In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic worsened and SMAA was closed to the public by directives from the Bishop and local health authorities. Over the next year, our ability to gather in person was limited, ebbing and flowing based on directives from these authorities. As vaccines become more widespread and COVID-19 cases decrease, decision-making is moving from the diocesan level to the parish level.
COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available for persons age 12 and higher. SMAA encourages all eligible persons to receive an approved COVID-19 vaccine, not only for their own protection, but for the protection of the community.
On May 13, 2021, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated persons may remove their masks in most settings safely, including full-capacity worship services. On the same day, the Bishop of Dallas permitted congregations to determine their own practices and protocols effective May 16, 2021.
In non-pandemic news, Lincoln Property Corporation (LPC) has begun building on the north land, so parking is restricted to the west lot (and a few spots by the south entrance). SMAA is exploring the possibility of offsite parking on Sunday mornings, as well as certain weekdays when big events are planned. In addition, since our 75th Anniversary will be celebrated from August 2021 – May 2022, we expect special events and guests throughout the year.
In light of these interlocking realities, we provide the following reopening plan that brings us to early fall, 2021. We can revise the plan as needed, based on the public health situation and how the plan is working. The worship schedule for the next several months may be found at the end of this plan, so be sure to read to the end.
COVID-19 Safety Protocols
Physical Distancing: Effective Sunday, May 16, we will no longer require reservations for worship, limit room capacity, or restrict regularly open entrances and exits. People are still encouraged to respect physical distance, particularly in situations where vaccination status is unknown. In the worship setting, we will not restore passing the peace physically, passing the offering plate, or having the gifts brought forward until we are ready to do so.
Masks: Effective Sunday, May 16, masks will become optional. Diocesan and health authorities make it clear that fully vaccinated persons may remove masks safely in most settings, but unvaccinated persons should continue to wear masks.
Congregational singing: Singing is now permitted in both indoor and outdoor settings (see above for mask recommendations).
Communion: During Holy Eucharist, fully vaccinated clergy are distributing Communion bread to anyone who wishes to come forward. While we are currently using only standing stations for the distribution of Communion, we will open the altar rail at the appropriate time. We will continue to provide small envelopes with consecrated bread upon entry for those who need it, but this practice may be discontinued when no longer necessary. Distribution of Communion in Saint Michael Chapel ends on May 16. Use of the common Communion cup is prohibited by the Bishop until further notice.
Receptions, Coffee Hour, Food and Drink: Now that masks are optional and room capacity is unlimited, receptions, coffee hours, food, and drink may resume at the discretion of the Director of Operations. Please be patient as our staff adjusts to these new permissions.
Best Practices for Good Health: Throughout this pandemic, we have been reminded of the importance of good health hygiene: stay home if you’re sick, cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands carefully and often. Until further notice, if you receive a positive COVID-19 test, you still need to quarantine under SMAA guidelines (available from Colleen O’Hara, Director of Operations). In addition, we will continue to clean frequently, increase air circulation through the building, and use UV lights in the HVAC system to kill viruses.
COVID-19 Forms: We discontinued the COVID-19 screening process on April 25 and removed directional floor markings on May 5. Outside groups are still required to submit a hold harmless agreement before meeting on campus (contact: Colleen O’Hara).
Beginning Sunday, May 16, regular building hours will be as follows:
|Monday - Friday||7:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.|
|Saturday||8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.|
|Sunday||7:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. (plus for afternoon or evening services)|
If no events are listed on the church calendar in the late afternoon or evening, the building may close earlier than 9:00 p.m.
Parking, Entrances, and Exits
Now that construction has begun north of the church, most parking will be in the west lot. During the week, public entrance into the building is through the south entrance on Colgate. Beginning Sunday, May 16, people may enter the building through any of the regularly open entrances: SMES west entrance, the red chapel doors, the south porte-cochere door, the columbarium door on Colgate, and the east sanctuary door on Douglas. Until further notice, we encourage people to move out of the worship space after worship to permit cleaning staff to clean the worship space.
