow our Facebook page.

Regathering Plans: Please watch your emails for an announcement from me.

Mark+

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June 21, 2020

Resuming in person worship (updated): The vestry met Wednesday evening and among other topics made the decision to resume in-person services in July following the plan that was approved by Bishop Monterosso. The first in-person service will be what in the retail or restaurant world is called a soft open. On July 12th, we will have one service at 10:30 which will be livestreamed so everyone can watch. We decided to invite our graduating seniors and their families to attend and will honor them during the service. The other people who will be invited are the vestry, ushers and greeters. We felt it was important that all of those who will be part of welcoming people back would have the opportunity of going through the experience and also give us a chance to tweak anything that doesn’t work well. On July 19th, we will have two services at 8:00 and 10:30. Mark is producing a video that will walk you through the plan for the service and that link will be sent out the first week of July. There is other information about signing up to attend that will go out along with the video.

Livestreaming of the service will continue so if you are in the high risk group please consider staying home and staying safe. Please be careful. If in doubt, consult with your doctor about attending. I cannot urge you enough to continue to be careful. Please wear a mask when you are out and around people. Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer. Right now the virus is out of control in Harris County and you need to protect yourself and your neighbor. I would hate to see the Harris County threat move from orange to red.

Technology Grant: Everything to upgrade our video system has been ordered and I am looking forward to working with John Aherns, a friend of Joyce Davis, in installing the system he has designed. Junior Warden, Peter Parsons is meeting with two electricians to work on getting the new lights for the front of the church installed. We may need to locate a lift to get up to the ceiling for the light installation. If anyone has access to one, please let Peter Parsons or Mark know. Livestreamed services are going to continue even when we go back to in-person worship. I am looking for some volunteers who would like to be trained to run the equipment on Sunday morning. This has been designed for people not trained in this type of work and should not be too difficult. If any of our youth are interested, I would welcome you as a member of the video team as well as adult members of the parish. Ideally I’d like 4 people so nobody has to do it more than once a month.

Mark+

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June 14, 2020

Resuming in person worship: Is on hold for another week or so. Harris County has seen an increase in cases over the last 5 days and hospitals are starting to fill up again. Our bishops met with the leaders of the other churches in Harris County and as of Wednesday morning were waiting to hear from Harris County. After talking with Julia and Andrea, we have agreed that it is best to wait since we have the livestream option. There is too great a chance that we will rush the preparation that we need for this Sunday. Just Monday I got some new information from Jaime about how things have worked at St. Bartholomew’s and have made some changes to our plan based on his experience there for the last month. They have already had to go into the contact tracing mode and disinfect the entire church after someone came to mass and then tested positive for COVID-19. I know this is a disappointment for many of you, but we will resume our in-person services as soon as it is deemed safe.

Technology Grant approved: I applied for a grant from the diocese for $2,000 to be spent on new video equipment to improve our livestream programs. That grant was approved on Monday this past week. The grant will cover all of the cameras, switchers, cables and other items we need to set up a four camera feed for our video. They will be mounted up in the choir loft and provide dedicated views of pulpit, lectern, altar and a wide angle shot of the front of the church. The sound system will be hooked into the feed and we are setting up a computer in the loft to send the signal out. Next up is some additional lighting to improve the lighting in the front of the church which is dark to begin with and too dark for good video. Many thanks to Joyce Davis for facilitating our work with a video consultant who is helping us with the equipment.

Mark+

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June 7, 2020

TRINITY SUNDAY WORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES: We have two worship opportunities this Sunday. AT 9:00 Bishop Doyle will lead morning worship from St. David’s in Austin. St. Paul’s will offer an Evensong Service at 5:00 on our Facebook page. Evensong is Evening Prayer but with a lot more music including prayers, collects and several hymns.  To my knowledge has not been done here at St. Paul’s. I hope you will join us Sunday evening at 5:00

REGATHERING PLAN: The bishop has signed off on our plan to resume in person worship. Let me first say that the livestream broadcasts will continue so if you are more comfortable staying at home, then please know that is fine. I am working with Julia on a video that will walk you through what a Sunday morning will look like. We hope to have that done by next Wednesday. The earliest we can resume is June 14, but that is dependent on Harris County letting the stay at home order expire on June 9. If it is extended we will have to wait until after it is lifted.

HONORING OUR GRADUATING SENIORS: We are planning that the first Sunday back will be just one service and Julia and I want to invite our graduating seniors and their families to be the ones that attend. They have missed graduations, proms, last performances or sporting events and we want to give them something special this June.

Mark+

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