I met with your UUSGS Trustees last night for an unscheduled meeting regarding the Coronavirus outbreak. We agree that panic is neither helpful nor necessary at this point; nevertheless, and after listening to many of you, we feel a need to act. Together we have made the decision that for the foreseeable future all meetings at UUSGS will be suspended or conducted virtually. This includes Sunday services, Soulful Supper, and all rehearsals, meetings and programs.
We know that not everyone shares the same level of concern at this time, and we do not make this decision lightly. Rather, we believe that it is better to err on the side of caution and to protect our larger communities and those within our reach who are most vulnerable. Further, we agree that an eventual interruption is likely inevitable, and that making this decision now means that our staff and program leaders can begin planning alternatives to our regular face-to-face meetings.
This situation is fluid. We are learning more by the hour. We cannot always choose what happens to us, but we can often choose how we respond. Here are some key things to know right now:
- We are actively exploring alternatives to in-person Sunday worship. This will likely include a small crew of worship leaders gathering to offer a moment of centering and connection online on Sunday morning. This will surely feel different than a usual Sunday! But let us each embrace the challenge to be creative with how we form community. (We are also hopeful that we can explore some technological solutions that may be useful beyond the current situation!)
- Last month, we launched the UUSGS Beacon program. Beacons are lay leaders whose role it is to extend the caring light of the congregation out into all of the places our members live and work. Every member of UUSGS has already been matched up with a Beacon. Expect to hear from these folks in the coming weeks. And remember that communication works best when it works both ways! So…
- Please ask for what you need. Reach out. Talk to your Beacon. Talk to one another. Maybe this is a good time to explore the member directory on Breeze. You can login here: https://uuspringfield.breezechms.com/. Denise Benoit (denise@UUSpringfield.org), Director of Congregational Life, is a great contact in general – and for any technical issues. And I remain available to you (RevJason@UUSpringfield.org) during this stressful period. Just remember: we are stronger together. You are not alone. Social distancing does not mean isolation. So, please… stay in touch.
- Stay informed. UUSGS leadership is keeping apprised of recommendations from the CDC, from local organizations, and from denominational resources.
- Regarding some of our motivation for placing gatherings on hold: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/science/coronavirus-curve-mitigation-infection.html
- Regarding recommendations from the UUA: https://www.uuworld.org/articles/covid19-uua-closure
- Regarding some ‘best practices’ and info from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
In this strange time, when we have been asked to physically distance ourselves from one another, we remain confident that our shared commitment to community will lead us to learning the tools we will need to stay close in spirit and connected in love. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your caring dedication to the shared ministry of UUSGS. And thank you for your love of your friends and neighbors.
Let us hear and heed the words of UU minister Rev. Lynn Ungar, in her poem called “Pandemic”:
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
So may it be.
We see you. We hear you. We’re here for you.
Yours, in love and support…
Rev. Jason, on behalf of UUSGS leadership