I hope you are all staying safe, healthy and warm. And I hope you are continuing to find ways to live with intention, that is, in alignment with your deepest values, as we move into this New Year. Today I want to share with you a decision that the leaders of the UUCH Board have made to keep the practices of our congregation in line with our shared UU values. After thoughtful and difficult discussion at an emergency meeting last night [January 6], the Board has decided to suspend in-person worship starting this Sunday January 9th through Sunday February 6th. The worship, technology and music teams will still come to church on these next few Sundays, but instead of having many of you join us in the Sanctuary, you will join us online for the livestream of the service. This is only a change for worship; small group activities like choir rehearsal, soul circles and fellowship dinners, may continue in-person with the comfort and consent of all participants.
I know this is not the news that any of us wanted, especially after how joyful it has been to be back in-person with one another, so I want to share a little bit of the Board’s reasoning for making this decision.
- The Covid risk level in Madison County is considered Severe, with Cases up to 170 per 100K people. This spike is nearly double the numbers we saw in August when we chose to postpone our reopening.
- The Omicron variant of covid is particularly contagious, and though the symptoms are often milder, we wanted to avoid our congregation becoming the center of a super-spread. We also are mindful that though Omicron may seem less serious for healthy vaccinated adults, we make choices that take into consideration the safety needs of very young children, immunocompromised people, and those who are unable to be vaccinated.
- Based on the trends we have observed in other places where omicron is present, we feel hopeful that we will see a quick severe spike, and that by early February the situation will have changed and we will be on track to return to in-person worship. The UUCH Board meets again on January 25th, and will evaluate then if we could potentially come back even earlier.
- We care deeply about the health and safety of our church staff and volunteers. We know our church cannot function without these key leaders. Our hope is that this change will prevent a situation where myself, and so many other members of the staff and leadership end up sick, that we are then forced to cancel worship entirely, because all our leaders are quarantining.
- Finally, we made the pivot to hybrid worship for moments just like this. We have a high quality and spiritually meaningful Virtual Worship option. Maybe it’s not your preference, but it is a great way to participate in our community. We have an opportunity to practice being flexible and to take advantage of the incredible technology we have available to us.
I just want to reiterate, that this is a very temporary change, and we will be back in the sanctuary before you know it. If you have questions, concerns or thoughts to add to this conversation, feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com or to our current UUCH Board President, Nick Wilbourn.
Thanks for your compassion and understanding in this time, and see you on zoom this Sunday morning.
Blessings, Rev. Jaimie