LeaderLab

Risk Accommodations for Staff During a Pandemic

Part of Strategies

By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group

Still Life with hand sanitizer, mask and latex gloves

Updated March 11, 2022

As congregations have moved into multiplatform ministry, especially Sunday worship, we need to consider ways of supporting staff with a range of risk tolerances and health considerations.

No one can make another person's risk assessment for them. With a virus known to cause potentially disabling and/or long-term symptoms even with a minor infection, it is understandable that there is a wide range of risk tolerance in our communities, even among those who have neither an underlying health condition nor a higher-risk family member. Employees of our congregations deserve understanding and flexibility from their congregations.

Sunday Morning Worship Ideas

As your congregation creates multiplatform worship, you may have musicians, speakers, and worship associates who need to continue participating online longer than others. To be inclusive, work with your streaming technology to integrate online and in person participation.

Worship Watch Party: If it is safest for the congregation’s religious professionals to remain online, congregants can gather in the sanctuary to watch the online worship together.

Big Screen Music: Congregations with at-risk musicians are continuing with recorded music. This music can be played during the multiplatform worship for in-person and online participants.

Separate Rooms: Congregations are also using multiple rooms for worship: having musicians stream from the sanctuary, ministers preach from their office, and allowing a small group to watch from the fellowship hall.

Outdoor Worship: In areas of the country with mild winters, some congregations are continuing to have one or more worship services per month outdoors.

Religious Education and Community Building

Congregation members may be eager to return to what they remember about congregational life before the pandemic. Often this includes the expectation that religious professionals, including religious educators and ministers, be in person for programming and social events. We encourage you to find ways to prioritize your religious professionals’ health while moving forward in ways that support your congregation’s needs.

Family ministry: This is a time when it’s hard to recruit volunteers and it may be difficult for a religious educator to recruit enough volunteers to run an in-person program in their absence. Planning events for families instead of separate activities for children may be easier to support.

Outdoor activities: For many families, especially with younger children, outdoor activities are safer.

Volunteer-run small groups: Your religious professionals can help support and guide small group facilitators. Small group ministry can be a great way to support your community by have both online and in-person group options.

Keep It Simple

Planning for in person and online engagement can quickly become complex and difficult. Wherever possible we recommend you simplify. Meeting people’s needs for connection does not necessitate a complex program or complicated planning process. Now is a time for simple gatherings that meet people’s need to connect, be heard, laugh, and play.

More Resources

  • Where to start for congregations who have not re-started in person ministry and are deciding on first steps.
  • Scenarios and more scenarios of creative ways to engage multiplatform ministry, serving people in person and online. These are ideas that came from congregations!

About the Author

UUA Congregational Life Staff Group

The regional Congregational Life staff are congregations' local connection to the UUA. All of the program Congregational Life staff have expertise in most aspects of congregational life and each also has a few program areas of expertise. See the...

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