Effective immediately, Bethlehem will be adhering to the recommended stay-at-home advisories issued recently by the state of IL. All gatherings for worship will remain virtual at this time.
Based on the state of the virus, and the most recent recommendations from public health experts and our synod, the Church Council in its October meeting voted unanimously to adopt the recommendation of the Worship Resiliency Team, which is to continue to hold weekend worship services virtually through the end of the year. While we know this decision causes great sadness and grief for all of us, we believe it is the most responsible, faithful choice.
Most of our Sunday services will continue with the pre-recorded format that we’ve been using the last several months, but we have also scheduled a few Sunday mornings to gather for worship “live” via zoom like we did this past week, so that we can see each other’s faces and worship together at the same time.
Please read the entire letter with further dates and details around worship until the end of the year.
Below are responses to the FAQs we anticipate you may have at this point:
How is Bethlehem doing weekend services?
Weekend services are posted on our YouTube channel, sent to our church email list, posted to Facebook and texted to our members each Sunday morning at 8:30am. Future opportunities to worship will be communicated with the congregation and explained in our worship service announcements. If you would like to be added to any of our lists for updates, please click on the communication methods listed above.
How will funerals be done this fall?
Our continued recommendation is to honor the life of someone who has died through a graveside service outdoors. This is the safest option. As the weather changes, though, we are also willing to offer an indoor funeral service in our sanctuary, which would be limited to 25 people or less. All who attend will be asked to pre-register, practice physical distancing, and wear masks at all times indoors.
How will baptisms be done this fall?
Our continued recommendation is to celebrate baptisms outdoors, for as long as is possible. As the weather changes, we are also willing to offer an indoor baptism service in our sanctuary, which would be limited to 25 people or less, and would require pre-registration, physical distancing, the wearing of masks, and a simplified liturgy.
How will weddings be done this fall?
Pastor Sarah is working closely with couples planning to be married at BLC this fall. If couples want to move forward with their planned date, we recommend an outdoor venue, but we will also allow wedding ceremonies in our sanctuary with 25 people or less. The same protocols for funerals and baptisms would apply to weddings as well (masks, physical distancing, simplified liturgy, etc.).
Will small groups be allowed to meet in the church building this fall?
Due to the increase in infection numbers, the Congregation Council is not recommending that small groups reconvene at BLC this fall. The Council will revisit this in early 2021.
What’s the plan for fall programming – Sunday School, Confirmation, Youth Group, etc.?
Now that we have made a decision regarding our communal worship, we can begin to think about fall programming. Like everything else during this time, we anticipate the fall will look quite different than what we have typically done in the past. We both grieve that, and look forward to what we are able to try and to learn during this time. Pastor Sarah will be meeting with leaders of programs during the month of August, and we will send communication out as soon as we are clear about next steps.
When can we anticipate a decision being made regarding in-person gatherings in November and December?
BLC Council and rostered leadership plan to make a decision by October.
Are staff continuing to work from home?
Yes, staff will largely work from home this fall. All church staff are reachable via phone (please leave a message in the staff person’s voicemail – 630.584.2199) or email (all are listed on the church website).