2021 12 30 Omicron Update
Dear North Park Covenant Church, we hope and pray that you have all had an enjoyable Christmas celebration and that you will continue to enjoy the love and light that is the Christ child. As we all know, this pandemic does not seem to want to end, and the latest surge in the Omicron COVID-19 variant is requiring that we look closely at our guidelines around community gatherings and consider adjustments to help keep us all safe.
Our COVID-19 Plan for the Weeks Ahead
In consultation with our Regathering Task Force and some of the medical professionals in the church, we have made the decision to continue gathering in person for worship on Sunday mornings as we have been doing. Sunday school will continue, as well.
Additionally, the livestream of church worship will continue to be available at live.npcovenant.org, and we are encouraged that, whether someone has cold symptoms, is quarantined because of an exposure or a positive test, or is not yet comfortable or able to be in shared spaces, we are still able to join in worship together.
The major change we are making to our guidelines is that there will be no after-church coffee hour or other kinds of communal eating for the foreseeable future. We will keep monitoring the situation closely and be willing to institute more restrictions if it is needed.
Current Safety Guidelines
- We strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated and boosted.
- We will continue to wear masks every time we are inside the church building. Masks must be worn over the nose and mouth.
- We will continue to space ourselves out in the sanctuary during worship using every other row and will return to requiring at least six feet of distance between pods.
- Please refrain from attending church gatherings if you are experiencing any symptoms of sickness.
Moving Forward Together
This pandemic season has forcibly reminded us of something we have always known—human life is a team sport, and God is in the business of creating caring communities of faith. As we continue to walk this pandemic road together, please be in prayer for one another, rally around those who are in need, and do not give up on the practice of living in community.
We thank you for your growing faith and commitment to one another for God’s glory and neighbors’ good.
With love and hope and peace,
Jeff, Libby, and the NPCC Leadership
2021 11 12 Reopening Update
In an effort to protect all of our members and friends, particularly the elderly and the immune-compromised, we will continue to wear masks during worship. We want everyone to feel comfortable and welcome in our worship space.
Seating in the Sanctuary
- We will continue to seat people in every other row.
- There will be some increased signage (directing people to south chapel, balcony, and parlors space; seating is limited and we are sitting every other row).
- Ushers are asked to be cognizant of visitors and helping people find seats.
- On Sundays in which the screen is not being used, the north room will also be open for seating.
What about upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations?
- Thanksgiving Eve: Following the Thanksgiving Eve service, we will host a pie social. We welcome all who are comfortable to attend and to wear a mask when they are not actively eating or drinking. We also encourage people to spread out as much as possible.
- Julotta: We will host a fika following Julotta. However, reservations will be required. Those attending should understand that they will likely be seated with other people, but we will keep as much distance as possible and cap attendance. Masks will be required until seated.
What will Sunday School look like?
- Sunday School for children will be in person with masks. All teachers will be required to be fully vaccinated (with documentation).
- Confirmation will be in person with masks. All teachers will be required to be fully vaccinated.
- Adult education can be done in person, with a hybrid/Zoom option if desired.
- All those participating are asked to:
- Socially distance as much as possible,
- Not eat or drink together inside, and
- Keep windows open as much as possible.
What will Youth Group look like?
- Youth Group can meet inside with masks.
- Generally speaking, masks must be worn inside. Masks do not need to be worn outside, unless there is close proximity.
What about gather and Open Gym on Wednesday nights?
- As the weather is no longer amenable to dining outdoors, gather will take a hiatus for now. It is the hope of the task force that gather dinner/fellowship may resume INDOORS come January. This will be revisited.
- The Open Gym/Basketball program can run, but it will be imperative that the kids keep their masks on the entire time.
Can the choir resume?
- The choir ensembles, as they have been happening, are fine as long as those participating are comfortable with doing so and all singers remain masked and safely distanced from one another. The task force would also encourage all who are eligible to get a booster shot.
How long do we need to do communion with the pre-packaged cups?
- We will continue to use the pre-packaged elements for now.
Can we do indoor coffee hour yet?
- We will try indoor coffee hour. Members and friends who choose to participate must keep masks on, taking them down and putting them back up when they sip or eat. People are also encouraged to space themselves out; keeping distance as much as possible.
Can we offer Sunday morning childcare?
- We will continue to monitor and evaluate this need.
Can the Chicago Children’s Choir, AA, and other outside groups continue to use our spaces?
- Yes, as long as they have policies that work and are safe, that is fine.
Can boards and committees meet in the building in person if they would like (assuming a hybrid option is available soon)?
- Yes, but masks must be worn.
Should staff be wearing masks during the regular work week?
- When staff members are in their own offices, masks are not required. When the staff is meeting together, masks should be worn. When a staff member leaves their office to walk through the building, they should have a mask with them, ready to put on.
Will the coffee bar open?
- We will wait on this for now and revisit the idea later.
Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we navigate through these constantly changing times!
The Regathering Task Force and
The Executive Council of North Park Covenant Church
2021 06 15: Updates to Reopening
Dear Members and Friends of North Park Covenant Church,
We write to you with exciting news about our life together. In light of the increased numbers of vaccinations in our community, the continuing drop of COVID cases in our local area, and the city’s lifting of restrictions as of June 11, we have made the decision to further open our Sunday morning worship services.
