Where Are We Going?
Rev. Aaron Payson
“Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? Mystery. Mystery. Life is a riddle and a mystery.”
(“Where Do We Come From?” by Brian Tate, from Singing the Journey: A Supplement to Singing the Living Tradition)
With the announcement last week of the Commonwealth’s plans to begin a staged reopening of the State came the news that faith-based communities can begin holding services again within specific guidelines for the number gathering and the best practices for personal distancing, use of personal protective equipment and monitoring for the symptoms of COVID-19, the UUCW Health & Safety Team has reviewed the Commonwealth’s materials as well as that which has come from the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association) and our local municipalities recommendations. Here is where we are going for the remainder of the church year and Summer.
- The current recommendation from the H&S Team is to remain in remote operation for worship through the summer (through Labor Day Weekend) with the caveat that if an Summer Sunday Worship Leader wishes to use Fellowship Hall for their service, that can be possible as long as they are able to abide by the health guidelines for building usage and utilize the technology available to stream the service on ZOOM as well. We think the use of such technology pretty much precludes doing such services outdoors.
- The Religious Exploration Program is also making plans for periodic remote gatherings for children and youth.
- Our Caring Circles, H&S Team and Staff continue to plan for more opportunities to connect with each other for support and inspiration.
- Currently we have a team of 8 who are enrolled in a month-long online video ministry course and who will be making plans this Summer for ways to enhance our Sunday morning worship as well as other programs through the use of video. We anticipate that this will significantly enhance our capacity to promote and carry-out our mission and ministries.
- This summer we anticipate that the parking lot in front of the church will be completely redone as part of the Shore Drive road project. This will herald some exciting opportunities for the congregation including:
- plans to build a legacy garden in front of the church;
- the potential to install electric car charging stations;
- additional handicapped parking spaces;
- replacing the walk way that leads from the parking lot to the sanctuary doors;
- plans to build steps from the Bancroft parking lot;
- the addition of a rain garden to the front of our property;
- moving our church sign, and with that potentially replacing the sign;
- and petitioning the City to change the church address to Shore Drive (currently anyone who uses GPS to find the church inevitably arrives at our back door!).
Brian Tate reminds us in the end that “life is a riddle and a mystery.” With this truth comes another. Life is also an invitation. It is a blossoming and an opening to future opportunities, challenges and achievements. This fall marks the 250 anniversary of the founding of the American Universalist movement. And next Spring is the 180th anniversary of the founding of this congregation! With these anniversaries, we anticipate the opportunity not only to celebrate our founding as a tradition and congregation, but also to reimagine our future as a faith community. Our mission to “. . .be a congregation of love, justice and peace” is more important than ever! With the upgrade to our exterior, we also continue to envision ways to upgrade our building in order to establish more meaningful ways to serve our members and friends and the communities we cherish. More importantly, we continue to envision ways to expand and embody the vibrancy and transforming message of our faith as we learn ever more meaningful ways to partner with our neighbors, friends to “take on the challenges of a changing world”!
Ways to Help Rev. Aaron Payson
People are wondering what they can do in these times. I know I do. How can I help? What can I do that is in line with my values, my financial situation, my desire to stay home yet still help? Here are some places to start:
Start Here at Home – at UUCW
Don’t forget to make your pledge if possible. Or make a gift that can be credited to this fiscal year. We will be dealing with lost rental and fundraising income due to the current gathering restrictions. We need to keep our staff, programs and building running even if we are not together. Go to www.uucworcester.org/donate to make a gift for this year or pledge for next year.
If you are interested in helping members of our Community who are struggling, consider contributing an additional amount to the Minister’s Discretionary Fund. These funds are used to help people with rent, prescription expense and other vital necessities.
Contribute to the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry
There are two ways you can contribute to the Pantry at this time. If you are interested in contributing financially, go to the Loaves & Fishes online donation form.
We are also looking for hygiene supplies that our folks cannot purchase with SNAP. Last month we were able to give a bar of soap to all our clients. If you are able to drop off hygiene supplies, specifically wipes, soap, shampoo, toothpaste and/or deodorant that would be great. The drop-off location is Dianne Mann’s house: 21 Ridgewood Rd. Worcester, MA 01606. There will be a tub at the side porch for any donations. Any questions, contact: Dianne Mann at
Contribute to the Interfaith Hospitality Network Homeless Shelter
IHN is the Shelter that we partner with several times a year. They have many needs right now. This morning they were asking for the hygiene supplies we all need. They, too, have asked for additional money since they are in a position of needing staff to help cover the evening and night shifts that church people were supposed to cover. If you are interested in helping with the IHN Shelter, would like to know what they need, etc. Contact: Robin Mitzcavitch at .
Worcester Mutual Aid
If you are a Facebook user and want to help in specific ways, you may want to get on the Worcester Mutual Aid Facebook Group. There are specific postings here for people who need help. There are a wide variety of questions. Perhaps you will know the answer to a question about unemployment, rental questions, etc. We will all get through this together.
Worcester Mutual Aid Facemask Working Group
We’ve all heard how the people on the front lines do not have enough PPE. There is a large network of sewers out there making masks like crazy. Our own Robin Mitzcavitch is one of them! Perhaps you have fabric, elastic, t-shirts, etc. laying around that you never had time to sew, check into this group or ask Robin how you can help.
It’s tough times folks! Never before have we seen anything like it. I have faith that we will all get through this together. Take care of yourself those around you. If you have any needs, please reach out to me. And, if you have the time and/or money to help others, I encourage you to do that as well.
Rev. Aaron Payson