UPDATE & INFORMATION ABOUT REGATHERING
October 25, 2020
The summer and much of the fall allowed us an opportunity to gather together outdoors for worship. As the temperatures drop, we will begin resuming indoor worship November 1, 2020. — and we will continue to offer a livestream of our services for those unable or unwilling to join us in person.
While we are joyful about the opportunity to gather together again in person indoors, we want to continue proceeding with wisdom and caution. The Leadership Team continues to assess the best wisdom from Scripture, the CDC, the State of Illinois, and to ask for your input as we chart a course forward.
Below you will find a description of how church at Jacob’s Well will look as we resume indoors worship this fall and winter. Please take time to read it carefully.
First, the basics:
We will continue to meet for worship at 9:30 am. Kids under the age of 4 will stay with their parents through the service. Everyone age two and older will be required to wear a mask while indoors, with the exception of those who are leading while they are leading.
Please stay home if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, especially a fever and/or a cough. We will have hand sanitizer readily available, and encourage everyone to wash their hands well and often. We ask everyone to continue refraining from greeting others with physical touch. We will ensure that high-touch surfaces are sanitized, and we will ask people to sanitize the toilet handle, the sink, and the door handles themselves after each restroom use.
We will adjust the seating in our sanctuary to provide more distance between households. However, we will not require that people only ever move in one direction (e.g., in one door, out another). Kids 4 and older will join us upstairs for the beginning of the service and then go downstairs for appropriately distanced kids’ church. Simply keep an appropriate distance between you and others when you’re walking in the aisles, in the stairwell, etc.
Next, some things that will be different…
We will livestream worship each week for those who are unable or uncomfortable attending in person. We have invested in some technology upgrades that will enhance the quality of the livestream.
We are following state guidelines that recommend indoor gatherings not exceed 49 people in attendance. We are including kids in this number. In order to accommodate this we have created an online registration system and ask that you plan on attending worship two Sundays a month in person and two Sundays a month virtually. Unfilled registrations below 49 on Sundays you had not planned to attend will be available on a first-come first-served basis at 12 noon on Saturdays. The actual number of registrations available will be lower than 49, because we will need to account for pastors, volunteers, and leave some space for visitors. If you already attend regularly, you should have already received an email with a custom link to register to attend services. If you have not yet received an email or do not regularly attend, you can sign up here to receive a link so you can begin registering to attend services.
We will begin by limiting the number of songs to one or two, and will have only the worship leader sing. I understand the difficulty this poses for many of us who so greatly enjoy singing and whose practices of worshiping God have leaned so heavily upon it. Even with masks, at this point, it seems worth waiting to see what the coming weeks and months will bring. Across the country we are again seeing a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, and cases are on the rise across Europe again as well. At least in Europe, it’s clear that the rise in the number of cases is because people are weary of guidelines and are starting to abandon them. I know we are weary too. However, I believe it will be easier to grow into congregational singing again when the time is right than it would be to stop singing together after having begun.
Other Worship Practices
The Church has always had a number of worship practices that go far beyond congregational singing alone. Even now, we incorporate Scripture readings, Psalms, responsive readings, prayers, confessions, and some more liturgical elements on occasion. The time has come for us to explore these practices—and others—further. Be prepared for it to look differently than it always has, and be open to the new ways in which God will speak to you, in you, and through you.
Finally, it needs to be said again, we will adapt as new and evolving information becomes available and our practices can and will adjust accordingly. We will return to full congregational singing when the time is right, we can add a worship service to accommodate more people on Sundays if need be, etc.
This is a different path than we’ve walked together before. It will be harder than normal, it will challenge us, it will change us. Our prayers should be it changes us for the better. The Church calls this kind of change sanctification. May God continue to form us to be a people growing into the likeness of Christ for the sake of our community and the world.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Pastor Jesse, or the elders.
Ongoing Guidelines as We Gather
Not feeling well or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?
If you have felt sick or experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the two weeks leading up to a Sunday, especially fever, cough, or shortness of breath, we ask that you please stay home.
