COVID-19 Response Task Force
October 16, 2020
Four Funerals and a Wedding

Fall is upon us and more and more congregations have moved to indoor, in-person worship. In addition to finding new ways to lead worship, pastors are facing the daunting challenge of conducting funerals and officiating weddings during a pandemic. Weddings planned long ago can be postponed or changed to meet limits on gathering. Funerals can be especially challenging.

Holding a funeral at your church allows more control over safety protocols but not all visitors may agree to your restrictions. If the memorial service is held at a funeral home, be sure to ask about rules for social distancing, face coverings, and how the funeral home will track who attends a visitation and service. These tender times of loss often include out of town guests and the desire to embrace or gather closely with those who are mourning.

Pastors know the importance of funerals, and it’s a key role of our calling, but leading a large funeral can put a pastor and, ultimately, a congregation at risk. At least one of our pastors has gone into an extended quarantine for being with a family during the death of a member. We encourage church leaders to support their pastors as they decide how, where, and when to conduct funerals. Guidance from the CDC may help to direct your thoughts and discussion.
Offerings of Time, Talents and Treasure

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. 
(Romans 12:1, NIV)

The annual Stewardship Kaleidoscope conference, held online this year, featured great speakers who addressed giving and church finances during a pandemic. Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow asked attendees to reexamine how we are doing offering, both online and in-person. He reminded us that offering is an important ritual of worship and many churches are reducing the offering to short announcements about collection baskets at the back of the sanctuary or website donate buttons. Here are some suggestion to make offering more worshipful during these challenging times.

  • Be sure to include a time of refection for offering during worship
  • Use videos and pictures to remind members of the various ways we can give back to God through service as well as money. Naming examples of gifts of service provides validation for the givers and encouragement for all.
  • Keep an offering plate or other symbols for giving on the communion table
  • Remind members that giving is not just to support the church budget but to offer ourselves to God and our mission to the community
  • Play music during the collection time and encourage people to use that time to write a check, donate online, or text to give
  • Play the doxology or post the words so people can read along
  • End the offering with a prayer of thanksgiving 

Christmas Planning in COVID Time

How is COVID changing your planning for the Advent and Christmas season? Whether you worship in person or online, you may need to suspend or revise some treasured traditions and address the resulting disappointment. Rev. Catherine Martin recently attended a webinar offered by PRC/Practical Resources for Christians entitled "Christmas Eve 2020" and shares the one hour (free) recording with you. (You will be asked to register first.) One suggested idea was to conclude the Christmas Eve service outside to sing a carol or two with the traditional candles or battery tea lights.

The PRC website has additional webinars related to the upcoming liturgical seasons and also a large selection of webinars related to virtual choirs.

Please share your plans, ideas and thoughts with the Presbytery. We will offer more resources in the coming weeks.

Signs of Hope and New Life in Blackhawk
We want to encourage one another. Please contact us with your story!!
Creativity + Fun = Informative Video
Woodstock First Covers all the Bases with Back-to-Worship Video

Woodstock First has been gathering outside, under and around a tent for worship through much of the summer. It was time to come inside. Blessed with an expansive, pew-less sanctuary, their COVID task force, led by Chris Nejdl, worked hard to come up with a plan to safely gather inside. Spray sanitizers, reservations and assigned seat groupings, small tables for children to remain with their family group for the whole service, etc. With all the elements in place, they decided to produce a brief video to communicate with their potential congregants. Their talented organist, Bob Diss, wrote the script and their new Director if Music, Arts and Worship directed and filmed the video. Christy Johanson has a background in music and theater arts. The results were delightful - good job everyone!
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.