by Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh, PWR Program Staff
Wow, the CDC sure surprised us all in saying that vaccinated people would not need to wear masks in most indoor places! Lots of UUs are wondering about what this means for our congregations as many of us begin holding some in-person group meetings and small events, and as many of us look toward starting in-person worship in the next four to five months.
Here’s the scoop: For the time being, we need to maintain a culture of mask-wearing at our congregations, even for the vaccinated.
- We are all-ages communities, and not all ages have been able to get vaccinated yet.
- We are all-abilities communities, and some of us have immune systems that don’t have the ability to tolerate a COVID vaccination or infection.
- We are all-inclusive communities, and we want to express our UU values by being able to include all, regardless of vaccination status.
I’ve been working on the UUA’s COVID response team since the pandemic began. Last March I was amazed at how quickly and effectively whole congregations pivoted from in-person worship to online-only worship within weeks. But the way we come out of this pandemic is not going to be fast or uniform. It’s going to require more complicated planning and decision-making, custom-tailored to each congregation’s building, local environment, programs, and size. So every congregation needs to find its own way, within the context of our shared values. With that in mind, I offer you these resources from the UUA:
- Guidance for Congregational Singing as COVID-19 Subsides (posted May 12, 2021)
- The UUA LeaderLab’s Multi-Platform Resources for combining online and in-person programs
- UUA President Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray's Key Principles for Planning multi-platform worship and programs (posted April 15, 2021)
- The UUA’s general Guidance on Gathering as COVID-19 Subsides (continually updated)
And finally, I just want to say a few words about how we all are doing right now. It’s been a tough 15 months. Many of us are quite tired and grumpy, "crispy" even. We have just passed the one-year mark since George Floyd was murdered. Many congregations are reckoning with the fullness of their commitment to diversity, equity, justice and inclusion. We are needing to think in complex and expansive and creative ways, and our brains crave simple solutions. We’ve been through some trauma, as Rev. Sunshine Jeremiah Wolfe so wisely tells us in this video. Let us be gentle with ourselves and others. We’ve never been here before and there is no roadmap. But as Unitarian Universalists in congregations all across the West, we know we are never alone.