Dear People’s people,

In the middle of March, when we stopped gathering in person on Sundays, I thought it would only be for a short time. I had visions that there would be a triumphant ending, a time when we could all rush back into the streets, hug each other, and be done with precautions. Obviously, this is not how events have unfolded. The novel corona virus continues to spread in our community; people continue to die. We have been gathering virtually for two months and I expect to continue to gather virtually for many more months.

While I hope it is possible for staff to return to working in the building before the summer ends, I do not anticipate us gathering in our typical fashion on Sunday mornings with about 200 people in the church building any time soon. The Unitarian Universalist Association released guidance recently encouraging congregations to plan to meet virtually until May 2021. You can read the statement from Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, president of the UUA, here: https://www.uua.org/pressroom/press-releases/message-uua-president-updated-guidance-gathering. While each UU congregation is self-governing and we are not bound to follow Rev. Frederick-Gray’s guidance, church leaders and I are starting to plan as though it will not be possible for us to gather in person in large numbers for months. We expect that gathering in smaller numbers will become possible in the coming months. People’s Church leaders have not set any date for reopening and conversations are continuing. Meanwhile, we are all hoping that testing and treatment for COVID-19 improves and an effective vaccine is found and manufactured on a large scale, which could make it possible for us to gather sooner.

I expect that many businesses, public places, and community organizations will reopen before the church is back to normal, at least on Sundays. Why would we delay regathering when so many of us want to be together? Some of what we do together – especially singing – is especially effective at transmitting the virus. Many People’s people are high-risk – over 60, dealing with underlying medical conditions, otherwise immunocompromised. We cannot be a church that is only for the young and healthy. That is not who we are. We will take care of our most vulnerable community members because we believe no one is expendable. We are a ‘beloved community embracing and serving our diverse world.’ Making this real means meeting virtually for months. Living our faith – our belief that every person is worthy and there is an interdependent web of all existence – requires this of us. We value the teachings of science and use them, in conjunction with our values to chart our path forward. Nevertheless, I am grieving the physical distance between us. I miss you all tremendously.

I will be preaching on these challenges ahead during the service on May 31. I hope you can attend.

As we settle into this way of being distant and being together for the long haul, there are some logistics to cover:

If there are technological or financial barriers that keep you from joining us on for services on Sunday mornings (and you would like to attend) please reach out to me. The church can help you overcome these barriers. If you have a spare device that can run the Zoom program and want to share it, please also be in touch with me.

This is a challenging time. If there are ways I or other People’s people can support you, please let me know.

See you in church,
Rev. Rachel

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