Staying Connected: GEFC COVID-19 Updates

A place for information about COVID-19

The church building is closed to non-essential visits. Staff is available by phone and email during regular office hours.

An outdoor casual service is held on Saturday nights at 5:00 p.m., and a socially-distanced worship service is available on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am. Our services are also available online.

You can watch the service with others! Just go to the church Facebook Page, You can also watch previous live streams here.

September 12, 2020

Dear GEFC Church Family,

As many of you may know, Henry County has recently come under a more stringent mask mandate for businesses that has included warning letters for non-compliance with the option of fines for repeat offenses. Some of you may be wondering if this applies to churches. It does not. Illinois churches were exempted from the Governor’s executive orders in late May when Illinois was still in Stage 3 (our region is currently classified as Stage 4). Instead, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) published “COVID-19 Guidance for Places of Worship and Providers of Religious Services” in May which were updated in July.
Recognizing special constitutional protections for churches, there are no “mandates” in the church guidelines, but there are many useful suggestions that we have been following since restarting in-person attendance such as continuing to livestream services, holding outdoor services, providing physical distance between chair groupings for indoor services, additional cleaning and disinfection, etc. Offering a third service has had the desired effect of reducing the number of people in the Sanctuary during indoor services to well below our approved socially distanced capacity.
The physical health of our congregation is important to us, and so is your spiritual well-being, which includes the ability to worship together. Please continue to exercise common sense by notifying church leaders if you or a direct contact tests positive COVID-19, remain home if you have any symptoms or were recently exposed to someone who is positive, and refrain from engaging those outside your immediate family in prolonged close face-to-face contact. It would have been the right thing to do in the past during the cold and flu season, and it is certainly expected now during COVID-19.
We continue to consider masking by healthy attenders a personal decision, to be respected either way and is not being recorded. If your age or pre-existing conditions place you at higher risk for complications, please consult your physician on the best options for you.
In keeping with Hebrews 10:25, we encourage everyone to participate in whichever worship setting you find most appropriate.
GEFC Elder Board

August 29, 2020

Dear GEFC Church Family,

On March 11th, two weeks into the state-wide "sheltering in place" order, Dr. Dave Nelson was tasked with recruiting a "Health Team" to advise us on how to prepare for re-opening our church. He put together a team of four medical professionals from within our congregation. Since then, we have sought that team's help in making wise decisions for how to create the most open environment possible for our congregation while protecting our most vulnerable members. We have relied on this team heavily in helping us to understand what the real risks are in Henry County.

This week, our Health Team members advised us to encourage the wearing of masks during our indoor services and to continue outdoor services as long as possible. Their recommendation is based upon their own clinical observations of an uptick in COVID-19 cases in Henry County resulting in serious illness for some.

We have decided that those on the platform will not wear masks while ministering. Facial expression is a critical component in any form of communication. It is especially important for our online church attenders. Preaching, teaching and worship are our highest priorities and we will not do anything to compromise their effectiveness.

Masks are available upon request. Also, masks are entirely optional outside, we neither suggest wearing them nor do we discourage their use. This coronavirus pandemic is very fluid. We will continue to consult with our health team and will continue to seek the Lord's direction on how to best lead our GEFC family through this pandemic. We will also continue to look for the opportunity side of the challenges we face. Our church has proven resilient. We are a stronger congregation than we were before all this, and that is thanks to the efforts of many and your consistent financial and prayer support. Thank you.

The GEFC Board of Elders

March 28, 2020

We have completed our first week of "sheltering in place"! I suspect that we have an even deeper appreciation for community, having been separated from our family, friends, and church family. Here are a few announcements and resources for you.

Tomorrow's service: We prerecorded some additional worship songs before the sheltering in place restrictions hit.  We will broadcast these tomorrow along with Ryan's sermon concluding our Law & Grace series.  The best way to access the sermon is to search on YouTube or click on the website link.  You can also see it on our website by going to the resources tab and clicking on sermons.  We will post a link on Facebook to these files as well. (The links are below.)

Family Home Devotions: Throughout the Galatians series we have been providing coloring sheets for younger children and a family devotional for the family.  Click here if you would like to download this family resource.  These are also available on the church's facebook page.

Good Friday: The Good Friday service will be live streamed, and our plan is to have communion together.  In order to create a shared experience for us all, you will be receiving a communion delivery from a church volunteer containing a 5.5 oz can of grape juice, some communion cups and a sealed packet of crackers.  Deliveries will be made to your porch.

Stay Connected: We are doing our best to stay connected with you by using the resources we've had for years and launching new resources where we have had gaps.  Here are the ways that we communicate with you:

March 21, 2020: A few quick announcements:

  • The Baptism class and Baptism service are cancelled for now.
  • The Business meeting is cancelled until it can be rescheduled.
  • All the Men's Lenten Breakfasts are cancelled.
  • Catherine is permitted to work in the church building because of essential business functions such as paying bills, etc.
  • Pastor Steve and Ryan will be working from home. Catherine can direct calls to us, or you can call us directly from the numbers in the directory. Don't feel bad about "disturbing us at home." Home is where we work right now!
  • As of this afternoon the key card reader will be deactivated until the "shelter in place" order is rescinded.

March 20, 2020: *WARNING* - Potential fraud/scams- Multiple known phishing/spam sites have popped up posing as links to COVID-19 tracking maps, guidance or articles. COVID-19 phone apps that can turn on your phones microphone and camera have been confirmed. Door to door COVID-19 surveys are not legitimate and we ask that you call the Geneseo Police Department if you have anyone present themselves at your door posing as a COVID-19 Surveyor. Please continue to get your information from a known and credible source. Casey Disterhoft, Chief of Police, Geneseo Police Department, 309-944-5141

March 18, 2020: Good morning, GEFC! Let's think of ways that we can love others during this time of 'social distancing.' Our helpful tip for the day is to pull out your directory and make a couple of friendly phone calls to check up on some of our older church friends or those with significant health needs, to see how they are doing or if they need anything.

March 14, 2020: Please understand this is not a typical flu season. We assure you that other area churches are taking similar measures. Part of loving our neighbors is doing everything we can to slow the transmission of this disease that takes out the most vulnerable people, the very ones that Jesus called us to care for and show the love of Christ.

March 12, 2020: Last night the Elders spent some considerable time discussing the coronavirus and how to best protect our congregation. We are currently working through the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for Faith-based organizations. One of the top recommendations was to form a response team that will work quickly and bring recommendations to the Elders in a timely manner. Dr. David Nelson will be heading this team and is immediately working on recruiting members. It will be a small team so that it can work quickly, and will likely be composed of medical professionals who already have an understanding of public health.