Coronavirus

UPDATED FEB 17, 2021

Bishop Frank J. Beard and members of the Extended Cabinet are providing this update as of today for the following regions in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference:

The entire Illinois Great Rivers Conference (Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7) is now in Phase 4 with no mitigations. This reflects no change in the past two weeks.

  • Churches may gather indoors for any purpose in groups of 50 and less
  • Churches with larger rooms may gather indoor groups of up to 25% of the room capacity, but may not exceed 100 people in total
  • Churches may gather out-of-doors in groups of any size with proper distancing and masks
  • Children and youth ministry programs may occur
  • Social distancing, face masks, and other precautions should be taken for all activities
  • Churches should not practice group singing
  • Church buildings may be open all kinds of groups and meetings of appropriate size, and all church staff and volunteers can regularly use the building
  • Facemasks and social distancing are required

Because the metrics are very fluid, the regions could move between Wednesday announcements. When this occurs, the church is asked to use prudent judgment and decide based upon the congregation's comfort level.

For the detailed metrics, visit: Restore Illinois Regional Dashboard

Vaccinations for clergy in Illinois

As COVID-19 vaccinations are becoming more widely available, some counties are including clergy in Phase 1A vaccine distribution plans. The Illinois Department of Public Health plan specifically mentions clergy in health care settings, but given the role that many clergy play in providing pastoral and palliative care within various health care settings throughout the state, some counties are including in Phase 1A vaccination distribution all clergy, including pastors of local congregations, who might provide this care even if they are not paid or permanent chaplaincy staff.

Please check with your county health department to see which categories of clergy are eligible for priority vaccinations in your community. Of course, clergy who are eligible because of their age, health care occupation, first responder work, or complicating medical conditions should also contact their county health department. Clergy who are not primarily serving in health care settings should consider their eligibility and the availability of vaccinations in order to ethically prioritize those who are most in need or at risk from COVID-19 at this time.

Read the IDPH Vaccination Plan...

Download Pressing On - Guidelines for Mitigation Phases

Church Guidance for Illinois Public Health Phases

Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church

The Restore Illinois plan provides for the State of Illinois to be divided into four public health regions, which will be assessed for risk of COVID-19 deaths based on five phases. This is a summary of the detailed guidance available for Illinois Great Rivers United Methodist Churches on applicable safety guidance for each phase.

Phase 1: RAPID SPREAD

  • Churches should not gather for in person weekly worship
  • Funerals and Weddings should be less than 10 people
  • Church buildings closed, except for essential and minimum basic operations.

Phase 2: FLATTENING

  • Same as Phase 1
  • Churches may gather for Drive In worship services

Phase 3: RECOVERY

  • Churches may gather for any purpose in groups of less than 10
  • Churches may gather out of doors with proper distancing
  • Children’s ministry programs should not be held
  • Social distancing, face masks, and other precautions should be taken
  • Churches should not practice group singing
  • Church buildings may reopen to small groups, and all church staff and volunteers can return to using the building.
  • People at higher risk of dying from COVID-19 should not gather in groups of any size.

Phase 4: REVITALIZATION

  • Churches may gather for any purpose in groups of less than 50
  • Churches, with larger rooms may gather indoor groups of up to 25% of the room capacity, but may not exceed 100 people in total. Beginning July 12, 2020, churches may exceed the 100 attendees limit at a limit of 25 percent of room capacity if they have a local church-approved comprehensive safety plan that outlines their procedures for appropriate social distancing, cleaning, contacct logging and education of the congregation
  • Check to ensure insurance coverage is adequate for the local church-approved safety plan
  • Children’s ministry programs may resume, cautiously.
  • Continue social distancing practices and other precautions

Phase 5: ILLINOIS RESTORED

  • Churches may gather in unlimited size groups for any purpose
  • All public health safety guidance is lifted
  • It is now safer for people of higher risk of dying from COVID-19 to gather

To read the entire document, use the download link below or select the menu item to the right, "Coming Back to the Heart of Worship" and its secondary pages underneath it.

God Bless

Bishop Frank J. Beard

Download the Entire Plan Document (v.3.2, 9/5/20, 19 pp, PDF)

Download Guidelines for Drive-In Worship