May 20, 2020

Dear UUSA,

Last week, the Board and President of the national Unitarian Universalist Association recommended that UU congregations keep conducting worship online only for the next year, following the best guidance of science and our principles. The Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst’s Board of Trustees has voted to continue holding worship online rather than in person through June 2021. I am profoundly grateful to them for centering the health, safety, and well-being of all of our members, friends, and neighbors in this way.

As the year unfolds, we will all find ourselves weighing risks to ourselves and others; this has always been true, but it is now more present in our awareness. As we consider the risks in our lives (how to grocery shop, how to spend time with loved ones, how to parent or earn a living), it becomes clear that spending prolonged periods of time indoors with others even six feet apart carries a greater risk than shopping in the same store or using the same walking trail. None of us should have to choose between spiritual connection and physical safety, and we are fortunate that we live in a time where we can stay in touch by phone and internet.

Our Zoom services have been very well attended. I will continue to conduct services through June 21 (2020), and our Sunday Services Ministry is planning a wonderful summer of online worship. If you have not yet attended an online service, I encourage you to join us by phone or internet. You’re welcome to set up a trial run with our administrator Lea to become more comfortable with the platform.

I acknowledge that this news may come with a sense of loss, loss of holding our friends’ hands and looking into each other’s faces, loss of other anticipated events. I won’t minimize the losses of this time. I will instead affirm that we can do hard things. We will be here for each other in ways that matter, even if they’re not the ways we like best. Our congregation is resilient. We face the future with realism and hope. Please join me in thanking our Board of Trustees for their courage and care.

In faith,

Rev. Rachael Hayes

The Board of Trustees has agreed unanimously that resuming in-person worship at this time poses unnecessary risks to our beloved congregants. We have voted to follow the recommendation of the UUA and continue on-line worship services through June 2021, or until a vaccine or reliable treatment is found for Covid-19.

Although we continue virtual worship apart from each other, we also continue to nurture the faith and hope that binds us no matter where we are.

The Board of Trustees: Karen Fisk, Susan Rice, Peter Lacey, Emily Shankle, Ben Brau, Rosie Crowell, Rob Fuderich, Jeanne Ballantine, Casey Flueckiger, Joe Flueckiger