Dear Members and Friends,
As our state of Illinois proceeds through phases of re-opening in an attempt to avoid spikes of infection from COVID-19, it is the council’s unanimous decision that St. Paul will continue to offer worship electronically and will not be setting a date to re-open for in-person worship at this time.
This decision is driven by our commitment to safety, our belief in facts, and by rationale. It is not driven by politics, state phases, or emotion. We hear the outcry, and we personally feel the need for being connected physically, but right now is not the time.
This was not an easy decision; it was not a decision made in a vacuum. We feel confident that we have considered nearly every possibility for in-person worship in our sanctuary. Through our exhaustive review of government regulations, scientific guidelines, and examples set by neighboring churches, we discussed many, many limitations that would need to be considered if we did try to open the sanctuary for in person worship. To name just a few: no touching, no singing, no pew cushions, and implementing a reservation system that would by its nature result in people being excluded and feeling rejected.
Given these barriers to access our sanctuary in a way that feels authentic and fosters an in-person community, we wholeheartedly believe the best way for us to maintain our connection is through our ancient tradition of faith, the limitless Holy Spirit, and the modern day blessing of electronics.
The survey results did not provide a resounding demand for one way or another, re-opening or not. The one thing that was clear was that most of us are more concerned about each-other than about ourselves. Consider that. Imagine yourself sitting in the church right now, the person sitting next to you is scared of putting you at risk. And you are likely scared of putting that person at risk. It is this spirit of self-abnegation that we ask all of us to continue to keep front of mind as we suffer with the very real hurt, desire, and depression that comes from not meeting in person. It is our very love for each other that is keeping us temporarily apart.
We as a council believe we are doing what is right for our congregation, our community of worshipers during this time of so many unknowns. As previously stated in earlier communications, Pastor Jana is more than willing to continue to offer the message virtually, and has made significant efforts in providing multiple opportunities to worship together and connect with your St. Paul family through Facebook, zoom, YouTube, etc.
If anyone would like personal instruction or guidance on how to navigate any of the virtual platforms, we encourage you to reach out to the church office and let us know. We are committed to providing reasonable accommodations to help you connect if you have not done so already. There are ways to remain an active part of the St. Paul community and we are more than willing to help everyone who is interested do so.
St. Paul UCC Council
Bill Roessler, President and Building & Grounds
Lauri Ducharme, Vice President and Human Resources
Rollin Hamelberg, Treasurer
Malorie Frederick, Secretary
Heather Cella, Communications
Barbara Forrest, Congregational Care
Jan Rosson, Christian Education
Jennie Nock, Missions
Dawn Landwer, Worship