What follows is a list of the most recent updates, effective Sunday, June 20. As we continue to transition toward more “normalcy”, we are working to provide multiple ways for people to safely and comfortably join together in worship. As always, please feel free to reach out to Pastor Jeff or Pastor Libby with questions or concerns.
- There will be no restrictions on the number of people who attend on Sunday mornings, and reservations for worship will no longer be required. We will no longer conduct temperature or symptom checks, or require sign-ins. Additionally, you may enter the church through the south doors, tower door, or sanctuary doors.
- We will continue, through the summer, to do the bulk of worship in the sanctuary (we know it gets hot) and masks will not be required in that space for those who are fully vaccinated. If you are not fully vaccinated, you must continue to wear a mask. (Those who are 12 and younger should follow the direction of their parents/guardians with regard to masking.) Of course, anyone who cares to wear a mask is more than welcome to do so.
- You will be asked to seat yourselves, and we will be utilizing every other pew. Please watch for signs indicating which pews are open. We ask you to be cognizant of other people/pods and try to maintain a 3 foot distance.
- We will also be opening up the parlors, with staggered seating, for those who are hesitant to sit in the sanctuary with people who are not masked. Those in the parlors can sit in the cool of the air conditioning and participate in worship via a livestream to the screens in that space. Seating in the parlors will be limited, and masks will be required in that space. Priority seating will be given to the elderly and those with other health issues.
- We will also continue to livestream our worship services.
- Children will return to using “reusable” worship bags on Sunday mornings.
- We will be able to enjoy coffee hour outside on some Sundays following worship.
- The staff will slowly and incrementally begin returning to the building this summer and anticipates returning in full by the start of fall. Beginning the week of July 5, the church will be open Tuesday through Friday from 8:30 am to 3 pm each day.
- Babies and toddlers are welcome in worship (there will be no childcare just yet), but both the nursery and toddler room will be open for parents if a play space is needed.
- We will reassess again in late summer to discern next steps then.
- As always, if you are feeling unwell, please refrain from attending in person until you have recovered.
Thank you for your patience and support during this challenging, but exciting, time of transition together.
Pastor Jeff and Pastor Libby and the Regathering Taskforce:
Kevin Anderson, Sue Anderson, Susan Dawson, Marti Hindaileh, Christine Olfelt, Joel Olfelt, and Carol Schlensker
2020 11 30: In-person Worship Suspension Continues
Based on the current COVID numbers in the area, we are extending our decision not to have the congregation present in worship for the time being. Once our neighborhood and city numbers go down we anticipate opening our worship services again to a limited number of in-person participants.
2020 11 12: In-person Worship Suspended for Remainder of November
Based on the current COVID numbers in the area, we have made the decision not to have the congregation present for worship at least through the end of November (November 15, 22, 25, and 29).
We will continue to livestream our services–with pastoral staff and worship and tech teams only present in the sanctuary–each Sunday morning, but we will not have congregation members and/or ushers present.
We are sorry that we have had to make this decision, but we have done so out of our care and concern for all of you.
We pray that we will be able to return to in-person worship soon.
Please join us in prayer for our global community, as we continue to fight this virus.
Pandemic Ponderings… for Posterity
It has been six months, now, since the global pandemic began and life changed dramatically for us. So much has changed about the way we do life, ministry, and worship at North Park Covenant Church, and so much has changed in individual and family life, too. While we don’t know exactly how long this pandemic will last and how long we will need to be so very careful, we would like to start compiling a COVID-19 Memory Book: How the Pandemic of 2020 Changed Our Lives. It will contain a recap of the ways in which we have altered life at church—ministry and worship—but it would wonderful to also be able to include some thoughts, notes, and journal entries from all of you. How has the pandemic changed the way you are living? What have you learned? What has been hard? What has been good? Do you have stories to share? Perhaps you have already been keeping a journal of sorts and have pieces you would be willing to share, or perhaps this is just the impetus you need to write or create something.
Please send your writings (short written observations, longer reflections, paintings or drawings, photos—however you might feel most comfortable expressing yourself) to Pastor Libby’s email (email@example.com) when you’re ready. And, of course, feel free to reach out if you have questions, too. Once complete, this memory book will be available to any who would like a copy. It will also serve as a memory piece for the archives.
Christianity and COVID-19
We invite you to listen to a Language of God podcast episode from the BioLogos website. BioLogos was begun by Dr. Francis Collins, lead scientist on the Human Genome Project and the current “boss” of Dr. Anthony Fauci. In this particular podcast, Dr. Collins is chatting with N.T. Wright, well-known and gifted theologian. Listen in as these two brilliant men of faith discuss the current COVID pandemic and how we might deal with it as people of faith. (You might remember, too, that Pastor Libby mentioned this podcast in a sermon at the end of July.)
This is an unprecedented time as we face the coronavirus pandemic in our neighborhood and nation.
As we are walking together in this moment, we have come to realize that keeping up with developments and communicating well through this season will take care and innovation. This page will be constantly updated as we work together to communicate clearly, support one another as the family of God, and stand together against fear and anxiety.
If you have concerns, ideas, or needs that you would like to share please reach out to Pastor Jeff, Pastor Libby, or Ann-Marie.
North Park Church Cooperative Preschool
- The North Park Church Cooperative Preschool is back with online classes.
- Head over to the NPCCP Website for more details.
Church Communication and Updates
- Our main source of communication continues to be the NPCC email lists.
- Reach out to Ann-Marie, Church Administrator, to be added to the email list.
- NPCC Facebook