Common Questions for Reopening
How did you make these decisions?
As we thought about what was next for us as a church, three realities became apparent.
The first is the calling of the church to be together, “stirring one another up to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10:25). A vital part of being a believer in Jesus is that you are part of the Church, and we must pursue fellowship as the earliest Christians did (Acts 2:42-47).
The second reality, however, is COVID-19, which is spread through droplets in the air from person to person. This places limits on how we can safely worship. But, it is good to remember that throughout Christian history, there have been many such times when God’s people have had to find creative ways to be together in moments of crisis. Whether this meant meeting in houses, caves, or sailing across the Atlantic, the ability to worship as a community has always been vital, and so the Church has gotten creative in times of crisis and plague.
That leads to the third reality of our situation: to obey the government’s direction as it relates to reopening. If Paul could tell the Roman believers that “every person” is to “be subject to the governing authorities,” even when that meant the often oppressive Roman Empire, then we must listen as well (Rom 13:1-7). As church leaders, our responsibility is to submit to the government’s direction insofar as they do not lead us into blatant sin or directly seek to inhibit the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:18-20). For that reason, we will not defy the Governor’s order, nor will we seek to foment dissent but rather engage as responsible citizens (Jer 29:7).
For more on the relationship between faith and good citizenship in these matters, see this pastoral letter from Kenny and the elders.
As we thought of these three realities, it became apparent that, while we cannot physically gather at this time, we nonetheless must find creative ways to be a community. This is why we will be livestreaming the service from the building, and encouraging people to follow the plan for Restoring Illinois (https://www.dph.illinois.gov/restore), which allows them to gather in groups less than 10 to worship together as they feel safe.
When will the live-streaming start?
We plan to live stream our first service on June 7th. Until then, we will continue to worship in our homes by using the provided liturgies for home worship.
How long do you think we will worship this way?
According to the most recent statistics, we may be able to meet in groups larger than 10 sometime this summer. The reality, however, is that we don’t know for certain what course the virus will take. Our hope is that this way of worshipping will be the norm for just a couple of months, and then we will be able to gather together again as a larger body. But there are many considerations, such as the possibility of a second wave of infections, that make it unwise for us to put an end-date on this form of worship. As things stand, worship will not be similar to pre-COVID-19 until we enter into Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan (https://www.dph.illinois.gov/restore).
How will I tithe?
For tithing, we encourage congregants to continue either mailing physical checks or giving online at evcl.org. For more on the importance of giving during this time, see this pastoral letter from Kenny. For instructions on how to give online, click here.
How will you decide who can go into the building?
At this point, the church will be open only to essential personnel. This includes the pastors and all staff, as well as elders, those helping with live-streaming worship, and members of both the finance and buildings/grounds committees. To ensure that we can sanitize all traffic areas, no meetings will be allowed to take place in the building except the live-streaming of the service on Sunday mornings. As time moves on, we will consider how best to open the building to others not listed here.
What will you be providing for children?
As new information arises about the possibility of children contracting “Pulmonary Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome” after being infected with coronavirus, extra caution is called for. Physical gathering of children outside of nuclear families for any VCL event is prohibited until further notice.
That being said, the CE team is actively working to create long-term resources and guidance for VCL parents, along with creative ways in which to foster children’s spiritual development during this season. This has always been the case, but especially during this time, the primary locus of children’s spiritual development will be their immediate families. Pastor Casey talked about this in his blog back in March, Disciple Your Children During COVID-19.
Where can I find more information?
VCL continues to regularly update COVID-19 Resource page, which includes many resources, links to helpful articles, as well as links to VCL’s policies regarding building use and COVID-19 response. If you have further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact Kenny, Casey, or any of the elders of VCL.
For more specifics on our reopening plan and policy, click here.
For Kenny’s pastoral letter on re-opening, click here.