Public Health and Coronavirus Response

September Update

Greeting to the Saints of Ebenezer Lutheran Church!

As we continue through these challenging times, your Congregation Council and Staff are continuing to work hard to provide a safe and uplifting set of opportunities to feed your Spirits. Our guideposts of Restore, Encourage, and Rejoice continue to guide our discernment in the Spirit.

Restore: While we all long to be restored to worship together in person, the reality remains that doing so would not honor our responsibility to our neighbors to make safer choices. To that end, the Council anticipates at this time that worship online will remain our primary expression through 2020. This, of course, can change as public health guldence evolves. We rejoice that Sunday School for children will be restored online beginning this Sunday. We will continue to offer outdoor prayer and communion at 3 p.m. Sundays, and the opportunity to pray silently and walk the stations of the cross in our sanctuary at that time.

As with most non-profit organizations, our financial situation remains an area of attention. As I write to you, a 2021 budget proposal is being developed by your faithful Finance Team. The outlook ranges from stable to worrisome, depending on trends in member giving and what may or may not be possible in terms of shared space building use. Now, more than ever, your giving matters. We know some are not in a position to give generously at this time, but for those who are, please consider sustaining or increasing your gifts. We have kept our entire staff at full pay and benefits thus far, and it is our prayer to continue to do so without sacrificing much needed programs.

Encourage: The vitality and creativity of this congregation remains so encouraging, as we make our way into new ways of being together and sustaining the spirit of this community. Continue to encourage one another, check in with one another, and pray for one another and the world God loves.

Rejoice: Joy is not a limited commodity in the Body of Christ. At a time when so much seems uncertain and worrying, rejoicing in the Lord becomes a radical act. Joy is not a shallow happiness that ignores the problems we face individually and communally, but is a deep well of beauty and truth that sustains us in facing those challenges. So rejoice! God is with us. As near as our breath.

I want to thank each and every one of you for your faithfulness in this time. I want to thank our energized staff and volunteers for their hard work. I want to thank those caring for the building, singing into a web cam, praying, writing checks, running errands for others, and supporting children, new arrivals to the US, and those shut-in. Christ’s love continues to be made known among you, and I am grateful for all of you each day.

Take good care,
Pastor Michael

We will continue to follow the guidance of the ELCA, the CDC, and the City as we make decisions affirming the well being of our neighbors.

August Update

From Pastor Michael…
Blessings to you all in the name of Christ!
As I am sure you are aware, Chicago Public Schools have opted to utilize online instruction for the beginning of the Fall term, as marker to us that gathering in larger numbers indoors remains a risk in this continuing pandemic environment. At our August council meeting this morning, your Council made and affirmed the following plan for Ebenezer moving forward. I believe this to be a faithful and solid response to the current, and of course, changing situation:

  • Our primary liturgy will remain online until at least mid-September, at which time we will reassess based on the latest public health assessments.
  • Communion-to-go will continue to be offered from 3-4 pm in the playground. Masks, properly worn, are required at all times.
  • From 3-4 pm the Sanctuary will be open, beginning August 23, for silent prayer and an opportunity to walk the Stations of the Cross. Those who wish to converse with one another are asked to do so in the Courtyard, where masks are still required.
  • Starting August 23, this will be supplemented with a brief, spoken liturgy also outdoors (weather permitting) from 3:00 to 3:15 on Sundays.
  • Should Chicago’s infection rate go above 8%, these two new gatherings will be suspended.
  • In early September, a Zoom coffee fellowship will be added in the late morning, as a way to see one another and build community.
  • Children’s Sunday School will return on Zoom in September as well.
  • In addition to our Wednesday Bible Study, additional online Faith Formation classes will be announced to supplement this schedule.

Your health and safety, and that of our neighbors, remains our collective mission and responsibility in Christ.

Thanks you to all our Ebenezer Staff and Volunteers for continuing to make this a vibrant and Christ-centered community. We could never serve all we do with out your support. Financially, our situation remains stable thanks to your faithfulness. In response to that blessing, your council has also voted to double our annual support to Care for Real, to extend that blessing to some of our most vulnerable neighbors.

We will continue to follow the guidance of the ELCA, the CDC, and the City as we make decisions affirming the well being of our neighbors. Remember: If you can help someone out, we need to hear from you at caring@ebenezerchurch.orgThis is where we are matching needs with those who can help.

Daily devotions are being posted on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/ebenezerchicago/
A reminder, that Communion pick-up this Sunday is from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Missing you all,
Pastor Michael

Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Metropolitan Chicago Synod Adopt Phase 3 Reopening Plan

Members and friends of Ebenezer,
As the City of Chicago has moved into Phase 3 (“Recovery”) of our long COVID-19 experience, your Congregation Council has adopted new guideline for Ebenezer, as well as affirmed the guidance provided by our Metropolitan Chicago Synod.
You can review the Synod Guidelines here.
Below is a summary that will help guide you as we move into this new phase of ministry and life together.
Please feel free to contact a member of the staff or the Congregation Council if you have questions or concerns. Together, we want to move safely and lovingly into this next way of being Church in the world.

