March 2, 2021
CAMPUS REOPENING TASK FORCE
SECOND QUARTER REPORT TO CONGREGATION
Board Approved February 2020
 
When the Board proposed UUCA’s 2020-21 Budget in June, the core assumption was that the church building would remain closed for the entire year. It also promised a quarterly update to the congregation on whether conditions had changed enough to warrant opening some of the building and grounds for church activities and whether our finances are tracking according to the approved Budget. The Board created the Campus Reopening Task Force (CRTF) to study the science, public health guidance, and the evolving circumstances in our communities and to make recommendations about reopening. The First Quarter Report has detailed information about the task force’s deliberations, a Buildings and Grounds Policy statement on how decisions will be made about opening the campus, and a description of what we mean when we say our campus is “Generally Closed.” This is the Second Quarter update to the congregation. 
 
Budget Update
This quarter we were able to take a look at the first six months’ finances through December 2020. You have been very generous in keeping up with your pledges and in continuing your contributions to the operations of our community—thank you! We budgeted a close to break-even budget with a slight deficit for the year, and at the end of the second quarter, it looks as though we are doing overall better than expected as we run with a slight surplus. 
 
More specifically, in this first half of the budget year, our expected pledges and contributions are slightly below budget, offset by lower spending and some unexpected rental revenue from our long-term tenants. Expenses are below budget. We feel confident that we can stay the course plotted in our budget in June without major operational changes.  
The six-month 2020-21 Actual column excludes the six-month impact of the PPP Loan which we assumed would be forgiven by now. This would add $108k in income which would more than cover the current budget variance and the mortgage principal payment. That process is underway and will be reflected in our financials when the formal forgiveness is complete.
This budget situation gives us comfort that we can take action to address two high priority initiatives discussed at the Annual Meeting:

  1. Annual increases for all staff: The Board approved a 2% increase retroactive to July 1, 2020. We are so amazed by and grateful for all the staff has done and how devoted they remain to our congregation. 
  2. Share the Plate starting up again: The Board, in collaboration with the Social Justice Ministries Team, approved a plan to return to our previous Share the Plate formula with a 70% share of the weekly collection going to one of our local partners providing food assistance to those in greatest need. The other 30% will support church operations enabling us to continue providing regular and deserved increases to our valuable staff.
 
The other encouraging financial news is that our Capital Campaign donors have sent over $320,000 in payments on their pledges and we received $7,631 in Giving Tuesday pledges that will also go toward the mortgage payment. Our hope is that we can make another large paydown of our mortgage principal by the end of June this year. Special thanks to all who have given.
 
Results of Congregational Survey
 
The Campus Reopening Task Force (CRTF) conducted an online survey with everyone on UUCA’s email distribution list for a two-week period in late December 2020 and early January 2021. The goal was to learn how well UUCA’s “virtual” church and our approach to reopening is meeting congregants’ needs and how we might improve. This was the first in a series of efforts to “take the pulse” of the congregation with respect to the impact of the ongoing pandemic as circumstances change. See the entire report using this link.
  • This word cloud illustrates the most commonly voiced aspects of church life people are missing:
The survey results validated our conservative approach to keeping our community safe and healthy during the pandemic. Many respondents shared feelings of loss and disconnection while also appreciating the wide variety of online activities that are keeping them connected to our beloved community. These findings, summarized in the bullet points below, provide important insights into how the congregation is coping now and where we can expand efforts to better support congregants and prepare for reopening. The wording in italics below indicates where we are focusing over the next quarter on planning for the future transition to in-person services as well as to develop services that keep bringing people together in our community.  

