We're now into the third month of a shutdown of our worship, Sunday groups, and ministries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the passage of time, the spread of the virus overall appears to be slowing, but conditions and mandates in our state of Illinois require that we continue our shutdown for at least another month. What follows is the basic vision for reopening agreed to by our board at its May teleconference meeting.
THE BASIC OUTLINE OF OUR APPROACH TO REOPENING
- We want very much to reopen our church and ministries, but we will do so safely and in compliance with applicable state and local mandates and guidelines.
- As currently configured, the state of Illinois' plan for reopening the state is about to enter its stage III, during which churches our size will not be permitted to open. Hence, we have planned no opening during stage III, which is expected to begin at the end of May, or perhaps early June.
- During the state's stage IV, which we expect will not begin before the end June or perhaps early July, churches our size WILL be permitted to open. It is our vision to reopen our worship, Sunday groups, and whatever other ministries are possible during stage IV.
ADDITIONAL DETAILS ABOUT OUR REOPENING, ONCE IT BEGINS
- We will provide a touchless hand sanitizing station on each level of our building, which will allow people quick access to sanitizer.
- We will provide a disposable mask for use during worship and/or Sunday groups to those who request one.
- During all Sunday morning activities and until we can safely do otherwise, we will practice social distancing, suspend our practice of serving refreshments in the lobby before worship, resume the safety measures we adopted just before the shutdown for communion element preparation and service, and suspend live singing during worship.
- We will monitor state and local mandates and guidelines, as well as public health official announcements and recommendations so as to conform our reopening to legal and safety best practices.
AND IN CASE YOU'VE FORGOTTEN...
- During the shutdown of our worship etc, we're doing our best to stay connected: 1) We're holding - and YOU'RE invited to - a 15 minute phone-in worship every Sunday at 10:40 a.m.; 2) We're holding - and YOU'RE invited to - a 15 minute phone-in prayer and support group every Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. 3) We're publishing a weekly email/postal mail news and inspiration update for people connected to our church called "Sunday Session." If you're connected to our church and don't yet receive it, use our "Contact Us" page to let us know.
Several outlets are providing helpful guidance to churches as they formulate plans to reopen following this current crisis. Here are some of the resources we're using. Access/Download them by clicking the image to the left of each description. [NOTE: While we find each of these resources helpful, their presence on this webpage does not necessarily mean we intend to employ all their recommendations.]
In collaboration with other groups, churches, and experts, our regional church has created a thoughtful, plentiful guide to churches seeking to reopen. In our denomination, each congregation is autonomous, so the recommendations included in this document are not binding on our congregation. We are impressed by and grateful for the content and intention of this guide.