Status of Returning to the Building

April 20, 2022

The Board reviewed and approved a revised Return to Building policy at their April board meeting. The Board decided that masks will still be required during worship services, and masks will be optional during coffee hour and for small groups. Renters will be allowed to make their own decisions about masks. Singing by the congregation will be allowed, if they are masked, and coffee hour will start on May 8. The approved policy can be viewed in full here.

Status of Returning to the Building

October 22, 2021

After 20 months on Zoom, we are making plans to return to our church building. This Sunday will be the first service streamed from the sanctuary. In addition to Rev Hilary, there will be a small tech crew present under the direction of Jeff Phillips. Our new tech staff person, Jessica Maricich will be working with and getting trained by Jeff as well. The congregation will still attend via Zoom but the service will look different as it will be coming directly from the sanctuary. Knowing there will be some glitches in the learning curve, the tech crew will be able to run the production without a lot of distraction. The next two Sundays will be done in a similar fashion. We are targeting November 14 as the first Sunday for general in-person attendance. When we return, Sunday mornings will not be “the same as always but with masks.” read more…

Status of Returning to the Building

August 19, 2021

While the building is open for groups to meet, we are postponing a decision on resuming in-person worship services until the beginning of October. There are multiple factors including Rev. Hilary’s medical leave, bringing on a new technology coordinator, and the need to assess the impact that returning to school has on community COVID metrics. We have discussed various ways to mitigate risk as we prepare to gather again in the sanctuary. We are hopeful that we can have a joyous in-gathering with Rev Hilary in the pulpit later this fall. While we know this announcement is disappointing to many of you, we look forward to being together again soon. We will do our best to keep everyone informed as developments happen.

On behalf of the CCUU Board,
Tom Dempsey, President

Report from the Return to Building Task Force

July 30, 2021

The recent resurgence of COVID has everyone wondering what the fall will look like for churches, schools and other community institutions. We are still planning on resuming live, in-person worship with the Ingathering Service on September 12. However, we will be watching the research, the statistical trends, and the local and regional numbers of cases and we will postpone return if it seems the wisest course. Stay tuned. The service will also be streamed online for those who can’t attend – assuming we can hire a Technology Coordinator or find volunteers to help with the tech end of streaming and on-line worship (our current few tech vergers are worn out). If we can’t, access to an online service after Sept 5 may not happen.

We have made some enhancements to the ventilation system to provide more fresh air, filtering and better circulation. We have also identified areas of the sanctuary with optimal circulation as well as methods to provide distanced seating for those who want a little more room. If needed, we may also stream the service to Atherton Hall as an alternative area for those who want it. There is a touchless hand sanitizing station near the front door.
Masking will be required for all. People who are not willing to wear masks should continue to attend services online. We encourage adults and eligible children attending to be fully vaccinated. Adults who are not vaccinated may want to wait a little longer before returning in person. Volunteers working with children will be vaccinated. A survey will go out to religious education families on August 1 requesting information that will help us determine how best to offer programming for each age/grade cohort.

Our first few services back in the building should be viewed as transitional. We are brainstorming alternative ways to provide music. We do know there will not be live singing in the first few services. If all goes well, we can gradually add back more of the service elements we all love. The choir is as eager to sing again as we are to hear them. The current planning was confirmed at the Task Force’s most recent meeting on July 28. If circumstances change, we may have to change our plans and procedures as well.

Let’s all hope to be together again soon. ~ Tom Dempsey on behalf of the RTB Task Force

Building Use Protocols as of June 11, 2021:

The Church has been mostly closed to people wanting to use the building, both CCUU groups and outside groups/renters. We have recently resumed granting building use to small and medium sized groups on a case-by-case basis. We have decided to pursue a deliberately slow, more conservative, step by step process in reopening the building. In an effort to fully resume normal operations, without a series of starts and stops, here are the current guidelines. This applies to all groups:

  • Masks must be worn by all participants at all times when in the building.
  • Groups must wipe down commonly used surfaces like tables and counter tops as well as door knobs of the room you are using and the entry doors.
  • Meetings held inside or outside must be scheduled through the Church office.
  • Shared food & beverages should not be served; individuals should bring their own beverage and snack if needed.

We realize that community standards are changing quickly. Our standards are stricter by design but may change over the course of the summer as more information is known. Any group not wanting to follow these protocols should find another location. If we observe a group not following the rules, you will be asked to leave.

You can download a copy of these protocols to share with your group.

Update on Building Use from the Board on October 8, 2020:

We are now in our 6th month of dealing with the effects of the pandemic. The response from our Congregation has been better than anyone might have expected. We have found creative ways to fulfill our covenant across all areas of worship, study, and service. Nonetheless, we are highly aware that everyone is missing in- person contact and tiring of the virtual world. What started as a short-term, emergency response has become a way of life. We all look forward to that eventually changing.

