COVID-19 Response Task Force
February 12, 2021
Current COVID 19 Resurgence Numbers

As of today, all regions in Illinois remain in in Phase 4 of the state resurgence plan. Phase 4 limits gatherings to the lesser of 50 people or 50% of overall room capacity. Positivity rates continue to decline in most counties and hospital bed availability remains steady. This is all very good news. In conversations with pastors, many of our congregations are making plans for return to in-person worship or an increase in in-person attendance. Several congregations are offering more than one worship service. The recent bitter cold has reduced in-person worship for now. We are entering the season of Lent this week and are in awe of the creative worship ideas many pastors are sharing on our weekly Share and Care calls. We continue to recommend safe practices including limited attendance, social distancing, mask wearing and no singing. As always, please monitor your local official public health sites for the latest news and updates. 
Vaccine Buddies

When it comes to a vaccine rollout across America, the internet has been invaluable for disseminating information between those ready to give the shots and those ready to roll up their sleeves. Unfortunately, for people who have no internet access, computer or smart phone or who lack the skills or confidence to easily navigate the online world, the process is daunting and/or completely inaccessible.

Enter the "Vaccine Buddy" system. Members of Fulton Presbyterian are challenging all our churches to identify and assist those in their church or wider community who could use some help with getting their vaccine. After canvassing for people who, without assistance, would be unable to find or sign up for an appointment, 2-3 volunteers do the legwork and get them signed up. They actively keep tabs on all the various vaccine distribution locations, which ones may have doses and appointments available and what basic medical information is required to register (assembled from "buddies" in advance). Then they get to work making matches and possibly arranging for transportation if necessary.

What a great way to be of service and relieve others of a big burden! Please contact Pastor Catherine Martin or the office if you have questions.
The Post-Quarantine Church
Join us for a book discussion

Someone once said "the pandemic is a great time to make plans". We invite you to start thinking about and discussing what your church will look like post-pandemic.

In his book, "The Post-Quarantine Church: Six Urgent Challenges and Opportunities that Will Determine the Future of Your Congregation", author Thom Rainer postulates that one third of previous congregants will restart their pattern of weekly worship attendance, another third will choose the online options regularly or exclusively and as many as one third will not return to church in any fashion. Rainer and other church consultants have hopeful ideas and suggestions to consider in facing this future.

Please join us as we use Rainer's book as a starting point to discuss the brand new world just around the corner. The book is short (128 pages), easy to digest, and available for about $8. We will meet on Zoom for six weeks (one challenge per week), on Tuesdays from 2-3 pm. - or - Thursdays from 7-8 pm. If you would like to join us, please use the link below. All are welcome - clergy and lay leaders.

Topic: The Post-Quarantine Church discussion
Time: Tuesday March 2, 9, 16, 23, (skip Holy Week), April 6, 13 at 2:00 PM Central
Time: Thursday March 4, 11, 18, 25, (skip Holy Week), April 8, 15 at 7:00 PM Central

Register for Tuesdays at 2:00 pm:

Register for Thursdays at 7:00 pm:

You are welcome to register for both and join when you can. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Ash Wednesday service now available for congregational use

The PCUSA is providing for personal or congregational use an online Ash Wednesday service that features liturgy and music in English, Spanish and Korean (with available subtitles in all 3 languages). The 40-minute pre-recorded service was filmed at the chapel in the Center’s Louisville, Kentucky, and features a variety of leaders from the Mission Agency.

It is a beautiful service! Please find more information here.
You are invited to the Synod-Sponsored Workshop:
How to Lead When You Don't Know
Where You're Going

When: Thursday, March 18th, 9:00 AM - 11:00 PM Central via ZOOM
Cost: Free to all Presbyterian pastors, sessions, church and presbytery leaders (including COMs)

How do you lead an organization stuck between an ending and a new beginning—when the old ways of doing things no longer work but a way forward is not yet clear? The workshop will feature Susan Beaumont, author of "How To Lead When You Don't Know Where You're Going: Leading in a Liminal Season". Such in-between times are called liminal seasons—threshold times when the continuity of tradition disintegrates and uncertainty about the future fuels doubt and chaos. Read more and register today!
Creation Lab in Lent: UNPACK

Let's journey together through Lent. All PC(USA) church and faith leaders can join the Synod of Lincoln Trails in March (1st, 15th, 29th at 12 noon CT) for three Monday gatherings of creative art making and storytelling on the theme of UNPACK. Get more details and register for free at 90 minutes long. Facilitators are the Revs. Shawna Bowman and Beth Farias of Creation Lab in Chicago.
Presbyterians Forging Ahead
The youth (and some awesome adults) of Geneva Fox Valley braved the cold weather to continue the tradition of collecting food and money for the Souper Bowl of Caring. In all, $1071 and 37 bags of food were collected for the area food banks - one of the largest ever! Unfortunately, the KC victory preferred by a large margin, was not to be.
The worship team from Fulton Presbyterian is pictured hard at work putting together the Lent in a Bag Kits - for pick up or delivery!
Woodstock First is applying to become an Earth Care Congregation. The confirmation students in 6th-8th grade took the lead. They had meetings with leaders of the church, created goals to help make the church greener and submitted the Earth Care application. Isn't that cool?!
The regular "Fifth Sunday" combined worship service of four Galena churches (including First and Westminster Presbyterian) featured an original play entitled "A Fishy Tale". The story of Jonah was performed as a table reading on Zoom. Great job! Here's the link (the message and scripture begin at 13:45 and the play begins at 17:47).
Please continue to monitor the COVID metrics for your region of Illinois:

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.