COVID-19 Response Task Force
December 18, 2020
Have a Blessed Christmas!
Holiday Help

Please note: The (virtual) Presbytery office will be closed from Dec. 19 - Jan. 3. If you need to reach us, please contact Eric at 630-373-5345 or email

Eric is also offering two ways to assist our pastors. He will be recording a Message/Sermon for Sunday, Dec. 27. Entitled "Recognizing Jesus", it is based on the lectionary readings Psalm 148 and Luke 2:22-40 About 15 minutes in length, it will be posted soon to the Presbytery YouTube channel. Insert into your worship service or use for your personal devotional.

Rev. Heinekamp is also willing to be your emergency "on call pastor" between Christmas and New Years for your parishioners as you take some well-deserved days off. If you intend to take advantage of this, contact Eric so you can work out the details.
PC(USA) Offers Online Christmas Service

Based on the century-old "service of nine lessons and carols" format, a variety of colleagues in the PC(USA) national offices are offering a worship service for use on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or at any other point in the Christmas season.

The service is a collaboration among two dozen employees and friends of the national offices of the PC(USA). Musical selections include classic Christmas carols, African American spirituals, and songs originating from Spanish- and Korean-speaking communities of faith. We invite you to tune in or read more about it.
Advent Devotionals are Inspiring!

Please take a moment to view our Advent devotions on YouTube. The participants, all Blackhawk pastors and lay leaders, have put a lot of thought and work into each day of Advent. Based on the four candles, these brief, 4-6 minute videos offer you "Hope", "Peace", "Joy" and "Love". A new reflection is posted for every day, until December 25 on the Presbytery's YouTube channel. We encourage you to share the link on your church website, Facebook page, bulletins or by email.

Many thanks to the following who shared their heartfelt messages:
Eric Heinekamp, Chuck Johnson, Roy Backus, Mark Hughey, Cindy Carlisle,
Tanya Muzzarelli, Laurie Walker, Catherine Martin, Susan Presley, Michael Hafele,
Ray Lantz, Sara Dingman, Ron Barkby, Jim McCrea, Dave Terrinoni, Steve Bowie
Stephanie Anthony, Alex Regrets, Deb Swets, Jan Chandler, David Spaulding 
Anita Stuart-Steva, Mike Selburg, Mike Engle, Faith Herout, Christina Berry

And special thanks to Catherine Martin for conceiving of, and producing this project for us.
ONE MORE TIME: Please Alert Your Members!

This has been a busy year for scam e-mails that look real but are fraudulent. If you get an e-mail that looks suspicious, be sure to match the sender’s e-mail with what you already have and look closely at the language. Scammers are now using gmail addresses that may sound plausible from church leadership such as "" and are targeting members of churches.

Please note that no one from the presbytery or other pastors will ever ask for money, a vague "favor" or gift cards. If it seems odd, it is very likely a scam. Specifically, Eric Heinekamp's email is He will never use another address to contact you.
Congregational Meetings in COVID-Time

Many have asked how to hold their annual called meeting to elect officers, approve the 2021 budget, and other business. Here are some tips from your Stated Clerk:

  • Check your by-laws to determine if they specifically say you must meet in person (most don't). If your by-laws don’t require you meet in person, you should be OK to meet via Zoom. 
  • If your by-laws require you meet in person, hold a minimal-quorum, socially distanced gathering and vote to change the by-laws and then schedule a subsequent on-line meeting.
  • Or ask your session vote to approve an emergency suspension of the by-laws in order to hold a virtual congregational meeting. When it is safe to gather again, hold a duly-called congregational meeting to ratify all votes from at the 'emergency' meeting.
  • When meeting via Zoom, be sure to include people who can only join by telephone (land lines too). Make sure they can hear what is going on and include them when voting, by calling on them one at a time.
  • If you do not want to Zoom, set up a conference call ( works well). You would probably want to take attendance to be able to do roll call votes.
  • When approving nominations for new officers be sure to call for nominations from the floor. If you get more nominations than open positions, you will need to go to a ballot. This is nearly impossible on-line. You may postpone the election to a later date.
  • You can do the ordination and installation of officers with an on-line meeting.

Do your best, but there is room for considerable grace here. Contact Eric Heinekamp at any time with questions.
Signs of Hope and New Life in Blackhawk
We want to encourage one another. Please contact us with your story!!
Anniversary "Celebration"

While plans to host the annual fall harvest supper had to be scrapped due to COVID, First Presbyterian of Gibson City instead celebrated 149 years of ministry by donating the funds for the event to the Head Start Preschool program housed in their building. What a great way to kick off Year 150. Hoping next year's big event is double the fun!
Your Virtual Christmas

So many churches and their creative leaders are making plans to celebrate Christmas in a unique way in 2020. We can't wait to hear your stories and rejoice with you.

While this recorded pageant is not one of Blackhawk's, it is too adorable not to share. They are using Illustrated Ministry's Do Not Be Afraid: A Virtual Christmas Pageant to produce their very own memories. Watch the Leawood United Methodist Church (Kansas) for a retelling of the Christmas story.
GENERAL RESOURCES For "trying to stay connected to folks who don't have easy access to the Internet, or who just don't want to deal with all the Zooms and YouTubes and Facebook Lives."

Please continue to monitor the COVID metrics for your region of Illinois and be prepared to modify your in-person gatherings as needed to changing conditions:

Blackhawk Presbytery COVID-19 page - information from past COVID updates is added regularly

Please email the Presbytery office with your questions, concerns or suggestions. We are working from home and not monitoring the office phone.