Guidelines for Interaction with Others
We will continue to follow guidelines that recommend remaining at least 6 feet away from those you do not live with. We will refrain from forms of greeting that require interpersonal touch. And we ask that you do not linger before or after service to visit. This request is especially difficult to ask of you, but we believe it limits risk of exposure to levels acceptable for everyone. We do encourage you to spend some time in the garden (weather permitting) before or after service as long as you are able maintain 6 feet of distance between households.
Communion & Corporate Worship
We will be adjusting our practice of receiving Holy Communion. On Sundays when we receive the sacrament, we will use sealed Celebration Cups which contain a wafer and juice in one sealed container for each person to use where they sit instead of asking you to come forward to receive from common elements.
We will also not be providing coffee, juice, or bagels at this time. Both of these moves allow us to decrease the amount of shared surfaces on Sunday mornings.
Why All of these Precautions?
We are taking all of these precautions as a way to continue protecting those who call Jacob’s Well their church home, being good neighbors in our community, and limiting the spread of this disease.
While we are regathering in person, we were never closed. The Church has endured far more and worse during its 2000 year history. We continue to be committed to be a people growing into Christ’s likeness for the sake of our community and the world, and we believe that worshiping together in the safest ways possible allows us to live into this vision in ways that are irreplaceable. If you have any questions please reach out as soon as possible.
The Springs! Plans & Procedures for Children’s Ministry
As we reconvene in person, we are excited to once again be able to meet face-to-face as we learn about God’s love and the good news of Jesus Christ together in The Springs.
While we will be meeting in person and indoors again, beginning Sunday, November 1 at 9:30 am, the realities of COVID-19 still exist. With that in mind, we want to do our best to ensure things are as safe as possible for our adult leaders and students alike. Because of our desire to remain safe and maintain as much social distancing as possible, we will be adhering to the following guidelines:
- Children’s Church will be for kids age 4 and up. In the best interests of maintaining social distancing, we will not be offering nursery services or 2’s and 3’s classes at this time. However, we will still provide pre-packaged handouts for children under 4 years old.
- Social Distancing (maintaining 6 feet of distance)
- No drinks or snacks provided (parents may dispense snacks or drinks to their own children at their own discretion)
- No touching each other (Please keep all hands and feet inside the vehicle — this will make more sense later)
- Pre-packaged handouts — Any handouts that children received will be prepared in advance while utilizing gloves to ensure the best sanitization possible.
Here is what we need from parents to succeed
- Volunteers to Serve. As always, we need volunteers to help serve our kids. Typically, volunteers are asked to serve once a month in The Springs. However, as we get rolling once again, we need to remain flexible to change and adapt as we learn together what resuming our indoor children’s ministry looks like.
- Patience as we continue to adjust to an all-new way of doing ministry.
As always, thank you for your continued support of The Springs!
Our initial response to the growing concern surrounding the novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness it causes.
The COVID-19 situation is one that continues to rapidly evolve. While the wide variety of cancelations might seem like an overreaction, data from previous pandemics show that early precautions like these that prioritize personal hygiene, the sanitizing of common spaces, and social distancing prevent early spikes in infections that overwhelm healthcare systems and result in preventable deaths.
Because the virus is capable of infecting some without symptoms or without severe symptoms, it is capable of moving among some populations without detection before it reaches the most vulnerable among us. We are able as a congregation to participate in preventative measures by finding alternative ways of meeting together for worship and shifting how we fellowship with one another and how we serve our community. In doing this, we are able to follow Jesus’s command to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Matthew 22.39).
Therefore, here are the changes we are suggesting for our common life at Jacob’s Well Community Church:
- Suspending Sunday morning activities and Wednesday Evening Prayer, in -person, and continuing to monitor the situation as things progress.
- In lieu of meeting for Sunday worship at the church, we will provide an option to join in worship online. We are doing this because it remains vital that we continue our life as Jacob’s Well Community Church together. We are learning this as we go, and trying to improve as we move forward, so please be patient with us. Information about how to access this online worship experience will be available in our email newsletter, and on social media. You can always visit thejake.cc/worship-online to get the details.
