The Reverend Christine V. Hides

Children and Family Ministry began the school year focused on what children need during prolonged pandemic disruption: Consistency and Reconnecting in Community. Thanks to our volunteer parent teachers, the creative use of outdoor spaces, and countless pivots by our staff, we have arrived at this point in the year with much to be thankful for. And many of us parents, volunteers, and staff are exhausted by pandemic protocols and the last few weeks of uncertainty around school policies.

In anticipation of the lifting of the statewide indoor mask order on February 28, in conjunction with the Church Reopening Team, Children’s Ministry sought the advice of church members who are teachers, medical workers, and mental health care professionals. I also spoke with a number of our current parents and volunteers to assess their comfort levels. Our staff reviewed attendance trends and noted that Sunday school attendance decreases dramatically when COVID surges—implying that our families seek to minimize COVID risks for children. We recognize that preschool age children are not yet eligible for vaccines. In addition, we work closely with A Joyful Noise which requires masks per DCFS guidance.

Because consistency and community are our primary goals, Children’s Ministry protocols will remain in place to maximize safety and attendance. In short:

  • Masks are still required for all volunteers and participants in Sunday school, MSYG, and Faith234, and all Children’s Ministry programs for grades 6 and under. This requirement will be reviewed after Spring Break (April 3).
  • Children’s Worship for preschool–6th grades joined together will resume on March 6 from 9:45–10:10 a.m. in Schmidt Chapel. Please check in at the check in table and then proceed to the chapel for music, prayers, and praise. We are excited to resume this formational experience in time for Lent.
  • Complete guidance for worship and other church programing will be shared in Thursday’s eNews. Following Illinois and local guidance, masks will be optional in the main sanctuary worship services.

I recognize that this email may be disappointing to some and so I invite you to contact me with questions and concerns. Your thoughtful feedback will be taken into account when we review protocols after Spring Break. At a time when uncertainty swirls and exhausts, let us be grateful that our Sunday school remains a child-centered place where care, consistency, and love for our neighbor abounds. Let us give thanks, for God’s steadfast love endures forever.