UUCC in-person gatherings suspended and how to stay connected

In the spirit of love for our community and human family, we are temporarily suspending all in-person church gatherings starting Sunday morning, March 15 and moving our worship, programs, and ministries to the many technologies available to help us stay connected – phone, email, Facebook, and Zoom videoconferencing. As Unitarian Universalists, we believe that our interdependence is both a gift and a sacred responsibility, and as Staff and Board of Trustees, we have learned from public health officials and the Unitarian Universalist Association that the best way to practice care for our community and responsibility to our interdependence is to take early and decisive action on closures and cancellations of large events. This decision, then, is not a signal for anxiety but rather our way to practice care and embody love by protecting vulnerable populations and doing our part to ensure that our health care system does not become overwhelmed by the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. This is as an effort to #flattenthecurve of disease spread.

This decision is effective at least until the end of March and possibly longer. Your leadership will be revisiting the best available information regularly to determine when we can joyfully resume our in-person programs.

How to stay connected and how we can help

Worship and programs – Our interdependence is a responsibility, but also a gift – it is more important than ever that we each know we are not alone, but accompanied by a community who love us! We will be reaching out often to provide spiritual grounding, anxiety-reducing resources, and companionship. Your staff and volunteers are working very hard to get all of these supports up and running and will continue to do so for the duration of this time. Look for lots more on this in the coming days. For now know that our ministry teams and chalice circles are strongly encouraged to continue meeting using Zoom videoconferencing and that we will be using Zoom and/or Facebook Live to provide Sunday worship experience, regular grounding meditations and moments, content for kids and families, check-ins, and more. We will be providing opportunities in the coming days for you to learn about how to use these simple softwares to connect face to face. Look for a separate email soon with details about worshipping from home THIS Sunday.

Pastoral care – Please let Rev. Molly know if you are sick, self-quarantined, anxious, or otherwise struggling, so that she, our Lay Pastoral Caregivers, and our Caring Ministry team can be of support to you. We are also working on creating an email/phone tree to help all of our congregation check in on each other, and a resource share to allow for our community to offer and provide help to one another. We are here to help each other calm and soothe in anxious times and support our mental health. As well as providing pastoral support, Rev. Molly is also available to provide mental healthcare referrals. If you would like to be a part of offering support to others, let Rev. Molly know that too!

Material/financial support – Social distancing and potential self-quarantine are economically difficult in a society with such tenuous social safety nets. This distancing helps those most medically vulnerable, but is also challenging for those most financially vulnerable. To address this, we will be continuing to compensate all of our staff, including hourly and nursery staff at their usual rates and hours despite cancellations. If you or someone close to you needs assistance with lost wages, medical supplies and support, or basic necessities, please let Rev. Molly know so that we may activate our Benevolence & Minister’s Discretionary Funds to help. If you or someone close to you needs groceries or medical supplies delivered to you, let us know. In contrast, if you are not affected by financial vulnerability in this moment and are able to make an additional gift to the congregation’s funds, we welcome your support.

Supporting the wider community – It is a calling of our community to support those who are both medically and financially vulnerable in these times. Here are few thoughts we’ve had about that: If you are stocking up on non-perishable food items like pasta and sauce, rice and beans, tuna, peanut butter and other basics, basic medical items like ibuprofen, cough drops, tissues, gatorade, etc. or entertainment items like books, games, coloring books and markers, puzzles etc., consider buying a few extra and dropping them by the church entryway, where we will put together some quarantine kits to distribute to those who find themselves in need. We also invite you to contact our city councillors and state legislators to advocate for a moratorium on evictions and funding for emergency paid sick leave during this time. And, we encourage those of you with the means to do so, to consider making an additional gift to your favorite local direct service agency as we all scramble to assist those most impacted by this disruption.

I’d like to close by offering you this poem that has helped me reframe from fear to love in these historic and troubling times.

By Lynne Ungar

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath-
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

Sending you greatest love and a deep wish for health and hope,

Rev. Molly