Worship Services are Sunday at 9a and 11a.
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- Current Series: Going Up | Last week’s Sermon
Join us Sunday mornings at 11a for our Live Stream as we walk through Psalms 120-134, Going Up: The Songs of Ascent, this summer. (Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get notifications and reminders about new content and events.) If you missed it, be sure to watch last week’s teaching.
Phase 3 Update & Guidelines (July 16)
Like many of you, we are so excited to gather physically for services starting on July 26, while at the same time wanting to be exceedingly cautious. With that in mind, we wanted to take the time to lay out what we’re planning for Phase 3 of our Reopening Plan: what protocols we have in place to reduce risk, and how you can help.
Starting July 26, we will have two services—at 9 and 11a—with a maximum attendance of 100 each. We are so grateful that our auditorium has such a high capacity (460) that we can have 100 people in the service while still being well under the 25% of capacity maximum that the CDC and Restore Illinois recommend for religious gatherings. We are still working on how to guarantee that cap. We will most likely use a reservation system, at least to start, but we’ll have more details on that soon! Because of the cap, and with the protocols below, we should have no problem maintaining a safe distance from one another during the service.
While services will resume on July 26, for the first few weeks we will not offer Kids’ City. We want to get the first set of procedures worked out before we introduce an added layer of chaos. We know that means some will not be able to attend at first, but we hope to have Kids’ City up and running safely in August. That also means we all should prepare for a noisier, more distracting service experience, as many families (our pastors included) will be attending the main service with small children in tow. We hope you’ll join us in welcoming the sights and sounds of the next generation learning the mighty deeds of God!
In addition, at this point we will continue to offer Explore Hour online only. (Details to follow.)
Because we can only mitigate risk, not eliminate it entirely, we fully recognize and appreciate that some will choose not to attend until a successful treatment or vaccine emerges. Please do not feel any pressure to attend until you feel comfortable, especially if you are in a high-risk category. Indeed, for some the risk is so great that we would go so far as to encourage you to stay home until then. Since not everyone will be able to attend services physically, we will continue to expand and improve our online options. Barring any unforeseen technical glitches, we will begin live streaming the services on July 26. Once we have a better sense of what that looks like, and how you can watch, we will let you know.
We are going to do everything we can to make sure anyone who enters our building feels as safe as possible in this season. To that end, we are asking everyone to follow our 4 Steps to Reduce Risk while in the building. We’ve developed these protocols in light of CDC and Restore Illinois recommendations, as well as the specific advice and direction of the medical professionals in our congregation.
1. Wear masks at all times in the building. Though debates continue to rage at the political level, the overwhelming consensus within the medical community is that masks do reduce the risk of transmission, especially when people are inside for a prolonged period of time (both of which are true for church services). The only exception to this rule will be those currently on the platform to announce, preach, pray, or lead us in song. And by the way, one of the primary reasons we opted to require masks is so that we can worship the Lord together in song again (though in a more limited capacity than we’re used to). With masks, the medical professionals in our congregation felt we would reduce the risk of transmission via singing greatly.
2. Maintain social distancing relentlessly. Keep at least six feet of distance between you and anyone not in your household, both inside and outside the building.
a. Traffic Flow. To make this possible, we will have a dedicated entrance door (the far west side of the front entrance) and exit door (far east side), along with floor decals marking six feet in case a line to enter or exit forms. We will also have a staircase for entering the balcony (by the women’s bathroom) and a staircase for exiting the balcony (off the lobby) to avoid accidental congregating on the staircases.
b. Auditorium Seating. We have roped off every other pew to create distance within the auditorium, and will encourage every household to maintain proper distance within the pews as well. We will use all of our seating, including the entire balcony and the chairs up front, to maximize distance.
c. After the Service. Our church loves to chat after the service, which we love to see. However, at this moment in history, we are asking people to head outside as soon as possible (without creating a bottleneck at the exit!). If you want to converse with others after the service, please do outside and while still maintaining distance.
d. Building Restrictions. We have tried to close or restrict high-traffic areas as much as possible. Many of the hallways, classrooms, and staircases are closed for the time being. We have also closed CityBrew and turned off the water fountains, so please bring your own beverages. (We’ll have a limited supply of bottled water available.) Finally, we’re asking everyone to please use the restroom before coming to church. In an emergency, we’ll ask anyone who uses the bathroom to disinfect any areas they’ve touched using the disinfectant wipes we’ll have readily available.