On Sundays, we will continue to livestream the traditional service at 9:00 a.m. and the contemporary service at 11:00 a.m. We will also livestream other seasonal/occasional services in the fall like choral evensong on Sunday afternoon and compline on Sunday evening.
Pastoral Services – Funerals, Weddings, and Baptisms
These services are scheduled in consultation with the Worship and Liturgy Department (contact: Dianne Boyd) and may be held in the worship space most suitable for the number of people attending. During the week, these services should be scheduled at 10:00 am or 4:00 pm, to avoid conflict with the SMES carpool. Due to reduced parking, smaller services should be scheduled in the morning and larger services should be scheduled in the afternoon (after SMES staff have left). In addition, large services and events should not be scheduled on Saturday morning during the Farmers Market season. If a large event is planned during the week, please speak with the Operations Department (contact: Colleen O’Hara) well in advance of the event so that parking issues can be considered.
Formation for Children and Youth
Since not all children are vaccinated yet, we will establish protocols for gatherings of children and youth in alignment with our local school district (HPISD).
Online and In-Person Groups
Committee chairs, ministry group leaders, and teachers may make decisions about whether to meet in person or continue online. Online options may not be available for every group.
In light of church growth and parking limitations, all groups should reserve meeting space in our online church calendar (eSpace) by contacting the administrative assistant in the department affiliated with the group. If there is no administrative assistant in a particular department, please contact the department director. Operations staff will approve the event (or not) and communicate group reservation status back through the departments to the group leader.
Everyone should wear a nametag while on campus. Staff and parishioners may wear their permanent ones; visitors will make temporary ones as they enter. Nametags are critical as we regather and extend hospitality to newcomers. Nametags are also important for the safety of our school children during the week.
Worship and Formation Schedule
Following is our worship and formation schedule for the next several months. In terms of worship, we are gradually adding services, but the new schedule won’t exactly match the pre-pandemic schedule. The Worship and Liturgy department is continually reviewing our worship needs and will add new offerings at the appropriate time. In the schedule below, “SMC” stands for Saint Michael Chapel and “BMC” stands for Bishop Moore Chapel. On Sundays, the traditional service at 9:00 a.m. and the contemporary service at 11:00 a.m. will be the services consistently livestreamed.
April 25 – May 30
During this period, formation options are mostly online.
|9:00 am||Church||Traditional Eucharist|
|11:00 am||Church||Contemporary Eucharist|
|12:15 pm||SMC||Distribution of Communion (ends May 16)|
|5:30 pm||Outdoors||Occasional Major Feasts and Special Events|
|8:00 pm||Church||Compline (ended May 2)|
June 6 – August 1
|9:00 am||Church||Traditional Eucharist|
|9:30 am - 11:30 am||SMES Hallway (TBD)||Nursery|
|10:00 am||Theater||Children’s formation (3 years old – 5th grade)|
|10:00 am||Youth Café||Youth formation|
|10:00 am||SMC||Adult formation|
|11:00 am||Church||Contemporary Eucharist|
August 8 and following
Fall activities for children and youth will be announced later.
|9:00 am||Church||Traditional Eucharist with Choristers|
|10:00 am||SMC||Adult formation (off August 8-15; resumes 8/22)|
|11:00 am||Church||Traditional Eucharist with Adult Choir|
|11:00 am||Parish Hall||Contemporary Eucharist|
|5:30 pm*||Church||Occasional Evensong/Special Services (start date in the fall TBD)|
|8:00 pm||Church||Compline (start date in the fall TBD)|
* We are considering a new service on Sunday afternoon in SMC and will share details later.
Weekdays (beginning the week of June 7th)
|Tuesday||7:00 am||BMC||Morning Prayer (clergy presence likely)|
|Wednesday||12:30 pm||BMC||Holy Eucharist; one service each month will be designated for healing|
|Thursday||7:00 am||BMC||Morning Prayer (clergy presence likely)|
It was difficult to be separated during the pandemic and we are glad we can gather again!