As the State of Illinois approaches the transition into Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan, the Reopening Task Force of First Presbyterian Church has been working through options and opportunities for ministry and worship.
This talented group comprised of staff members, medical doctors, congregational ministry leaders, registered nurses, and others with helpful skill sets, has been commissioned by the session to plan for the safe transition of church activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Task Force is working to empower the ministry of First Pres while advising best practices to limit COVID-19 transmission.
The challenges presented by COVID-19 to our congregation and community are both complex and fluid. Over the coming weeks and months, the Task Force will keep close tabs on the COVID statistics in DuPage County and what those trends might mean for the wisdom of in-person gatherings of the congregation.
For the time being, a few general thoughts are worth conveying.
- The priority is to move forward with an emphasis on health and thoughtfulness; being mindful of what it means to love and serve the community in which we are situated.
- Just because the facility “could” open to in-person worship and ministry gatherings does not mean that the facility “should” open to in-person worship and ministry gatherings.
- We value that our on-site experiences exceed virtual/other options before making them available. This is especially true for worship – our goal is that our on-site gathered worship experience exceeds the online streaming version. Attention needs to be given to what an on-site experience of worship would feel like with participants wearing masks, observing social distancing and refraining from disease spreading behaviors such as singing.
- Following the example of Jesus Christ, we will show extraordinary grace to one another and consider especially the interests and needs of those in the congregation who do not feel safe re-entering church life “on-site” at this time.
- We all long to be back in the physical space of the sanctuary, to unite our voices in song, and to share together in the fellowship of gathered worship.
The First Pres facility will follow the guidelines of the city, state and national governing authorities. Ministries and groups that elect to meet in-person during Phase 4 will be responsible for ensuring participants adhere to the current requirements for group gatherings.
For the time being, the worship services at First Pres will continue to be exclusively a web-based experience. Options for non-worship gatherings in the sanctuary and for creating a hybrid web-based and in-person Sunday morning worship experience are currently being explored. As more data is gathered in the coming weeks, it may become more realistic to institute an increasing number of in-person ministry gatherings at First Pres.
If you have any thoughts, ideas or questions for the Reopening Task Force, we would welcome your input and inquiries.
Rev. Chris Griggs, Senior Pastor
Rev. Jonathan Hancock, Associate Pastor for Congregational Care
Suzi Benes, Church Business Administrator
Cinda Siligmueller, Director of Adult Ministries
Fran Vlasses, RN, PhD
Alice Siehoff, RN, DNP
Steve Fessenbecker, Head Usher
LeRoy Stromberg, MD, Mike Sams, MD
Doug Fiene, Properties Elder
Mark McAndrew, JD
Beverly Hancock, RN, DNP
Andrea Scott McCluskey, Personnel Committee
Dr. Dot Chappell, PhD