COVID-19 Response Task Force
October 2, 2020
Trunk or Treat

Many of our churches have a time honored tradition offering a Trunk or Treat event to their members and communities. Given the challenging times of COVID-19, both the CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health recommend these activities not be held this year. We have already heard from several churches that they have canceled trunk or treat. In its place, here are a few suggestion for Halloween this year from these organizations. 

  • Provide opportunities to carve or decorate pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, as families 
  • Host an outdoor Halloween movie night with church members in a manner that allows families to stay together and practice social distancing 
  • Coordinate one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard) 
  • Have a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart 
  • If you still decide to offer trunk or treat, be sure decorated cars are spaced apart, it is a drive thru only event, and candy is handed out by people wearing gloves

This Halloween will be very different for all of us so please check with local authorities to see if house to house trick or treating is happening in your area. 

For more information, please see CDC Recommendations and IDPH Guidance.
Are You Hosting a Polling Place?

With Election Day around the corner, many people are considering their options between mail-in ballots, early voting or voting at their polling place on November 3. Many of our churches serve the public as polling locations. A quick review of Illinois county clerks' websites shows little has been communicated to the public regarding the COVID safety precautions to be followed at polling sites. The Illinois Department of Public Health has posted explicit 2020 Election Day Guidance which states: "Every local election authority is required to develop a written COVID-19 prevention plan for each polling place in its jurisdiction".

If your church hosts a polling site, we encourage you to be in contact with your county clerk/elections office soon to discuss their plans for your building and how that may conflict with your own guidelines or impact the safe use of your building following election day. For example, if your church requires masks to enter the building, you may ask your local election officials if voters must also wear face coverings. You might also consider what additional cleaning you might do after voting is complete.

Signs of Hope and New Life in Blackhawk
We want to encourage one another. Please contact us with your story!!
Mission Opportunities Come in all Shapes and Sizes
Fulton Presbyterian Steps Up to New Challenges

Just because we are in the midst of a pandemic does not mean that God is still not opening doors for the church to continue to share the love of Christ with others in the world! In fact, and maybe it is because we have been forced to slow down a bit, it feels like we are discovering new opportunities all the time - opportunities that may seem small to some, but have had a big impact on the lives of those in our local community.

When our local nursing home, Harbor Crest, decided to discontinue the Meals On Wheels program, Fulton Presbyterian, along with First Reformed and Second Reformed churches, stepped up to the plate, providing meals every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for six individuals that wished to continue in the program. Our group generously donates not only their time and talents but everything needed for the recipients to have a hot meal three times a week! This new outreach has been a blessing not only to those enjoying the meals but to those creating and delivering them!

A second opportunity to share the love of Christ with others arose when we reached out to a few teachers and paraprofessionals at the Riverbend Elementary School to see how we might support them in the upcoming year. One teacher responded with a special request. She told us about several children whose families did not have the means to provide their children with the opportunity to order books each month from Scholastic Books. She said she would love it if every student in her classroom could each have a new book each month that was theirs to keep. When Pastor Catherine shared the teacher's wish, and the monetary amount needed to make that happen for the entire school year, our faith community stepped up to the plate and filled the need immediately!

Opportunities to let others know that they are important and that we are ready and eager to share our resources with them is one way to share Christ's love with the world - and at Fulton Presbyterian, we are keeping watch - knowing that there is no opportunity or act of helping another that is too small!
Seeing With New Eyes
Conversations around the familiar take on new meaning

One of the real challenges during this COVID-19 experience is keeping in touch with one another. At First Presbyterian, Morris, both pastors have started weekly, hour long conversations with folks on Zoom. Pastor Roy Backus is using Re-membering Baptism, in the Being Reformed series to start the conversations and finding them to be wonderfully engaging. The Participant’s Book, by Ronald P. Byars, is a gem of biblical information, inspirational prayers, creative writing, accessible truths, and open ended questions which join conversations from Scripture to personal experiences. These conversations have rekindled an appreciation for our personal stories and deepened our thankfulness for God’s grace.

Old-Fashioned Fellowship

Outdoor and/or Drive-In Movie Nights have been happening around the Presbytery.

Good job, Joliet First, Caledonia Willow Creek and Ridgefield-Crystal Lake!
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.