COVID-19 Response Task Force
May 8, 2020
Phasing into In-Person Ministry
With a “ Restore Illinois ” plan now in place for a phased lifting of the state's Stay at Home orders, we can also begin to plan church re-entry in phases. Our denomination has recently released excellent resources to guide our Sessions in this planning, all of which can be found at pcusa.org/covid19 /.
 
These are must-read materials as we navigate the weeks and months ahead. The Task Force would like to recommend two in particular:
 
This resource offers, in part:
  • A pastoral, theological statement to aid your communication and guide decisions
  • Constitutional considerations and guidance on risk assessment to inform Session leadership and decisions
  • Considerations, provisional timelines, and helpful ideas for worship
 
This document serves as an extremely helpful guide for the many considerations related to in-person gathering including worship and sacraments, education, fellowship, pastoral care, property and administration.
 

The COVID-19 Response Task Force also Suggests:

  • If you haven’t already, form a task force or other small group dedicated to study the issues related to reentry and advise Session.
  • When considering timing, be sure to reflect on the vulnerabilities of your specific population and err on the side of caution even if the state orders for your region are more generous. Furthermore, when you do begin gathering, plan for how you will avoid excluding the home-bound.
  • Consider staffing, volunteer and paid, in all your scenarios. You will likely have fewer volunteers, or at least not the same volunteers. Try to avoid shifting those responsibilities to the pastors and staff. Allow time for recruiting and training new volunteers in your planning, or let some things go. Also be sure to form plans in the event that any of your staff (including the pastor!) becomes sick.
  • Give some thought to how you will make decisions. Opinions on re-entry are quite divided right now. Plan ahead on how you will create safe space for those opinions, for healthy discussion and discernment, and how final decisions will be made.
  • We urge you to give prayerful thought to the “why” question as you determine “what” you will do as a church in the future. Perhaps this is the time to let go of aspects of ministry that are not essential to our call to love our neighbor, to love God, and to make disciples. Start simply and be intentional about what you choose to do.
 
Finally, please join your colleagues and friends in our weekly Pastors Care & Share Zoom gatherings as we discuss the questions we all face as we phase into the new world before us! (Wednesday at 2 pm and Thursday at 9 am - watch each week for the emailed invitation.)
Remote Worship Options

The Blackhawk Presbytery Remote Worship Options listing is now available. If your church did not supply information, or a change should be made, please let us know. This will also posted on the Congregations page of the website early next week.

We suggest that a church may want to partner with another congregation (with a similar "style" of remote worship) to swap worship for a week or two, allowing the pastor to take a break and both congregations be blessed with each other's participation. We have at least two churches interested in pursuing this right away: one doing prerecorded services and one live-streamed. Please contact the office for more information.
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A place for Blackhawk Presbytery members to share great ideas and resources, ask questions and build a supportive community. We love to hear your stories about what's working, not working, what you're most excited about in your church and community.
FINANCIAL RESOURCES
 You are encouraged to apply even before a complete picture
of financial hardship due to decreased contributions is known .

The process is simple:
  • Call the Board of Pensions 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.
  • Have your PIN and last billing statement available
  • Ask them what you need to do to get dues relief and they will take it from there. You do not need to notify the presbytery, although we will receive notice of your grant.

GENERAL RESOURCES
Tips for the Casual Zoom User, from Synod of Mid-America. Share this with folks reluctant to use Zoom (the best I've seen)


Blackhawk Presbytery COVID-19 page seeks examples of things you or your church are doing to "be the church". Short submissions welcome!

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