COVID-19 Protocol & Outreach Fall Update – September 22, 2020

Good people.  As we continue through into the beginning of fall, I want to take a moment to update you on Fall planning.  The Health & Safety Team met last month to discuss the our continuing plans related to COVID-19. 

It has been our hope that this Fall would see a return, in part, to in-person services within the guidelines established by the Commonwealth and continuing to live-stream services for those who wish too attend virtually.  However, given the current state of the pandemic, as well as monitoring plans for local school districts, the team has recommended strongly that we not return in-person in September. 

This was a difficult conversation. Most of us, including me, look forward to gathering together in-person for worship.  However, the Health & Safety Team believes that the current state of the pandemic, including the Governor’s call to restrict the size of gatherings, the fact that the current guidelines prohibit pre and post-service gatherings for fellowship, and the fewer number of people we can accommodate in our sanctuary at this time, is not enough of an advantage for in-person gathering for worship, even in part. 

The Team feels, and I concur, that dividing the congregation between in-person and virtual attendees, at this moment, may ultimately diminish the experience most have enjoyed this Spring and Summer. That said, we envision more opportunities this Fall for parts of the service to be conducted from the sanctuary either live or prerecorded.  And the Videography and Tech Teams look forward to trying out the new platform that Bart Hill is constructing in the sanctuary for such purposes.  In addition we will be inviting more people to participate in our services through offering chalice-lightings, readings, solos, etc.

Religious Exploration will continue virtually as well.  The building will be open for small group gatherings. We will continue to offer opportunities to gather virtually regularly throughout the week, and are planning special events, virtual dinners, trivia nights and more.

In the next few weeks construction on our new parking lot will also commence.  We look forward to the creative opportunities to revitalize our property including new landscaping, a new sign (at some point this year) and perhaps a name and address change to boot!  There will be much more discussion about this in the coming months so stay tuned!

In September we will celebrate 250 years of Universalism in America.  We had planned a rescheduling of the 2020 Wolfson Lecture for October, however the Wolfson Lecture Committee has decided to cancel this year’s lecture and invite Mandisa Thomas, founder of Black Non-Believers to be the 2021 Lecturer next April. This decision does not diminish the opportunity for another grand celebration! That is, we will honor the 50th Anniversary of Rev. David Miller’s Installation as Minister of this congregation on the 1st Sunday in October.  And in June 2021 we will celebrate the 180th Anniversary of the founding of UUCW as The First Universalist Church of Worcester.

These are creative opportunities during this challenging time.  There is, obviously, much more to come.  So stay tuned and stay in touch!  If you want to reach out to me about any of this, please do not hesitate.  I can be reached at , or by calling 508-963-5959. 

Blessings, Rev. Aaron Payson & the Health & Safety Team