Please rejoice with us. The Rev. Dr. Robert Pace, 53, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, Fort Worth, has had two negative tests for the coronavirus Covid19. The Tarrant Public Health Department has signed an order releasing him from isolation and quarantine on March 19, 2020.
His wife, the Rev. Dr. Jill Walters, will restart a two-week quarantine, but they will not have to remain separated from one another. He is still recovering from pneumonia, and it will take some time before he regains his strength. He cannot talk much because it exacerbates his coughing.
So while he will not be giving any interviews soon, he released this statement to the people of Trinity:
A Message from Father Robert
Beloved Trinity Community,
I am so pleased to announce that I have had my second “negative” Covid-19 test by the Tarrant County Health Department. I am now cleared and released from quarantine. However, my wife, Jill, will continue in quarantine here at home for another 14 days.
Jill and I want to express our heart-felt gratitude to all the people who have been praying for us. We are also humbled and grateful to the wonderful medical professionals in this community who cared for me through this illness—Dr. Allan Kelly, Dr. John Burk, Dr. Julia Willingham, the entire team at Baylor All-Saints Hospital, and Dr. Catherine Colquitt with the Tarrant County Health Department.
I want to thank our diocesan leadership—especially Bishop Scott Mayer, Canon Janet Waggoner, and Katie Sherrod. We have also received a tremendous outpouring of love and support from our All Saints’ Episcopal School and Trinity Episcopal School families.
I am grateful to the amazing clergy and staff at Trinity Episcopal Church. I want to thank Scott Millican, our Senior Warden, and the Vestry for their leadership in these challenging times. I am humbled by the example of our Trinity parishioners, who continue to step up to their call to love one another and care for our community. Our building may be closed, but our church is still living out our mission to share Christ’s love in the world.
I am significantly improved in my health, but I am still weak. One of the difficult things about this Coronavirus is the pneumonia and the shortness of breath. Although I am much better, it’s still a process. Throughout the whole confinement, as I concentrated on breathing… breath… air… an old hymn from my childhood has kept ringing in my ears, giving me comfort and hope:
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
fill me with life anew,
that I may love the way you love,
and do what you would do.
And that’s the point… whether we are sick or not… whether we are quarantined or simply doing our part to keep this thing from spreading… we are all breathing the same God-given air.
We are called always to be filled with life anew. God breathes upon us in all we do, that we may love as God loves… that we may do as God does…
We are called to be the church in new ways. We love as God loves in this particular day and age by keeping this virus from spreading. We minimize our physical contact with others. But that doesn’t mean we limit the ways we reach out to each other.
Let’s increase the ways we check on each other in these times. Let’s be the “Breath of God” for each other in a phone call… a text… an email… a social media check-in… a Facetime visit. Let’s make sure we all remain connected.
And of course, let’s pray for one another. You are all in my prayers.
Trinity’s buildings remain closed, but online worship services will continue. Trinity’s staff continues to check on the congregation.
None of the people in self-quarantine following their attendance at March 4 Lenten program at which Father Robert was present have become ill. At the direction of the Tarrant Public Health they have been taking their temperatures and keeping a log to report daily to public health staff. Their two-week quarantine period is coming to an end, but, like most people, they are remaining at home.
Covid-19 and CEEP
Father Robert is one of at least six people who attended the mid-February annual gathering of the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes, or CEEP, who have tested positive for COVID-19, the coronavirus. All six had participated in the same pre-conference event, the network said March 14 in an email update to attendees and on its website.
In addition to Pace, who on March 10 became the first person to test positive for the coronavirus Covid19 in Tarrant County, the others affected are the Rev. Janet Broderick, rector at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills, California [sister of actor Matthew Broderick]; the Rev. Roy Cole, interim rector at Manhattan’s Church of the Epiphany; and the Rev. Brad Whitaker, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In Washington, the Rev. Timothy Cole “continues to receive good reports from his doctors,” church leaders said on March 14, while four more from the Christ Church Georgetown community had tested positive, including the organist.
The conference was held Feb. 19-22 in Louisville, Kentucky. CEEP leaders have been working with Louisville public health officials, who are following up with other individuals who attended the pre-conference session with the six people who were infected with the virus. The session was intended for rectors and deans.