May 19, 2020
All council members, Pastor Sarah and Deacon Heather were in attendance for an on-line video meeting of the congregational council on Tuesday, May 19. Judy Hanson opened with prayer. We spent some time recognizing and thanking council members Joe Boyle and Dee Johnson, whose terms are expiring and who are leaving the council. We also thanked those who were completing officer terms–Greg Andrews for two years’ service as council president and Michelle Kovar for her year as treasurer and previous year as vice-president.
Pastor Sarah shared insights from thought leaders in the broader church about the effect of Covid-19 on the life and future of the Church. For example, Covid-19 is not merely an interruption, after which everything will go back to normal; it’s a disruption, something that changes or at least accelerates the future.
Remote, video worship will be with us for the foreseeable future. Even after we can gather in a large group, there will be a need for some to connect with worship remotely, for health reasons and other reasons. We are attracting new members through our online worship – when we distributed yard signs, we had people who have never worshipped in our building picking up signs and participating. All 125 signs were picked up, but for unknown reasons the printer supplied another 125 beyond what we ordered, so there will be another chance to pick up a sign.
Some disciples have donated money to provide a few easy-to-use electronic tablets which are set up to easily access our Sunday worship. These have been distributed to homebound senior members. A routine is being established to pick them up, clean them, update the link, and hand them out again.
We reviewed with Pastor Sarah her communication plans for the coming weeks.
St. Andrew Lutheran in West Chicago is having a food drive, and Deacon Heather is promoting and coordinating Bethlehem’s response. Nonperishable food can be dropped off at St. Andrew on Friday 5/22 between 9 and 2 and perishables between 9 and 11 a.m. on Saturday 5/23. Unemployment in West Chicago is said to be about 50%, compared with 15% in surrounding communities. Last weekend many families were turned away and did not receive what they needed.
Giving through April is nearly on track with the budget (we had some early giving the first couple of months of the year that put us ahead of budget going into the Covid-19 crisis). The building fund also reflects faithful giving. A refinance of our two mortgages for a lower rate is in process. The church received a PPP (Payroll Protection Program) loan, which may be forgiven in part or whole, which is helping cover the preschool teachers through the end of the term.
The council heard reports from three resiliency task forces: Worship and Connection, Staffing and Budget, and Preschool. There will be reports at the Annual Meeting on 5/24 on each of these topics.
Council discussed options for the preschool for summer and approved a proposal to open June 1 through mid-August as a daycare facility for children of essential workers, with probably two classes each limited to 10 students, with appropriate precautions (facemasks, distancing, cleaning, curbside drop-off and pick-up). We also reviewed draft guidelines for staff safety based on CDC guidelines.
The remainder of the meeting was spent preparing for the congregational meeting to be conducted on May 24 at 10 a.m., via Zoom. The difficulties we experienced with our Wave-In on May 17, we learned, were due to system-wide problems with Zoom and probably will not recur. The presenters are rehearsing to make the meeting run as smoothly as possible.