I know that this is a time of uncertainty and concern for all of us and I wanted to be in touch with you to share some of the ways that the UUA is deepening its response to COVID-19.
We are monitoring the situation closely and doing our best to implement public health and CDC recommendations. In Boston, the cases of COVID-19 have been doubling most days. On Monday, UUA leadership shifted staff to working virtually, I have suspended all of my travel at least through mid-April, and we are cancelling events or moving them to online formats.
Additionally, we strongly recommend that congregations avoid gatherings of more than 25 people, including worship and religious education for the time being. We are broadening the recommendation that we issued in UU World yesterday in response to your requests for clearer guidance. We have heard from many of you that conditions worsen each day, that recommendations from public health officials are inconsistent and vague, and there is insufficient testing to determine the actual level of transmission.
We believe it is our moral obligation to follow the guidance of health professionals who recommend early action even before cases have been confirmed in an area because it is most important to protect public health and the most vulnerable people in our communities. This moment indeed reminds us of the interconnected web of which we are all a part. It also reminds us of our responsibility as religious communities to be mindful of our need to care for our whole community.
Overall, we feel it is essential for all of us to err on the side of caution and to support public health. The most important thing the public can do is to help flatten the curve of transmission so there will be hospital capacity for those who need that level of care. We also recognize that those at highest risk—people over 60 or anyone with underlying health or respiratory issues—are not just members of our congregations, but they are also our ministers and staff. We hope that our actions and recommendations can help staff and leaders make good decisions that center the health and wellbeing of the community as a whole.
More information about the actions the UUA is taking and our recommendations for congregations are available online:
- UU World reporting on COVID-19 response
- Planning for and Addressing Pandemics in Your Community from our congregational safety section
- A Guide to Streaming Sunday Services, Meetings, and Classes from LeaderLab
We will continue to monitor the situation and try to share information as we have it, as decisions are made, or as circumstances change.
I deeply appreciate the ways you all are trying to hold the wellbeing of your community at the forefront. I am mindful of how difficult and stressful the current circumstances are. The questions of what to do and how to care for our communities in new and virtual ways are not easy. I pray you all make time to tend to your own heart and spirit. Take gentle care of yourselves. It is easy to feel overwhelmed or inadequate in times like these.
I am also very proud of the creativity and resilience of our communities, especially the congregations who have already implemented no in-person gatherings. Many of them have found a level of wisdom, teamwork, and flexibility in their congregations that they didn’t know they had two weeks ago! I feel we are discovering this at the UUA as well.
Remember that, as we have to adapt quickly and try new things, perfection is never the goal. The goal is to care for one another and live compassionately. Know that your care and intention really makes a difference to your community and to your own wellbeing. I am enormously grateful for all of you and the leadership you provide our congregations. I love you and I am proud of the way that Unitarian Universalists are taking the situation seriously and responding out of deep care.