Blackhawk Presbytery
Friday, September 18, 2020
Supporting Thriving Faith Communities in Northern Illinois
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Blackhawk Presbytery
1922 N. IL Rte. 2
P.O. Box 199
Oregon, IL 61061


Stronghold Camp & Retreat Center

Synod of Lincoln Trails

Presbyterian Church (USA)

The per capita assessment for 2021 is $38.50
(GA-$8.98; Synod-$3.81; Blackhawk
Presbytery $25.71)
The per capita assessment for 2020 is $38.47
(GA-$8.95; Synod-$3.81; Blackhawk
Presbytery $25.71)
by Church

Our Vision and Values

     Grounded in the biblical image for human community, as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, we challenge and support congregations to be thriving faith communities by facilitating competent leadership and resourcing to energize ministry and mission.
     As Christians, guided by the principles of love, trust, open communication, and genuine relationships, we value each other as sisters and brothers in faith in all our varied theological understandings. Therefore, we relish respectful discussions of differing opinions as a necessary part of discerning the will of God.
                                                                                 Statement adopted November, 2017



COVID-19 Response Task Force
Christian Education in COVID Time
Are you struggling with how to reach the young people in your congregation during COVID time? Between juggling jobs and directing their kids’ remote schooling, families may see their church commitment take a back seat. Reaching out with understanding and creative ideas to keep children and families engaged is essential. Please mark your calendar for a gathering for people with a common goal - to share ideas and offer support as you wrestle with these challenges.
Christian Educators Zoom Gathering
Tuesday, September 22 at 7:00 pm
Please email us today for your invitation!
In the meantime, you might want to check out some of these favorite resources:
  • Illustrated Ministry - Whether you're looking for worship resources, family faith formation resources, large coloring posters, stickers...
  • Stay Home, Stay Connected - Authentically Engaging Youth Through Digital Media
  • Sparkhouse Digital
  • The Promise of Advent - Preparing for a Season of Hope During Unparalleled Times. A free, 4-part series includes worship, preaching and resources for children.
  • The new Growing in God's Love curriculum (PCUSA) also includes a customizable guide for putting together at-home kits for families.
Learning from Returning
We continue to encourage Sessions to follow state and CDC guidance in determining when and how to return to your buildings, and if at all possible, to continue making your worship available online as you do return. Some of our smallest congregations are beginning to worship in their sanctuaries with extensive new COVID protocols in place. The Task Force would appreciate hearing what you’ve learned as you’ve reopened your building so we can pass your insights along to others as they plan. Here’s what we’ve heard this past week:
  • “Shutting down was sure a lot easier than reopening!” The combination of the cleaning and distancing protocols and the pushback from those who don’t want to follow the mask or distancing requirements increases stress levels and effort considerably.
  • “Shorten your service substantially.” People, especially children, have gotten out of practice sitting (not in pajamas) for a whole service. Also, with less participation from the congregation, a full-length service is tiring for both the people in the pews and the worship leaders.
  • “Try to find ways to physically involve the children from their places in the pews.” Without coming down front for the children’s message and no standing for singing, the service doesn’t offer enough opportunity for movement for young children.
  • “Welcome and include those at home who cannot be with you in person.” Visible demonstrations of inclusion will help allay feelings of guilt or projections of shame.
  • “Focus on the One we are worshipping, not the how.” It is easy to get caught up in all that has changed in worship. Work to stay focused on why you’re there.
  • “Some wouldn’t come unless we required masks, others refused to come if we did. We opted to require masks to demonstrate our desire to care for others.” Masks and other COVID-related advice from health professionals have become divisive issues in our country and communities. The evidence continues to mount on the importance of face coverings to slow the spread of the virus. We urge congregations to require face coverings as statement of our commitment to care for others, especially the most vulnerable among us. 
How Can We Keep From Singing?
Many of us cannot imagine worship without singing. They go hand in hand. Singing connects us in deep spiritual and physical ways to one another, to ourselves, and to God. Yet singing has been shown to be one of the riskiest behaviors for transmission of the virus. We will not be able to sing together safely for some time. So how might we foster this deep connection in other ways as we worship remotely and resume in-person worship? Certainly, many are using soloists, at a considerable distance from the congregation or with Plexiglass. Here are a few additional ideas. We’d love to hear yours!
  • Experiment with other art forms. Poetry and visual art are two ideas. Find the poets among you and invite their poetic interpretation of the scripture themes for that week. Seek out visual artists (painters, sculptors, dancers) to do the same – either in advance of worship or “live” during worship. Allow time in your service for participants to silently reflect on the art provided.
  • Provide percussion instruments to those gathered. (Be sure to disinfect instruments before and after the service and avoid passing them around.)
  • Teach sign language or other motions as responses to prayers, or as lyrics to portions of hymns. 
  • Use pre-recorded music and add a video for listeners to ponder as it plays.
  • Think about humming! Especially for familiar hymns, humming can safely engage the congregation, and can even handle harmonies!
  • Finally, consider practicing silence. Presbyterians are not always so comfortable in silence and here’s chance to learn this ancient spiritual discipline. Folks who have missed your worship space may find silence is easier than it was before as they find renewal resting in this familiar place in the loving presence of God alongside (6+ feet!) their siblings in Christ. 
This is wonderful time to stretch ourselves. Ways to connect to God are limitless. Avoid the temptation to add more words and have fun experimenting!

2020 Stated Meeting Sites for the Presbytery of Blackhawk


November 10, 2020

On Zoom

Presbytery e-Connections