The letter below was emailed to all active congregants on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
From: The Rev. Paige Getty
To: The UUCC Community
Subject: Community and Caution (COVID-19 and UUCC)
March 11, 2020
At this moment of intensely heightened anxiety about public health, I hope you are taking care of yourself and getting the support you need. Please know that your congregation and I are here, and your personal well-being continues to be a top concern. If you need support, please call the office (410-381-0097), or email a member of Staff or the Karuna pastoral care team (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This message contains information about UUCC’s preparations and decisions in response to the already-near-certain presence of this novel coronavirus in our midst, coupled with our commitment to maintain connections and our community’s physical health.
The UUCC leadership—Executive Team, Staff, Board of Trustees, and others—is taking seriously the admonition that now is the time to take active precautions to minimize the spread of the virus in our community, and especially to protect those who are most vulnerable. It can take up to two weeks for someone to show signs of infection after being exposed to the virus. Evidence is mounting that infected individuals can spread the virus even before they show symptoms. We also know that virus “shedding” (the amount of virus an infected person can spread) is highest in the first few days of becoming symptomatic, even if those symptoms are very mild. So, caution may seem silly right now, but if we wait until it doesn’t seem silly, it will be too late.
This Sunday, March 15—
- The current plan for this Sunday, March 15, is for the staff to be present to offer a modified worship experience at 9:00 and 11:00, as well as a modified children’s program. If you choose to be here, you will be welcome. But we also support your decision to stay home.
- To minimize contact with known germ vectors, we will not have printed programs, we will not use hymnals, we will not pass an offering basket, and we will set chairs further apart than usual.
- If you choose to be present, please maintain social distance (no hand-shaking or hugging), frequently wash hands with soap and water, don’t touch your face, etc.
- We will not have coffee hour this Sunday, because the Warm Welcome Shelter is at OBIC. If we have services on March 22, we may have coffee, but no snacks.
- This Sunday we will test our livestream capacity (though the livestream won’t likely be available to you publicly this weekend). We expect to be able to livestream worship services by March 22, so that if we are compelled to cancel in-person Sunday gatherings entirely, we can still provide opportunities for worshipful connection.
Other adjustments in UUCC activities—
- We are strengthening our “phone tree” mechanism for one-to-one communication, and especially for checking in with the most isolated members of our community. Please take a moment to review your database record and verify that we have accurate contact information for your household. (Want to be part of the phone tree implementation team? Contact the UUCC office.)
- We are discouraging in-person gatherings, and staff are currently reaching out to upcoming event coordinators. We are providing tools (e.g., Zoom) for facilitating remote gatherings. (Need such a tool for your group? Contact Sean Griffin, Executive Director (email@example.com).)
- If you’re involved in specific activities (YRUU, Seasoned Souls, committees, teams and task forces), you should hear directly from the leaders of those groups about changes in plans. As always, you may contact staff if you have unaddressed questions or concerns.
- We will continue to host the Warm Welcome Shelter at OBIC through Monday, March 16. Please be in touch with Dana Sohr (firstname.lastname@example.org)—with 24 hours’ notice, if possible—if your volunteer status changes.
- Decisions about morning and evening programming on March 22 (worship, Quest, OWL, YRUU, etc.) will be made next week.
- The UUCC Chalice Choir is on hiatus, effective immediately.
- We are imagining entirely new in-person gatherings. (Have ideas? Want to convene something? Let us know!)
- We are monitoring the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Howard County Government.
Resources re: COVID-19—
- A (brief) explanation from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about the importance of acting now — U.S. coronavirus response under scrutiny at House hearing (Dr. Fauci’s explanation begins at about 01:54:00, answering a representative’s question that begins at about 01:53:10.)
- A (lengthy) piece containing much of the information that has informed our thinking — Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Howard County Government resources
- Unitarian Universalist Association
- The Smallest Biggest Number — a Braver/Wiser pastoral reflection by Rev. Erika Hewitt about congregational decision-making in these times
News and information is unfolding rapidly—and there’s plenty of misinformation to evaluate and ignore!—so we’re remaining as attentive and as flexible as possible and will continue to share decisions with you.
On the UUCC homepage, you’ll find a link to a page with COVID-19 information. This letter and further updates, including information about modified UUCC activities, will be posted there.
Yours in community,
Rev. Paige Getty, Minister