Dear Central East Region UUs,
We write today with an update on our event schedule this spring. Due to the threat that COVID-19 poses to susceptible members of our UU families and communities, we will be canceling, postponing or re-imagining all regional events for March and April. This decision parallels decisions made in several other UUA regions. We are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will make decisions about future events as we move forward into the spring.
Parts of our Central East Region are locally dealing with impacts now. We expect that more of our region will be under public health recommendations before these event dates arrive, so we are acting early. There is risk of exposure before and during our events, as well as transmission after, and the impacts are greater than the average flu.
We understanding our communities as being interconnected systems. Our observation of the markers of how the virus is already spreading in non-UU faith communities in New York and Washington DC calls us to honor our 1st principle to care for every individual and our 7th principle to care for the interconnected whole. The CDC has already recommended that people at “high risk” avoid large gatherings, and we want our interconnected community to prioritize the safety of the most vulnerable among us in times such as these. Susan Frederick-Gray, UUA President, shared some resources for preparing for coronavirus in your congregation.
If you were planning to attend an event in the Central East Region in March or April, it will not be held in person. Specific details for each event will be posted online and sent directly to any current registrant and local relevant chapters for religious professionals. Our staff is working on this now. Planning teams will iron out details in the coming week.
As we manage the uncertainty and anxiety, we are looking forward to taking some creative steps in our offerings and hope you may be considering similar steps for your congregation in the days and weeks ahead. We are talking about what might be moved online and what really needs face-to-face time, and are considering a new slate of offerings that might be useful for congregations and individuals for whom business as usual is not possible. Resources will be developed and distributed through our regular channels. For now you may want to consider attending the Church of the Larger Fellowship’s online conversation from the VUU called “Sustaining Connection in a Coronavirus World” on Thursday, March 12th at 11 am, or see this blogpost from Northlake UU Church in Washington state who tried out a virtual service for the first time recently. It’s good to be prepared for connecting with each other in new and creative ways. We also have emerging UUA resources on Pandemics and on Streaming Sunday Services, Meetings, and Classes that we are updating as we gather new information.
Religious community, whether in person or virtual, is tailor-made to help people survive and thrive during times like these. Connection, meaning-making, and support are things we already know how to do; now is the time to figure out how to do them in new ways. We look forward to connecting with you in these new ways as we go forward. Rest assured, we’ll still be one interconnected web of faithful people, even in these difficult times.
Rev. Megan Foley, Regional Lead
The Central East Region staff: Beth Casebolt, Rev. Evin Carvill-Ziemer, Shannon Harper, Patricia Infante, Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson, Amy Kent, Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, Cristina Sanchis, Rev. Sunshine Wolfe