Dear Pastors and Congregational Chairs,
Last week, I issued a statement, assuring you that your NID staff would continue to monitor state agencies for updates on mitigation measures that are being set in place by Governor Pritzker in an attempt to keep the public safe in the midst of this pandemic. On November 17, in response to the record-high Covid-19 positivity rates currently being experienced in Illinois, Governor Pritzker issued new mitigations, moving the entire state to the more-restrictive, Tier 3 measures. These measures at to take effect on Friday, November 20.
So that you may be informed as to what is going on in your communities as a result of these new measures, you are encouraged to go to the state of Illinois’ website and read the Tier 3 orders as well as the Illinois Department of Public Health’s six-page report on houses of worship: www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/places-worship-guidance. As our NID staff has reviewed these documents the following may be most significant to your congregation:
1. The State is highly encouraging churches to follow the Tier 3 mitigation measures for occupancy restrictions and social gatherings wherever possible.
2. For Word and Sacrament worship services, these mitigation measures are recommendations, not mandates. Please keep up good and holy work as you provide God’s Word and sacrament to congregations. Thank you also for not forgetting your faithful witness to your community.
3. Other activities that take place outside of worship services [such as potlucks, group Bible studies, board meetings, etc.] should follow the Tier 3 mitigation measures.
4. The state has specifically cited weddings and funerals as falling under the Tier 3 mitigation measures. Please check with your local health department officials for specific questions related to this.
5. Where in-person worship does take place, churches are always encouraged to follow the physical and social distancing guidelines as set forth by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
We are heartened to hear how pastors and laity are working together to bring Christ-like care to all in the midst of this crisis. If there’s any way we at the NID office may be of service to you, please reach out to us.
We continually lift you up in prayer at the NID office, giving thanks to our Lord for your faithful service, and asking Him to continue to shield you from harm as you bring the gift of His compassionate mercy and the hope of salvation in Christ to the communities you serve. May we be blessed by and reflective of our Lord’s encouragement in I Corinthians 15:58. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
We will continue to stay up to date on any new measures our state may take to combat this pandemic, and we will continue to keep you informed. We are in this together, and the Almighty Lord is with us all!