Worship Life in Phase 3

Our liturgy remains online in much the same format. Bible study continues online Wednesday at noon. All groups, church and otherwise, that can meet online are encouraged to continue to do so.
Beginning June 14, our east playlot will be utilized Sunday from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. for a mask-required, 6-foot socially distanced “drop in” for Holy Communion. No more than 9 people will be admitted to the playlot at a time.
Contactless, sealed wafer and wine or juice packets will be consecrated on-site at the beginning of the drop in period.
A distanced blessing will be offered. Communicants may open and consume the elements at that time, or take home a supply for themselves and/or others to receive together.
A brief liturgy for receiving communion at home will be provided for home use.

– Those not yet venturing out will be paired with folks willing to drop off consecrated elements. Email us at caring@ebenezerchurch.org to arrange for a drop-off.

– As others arrive, they may wait on the sidewalk, with marked spots for distancing and operate on a one-in, one-out basis. After receiving elements and a blessing, all will depart through the gate to the alley.

– The sanctuary, monitored by an usher outside, may be opened for silent prayer, with windows open, masks required, and no more than 10 people seated at distanced, predetermined spots. Temperature checks will be taken and a contact tracing log will be kept with names, date, and contact number.

Meetings, Space Sharing Parters, and Other Building Use in Phase 3

Ebenezer staff and volunteers will continue to serve primarily from home. If working from the building, they will coordinate with one another to maintain social distancing and limit contact. Masks will be required at all times.

Pastoral care remains primarily online or by phone, but mask-required home visits may resume if deemed pastorally necessary and safe.

Groups under ten people must request, via the Building Coordinator, to meet in the Dining Room, Gym, Education Center, or Auditorium for meetings and activities. All smaller meeting rooms will remain out of use. Requests will be vetted by the Building Coordinator and Community Hospitality Committee on a case-by-case basis.
The groups must wear masks, be limited to ten people, and be scheduled so proper cleaning measures can take place. All drinking fountains will be disabled and cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer will be placed in each area. Self-cleaning must take place after each use, in addition to our custodians resuming regular hours. Contract tracing logs including name, date, time, and space used will be required.
To request building or outdoor space use, email building@ebenezerchurch.org.

Day Camps will commence in a few weeks. These groups, providing vital childcare and engagement for area workers and their families, will follow all state and city guidelines for the reopening of day camps in Phase 3. This includes logs for contact tracing, temperature checks, masks, capacity limits, additional self-cleaning each day, and social distancing. Ebenezer will host two such groups in different sections of the building

Stay Connected

Click here to view and print the booklets for weekly worship and reflections.

Watch recordings of worship services and Tuesday Children’s time on YouTube, here.

Check in for updates from Ebenezer on Facebook.

Care and Support

For pastoral care needs, please email pastormichael@ebenezerchurch.org or call 773-561-8496 and leave a message for Pastor Michael. This voicemail is checked several times each day.

Many of you have expressed a desire to help as needs arise.
Jessica D. has graciously offered to help coordinate pairing those with needs with those who can help. If you are willing to help others, or, if you need help or support with something specific, email caring@ebenezerchurch.org or call 312-685-1353.
You don’t have to leave the house to help!
We’re also pairing up folks who don’t use email with those who do to keep them informed and connected. A willingness to make some phone calls and share information is a great ministry at this time.

Worship and Prayer

Wednesday Bible Study is a wonderful opportunity to stay connected with one another!
Look for an email every Wednesday morning with a one-click link to the Google Hangout. We discuss the upcoming scriptures for about 40 minutes beginning at 12:00 PM. I’d love to see you there! To sign up for the newsletter, send an email to Nathan (bookkeeper@ebenezerchurch.org)

Check out Tuesday Children’s time with Pastor Emily, posted on our YouTube channel.

Daily messages and suggestions for prayer are posted on Ebenezer’s Facebook page.
As usual, requests for prayer can be sent to Pam.

Additional Resources

Neighborhood Resources
Care For Real https://careforreal.org/

General Resources
Resources from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) (click here)
Resources from the Metropolitan Chicago Synod (click here)
Resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.gov) (click here)

A message from Pastor Michael – May 24, 2020

Hello, from the Parsonage.
I continue to pray that you are all well, safe, and coping with this time of extended sheltering in place. I know we are all missing many things, being together among them.
I have initiated with the Council leadership and staff a proposal which outlines how Ebenezer will move through the phases as laid out by the city and state. You can have confidence that your church will not move to in-person experiences until it is safe to do so, and that it will be a phased process, likely beginning with an opportunity to receive a socially distanced Holy Communion while worship remains online in Phase 3. We don’t anticipate moving to phase 3 until sometime in June. We will keep you updated as decisions are made.
This past week both our Confirmation students and Seniors met online for fellowship and support. In fact, practically all our ministries have continued in modified form. While not easy, this stands as a testament to you creativity and dedication. You are are being church, alive and well, while serving your neighbors by staying home as much as you can.
Our Intern, Dan, is now resuming his duties after parental leave. Look for his return to our worship service next week, and he, as are your whole staff, available for support, care, and vital services.
Missing you all,
Pastor Michael