COVID-19 Response Task Force
September 18, 2020
Sabbath Time 

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.
On it you shall not do any work…” (Exodus 20:8-10)

One of the hardest commandments for us to keep is #4, remember the sabbath. As you can imagine, this is especially hard for pastors. Sunday is the highlight of the week for many Christians, but it is anything but a day for rest for pastors. The pandemic has made worship even more challenging as clergy must write uplifting sermons that are preached to empty sanctuaries and/or uploaded to Facebook or You Tube. The standard terms of call for pastors in Blackhawk Presbytery offers 4 weeks of vacation and 2 weeks of study leave but few are taking any or all of that time. Our clergy are exhausted and in need of sabbath. Here are several ways your congregation can care for their pastors by offering time away from the pulpit. 
  • If you are worshiping solely on-line, one of the simplest things is to redirect the congregation to participate in the online worship of another congregation. Here is our compiled list of how our congregations are worshiping online (please note: the list may be somewhat out of date - send us your updates).
  • If you prefer keeping worship within your community this a gentle reminder that all elders are authorized to preach, offer prayers, and lead worship (other than the sacraments). This is great opportunity to share personal witness and recognize that we believe in the priesthood of all believers. 
  • Those meeting in person may be able to find pulpit supply to preach while your pastor is away. Please note that not everyone on the pulpit supply list is comfortable going into a different worship space during the pandemic. We are working to update our pulpit supply list to include COVID preferences. More to come.
  • Look for opportunities in the broader church. The presbytery offered a worship service on September 6 in which four churches participated. There is worship offered by the denomination (see a special service for Theological Education Sunday) and other bodies like the Synod of Mid-America's "4th Sunday Sermons". 

If you have any questions on worship opportunities or have any suggestions on how the presbytery can help you provide sabbath for your pastor please contact Rev. Eric Heinekamp, Transformational General Presbyter and Stated Clerk. 
Survey Results

Thank you to everyone who took a few minutes to respond to our survey requesting information about your worship options and Christian Education plans. While we received responses from only 25 churches (Elgin gets the prize for 4 people responding!), we can combine these with additional knowledge and draw some broad generalizations about Blackhawk churches:

  • Less than 30% are holding only online services
  • About 20% are worshiping outdoors in parking lots, on lawns, under tents
  • About 45% have returned to worship inside their buildings
  • Almost all who have resumed in-person worship are still offering remote options
  • Options for CE varied widely, the most common response stated either they were unsure or were not offering regular programming for youth. Only 4 churches responded that they were holding in person classes.
  • About half offer children's messages as part of their worship - half do not.
  • Almost all replied positively to "Has your church responded in a new way (during COVID time) to needs in your community?" See the ways featured in the word cloud below - congratulations everyone!
Look What Your Fellow Presbyterians
Have Been Doing in COVID-Time!

Signs of Hope and New Life in Blackhawk
We want to encourage one another. Please contact us with your story!!
Rally Day Drive-Thru
Morris First Steps Up to Fun

On Sunday September 13, the CE leaders of Morris First Pres. held a Rally Day Drive-thru to kick off our Sunday school year. Although we have decided to have Sunday school on line, we still wanted to find a way to bring us together for a celebration. 

We set up three stops on our drive-thru. In the first stop, the families turned in registration forms and the children received water balloons. At the second stop the kids got to throw the water balloons from their car windows aiming at the Pastors (Roy Backus and Faith Herout) and Youth Leaders. Most of the balloons made it out the windows with only one breaking and getting the driver and thrower wet. We had a fun time giving the children multiple opportunities to get us wet. The final stop they heard some of the music we will be singing and see some of the instruments we have created for them. Each child received a box with the materials needed for the coming month of lessons, an instrument bag, crayons, glue stick, prayer cube, and a fun headband. 

Our junior and senior high had additions to their buckets to get them ready for their participation in Sunday school classes and youth group meetings. We were able to pass out 12 boxes during the drive-thru and had 5 others picked up after. As a congregation we provide Bibles to our kindergarten and sixth grade students, so we will work on delivering those along with Sunday school boxes to the remaining families. Our Sunday school lessons will be recorded and posted on our website for our children to access and complete during their available time during the week. We are looking forward to Growing God’s family near and far.
Opportunity to offer assistance to our Native American Churches in the southwest hit hard by the pandemic: READ MORE about the Synod of the Southwest's Native American Relief Fund. (new)

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.