As the global pandemic continues, and as cases rise and fall, we are doing our best to stay informed as to the latest information related to the COVID-19 virus.  Early this past summer, with the outbreak seeming to be on the decline and the broad availability of the vaccine, we were looking forward to a fall where we might resume a more “normal” church gathering experience.  However, over the last couple of months, new variant(s) of the virus have become dominant, creating a new outbreak surge.  The City of Chicago continues to be in Phase 5 for reopening, with a mask mandate implemented on August 20th for all persons indoors at anytime (whether vaccinated or not), except in restaurants when actively eating or drinking – or by socially distanced employees in settings not open to the public.  Further, the City of Chicago is recommending that attendees at public gatherings and events be required to be vaccinated or have a negative test no more than 72 hours prior to attending the event.

At this point, we don’t want to ask who is vaccinated and who isn’t, nor require a negative test prior to going to church.  We want the sanctuary to be available to all, regardless of vaccination status.  We also want it to be as safe a space as possible, especially considering the vulnerability of some in our church body – and the fact that some of us can’t be vaccinated at all for various reasons.  Considering all of this, we’ve updated the policies regarding masking.  In an attempt to thread the needle on this difficult subject, there are exceptions for vaccinated persons on stage – whether it’s the Worship Leader, Emcee or Speaker on any given Sunday.  Otherwise, we ask that the rest of us be masked while indoors.  There’s nothing necessarily new here over what we’ve been practicing recently, this is just (hopefully) giving more clarity.

Please refer to the guidelines for additional guidance as well as a Q&A section that hopefully address most questions and concerns.

We understand that masks are uncomfortable and difficult to sing in (personally, I was so over wearing masks back in May of 2020!).  Again, if you have a medical condition that prohibits you from wearing a mask, please let us know so that we can make arrangements for you to be able to worship in-person with us.  Ultimately, we see this as an active expression of love towards one another – not placing our own wants and desires over the safety of those around us, but submitting in love to our brothers and sisters (and neighbors) – looking not to our own interests, but the interests of others (Philippians 2:3).  We also humbly request your patience in all of this.  We dedicate a considerable amount of time to praying, talking – even nearly grappling over – many issues related to this pandemic.  The pandemic is dynamic, and we’re simultaneously seeking a response that’s in turn fluid, but also steady.  As the City of Chicago updates re-opening restrictions, we’ll respond accordingly.  We also continue to talk, pray, think about and deliberate over appropriate protocols considering reasonable risk factors which try to take into account air changes per hour available in the Sanctuary, vaccination levels, City of Chicago infection trends, etc.

Of course:  if you have additional concerns or comments, as always – please feel free to reach out to us at .

Public Health Guidelines for First Free Ministry Teams


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