COVID-19 Health, Safety & Programming Update – November 4, 2020

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The UUCW Health & Safety Team met last week to review plans for the coming months and the onset of colder weather. In short, the Team has recommended to the Board that we once again close the buildings for use by congregational and community groups. The Team remains concerned with the trajectory of the COVID-19 spread in our community and the Commonwealth. In addition, our 70 year old building does not have adequate ventilation, especially in the colder months, to protect any occupants from the spread of the virus. During warmer months when we can open windows and doors and use fans to circulate air through the building, usage by small groups seemed reasonable. Furthermore, many groups were able to meet outdoors. This is becoming less possible with the onset of colder weather. So, for the time being, we have recommended returning to remote operations for groups. Staff will have access to the offices and will likely be present throughout the week and may make the choice to meet one-on-one with folks as needed. In addition, the Food Pantry will continue to offer emergency food as well as its monthly distribution on the 3rd Saturday, which will remain in the parking lot. The mobile Food Market will also continue to operate out of the parking lot on Thursday mornings through Dec. 14.    

The Team also discussed ways to foster community and increase participation in the variety of programs and activities that are being developed. It is clear that people crave opportunities to see each other in person and that there continues to concern about how to do this safely given the current state of the pandemic. Staff is working on at least monthly opportunities for the congregation to gather in-person while maintaining pandemic protocols. Here are two that are coming up:  

·        Saturday, November 7 @ 4:30 PM Outdoor Chalice Lighting – We’ll gather in the new parking lot to pick up the newly made chalices (or bring a chalice/candle to light) and spend a few moments dedicating our light and then in conversation with each other.  
·        Sunday, December 6 @ 5 PM Community Holiday Carol Sing & Candlelighting – Since we won’t be gathering in person for Vespers this year, we thought we’d come together to sing and do our candlelighting (with Silent Night) in front of the church. We’ll break out the hot cider and spend some time together as well. Dress warmly!  

In addition, the Worship Tech Team has purchased some additional equipment and is on the cusp of being able to rehearse for a return to live streaming in the sanctuary. The new technology appears to have solved the previous problems we experienced in September. Here’s hoping we’ll be streaming soon!  

Also, to foster more opportunities to gather in-person (or online) we will be reinstituting the “Open Space Forum & Activities Program” next week. This is an opportunity for members and friends to publicize ways for people to come together for activities. Do you want to go for a walk with friends? How about a late fall/early winter hike? Are you planning a bike ride? Do you simply want to gather for coffee somewhere? Are you planning a shopping trip and want company? Do you want to talk about a book you read? Share a recipe? Watch a film online together? There are many ways that we can come together in small groups in-person or online and enjoy each other’s company while doing what we were planning to do anyway. Stay tuned for more information.  

Please don’t forget the other ongoing opportunities which are planned in the coming weeks including online trivia, our RE Program, Chat with the Minister, Meditation online, Men’s Group, Women’s Social Circle, Book Group, Small Group Ministry, Anti-Racism conversations and so many more!  

Lastly, one of the things that many of us enjoy is the variety of people that participate in our worship services. Historically we’ve had many voices in the pulpit on Sunday mornings; various people who provide a chalice lighting, provide the welcome, offer a reading, introduce the offertory, etc.. We can also do this online! Please sign up in the coming weeks for opportunities to take part in our Sunday Morning Worship online. Information will be published in the Weekend Reminder and weekly Message.  

Thank you for continuing to support this congregation with your presence and a host of resources. While we continue to be challenged by pandemic, we are making our way with grace, gratitude and grit.

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