First UU Responds to COVID-19: We CAN Flatten the Curve
First UU will immediately suspend in-person Sunday morning gatherings.
In the past few days, I have leaned heavily on the wisdom found in the principles and sources of our Unitarian Universalist tradition. In the face of the challenges posed by the coronavirus, I will “heed the guidance of reason and the results of science.” (UU source five)
Therefore, we are taking steps to “flatten the curve” so that our health care systems can cope. Beginning this Sunday, March 15, in person Sunday services will be suspended at First UU until such time as science and reason deems it is safe to gather again. At this time, smaller groups might continue to hold meetings; however, a number of groups have made the decision to temporarily suspend face to face meetings, choosing to meet online instead. These groups include Sew Sew, Acoustic Jam, Soup and Social Action, Welcome Wednesday, Movies at the Moxie, and the UU Christian Fellowship. All committees will be encouraged to meet through the church’s online ZOOM account. Several meetings have already been conducted very satisfactorily this way.
I asked all board members, staff, and committee chairs to respond to an email thread in support of a suspension of large group gatherings at church. At the time of this writing, I have heard from all but one of the people in leadership, everyone responding affirmatively. Emily, our music director, called extreme social distancing “the ethical and UU-value-informed choice.”
Church leaders at the local, as well as the national level, have shared a great number of resources to guide our thinking. Laura P. forwarded a message from Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow, past speakers at First UU, stating that “a wait-and-see attitude is the least responsible approach.” His urgent message was accompanied by the article “Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now” by Thomas Pueyo. Some of us listened to this morning’s live conversation from Church of the Larger Fellowship about sustaining connections in a coronavirus world.
How will we stay connected? AJ, our director of religious education, says, “My gratitude this morning is that we live in a digital era and that I believe that connection and community will not have to be lost in this choice.” I concur. I see this as an unexpected opportunity to create meaningful and lasting social connections in ways we could not have imagined previously. With the possibilities offered by technology, we can bring you a weekly service, daily reflections, UU bedtime stories, and time with Rev. Michelle. Phone calls, texts, and cards will become even more important in our pastoral care.
Additionally, we are also considering the ways that First UU will be called to assist those people who are financially impacted or at high health risk. If we can drop groceries at your door, or direct you to health care, or just offer a listening ear, let us know. We are fortunate to have people in our church with the expertise to serve you.
Do you know someone in our church who doesn’t use email or read What’s Up? Would you please reach out to them and share this message?
I consider it my job as president to always think about the advancement of our liberal religious voice. We might possibly be the first, or among the first, to suspend in-house Sunday services, but we can choose to view this as the opportunity to promote our sources and principles as the rationale for doing so. In the UU tradition, we “heed the guidance of reason and the results of science” and “affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all people.” Let our values guide us through this time of uncertainty. There is hope, and we’re it.
Colleen Appel, First UU Board President
Michelle Scott-Huffman, Chaplain
Maria Hill, Church Administrator
AJ Fox, Director of Religious Education
Emily McKinney, Music Director,
Quill Hill, AV Coordinator
Eva Reibold, Pianist
Ruth Jenkins, Vice President
Laura Smith, Treasurer
Sherry Buchanan, Financial Secretary
Doris Ewing, Program Trustee
Bob Eckels, Facilities Trustee
Rebecca Holt, Recording Secretary
Stella Harrison, Social Action Committee Chair
Dacia Reid, Pastoral Care Committee
Chuck Buchanan, Safety Committee Chair
Laura Parsons, Sunday Services Committee Chair
Ryan McCoy, Membership Committee Chair