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Our Covid 19 Statement

Updated April 17, 2021

Out of an abundance of caution, we have been meeting online only since March 15, 2020.  This includes both our Sunday worship services, ministries and all other meetings.  Our ongoing goal is to help protect its members, friends, and visitors from the Coronavirus. 

 

Our decision was, and continues to be, guided by information from the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), as well as credible local, state, and national sources.

Below, please read messages from both our UUFW Board President, Anita Knight, and also the President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Susan Frederick-Gray.  Additionally:

  • Click here for information regarding our virtual Sunday worship services (including Adult Religious Education), which are held on Zoom and

  • Click here for information about local organizations through which your donation of time and/or money will assist others in need during the pandemic.

A message from our Board President, Anita Knight

 

April 2021

We all may be yearning to return to normal after a this past traumatic, very difficult year. But we know the risks associated with COVID and the more contagious variants are still very high. The Unitarian Universalist Association suggests that we are in an “in-between” transition time, not quite ready for large gatherings. However this may be a good time to consider and start planning for small gatherings.

First, we should be aware of advice offered by the McLennan County Public Health Department (https://covidwaco.com/), as well as considering the U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines (https://www.cdc.gov/).

 

Over time, each of us can participate in the decision for how we can safety gather at our church again, easing into it slowly. This is no one person’s decision to make. Members and friends must feel safe and willing. So, let me suggest that we discuss – through this newsletter, in Sunday gatherings, and possibly special meetings – when and how we’re going to return. For example, when might we feel confident in holding small group gatherings? What will be our guidelines for doing so? UUA suggests we use a multi-platform approach to ease back into limited operations, while continuing our virtual, larger gatherings for a longer period of time. Are we ready for this?

 

I would encourage you to read the announcement below by UUA’s Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray then begin a dialogue with us about what steps we’ll take to ultimately return to normal. Keep in mind, this might take months or even longer. Once you read this letter, your answers to the three questions below will be of great help to your board of directors. Thank you very much!

 

A message from UUA President, Susan Frederick-Gray

Special Announcement

Unitarian Universalist Association

April 2021

I write today with guidance from the UUA about planning for safe operations in alignment with our UU values. The significant disruptions to life in our congregations and communities over the past year has been traumatic. There is, understandably, a deep yearning to gather again in person. Unfortunately, we are in an “in-between” transition time that continues to be risky. Our first concern continues to be safeguarding the well-being of our people and the public.

 

Last May, the UUA recommended that congregations plan for a year of virtual operations. Moving into the coming year, the UUA recommends that congregations plan for multi-platform operations—a flexible combination of in-person and online engagement based on the needs and risks in your community.

 

It’s important that everyone who gathers in person

has the ability to consent to do so.

 

Here are key principles in planning: 

As a faith community, we root our decisions in the values of inclusion and consent. It’s important that everyone who gathers in person has the ability to consent to do so, so that no one is forced to choose between their congregation and the safety of themselves or their loved ones. This includes congregational staff and volunteers. When making decisions, the people responsible for congregational programs need to have a central role and those impacted by decisions must have input. As religious leaders, our role is to help facilitate conversation and decision-making in an atmosphere of mutual respect, acknowledging that members and staff have a variety of needs and perspectives.

 

Follow the science. Congregations should follow the latest CDC guidelines and local public health regulations to determine the best ways to move forward as the pandemic recedes. Our public health advisors have all stressed the dangers of this time and the need to remain vigilant. Vaccine distribution remains uneven and inequitable (nationally and globally), new and more contagious variants are spreadin, and children are not yet eligible for vaccination. Many unanswered questions remain, such as how effective the vaccines are in response to emerging variants, whether vaccinated people can spread the virus, and how long vaccine protection lasts. I can’t stress strongly enough the need to proceed with caution in our planning.

 

Go slow and be flexible. Now is the time to plan and consult with the people responsible and engaged in your programs. Take time to create a shared understanding of the risks. Given the ongoing risks, worship and other large gatherings should not be the first thing we return to in person. Our public health officials have also said that as we begin to have some in-person offerings, we have to be prepared to shift back to all virtual if conditions change. Create this expectation, flexibility and resiliency from the beginning.

 

Be humane and realistic with expectations of ourselves and others. Remember, the goal is not perfection. The most important values in this time are care and compassion. We’ve experienced a year of traumatic disruption and loss. Be realistic as leaders and convey realistic expectations to your congregations. There are well-founded concerns that multi-platform ministry will require additional work without additional staff and volunteer capacity. It’s important to have honest conversations about our capabilities and expectations. And keep in mind that significant changes might be overwhelming even if dearly wanted.

 

In the midst of so much loss and tragedy, it has been the life-saving practices of centering care, inclusion, collaboration and compassion that have held and guided us so well. Finding ways to share ministry, to partner across congregations and lean on each other has been a gift this year and one we can continue to draw on as we move forward. These are the values and tools that will continue to guide us.

 

As always, your UUA regional staff are thought partners with you. Please reach out to them with any questions or learnings.

 

Yours,

Susan

Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray