COVID-19 Response Task Force
November 13, 2020
Facing New Restrictions

The COVID-19 situation in Illinois continues to worsen. The Illinois Department of Public Health is urging residents to stay home and only leave for "essential activities." The guidelines recommend, that for the next three weeks, residents "stay home as much as possible, leaving only for necessary and essential activities, such as work that must be performed outside the home, COVID-19 testing, visiting the pharmacy, and buying groceries." Illinois regions 1, 7, and 8, which include many of our churches, are now at Tier 2 mitigations which significantly limit the number of people who can gather. Many (if not most) of our congregations have returned to on-line only worship. We continue to urge our church leaders to closely monitor government guidance and plan accordingly.

An Advent Gift for You

We are excited to offer to all our churches the unique perspectives of 26 Blackhawk pastors and lay leaders as they reflect on the 2020 Advent journey. Based on the four candles representing "Hope", "Peace", "Joy" and "Love", each of these volunteers will be featured in a brief, 3-4 minute video posted to the Presbytery's YouTube channel. A new reflection is available every day, from November 29 - December 25. The organizer of this project, Rev. Catherine Martin, is "hopeful that it will bless many of our congregations in the Presbytery, as well as give you a bit of a relief from all that you are being called to do during this unique time in history!"

We encourage you to share the link on your church website, Facebook page, newsletters, bulletins or by email.

Advent Worship at Home Churches Gear Up to Make Advent Meaningful for All

Whether or not you worship with reduced capacity in your sanctuary or are entirely online, every congregation has members who need or choose to self-quarantine. The traditions and beauty of Advent and Christmas will make remote worshippers feel even more isolated. With small acts of thoughtfulness, it's not too late to bring everyone the joy of the season.

We have heard from several churches who are busy assembling "worship kits", bags or even stockings to be delivered to their members containing a variety of goodies:
  • Worship bulletins
  • Advent devotional
  • Candle(s)
  • Coloring pages (for children and adults)
  • Books for children
  • Ornaments
  • Candy or treats
  • Prayer cube
(The lovely set of Advent candles pictured above will go out to Fulton Presbyterians for use in their home worship and devotions.)

Other suggestions and ideas to enhance your Advent and Christmas season:
Blue Christmas Services

The format of Blue Christmas services vary church to church. But the common theme is dropping the usual merry and bright, and recognizing the hard stuff. People offer prayers and light candles, and open up to the sadness they're carrying. About loss, relationships, addiction. Perhaps your church has offered or participated in such a worship service. Perhaps this year, as many deal with loss and grief, it is time to plan a service specifically for those who find it more and more difficult to be merry.

We offer the following resources:

If you have something you would like to share with the Presbytery, please contact us.
‘Tis the Season
(for your congregational meeting)

The days are getting shorter and several new seasons are upon us. The seasons of fall, Advent, stewardship, and one of my favorites - congregational meetings. Many of our churches are considering how to hold their annual called meeting to elect officers, approve the 2021 budget, and plan for the future. Here are some tips from your Stated Clerk:

  • Be sure to check your by-laws to determine if you must meet in person or can meet on-line. 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.
  • When meeting via Zoom, be sure to include people who can only join by telephone. Make sure they can hear what is going on and include them when voting, by calling on them one at a time.
  • 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.

The presbytery is here to help you. Contact me at any time with questions.
Virtual Worship Service for Congregations

PC(USA) leadership and staff are recording a complete service based on the Matthew 25 vision for use on Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday (Nov. 22) or any other Sunday. The worship service will be based on the Matthew 25 vision and draws from the Worship in a Matthew 25 Church resource available on the Matthew 25 website. SEE MORE HERE.
re: Worship Production

An enthusiastic group of twenty+ people involved in worship production for Blackhawk churches large and small recently gathered on Zoom to share, ask questions and recognize each other as resources. Blackhawk now offers a Facebook group for you: Blackhawk Worship Teams and is making plans to meet again, perhaps with specific topics and/or breakout groups. We would also be happy to add your name to receive information on future gatherings or resources.

Also, please point your tech crew to the Zoom Faith Facebook group. It contains a wealth of information on all topics related to worship production (not just Zoom) - all since COVID changed the church worship landscape.
Signs of Hope and New Life in Blackhawk
We want to encourage one another. Please contact us with your story!!
Thriving Connections

Fox Valley Presbyterian in Geneva has enjoyed a long relationship with Chicago’s South Shore Drill team. Their mission: South Shore Drill Team uses the performing arts to engage inner-city youth throughout their critical teenage years, mitigate the dangers of gangs, drugs, and violence, and guide members towards completing their education and becoming responsible citizens.
FVPC hosted two outdoor worshipful gatherings on church grounds that were meaningful for everyone involved. These events allowed the young adults of the SSDT to perform for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak. It also was a great opportunity for our congregation to gather and fellowship outside in safe manner. We are proud of them and our long standing affiliation.
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.