Presbytery of Blackhawk
CONNECTIONS news & updates
May 11, 2021
In Memory of: Rev. Dr. Stuart Ryder

We offer our condolences to the friends and family of Rev. Dr. Stuart Ryder, Blackhawk Presbytery minister member and member of Elgin First Presbyterian. "Doc" Ryder served for 50 years on the faculty of Judson University in Elgin where his legacy will remain for many years. Formal arrangements are still pending, but please see this press release from his Judson family.
You are Invited to Join Us for
Roundtable Discussions
1st and 3rd Thursdays:
May 20 at 2 pm Topic: Congregational Vitality
June 3 at 2 pm Topic: Discussing Poverty
June 17 at 2 pm Topic: Discussing Racism
1 hour each, on Zoom - Drop in when you can!

Please join our group list to insure you receive the invitation and reminders.
Learn more about the Matthew 25 Initiative on our website or on the PCUSA pages
Want to Attend GA as a Commissioner?

Plans for the General Assembly of the PCUSA in 2022 are taking shape. The meeting will be a hybrid meeting - partially in person and partially online. The in-person portion will be in Louisville during a two week period (June 17-July 3) when committee meetings are held and commissioners attend for the three days, plus travel, their committee is in session. Plenary sessions (July 5-9) will be online for all commissioners.

Blackhawk will be choosing their commissioners, two ruling elders and two minister members, plus a young adult advisory delegate (YAAD) from those submitting an application by October 1, 2021. The Nominating Committee will oversee the process and they encourage you to submit your application at any time. Please find the application and nomination process here. The GA schedule currently available found here.
Stronghold Hiring for Summer Camp

DO YOU KNOW A HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE OR COLLEGE STUDENT WHO WOULD BE A GREAT CHRISTIAN ROLE MODEL? If so, please tell them that Stronghold is still hiring for the upcoming summer and that we have Counselor, Lifeguard, and Assistant Summer Camp Director jobs available. Serving at Stronghold this summer will provide an opportunity to shape lives, help build better communities, and live out the teachings of the gospel. They will help kids to make new friends and grow in their faith while helping them to build a supportive Christian community and giving them the social interaction and genuine personal relationships that they need more than ever. If you know someone, encourage them go to the and click “Apply Online” to fill out an application or have them contact Ryan at or 815-732-6111.

from the COVID Response Task Force

After thirteen months, the regular COVID Updates will tag along with the Blackhawk Connections. The team is still meeting less frequently to discuss the latest developments in the pandemic.
What's the Latest?

Please evaluate your practices in light of the recent update: COVID-19 Guidance for Places of Worship from IDPH (April 8, 2021).

The Restore Illinois Phase 4 Guidelines FAQ states the following with regard to capacity:
(a) for facilities with an overall capacity limit of less than 200 people, the capacity should be the lesser of 50 people or 50% capacity; or
(b) for facilities with an overall capacity limit of 200 people or more, or when outdoors, current
guidelines recommend gatherings of no more than 25% capacity (see page 10 for more info).

Also in the bridge phase: "Individuals with proof of full vaccination plus 14 days or a negative COVID-19 test (PCR) 1 to 3 days prior to an event or outing do not count against capacity limits."
Festival of Homiletics to
Remain Virtual

"Preaching for the Future Church" is the theme of this year's Festival of Homiletics from Luther Seminary, which is online from May 17 to 21. The event invites participants into conversation around how the promise of the Gospel might shape hope and ministry for the future church and what the role of preaching is in forming the church of the future. Over five days, there will be more than 50 speakers, including Kate Bowler, Diana Butler Bass, Brian McLaren, Neichelle Guidry, Matthew L. Skinner, and Rebekah Lowe and Adam Walker Cleaveland of Illustrated Ministry. You can register for free or purchase a recording package ($75) for full access to all sessions, which you can watch on your own schedule, plus bonus material like additional speaker presentations and live workshops/lectures
New Guidance on Singing

Some important updates were recently released on the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic and congregational singing. The study by the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Maryland is the source of these important excerpts that pertain to congregational singing and a summary offered by the Center for Congregational Song.
CDC Provides Guiding Principles for Fully Vaccinated People

The April 27 guidance is summarized in the infographic and article below.
Celebrates the following congregations who met the Six for Six Challenge in the very challenging 2020 - Congratulations!

  • Ridgefield-Crystal Lake
  • DeKalb Westminster
  • Galena First
  • Geneva Fox Valley
  • Henry First United
  • La Rose Crow Meadow - new this year!
  • Rockford Second/First
  • Rockford Westminster
  • Sterling First
  • Woodstock First - new this year!

The Presbyterian Association of Musicians (PAM) invites you to our 2021 Worship and Music Conferences at Montreat.
The conference theme this summer is Gathered in My Name, and they offer both in-person and online registration options. Online dates are June 27 to July 2.
PAM has an outstanding conference faculty this summer – including preacher, Rev. Cecelia Armstrong; Routley Lecturer, Tom Trenney; Adult Choir Leader, Phillip Shoultz; and Adult Bible Study Leader, Rev. Margaret Aymer. There are a wide variety of programs, ensembles, and activities for everyone no matter the size of your congregation or your personal interests. You can learn more at
New from Spark House:

Dialogues On is a resource and methodology that engages adults in conversation around difficult topics by providing well-researched information brought to life with the lived experience of people at the center of each topic. By providing a helping hand to begin the conversation, Dialogues On fosters equality and justice both within our small groups and larger community. SEE MORE