3. Practice good personal hygiene. Sanitize your hands at any of our new hand sanitizing stations as you enter the building and before you touch any common-use items. In order to avoid multiple people touching the same object as much as possible, we will no longer pass the plate for the offering. You can make use of online giving or drop your offering in our new Donation Box. (It will arrive after July 26, but we’ll have a placeholder available until then.) We will also not serve communion from a common plate, opting instead for prepackaged communion cups which will be in the pews when you arrive on communion Sundays. Although the disease doesn’t seem to spread through surfaces as easily as it does through aerosol droplets, we still want to remain vigilant. Our new Sanitation Team will disinfect the church between services to this end.
4. Stay home if you have any symptoms. No one wants to miss church, especially if you’re confident that it’s just a cold or allergies. Nevertheless, we are pleading with everyone to stay home if you have any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, shaking, or recent onset pain, headaches, or loss of taste/smell. Of course, if you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 14 days, you should quarantine yourself.
We have no doubt that some will feel we’ve gone overboard with our restrictions, while quite possibly some will feel we haven’t gone far enough. We’re reminded of the old joke that on the highway everyone going slower than you is a moron, while everyone going faster is a maniac. In other words, we tend to assume our response is the proper one, and can quickly fall into judging others who choose a different “speed.”
We have very definitely chosen to err on the conservative side of the equation. A recent article about a church that experienced an outbreak highlights why. Although this church took many precautions, they could trace the spike back to times when they relaxed their standards. In fact, much of the outbreak came from a few people who passed off symptoms as “allergies,” which is why we want to hold the line on that point especially.
We have chosen to take aggressive measures to reduce risk for two reasons. First, it is an act of love. Two recent articles (about wearing masks specifically) make this argument from an explicitly Christian perspective (1 2). We want to do all we can to protect the lives of those God calls us to love. In humility, we will value others above ourselves, not looking to our own interests (or opinions), but each to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). Second, it is entirely selfish! Quite simply, we don’t want to have to stop meeting again. If someone who attends church tests positive, we will all have to quarantine for 14 days at a minimum. We’d much prefer to keep gathering, fellowshipping, praying, and worshiping together—so we ask you to help us make that possible by following these protocols strictly!
Thank you in advance for your cooperation!
Phase 2 Update & Guidelines (June 11)
As Gov. Pritzker has lifted some restrictions and Illinois has begun to reopen in limited ways, we are ready to move into Phase 2 of Cityview’s Reopening Plan. (Note: If you did not receive the email detailing our Phased Reopening Plan, you can find it on our website’s Covid-19 page.) In Phase 2, our Community Groups—both youth and adult—will begin meeting again. If you are not in a Community Group and would like more information, please contact the office.
Given that nothing has changed with regard to the virus (only our ability to respond to it), we want to do all we can to ensure the safety of our congregation. With that in mind, we are asking Community Groups to follow these common-sense guidelines, developed with the input of the medical professionals in our congregation.
1. If at all possible, groups should meet outside, especially for meetings longer than 15-30 minutes.
2. Group members should maintain appropriate social distance (minimum of six feet) throughout the meeting. Avoid physical contact (like handshakes and hugs).
3. If forced to meet indoors, all groups members should wear masks for the duration of the meeting. Some groups—especially those with high-risk members—may choose to wear masks outside as well.
4. Seek to avoid high-traffic areas (like bathrooms) as much as possible. Disinfect areas after use, and limit the number of people in high-traffic areas (e.g., don’t congregate in the hallway outside the bathroom while waiting your turn).
5. Provide hand sanitizer for people as they arrive or if they touch items in common use.
6. If serving food or drinks, use disposable plates and utensils, and try to have individual portions available in advance, so as to avoid contamination. (For example, provide individual bags of pretzels, rather than having a pretzel bowl people have to reach into.) Consider having people bring their own food/drinks instead.
We recognize that people have differences of opinion when it comes to mitigating procedures. Community Groups should defer to the most conservative group member; that is, we do not want to make anyone feel uncomfortable about attending because of the careless disregard shown by other members. We would encourage group members to speak up if they do feel uncomfortable with the choices the group has made. If you have further concerns (or don’t feel you can speak up), contact Brandon or Kyle. Needless to say, as Christians, we can and must display grace, humility, and love in all our conversations.
Because different groups have different demographic makeups, we do not expect every group will follow the exact same procedures. For example, groups with a larger high-risk population may choose to wear masks outdoors, or even continue meeting virtually for the time being. Or, groups with lots of young children might choose to meet weekly, rotating between men and women, so that someone can always stay home with the children (who don’t social distance well!). Those who do not feel comfortable meeting yet, for whatever reason, should feel no pressure to attend. Your group leader will try to involve you in other ways.
