Now that the COVID situation is changing with the vaccine rollout, it’s possible to imagine what re-opening UUCA might be like. But imagining needs to be a congregation-wide activity. In the not-too-distant future we will be asking you questions that will help a Re-opening Task Force do their work.
At the moment, the UUCA staff is looking at September as a “seems like it’s possible” re-opening date. Of course, anything can change regarding this crazy virus, but we have to start planning some time, and now looks like a good time.
There are two different areas of investigation that a congregation ought to be pursuing. One is more philosophical and one is much more practical. For the philosophical side, the UUA has suggested answering four key questions before reopening:
What did we learn this past year?
What is at the center of your congregation? What challenges did you overcome? What do you understand about yourselves now that you may not have understood before?
What needs to change?
Did you discover something important that wasn’t being given enough time, attention, or other resources? Did you find a new path to connection that you want to keep? How will your congregation be transformed by your learnings?
What needs to return to the way it was?
Did you find that there are spaces, methods, and ways of being that are essential to who you are as a congregation? What did you truly miss the most? What does your heart hunger for?
What are your needs during this transition back to reopening?
The more practical questions center on safety considerations. This would include questions like ones that the UU congregation in Brookfield, WI is asking of their congregants:
“Our worship and activities have been offered as inclusively as possible – offered to members, friends, youth, and children, but also to anyone who wishes to attend or visit. Given this history of inclusion, please indicate below your thoughts about returning to “in-person church.”
- I will return to in-person, indoor worship only when ALL of us (adults, youth, children, and visitors) are able to return.
- I hope our congregation will offer in-person, indoor worship as soon as possible for those who are willing to take the risk.
- I don’t want to return until we can sing together and/or have live music by the choir or band.
- I don’t want to return until children can return to worship and religious education.
When guidelines allow for resuming LARGE-group, in-person, indoor activities, which of the following would need to be present for you to feel comfortable attending?
Temperature taken at door
Enforced social distancing
Optimal ventilation/air exchange
Disinfecting wipes/supplies available in restrooms
Proof of vaccination by attendees
Mandatory sign-in sheet for contact tracing
None of the above; I will attend outdoor events only for now
None of the above; I will attend virtual/online events only for now
None of the above – I’m confident our congregants are “safe” to be around”
It turns out that, just like everything else about this pandemic, re-opening is going to be complicated—the decisions on when to do it and how to do it are difficult and possibly volunteer-intensive—not to mention expensive—and can still be overthrown as infection rates go up and down.
We have five months to figure this out and we need all of us working together. On your mark…..
Linda Topp, Director of Administration