May 29, 2020

Dear Prairie Avenue Family,

The seasons move on, and as I write, the Illinois stay-at-home order has been lifted. The 2020 Easter Season ends on Sunday, and we celebrate Pentecost this weekend, remembering the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the first 120 believers gathered together (where is a bit of a mystery... Luke only says "place") as a mighty wind and flames like fire spread upon the gathered. It was different flames than the unfortunate scenes coming from Minneapolis last night, the result of the death of George Floyd under the knee of an arresting officer unable to breathe. The horrible scene of his death just joins a sad videography pointing to the continuing issue of racism in America.

Plan for Reopening Building
As we have navigated this unprecedented time of global pandemic, the health and safety of our congregation, staff and community has been our top priority and guide to all decisions about restarting meetings, programs, events. Talking with April Anderson, our janitor, and Richard Neeley, our youth leader, as well as the Dove Children's Clothing Room supervisor Charlie Gillespie, we have developed a phased opening process for the month of June. Beginning June 1, April will resume her regular hours of cleaning the facilities as well as begin a deep clean program in anticipation of full reopening in the coming weeks. All staff will be required to observe current safety guidelines and protocols. We will have an "appointment only" policy, with offices remaining closed to the public. The Clothing Room will reopen when it can be staffed by RSVP volunteers and observing social distancing guidelines and group limits to 8 clients or less (so the number remains 10 or below, with two RSVP volunteers). You can reach me at the church phone.

Return to In Person Worship
Last week the President noted that churches provide essential services and urged governors to allow them to open. Following local and state public health guidelines, online worship is still encouraged as well as distance requirements, masks, and limited group gatherings. Groups of 50 or less will be allowed to gather when Illinois enters Phase 4, which could occur as early as June 28. There was some modifications in the Governor's guidelines during the past week, allowing for worship gatherings up to 25% of the occupancy of sanctuaries. Our sanctuary holds about 130 people, since several pews have been removed. 25% of occupancy would be technically 32.5 people. Average attendance prior to the COVID-19 outbreak was hovering at 36. Since COVID-19 transmission is primarily through the air, through breath between person to person, singing cannot be permitted. While grateful to get additional accommodation and consideration for our group activities from state and local officials, we would rather be able to worship as we have in the past than to make so many changes as to render a poor worship gathering. I would rather start later than some than to start earlier and see some of you harmed.

We will begin some group activities in June, limited to 10 people, including our responsiblities in our Adopt-A-Street territory. I'll keep you posted on this.

This Sunday's Worship
Invite a friend to join you for worship, either Saturday evening at 5 pm at, or Sunday morning at 9 am on Facebook Live ( ).

One last word
Returning where I began this email: Racism is rooted in fear and ignorance of the other. Prejudice requires little to continue other than opportunity to flourish, much like the COVID-19 virus. It is pre-judgment, based on stereotypes, limited experiences or encounters with the other, ignoring or dismissing contradictory evidence, or examining one's thoughts or actions. The best method to overcome racism is to face the innate fears, assumptions, and the subtle ways of thinking and behaviors we may not even notice. Many of our fears can be overcome through building relationships and having meaningful conversations about them.

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) General Minister and President Terri Hord Owens offers this wisdom:

See you in worship (online!) this weekend!
As a church family, we care for and pray for one another.
 Names in Bold are new or updated concerns.
Peggy Bergen, Jeff Baker (Les Ruffner's friend), Joan and John Doll, Jayson Dudley (Brad Trotter's friend) , Chris & Marion Gardner, David & Janet Geibel, Sarah Hazelwonder (Barb Humphries' daughter) , Corbin Henderson, Chase Hendricks, Susie Hendricks, Dane Hodges, Jim & Barbara Kater, Sondra Lehew, Tom Little (Dixie June's Son-in-Law/Linda Little's Husband ) , Elizabeth Long , Joan March (Tonda Atchason’s mother), Kathleen McDaniel (Elizabeth Long’s cousin), Stephanie Pulliam (Tonda Atchason’s friend), Kathy Ray, Tiffany Ray Peacock, Karen Sharp, Amanda Sheperd, Mike & Cheryl Sheumaker, Pamela Smith (Amanda Butterick’s sister), Brad Trotter, Melia Yarnell 

Amanda Butterick , Zachery Hocker, Those who are unemployed, underemployed, furloughed or laid-off by COVID-19.

Long-Term Care
Maxine Henson, Helen Kater, Betty Moore, Maxine Van der Voort

Family of Michael Conway (5/6)
Prairie Avenue Christian Church | Website