We recently issued an update on the safety measures that CCUU has taken to address the ongoing situation. Since there is no indication that it is safe to resume in-person activities, the Church building is closed and all activities have been moved to virtual formats. As we said in that message, this is the most careful way to:

  • protect our members
  • protect the inclusiveness of our activities and
  • protect the liability of the congregation.

Subsequently, we were asked what metrics we are using to determine when a return to in-person activities might resume. This question was addressed at the most recent meeting of the Return to Building Task Force. Using the three concepts above, we want to further explain our procedure.

There are currently a number of state and local mandates concerning sizes of group gatherings, wearing masks, increased cleaning and providing other safety measures. These are based on community health statistics. The state mandates then become the minimum level of precautions that CCUU would take. Guidance from the UUA is another important factor. Recognizing that we are a church community with members from infancy to advanced ages, we have additional needs. We are not a restaurant or a retail store and our process will be more complex. We recognize the very real worries that our members have about a loss of connection and mission. We continue to look for ways to encourage that connection and mission in a safe way.

So far, we have thought it unwise to approve limited activities for certain age groups. For instance, the data concerning whether children are at lower risk for acquiring or spreading COVID-19 are conflicting and ever changing. In many instances where schools and churches tried to resume “normal activities,” increased outbreaks of the virus have happened. Any activity aimed at children will still include adult parents, teachers and mentors as well as involve building use.

We are trying to prevent the development of “two churches” — one that takes place in person for younger people and another that is virtual for older members or those that have other health conditions.

In addressing activities that happen off the Church property, we have taken the position that we can’t promote or even sanction gatherings where we don’t know what level of precautions are being taken and how they are being enforced. It just can’t be that someone would come to a CCUU activity and develop a potentially fatal infection.

As we resume the regular church year, we are continuing to monitor all of these external and internal factors guiding our next steps. While things won’t ever be exactly what they were before COVID, the spirit, life and mission of Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist will carry on.

Tom Dempsey, Chair
Return to Building Task Force CCUU Board

Update on Building Use from the Board on August 17, 2020:

We have recently had questions regarding building use as well as requests to have small group meetings with Church staff. We all miss our regular gatherings and time together. As of this time, the building remains closed and all activities continue to be held via virtual format. It is the most careful way to protect our members, the inclusiveness of our activities, and the liability of the congregation. This applies to not only worship but all committees and work groups.

The Board has established a “Return to Building” task force to focus our attention on the shifting, confusing and sometimes conflicting directions that are being given by different jurisdictions. Guided by all available data as well as input from the UUA, there is no indication that it is sufficiently safe to resume in person activities. The task force will keep members informed about developments.

Some of our Church staff have been in the building on an individual basis to gather materials needed to do their job remotely. Church administrator Laurie Lantz is doing her job both from home and the Church office and making periodic building inspections during this time of closure.

All other activities and meetings are being scheduled virtually. Church staff remain unable to meet in person but arrangements can be made to meet by phone or video conference. We will not be publicizing any activities that may be organized by members on their own. We may share information about local events but encourage you to only participate in activities in which you can be safe.

Like everyone, we look forward to the time that we can safely see each other in person without excluding those among us who are at risk. In the meantime, we continue to pursue creative and meaningful ways to connect in a virtual format.

A Message from the Board on March 25, 2020:

Email sent to congregation on March 12, 2020:

Beloved Countryside folks,
You are all in my heart and in the hearts of the entire staff. During this challenging time, we are following the course of the greatest caution and care and cancelling or postponing all in-person church activities.

This does not mean that church activities will cease, in fact, we are hard at work finding ways both digitally and by phone that we will stay actively connected throughout this time. We have a technology team that will be available by phone to help you, if needed, for you to stay connected and tune in. More info about that team is forthcoming.

Worship services will continue though will change in format beginning this Sunday via the Zoom platform. (for info about how to use Zoom, click here.) Again, you will receive information about how to tune in for that service, which will focus on both taking care of ourselves and staying connected with one another even in a time of separation.

In the meantime, I hope that you are taking good precautions and taking care of yourselves and your family. Do lots of laundry, eat wholesome food, get plenty of rest, stay out of crowded places. If you happen to become ill, please reach out to me or to a member of the Lay & Care Ministry teams (listed below) so that we can provide emotional support (know that always we hold that information in confidence). We will be preparing small packages to deliver to people as needed. It’s important that we know how you are doing so we can provide emotional support even if it’s just for a short conversation and to hear another living voice.

We will set up calling clusters so all of you can stay in touch with one another. If you are in a small group or committee here at CCUU, please stay in touch with others in your group, and if you would like to use the church Zoom account to meet remotely, contact Laurie in the church office (847-359-8440 ext 1 or Office [at]

I will maintain online office hours, and there will be an online religious education presence. All this will be easily accessed with information forthcoming. As you all know, this is a time in which people everywhere are trying to change behaviors and plans quickly, so more news will be forthcoming as ideas and approaches arise and as we learn new information.

We will continue to be in touch, and in the meantime, please stay in touch with us.

