UUSA goes “VirtUUal” effective immediately in response to Covid-19!

Click here to access information on connecting to our first “VirtUUal Service.

All Dear UUSA members and friends,In an abundance of caution and care for our community, all UUSA gatherings — including Sunday worship and meetings — are suspended or moved online through at least April 5.

I say this with great heaviness because I know how much comfort our people take from being together. Unfortunately, being together is what puts us at risk.

I don’t have data for what percentage of our congregation is high-risk for Covid-19 (over 60, heart condition, lung condition, kidney condition, diabetic, or otherwise immunosuppressed). I would guess at least half. Some members have told me that they are beginning voluntary social distancing to protect themselves; others have expressed that they won’t stop meeting so long as we have our regular services. My perspective has shifted during this week. Please do continue to wash your hands, but the time for the next level of caution and prevention has arrived. I say this with humility, knowing my last conversation with many of you ended in a different place than where I speak from now.

Sunday worship will be online-only for at least the next four Sundays. There are many details to work out in this moment of change and improvisation, so I don’t have all the answers yet.

In the words of our local saint Emily,

If I can stop one heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one Life the Aching
Or cool one in pain

Or help one fainting Robin
Unto his Nest again,
I shall not live in Vain.

If this prevents one death in our community, it’s worth it. The stakes are so high.

I think of all the precious humans in our congregation, and there is no acceptable collateral damage for being slow to act. Rev. Erika Hewitt spoke to me in this reflection: https://www.uua.org/braverwiser/smallest-biggest-number

Ultimately, what we are trying to do is to flatten the curve of infection. The slower the infection spreads, the better the survival rates get. Please look at https://www.flattenthecurve.com/ for an in-depth description of what we’re facing and how to be proactive.

We can go virtual. We can figure out virtual Sunday morning services and virtual meetings at other times too. We can do this in a way where no one gets left behind–video conferencing like Zoom allows for people to call in with any touch tone phone. We are here to help you if these technologies are new to you.

And here’s a whole pandemic dashboard from the UUA: https://www.uua.org/safe/pandemics

What I want you to take away: this is worth taking seriously, we can stay connected through digital media (including phones), and this is what we can do to save lives.

By taking this step, we set an example, make it easier for people to participate in voluntary social distancing, and increase pressure for other organizations to change the way they work to protect all of us. This is a helpful public witness in addition to a healthy preventative measure.

I will be in touch tomorrow with details on how to access Sunday’s service and more opportunities to stay in community virtually. You are welcome to contact me to sort out how your committees’ work can continue as we find new ways for being together. I have begun to process some of these ideas, and it will take me a little time to do the one-at-a-time communication you deserve.

I welcome your input.

In faith,Rev. Rachael

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