Coronavirus and UUCE
Update from Rev. Lo, Fall 2020
Our building maybe closed during the COVID pandemic but our community is not! We still gather online for worship, small group ministry, learning opportunities, meetings, informal drop in sessions with staff, pastoral care, and various other programming.
In this time of isolation, it is more important than ever to be connected and engaged in community. We invite you to join us virtually from wherever you are holed up for the pandemic.
Stay healthy, stay connected, keep the faith.
At this time, in-person services are suspended until further notice, per UUA recommendation. Click HERE for the full guidance from the UUA on COVID-19, and considerations for gathering in person.
The Office is staffed in-person on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am – 3pm, and available by phone and email Weekdays 10am – 3pm.
As states around the country begin to loosen guidelines and take actions to reopen, even as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to climb, we have received many questions from congregations about returning to in-person gatherings.
Over the past several weeks, the UUA has consulted with multiple public health officials in order to update the guidance we provided on March 12 recommending congregations stop gathering in person.
Based on advice from experts, we continue to recommend that congregations not gather in person. We also recommend that congregations begin planning for virtual operations for the next year (through May 2021).
Take a moment to breathe. I know this is significant.
While there is much public conversation about “reopening,” the reality is public health officials consistently predict a long trajectory for this pandemic. A majority of our congregational members, leaders, and staff members are in high-risk categories. Our care for the well-being and safety of our members and staff must be a priority in this pandemic.
Additionally, religious gatherings are considered highly contagious events. The acts of singing, the familiarity of people across households, the multigenerational community of children, youth, adults, and seniors—the things that make our congregations so special—also create more risk for spreading the virus.
Given that so much uncertainty and risk remain, anticipating a year of virtual operations allows for more creative long-term planning, while still being flexible if conditions change significantly. We recognize that with time, and depending on the specific conditions and recommendations of local public health officials, small in-person groups of people and limited staff activities onsite may become possible while wearing masks, observing social distancing guidelines, and following diligent cleaning practices.
In making our recommendations, we are guided by science and our deepest held values. This pandemic teaches us that our actions directly impact the health and well-being of our neighbors and so it is imperative that we make choices that keep our congregations and larger community safer. As COVID-19 disproportionately impacts people with disabilities, Black people, Indigenous communities, Latinx people, the elderly, and essential workers, a majority of whom are women and women of color, religious communities have a moral responsibility to do all we can to reduce risks for those already at such high risk.
Public health officials are clear. There will need to be multiple weeks of reduction in infections, adequate testing, sufficient personal protective equipment available, contact tracing programs, and perhaps a vaccine before it will be safe for many of our congregations to fully gather in person again.
All this said, our ministries are essential services. I am moved by congregations who are increasing their services and generosity to the larger community during this pandemic. I am inspired by those who are keeping their “virtual” doors open. Many congregations have committed to keeping their services widely accessible and available to new people and visitors, while also creating more opportunities for virtual small groups to tend to the social, spiritual, emotional, and material needs of their members.
We hope that a vaccine or an effective treatment will be found soon to change this timeline. In the meantime, being able to plan the longer horizon of virtual services offers an opportunity to be creative in planning for life-giving, essential ministry across physical distance.
Our detailed UUA Guidelines on Gathering In Person as COVID-19 Subsidesinclude specific questions for congregations to ask to determine risk assessment and readiness plans before beginning any moves to gather in person. We will continue to update them as more information becomes available. As always, we encourage you to reach out to UUA regional staff if you need support in your planning.
I continue to hold you, your community, and all of our people in my heart and in my prayers. I know adjusting to this new reality is heartbreaking. I also believe congregations who continue to lean into their mission and life-saving ministry will find ways to thrive in this time. Ministry is so deeply needed. As is moral leadership rooted in community care and in science. May we keep offering this to our communities.
Yours in love and gratitude,
Though the current administration has focused on “opening America for business” without regard for the health and safety of our nation or the world, UUCE remains focused on the health and safety of its members and our global community. Consequently UUCE will remain closed through June 30 unless health officials indicate otherwise at which point, we will evaluate that decision.
As your minister, I would ask that you continue to use the safety precautions you have adopted: the wearing of masks in public, the wearing of gloves in public spaces, washing your hands a billion times a day, remaining at least 6 feet from any other person(s) other than your own social cohort, having a service shop for you and possibly deliver food to your home, and sanitize, sanitize, sanitize surfaces and areas that are common use areas.
In addition I would ask that you keep doing some of the things that you have been doing: shopping less, walking, talking to loved ones near and far, writing letters or cards, telecommuting whenever possible, spending quantity and quality time with your family, playing games, reading to one another, doing little acts of kindness such as leaving a loaf of freshly baked bread or cookies on a neighbor’s doorstep, and expanding your network of care by continuing to check in with neighbors. Keep those gardens growing. And whenever possible, resist the urge to race back into life lived as if you were in a blender, whirling round and round. Did any of you really miss the pace pre-Covid? Haven’t we rehumanized the way we live our lives? That is precious. Hold on to it.