In faith,
Rev. Hilary
Minister [at]
847-359-8440 ext 2 – i will be able to retrieve phone calls to my office phone remotely

Lay Ministers
Ken Bobbe, coordinator
Karen Greenland
Barbara Griggs
Joy Simon
Chris Smith

Email sent to congregation on March 11, 2020:

Dear Countryside Church UU Community,

While we are not aware of any cases of COVID19 in our congregation, we are aware that there have been cases in the Chicagoland area, and the CCUU Staff and Board are working to institute practices and procedures to help reduce the risk of exposure here and to assist in slowing the spread of the virus in general.

While we do not want to panic or to create panic, we do want to err on the side of safety for our community. Even if you don’t feel personally at risk of contracting the virus (or of its effects if you do contract it), as members of a community, we are called to help support and protect each other, especially those for whom the disease could be life-threatening.

The CDC has publicized markers for people to decide whether or not to stay at home: a measured fever, cough, trouble breathing; if you those, please stay home and take care of yourself. If you have traveled out of the country recently, you might consider staying at home for a time to be sure you are in the clear. In either case, please let us know of your situation, so we can support you in every way possible.

For now, we are not cancelling worship services or religious education classes. We are making some changes to how we do those, please see the details below.

The Pi Day Celebration originally scheduled for this weekend has been cancelled.

The Congregational Lunch scheduled for this Sunday will continue, but instead of its being a potluck, we ask that you bring your own brown bag lunch on Sunday. That way, we can still eat together for community without sharing food. The team planning this potluck has an activity planned that will foster kinship without putting us at risk.

We are also making the following changes to the way we “do church” on Sunday mornings for the foreseeable future:

  • No hymnals will be used in the service. Lyrics for hymns will be included in the order of service and/or on the screen.
  • Orders of worship – and covers and inserts previously re-used, will not be reused. The ushers will be asked to wear gloves to distribute the orders of service, which should be placed directly in recycling bins after service, and the bins will be taken to the recycling dumpster. 
  • Ushers will not pass the plates to take the offering. We will have collection boxes placed at the back of the Sanctuary for people to put their money or checks in at the end of the service. We will continue to encourage online and text donations.
  • We will not serve snacks or food at coffee hour. If people want to bring their own food and eat together for community & fellowship, that is fine. All tables will be disinfected following any communing.
  • In addition to our reusable mugs, we will offer disposable cups for coffee & tea, for those who prefer to be the only one handling their own cup. People are also encouraged to bring their own reusable mugs/cups if they prefer. All dish washing will be done using the machine, not by hand washing.
  • Coffee and tea water will be served from carafes by coffee hosts wearing gloves, instead of being “self-serve.” Adding milk/cream will be done in the same way. We do not want multiple people pressing the dispensers on the carafes or picking up pitchers. Again, all dish washing will be done using the machine, not by hand washing.
  • We will continue to refrain from shaking hands during ‘sharing the light’ at the end of the service. “Fist-bumps” and elbow-touching are now also considered unwise, so please be sure to ask before you make any physical contact with another person. Smiles and gestures of greeting and sharing the light are always encouraged.

We are working on the logistics for live-streaming and/or recording the services – or at least the sermons, so that those who are unable or who choose not to attend Sunday services may listen to or watch them. If you are tech-savvy, please contact Rev. Hilary so we can add you to our team.

The Staff and Board continue to work on a plan for making the decision to suspend Sunday services altogether should we or the local government deem it necessary or prudent, and we are working to develop alternative experiences to help support each other in that event. We are in continued communication with other UU leaders in the area and region, in order to share resources and strategies. As new decisions are made, we will publicize them through the e-updates and the Facebook page and the website; please stay tuned to those communications.

If you are the leader of a group or a committee in the church, we urge you to consider how the threat of COVID19 may affect your group members and to plan accordingly. Some groups may choose to suspend their meetings or to meet remotely using the CCUU Zoom account. With respect to Zoom, you do not need a computer to participate; you can connect by using a telephone. Please contact the church office if you need help with instructions on how to use Zoom.

If you identify as a person “at-risk,” either according to the CDC’s definition or by your own self-knowledge, we urge you to let us know if you are feeling isolated, afraid, or anxious. We want to support one another through this challenging time. We are particularly concerned for our folks who are vulnerable – those over 60 years old and particularly those who are aged 70 and up. Please consider staying home if you are concerned. This will pass and the health care system will find a vaccine, but this takes time. In the meantime, if you are staying home, we ask you to let us know if you are ill (this is very important) and if you are alone and need groceries or supplies.

Please remember that times of crisis call for us to truly strengthen the bonds of community and to remind ourselves to practice what being part of a community truly means. Let us continue to support and connect and help one another so that we are all held in love and care.

In Faith,
Rev. Hilary Krivchenia
Dr. Mary Shelden
Alison Vernon
Laurie Lantz
duRee Bryant & Kathi Hillyer, on behalf of the Board