Dear Church Family,

As you may know, a vaccine mandate went into effect on January 3, 2022 in the city of Chicago for certain indoor spaces. The elders and staff want to make it clear to everyone in our congregation and community that our church activities are exempt from this mandate, because we are a place of worship. We will continue to practice our existing safety protocols, such as mask-wearing in the church buildings. Please rest assured that all are welcome to worship and serve God with us.

We strongly encourage everyone to follow your doctor’s advice regarding vaccinations (of all types) and to take steps to take care of your physical health, both for your sake and for those who love you. Also, remember that your spiritual and mental health is just as important! See below for some ways you can cultivate your health in all these areas.

Let’s all pursue healing and wholeness together in 2022, and celebrate lives transformed by Jesus Christ.

Happy New Year,

Rachel Einfeldt and James Snyder, on behalf of the leadership at First Free

PS: Until further notice, we will pause our after-service Connections gatherings with refreshments in Fellowship Hall. We invite you to connect with others in our church family outside of the church building.


Physical Health

Vaccines are an important part of a person’s health plan; however, they are only one piece of the puzzle. Remember the acronym MEDS to help you build a well-rounded plan.

  • Move daily and get outside regularly.
  • Eat vegetables and fruit as part of a nutritious diet.
  • Drink water, especially in the dry winter!
  • Sleep plenty and on a regular schedule.

Spiritual and Mental Health

As stated above, your spiritual and mental health is just as important as your physical health. The acronym JOY can remind you to incorporate habits that will nurture both your spiritual and mental health throughout the year:

  • Just one verse a day, or more, but fill your mind with God’s Word daily. Need a reading plan idea? Go to the church’s website to choose one: find them under the “What’s Happening” tab!
  • Observe how God provides for you each day, and fill your heart with gratitude. Idea: get a large jar and add a note each week throughout 2022 that names one way you have seen God that week; then spend New Year’s Eve (or more often, if you want) reading through the jar!
  • Yield to the Spirit’s guidance as you balance work, home, church, and self-care activities. We urge you to consider how you can include rhythms of rest into your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule to heal from and protect against burn-out. These last two years of pandemic-living have been hard on all of us, and we need to find our rest in the Lord, our Rock and Redeemer.

Social and Emotional Health

God created us to be in community! The winter is always a season in Chicago when weather and seasonal illness keep us apart more than at other times of the year. Still, we need each other to fight against discouragement and build each other up in faith.

Consider some creative ways to stay connected (SNOW acronym):

  • Serve others; this can take different directions – maybe you serve a friend, maybe you invite a friend to serve a neighbor with you. There is certainly a lot of snow that can be shoveled! You could also dig out extra parking spots on your street, set out handwarmers for the mail delivery people, or work together to make some “self-care bags” that you can have ready to hand out to anyone experiencing homelessness this winter.
  • Notice needs; ask God to open your eyes to the needs of those around you, pray for them regularly (make a list of names & needs and post it where you will see it daily), and reach out with a word of encouragement and practical help when you can.
  • Own your limits; be honest with yourself and authentic with others about your own needs and limits. In doing so, you allow others to serve you and thereby build a mutually supportive relationship.
  • Winter walks outside with a friend. Bundle up, meet at a park or on one of your streets, and enjoy some exercise and conversation!


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