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This is a time to do what we can to love each other.

By Susan Frederick-Gray

Dear Leaders,
Over the last few weeks, I’ve tried to offer a consistent message encouraging people to let go of what is not essential, to make time for self-care, and to remember it’s not about perfection. But I have a confession. I haven’t been following my own advice. 
I am still holding myself to standards of perfection and trying to get it all done and more. This week, I spent way too long trying to get a recording just right. To everyone who is recording video and Zoom worship and trying to get the sound, editing, and images just right—I see you and send you gratitude, blessings, and sympathy. It is not easy. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be real, honest, and rooted in care. 

This is a time for community care, for pastoral care, to do what we can to love each other, to offer what we can to save lives and care about those who are most vulnerable. 

It’s important to remember that people’s experiences of this pandemic—what it means in their own lives and the costs of it—are radically different. The stress that people are experiencing is real. There are families for whom having their kids at home can make it incredibly difficult to work, there are real financial fears within families, there are homes that for a variety of reasons are not safe, there are health concerns and loved ones sick, there are parents and caretakers trying to figure out backup plans for care if they get sick. Trying to work, lead, provide care, love, and attention in the midst of all this is no small task. 
At the UUA, we are trying to model community care, equity, and transparency in how we navigate these challenges as a staff team. We also recognize that in congregations, just like within families, living in such an uncertain and stressful time can exacerbate tensions. Communication really matters now. Talking about issues as they arise, involving staff and leaders in helping to make difficult decisions or co-create new practices and ways of being for this time is important. The new federal policies and reimbursements for sick leave and family medical leave can help congregations create more flexibility and care for your staff. 
To support congregations and staff teams, the UUA has compiled resources for congregations as employers that include specific financial and staffing recommendations; information about new federal policies that need to be instituted by all congregations this week, and the resources and loans available to congregations through the federal stimulus plan. 
Please review our COVID-19 Staffing and Finances Memo which provides a framework for managing finances in the coming months. 

These webpages contain information about employment issues during the pandemic:

The stories that give me hope are of UU’s putting their phone number under the doors of their neighbors in case they need help, others bringing meals and groceries to people who are sick or can’t leave their homes, congregations hosting story time a few days a week to engage children and support parents, religious educators reminding children to nurture music and art in their homes. It’s beautiful to see people ask, “What gift can I bring, what can I offer?” and live into an ethos of mutual aid and community care. 

This is no time to go it alone. The more we can make space for people to bring and share their gifts, the more ministry will happen, even as we let go of some things that are not essential in this time. 

We all are holding so much. I am witnessing all of you doing so much to care for your communities—for your people of all ages and the wider community—to minister and hold people in this time.
I pray you are finding ways to take time to breathe, to let go of all you are holding for a moment, to check in with your heart, your spirit, listening for what you need to care for yourself. Remember you are a good gift and you need rest and nourishment also. 
Take good care of yourself. And know that as I write this, I am writing it to myself as well. 
Yours in love,


P.S. Here is an important justice action to take:

The UUA has worked closely with the Mashpee Wampanoag in preparation for General Assembly 2020. On Friday they received notice that the federal government stripped them of their reservation lands. Click the link above to act.

About the Author

Susan Frederick-Gray

The Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray began her six-year term as president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in June 2017. As president of the Association, she is responsible for administering staff and programs that serve its more than 1,000 member congregations. She also acts as...

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