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Please see the Nov 7 update below.
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- Current Series: Cross & Crown | Last Week’s Sermon
Join us Sunday mornings at 11a for our Live Stream as we walk through the book of Mark in our series Cross & Crown: The Servant King in the Gospel, this fall & winter. (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.
Update (Nov 7)
Sadly, coronavirus cases continue to rise across our state, country, and world. After topping 100,000 new cases for the first time last Friday, the US has now reported over 126,000 new cases for two days running. In addition, the new test positivity rate is above 8% nationally, and—most worryingly—hospitalizations continue to creep up. DuPage County’s numbers are even worse, with a test positivity rate over 13% and an average of more than 500 new cases each day for the last week.
In light of these unhappy trends, and after much prayer and discussion, the elders have determined that now is not the best time to return to in-person services, to protect both the safety of our congregation and our witness in the community. We will continue to offer services online only until these trends reverse. At that point, we will resume in-person services with a maximum capacity of 10% (46 people), and slowly increase until we’re back to 25% capacity.
Needless to say, we’re as disappointed as anyone. We long for the day when we can start to gather again as a body, and especially for the day when we can all gather once more. Until then, we are here for you and will strive to shepherd you as best we can remotely. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any assistance, counsel, or prayer.
DuPage County Mitigation (Oct 24)
In light of the recent significant uptick in coronavirus cases, Illinois initiated new mitigation restrictions on public gatherings in DuPage County, limiting them to the lesser of 25 people or 25% of room capacity. As of yet the state has not provided explicit instructions to include or exempt religious gatherings, but in our conversations with the city and county, they have consistently and clearly encouraged churches to follow the recommended guidelines. The elders have spent the last few days in discussion and prayer, and we wanted to share with you not only the decisions we’ve made, but the reasoning behind them as well.
Before getting into that, however, we wanted to ask for your continued prayers for us. This year, with all its manifold challenges, has proven especially burdensome for spiritual leaders, in large part because the issues to which we’ve had to respond—the pandemic, racial unrest, political polarization—do not have neat answers for those committed to the Word of God. It would not be exaggeration to say we’re all a bit battle weary. Consequently, we would treasure your prayers, and thank you for praying for us faithfully throughout this process.
In addition, we wanted to offer yet another plea for gospel unity. Not everyone will agree that the decisions we’ve made are best, and even we faced greater disagreement and debate than ever before in making the decision. The plain fact of the matter is that there are not good answers to these questions. Every possible response involved the (temporary) loss of something we hold dear. As a result, the potential for disunity is great, and Satan is undoubtedly eager to pounce. How do we preserve the unity of the body? Quite simply, we keep our eyes fixed on what matters most. As the blood-bought people of God, we all love Jesus and want to see him glorified in our lives and church. On that we agree, and that agreement is deeper and more substantive than any possible disagreement. We would ask you, therefore, to keep your eyes fixed on the cross and empty tomb, and we pledge to do the same.
And so, we come the decision itself. As you know from previous correspondence, we have four biblical principles guiding our decision-making process.
1. The essential goodness of gathering as Christ’s body (Hebrews 10:24-25).
2. Submission to governing authorities where they don’t command sin (Romans 13:1-7).
3. The intrinsic value of human life, and the imperative to preserve it as a result (Genesis 1:27).
4. Our ongoing witness in the community (1 Peter 2:12).
Of course, the whole problem is that, when it comes to the pandemic, these are in conflict with each other, so that we’re having to prioritize one or more of these regardless of which decision we make. This explains why it’s so easy to disagree about how to proceed (and why we must fight for unity, because there likely won’t be unanimity).
In light of a meaningful uptick in cases (including within our church body), we believe we should respond meaningfully. Throughout this process, we have indicated that we would prefer to err on the side of caution (well, we’re hoping not to err at all, but we are human, after all!). A cautious approach ensures we are doing all we can to preserve life, and also decreases the likelihood that we tarnish our reputation and dishonor Christ’s name through careless transmission.
With all this in mind, then, we have decided that we will not hold in-person services for the next two weeks, but instead will stream our service live at 9a (and have it available on demand immediately after). Because the 25-person limit allows us to have the entire livestream and worship team present, we can continue to offer the same service, but for an online audience only. When we began meeting in person back in July, we fully expected that we might have to stop meeting if another wave hit. We hope and pray that the county’s mitigation measures will be met with a significant decrease in cases, so that we can quickly begin to bring people back (most likely with a gradual increase in attendance).
How does this change affect the church’s other ministries?
1. Community and Journey Groups can continue to meet in person, but we implore you to follow the best possible protocols. Meet outside if at all possible. If you do meet inside, meet in a room large enough that you keep under 25% capacity. We will make the Fellowship Hall and Youth Room available if needed. Coordinate with the office to reserve a room.
2. Kyle has said from the beginning that CityStu will take its cues from the local schools. As Elmhurst schools have gone fully remote, the youth will meet virtually for the time being. Kyle will communicate more information, including the Zoom link, to CityStu families.
3. We will continue to offer Explore Hour classes, including Kyle’s upcoming parenting elective, online only.
Thank you for your understanding, prayers, and gospel-driven pursuit of unity. We 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. Please let us know how we can serve you, help you, or be of assistance to you during this season. Most of all, 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!
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!