Finally, we ask that all individuals screen themselves vigorously before attending any church gathering. Because of our high regard for life, we do not want to see an outbreak at Cityview. The following questions, adapted from the CDC, will help you make the decision whether or not to attend:
• Have you or anyone in your household had any of the following symptoms in the last 14 days: sore throat, cough, chills, body aches for unknown reasons, shortness of breath for unknown reasons, loss of smell, loss of taste, fever at or greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit?
• Have you or anyone in your household been in a high-risk setting in the past 14 days? Examples include visiting or receiving treatment in a hospital, nursing home, long-term care, or other health care facility; traveling (particularly in high Covid infection areas), especially in confined areas like cruise ships or airplanes; and serving as a health care professional or emergency responder.
• Have you or anyone in your household been tested for Covid-19? Have you or anyone in your household cared for or been in close proximity to an individual who is in quarantine or is a presumptive positive or has tested positive for Covid-19?
If you can answer any of these questions in the affirmative—especially the first one—we would strongly advise you not to attend, or (as in the case of health care professionals) attend only when considering the risk to the group as a whole and adopting strenuous mitigation procedures.
We apologize for the business-like tone of this letter, but this is indeed serious business, and we want to approach it with appropriate sobriety. Your well-being remains of utmost importance to us. We continue to lament that we cannot gather as a church, and long for the day when we can once more. In the meantime, know that we love and miss you—more than you know—and continue to pray for you. If we can help serve you in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are here for you.
Phased Reopening Plan (May 28)
“When will we reopen?”
If that’s not the million-dollar question these days, we don’t know what is. Every industry, business, and even family will have to make difficult decisions about how to balance the health and safety of the population at large with our deep desire to venture out of isolation and return to a life that feels somewhat normal. Different people will come to different conclusions. Some will lean toward a slower reopening process that prioritizes safety and stopping the spread of the virus; others will prefer a faster approach that underlines the devastating economic and psychological aspects of quarantine.
As a church, we have to hold many competing desires in tension, trusting the Spirit’s leading and drawing from the wisdom of the Word, as we seek to strike the right balance. Consider the many factors that contribute to our decision-making process:
• The inherent value of human life, which demands we take seriously the health and safety of all who enter our facility—and those who come in contact with those who do
• The vital importance of community, especially gathering with our brothers and sisters in Christ for worship, prayer, and mutual encouragement through the Word
• The response of the community we’re trying to reach with the gospel to the decisions we make, which could help or hinder our ongoing outreach efforts for years to come
• The biblical mandate to submit to governmental authority (even when we disagree) unless we clear the very high threshold for civil disobedience
• The logistical challenges of gathering, such as maintaining social distance in the auditorium, entering and exiting the facility safely, “hot spots” like restrooms and check-in areas, and activities that require contact (like collecting the offering, distributing communion elements, and handing out bulletins)
In addition to all this, we must seek to be “completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love,” and to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3). Striving for unity (not unanimity) despite a series of potentially polarizing decisions affords us all the opportunity to mature in love, humility, and godliness—but it will not be easy! We ask you to be patient with us, and with others in the congregation, as we navigate uncharted, perilous waters.
So, when will we reopen?
Let’s start by stating the obvious, which is that we have no definite idea. We don’t say that to be indecisive or evasive. We just don’t have the definitive information we need to reopen in the near future in a way that ensures the health and safety of every person who walks through our doors and that is logistically feasible.
So, although we wish we could offer definite timelines for reopening, we simply can’t at this point. What we can offer, however, is our plan for a phased reopening that mirrors the strategy outlined by federal, state, and local authorities. This plan is subject to modification in light of new information or a change in the recommendations from our healthcare experts, so we’ll keep you apprised of any news or updates as we work towards reopening.
Our desire is to continue to point people to Jesus and share the message of the gospel while keeping our church family’s safety at the forefront of our minds. Please keep in mind that this is an ever-changing situation, and we all have to be flexible and open to additional changes to the attached plan. We will share more specific details (and dates) as we listen to Governor Pritzker and others.
I also hope you know that we are here for you and whole-heartedly committed to doing whatever we can to help our church stay connected during this challenging time. Of course, none of the elders studied how to lead a church through a pandemic, nor are we experts in how to do ministry while in isolation. But what we lack in expertise, we more than make up for in our desire to lead faithfully in worship each week, keep our church family connected, and find creative ways for Cityview to continue to help people move from seeking Jesus to serving Jesus through the gospel.
So please let us know how we can serve you, help you, or be of assistance to you during this season of quarantine.
Most of all, we want you to know that you are loved, you are missed, and you are prayed for every day. We will get through this together and we look forward to the day we can meet together again in person!