- Small groups may decide for themselves the best way to gather during this time, as long as they are willing to follow proper precautions, any applicable Executive Orders from the Governor, and CDC guidelines.
We want to reiterate that we are making these decisions out of love for one another and for our neighbors (John 13.34-35, Rom 12.10, Rom 13.8), whether they are followers of Jesus or not. These are not decisions made in fear, for God’s perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4.18). However, God’s constant word to us not to fear should not be confused for cause not to prepare. Jesus instructed us that we would face all kinds of trials and trouble (Matt 24.6, John 16.33) and he instructs us to be prepared to face this trouble (Luke 22.36), promising to be present with us at all times (Matt 28.20).
Let us then act redemptively, creating restoration and flourishing through our sacrifice, finding alternatives for worshiping God and fellowshipping together that puts the needs of others—especially the most vulnerable—ahead of our own (Phil 2.3-4). Let us not give up encouraging and supporting one another, serving one another and our community, and proclaiming the trust we have in God through our words and actions.
Let’s take care of one another during this time. If you belong to a small group this is the time to lean on each other. If you don’t belong to a small group, reach out to friends. Ask your neighbors if there is any way you can help them—buying and delivering groceries, watching kids, making meals. When this passes, what stories will we have to tell of caring for one another? What will our neighbors remember of us? This situation will pass, but we are aiming to take measures that allow us to be good neighbors, responsible parents and children, and faithful friends at this time. Let’s join together in it.
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns you might have.
While the likelihood of getting the virus remains low, there is no reason not to exercise caution at this time. Churches in some places, like at Jacob’s Well, have suspended public worship services and other activities.
As we navigate this pandemic together, we are suggesting the following precautions:
The risk in the US remains quite low and nearly 80% of cases worldwide have been mild so far. Those most at risk are those over the age of 65, those with already-compromised immune systems, and those who smoke.
Cover Your Cough
COVID-19 seems to be spread through respiratory droplets which become airborne when someone coughs or sneezes. Please cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and make sure tissues get into the trash.
Wash Your Hands
Hand washing instructions from the World Health Organization have been hung in all bathrooms and in the kitchen downstairs. Wash your hands often, especially before eating and after using the restroom.
Use Hand Sanitizer
Use hand sanitizer when washing your hands is not readily available and your hands are not soiled. Extra bottles of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will be placed in convenient locations both upstairs and downstairs. [Note: Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol are effective against other known coronaviruses; alcohol-free hand sanitizers are not known to be effective against coronaviruses, but are better than nothing. Hand sanitizers of any kind are not as effective as washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.]
Avoid Touching Your Face
As much as possible avoid touching your face. The virus enters the body through the mouth, nose, and eyes.
Stay Home If You’re Sick
If you or your child have a cough, have had a fever in the last 24 hours, or are experiencing any symptoms of disease please stay home from church (or any other public place/event). Our sermons are available online and you can reach out to a pastor via email, text, or phone for pastoral care.
Specific to Our Church Context
- Rest assured that we are disinfecting high-touch surfaces often, including toys in the nursery and the 2-3’s classroom
- Consider low-touch greetings like fist bumps, toe bumps, smiles, peace signs, and the Vulcan live-long-and-prosper sign instead of handshakes and hugs—get creative!
- When we gather together, use the provided tongs for serving bagels to yourself or others on Sunday mornings and consider using a new cup when getting a refill of coffee or juice.
- Know that we are considering other options for serving Holy Communion due to the fact that intinction is the least sanitary method from accidental touch between fingers and the cup/juice
Finally, and most vitally, pray. Pray not only for your own health and safety, but for the health and safety of others—especially the most vulnerable; for the disruption of the spread of the virus; for wisdom and courage for world leaders, public health officials, and healthcare providers; and for the witness of Christ’s Church—to which we belong—as we resist panic and publicly place our trust in God (Psalm 27).
If you have any other questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out.