COVID-19 Response Task Force
October 30, 2020
What are we to do now?

If you have been watching the news, you’ve seen that COVID-19 cases are spiking in Illinois and new mitigations have been announced. The Blackhawk Presbytery Covid 19 Task Force met again this week, just as we have been doing for seven months, and we talked at length about guidance for our congregations. The directives from the government have not always been clear. One document limited religious gatherings to 10 people, another mentioned 25, and we have had conversations with elected officials who say churches are exempt from guidelines. So what are we to do now? Here is the updated guidance from the Task Force for the next few weeks:

  • The only way to be certain worship does not cause spread of the virus is to hold worship online. Churches should seriously consider reverting to online worship only
  • Congregations that choose to meet in person should limit attendance to the lesser of 25 people or 25% of their worship space capacity.
  • Congregations should require face coverings, take temperatures, practice physical distancing, and record data on attendees.
  • Attendees should refrain from singing, extended responsive readings, shared communion elements, and fellowship hours.
  • Pastors and church leaders are urged to follow updates of the Illinois Department of Public Health and monitor the situation in your particular community. 

We are aware this news is not easy to accept. Pastors and sessions have received emails and calls pushing back on limitations to worship. We get that and appreciate we are all weary from the social implications of the virus. But we also believe it’s our civic responsibility to make sure that all people are safe. Most importantly, it is our biblical and faithful response to COVID-19 to be a good neighbor and to avoid unduly risking harm toward others. We are called to love our God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

There is no way to sugar coat the reality that these are challenging times in our churches. We miss seeing each other. We long for the sights and sounds of our sanctuaries. But our communal worship of the God who watches over us is so much bigger than any physical space. Our buildings may be empty, but our congregations are still vibrant. You have shown resilience, creativity, and hope. We can do this. Please check for updates on the COVID 19 page of our website, linked below.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV)
A Gift From the Synod of Lincoln Trails:
(Pre) Advent Offerings for Pastoral Leaders in November

Dear pastors and church leaders,

SOLT is bringing you spiritual practices for YOUR refreshment and nurture in November - before you lead your congregations through Advent. SOLT offers four opportunities for pastors and other church leaders who are ministering in churches throughout our eight presbyteries, in order to help you prepare your self and your spirit for the Advent Season.

Read the full descriptions and register ASAP HERE - they begin early next week! (Elders: encourage your pastor to sign up!)
Worship Production Teams UNITE!

As churches continue to embrace their virtual presence through live streamed or pre-recorded worship services, the audio, visual and social media skills needed to keep things fresh and fine-tuned are also growing. The Presbytery would like to facilitate a sharing of information through a Zoom gathering for your worship production team. On Thursday evening, November 12 at 7:00 pm we will meet online to ask questions, express frustrations and share what works for you. Please pass this information to your production crew and invite them to attend - it is unlikely that your team will find this information unless YOU share it.

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
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.
Signs of Hope and New Life in Blackhawk
We want to encourage one another. Please contact us with your story!!
You Can Do This Too!
Ottawa First Shares Their Video Editing Process With You

Hello, Blackhawk!
My name is James Burkey. My wife, Donna, and I put the music videos together for Ottawa First Presbyterian’s contemporary music group, “MT No More”.  We have a PC laptop we do it all on, and use the Filmora video editor (which costs about $60)….

The basic steps:
1.     Record your lead video. For example, I sing and play guitar to create the master track.
2.     Get that track to your team. I upload it to my Google Drive and share the folder. Video tracks are too big to email.
3.     The rest of the team downloads the master track from the Google Drive.....

I hope this helps you get started. This has all been trial and error and winging it – I am not an expert video maker, and I am always learning new tricks. Feel free to email me if you need more info or have any questions. -James Burkey

P.S. From Blackhawk - Good Work Team - You are a Blessing to your Congregation!
The Pumpkin Gospel
Oswego Presbyterian Carves Out Good News with a Holiday Twist

The Junior High youth group enjoyed learning the salvation story through the lens of The Pumpkin Gospel (several versions are available online). Youth Director, Stephanie Sneller described the basics: "Before we did anything we talked about how we are like pumpkins, different shapes, sizes, colors, hard on the outside, store stuff on the inside, etc. At the end we focused on the light and how we can let God's light shine through us and not block it out or hide it. Kids could carve anything they wanted so not all pumpkins had a "smiling" face but they were all given a new life :)"

Add that to your Christian Education "tool kit"! Well done, Stephanie and kids - love your new creations!
You might want to check out "Virus as a Summons to Faith", the latest book by Walter Brueggemann

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.