Presbytery of Blackhawk
CONNECTIONS news & updates
July 23, 2021
Aligning words and deeds
Congregation reshapes its vision — and mission statement

Sterling First Presbyterian

When the Rev. Dr. Christina Berry enrolled her congregation to become a Matthew 25 church, little did she know just how the Spirit would move among them.
Send us your local stories - We love to share!

You are invited to join us for
Matthew 25
Roundtable Discussions
1st and 3rd Thursdays:
August 5 at 2 pm Topic: Discussing Racism
Aug. 19 at 2 pm Topic: Congregational Vitality
Sept. 2 at 2 pm Topic: Discussing Poverty

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
**Presbyterian Foundation has scholarships for this event
**Attendees get 200 points toward Call to Health
**Early registration by Aug. 1 is discounted

Stewardship Kaleidoscope 2021 will be in Cincinnati, OH, September 13-15, as well as offering a virtual experience. This highly acclaimed annual conference offers education, worship, and amazing opportunities for growth in stewardship and generosity.

Speakers and worship leaders have been announced and include Todd Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains and Tempered Resilience, and J. Herbert Nelson II, Stated Clerk of the PC(USA). Please read more here.


Changes are coming to Triennium! A new venue and new way of being in small groups are designed to enhance the beloved event, which takes on a Matthew 25 focus. READ MORE!
from the COVID Response Task Force
What's the Latest?

It seems that with each news report, there are more discouraging words regarding COVID in our nation and world. It behooves church leaders to pay attention to your local data, listen to recommendations from the CDC and the IDPH, and adjust accordingly. No one wants to return to universal masking and other restrictions, but it is important to be prepared to take that step.

Keep these considerations in mind:

**With the delta variant widely circulating in many areas, even vaccinated individuals may be virus carriers especially if they spend considerable time with unvaccinated people. Serious illness for the vaccinated still seems to be very rare.

**Unvaccinated children under 12 are both vulnerable to infection and potential virus spreaders. We must do what we can to protect them.

**You may 'know' your congregants were vaccinated, but what about the visitors you want to welcome?

IDPH now offers county by county metrics for your assessment.

The CDC offers a data tracker and the latest on the spread of variants.
Hybrid Worship Keeps Evolving

Check out this information:
Why Hybrid Is Not Just for Cars and Superhero Movies Anymore: Equipment to put it all together

Zoom Faith Facebook group has info on "Portal TV"
Where is Everyone?

All Blackhawk churches now offer in person worship and many are continuing to offer online versions as well. Some churches seem to be back to "near-normal" attendance while others are aware of significant holes.

Rather than adopting a wait and see attitude, perhaps its time to reach out to those who have yet to return. Maybe your outreach team will learn of things that could be done to enhance connection for those who are not comfortable in group events (yet) or who just prefer an online worship experience. Perhaps they would also be more able to join online bible studies or group meetings. Unless you ask, you will never know what people are feeling.

This article from Carey Nieuwhof, "Church Attendance is Dying: What's Next?" surely offers food for thought and discussion at your next session meeting.
Pastors! Make Time for a Synod Retreat

Five totally free "Take a Deep Breath" retreats in August for Presbyterian pastors are SOLT's free gift to you. Contact Sara Dingman (or on Facebook) with questions.

24-hour retreats - Pick one:
**Aug 5-6: I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign IL
**Aug 9-10: Geneva Center near Rochester IN
**Aug 12-13: Stronghold Camp, Oregon, IL
**Aug 17-18: Starved Rock State Park, Utica IL
**Aug 23-24: Benedict Inn, Beech Grove, IN

Each retreat will have space for about 40 people.
Where's the new Book of Order

The current Book of Order is typically valid for two years from July 1st to June 30th (with our most recent Book of Order going from July 1st, 2019 - June 30th, 2021). However, because of COVID, General Assembly did not vote on amendments to the Book of Order last year so there were no changes to be made. Therefore, if you have the 2019/2021 Book of Order, it is now valid until June 30th, 2023. New ones will not be printed but if you need one: 
You can download a free digital copy by Clicking Here.
You can order a hard copy (it will still say 2019-2021) by Clicking Here

Presbyterians for Earth Care
Creation Care Buffet: Come to the Table

ZOOM SESSIONS - Join one or all days
Suggested donation: $20 per Sunday or $50 for three Sundays

Session 1: 3:30-5pm CDT
Dinner Break with special presentations
Session 2: 6-8pm CDT

Carol Winfrey Gillette
"Through Devastating Storms"
is available for congregational use