  • With many people missing socialization at church and the ability to be with people “in real life”, we believe that there would be benefits to bringing more live elements into worship and opportunities to engage more actively with online services
In January we started live services on the fourth Sunday of each month. The Faith 360 programs are attracting more new participants every month. These programs allow small group discussions that give participants the chance to build new connections in the congregation. We have 222 registrations for spring Faith360 offerings (180 last fall) with a capacity to accommodate 451 participants (275 last fall).
  • Congregants are eager to return to in-person activities; however, many have found the increased use of online platforms for meetings, educational offerings, and worship to be a positive alternative and hope that we maintain some degree of virtual programming once the pandemic ends. 
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We are exploring how churches are combining online and live events that help to keep people included. This is a priority for the UUA which is providing its guidance to churches’ efforts to clarify the values that are guiding their decision-making so that no one is left out inadvertently.
  • Parents of children and teens, our youth, and some older members are particularly eager for reopening and for the church to explore safer activities (for example, outdoor events) as soon as safely possible. The CRTF will use this feedback to prioritize and expand efforts to support these groups of our church community. 
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The CRTF is accepting and encouraging proposals for outdoor activities and is discussing limited use of the inside spaces and the conditions under which this could be supported. Attachment 1 is a list of events/activities given a “Yes” by the CRTF.
  • The UUCA community will feel most comfortable returning to in-person church when we have achieved a high community vaccination rate. Toward that end, UUCA is committed to supporting local vaccination efforts. Attachment 2 to this report provides additional details on UUCA’s approach to supporting community vaccination and local resources for getting yourself and your loved ones vaccinated when eligible. 
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UUCA has advocated for increased equity in vaccination programs in Arlington and has volunteered its property for a vaccination site well situated to serve high-risk people.
Conclusion:
As the current rate of new cases is declining and the vaccine rate is climbing, we are optimistic about our community gradually becoming more comfortable with expanding the use of the campus. There are still uncertainties on the horizon as the impact of new virus variants is yet unknown in our country. We are not ready to start the reopening process just yet but will be monitoring the evolving situation and the work of other faith communities in the process of looking out for the best interests of our congregation. We will come back in the spring with another assessment for your information that should provide a better picture of how the summer and fall will unfold. Thanks to you all for your abiding support and involvement. We continue to be so grateful to all in our community for the work you’re doing to keep us connected. 
Attachment 1
EVENTS GIVEN A “YES” BY THE CRTF
ALLOWING GROUPS TO USE THE CAMPUS/GET TOGETHER
 
  • Memorial Service for Virginia Karl
  • Rev. Amanda Poppei’s Installation and Welcome Parade
  • Handbell rehearsals and recording for Christmas service – sponsored by staff
  • AFAC food drives (including Youth Group food drive)
  • Magic bag distributions (past and upcoming)
  • Secret Santa Collections
  • Removal of invasive plants, in small groups, outdoors – sponsored by DIG/Climate Change Action Coalition
  • Walk around the DC monuments – sponsored by the Youth Group
  • AUCP outdoor reopening (slated for March)
  • “Visiting Home” campus event planned for April 10 – sponsored by RE and the Annual Campaign
Attachment 2

COVID-19 VACCINATION RESOURCES FOR OUR COMMUNITY
One of the take-aways from our recent Congregational Survey is that the UUCA community will feel most comfortable returning to in-person church when we have achieved a high community vaccination rate. Toward that end, UUCA is committed to supporting local vaccination efforts. While some of you have already received the vaccine and others are impatiently waiting on a fresh supply, we do encourage all UUCAers to—when supplies are available, and it is your turn—get vaccinated!

Currently, Virginia is in phase 1b of the vaccination program which includes frontline essential workers, people age 65+, people age 16-64 with an underlying medical condition, people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and migrant labor camps. For more information, you can find more vaccine information at the following sites:

If you are able to help others navigate the process of registering for and signing up for vaccines, please be in touch with Rev. Walter Clark at wclark@uucava.org. We would love to match folks together to support our community in getting the vaccines we need.

UUCA is keeping close tabs on efforts in Arlington County and is committed to pressing for ease of access and equity in distribution, particularly given the racial disparity in COVID rates and in hospitalization and mortality rates in Arlington (and across the country). Rev. Amanda is working with the Arlington Interfaith Network--a group of interfaith clergy--on this effort, and Annie Parker is staying in touch with Arlington County to see how we can be of support to their vaccination efforts. For information-sharing or concerns, email aparker@uucava.org. 
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington
4444 Arlington Blvd., Arlington, VA 22204
www.uucava.org | 703-892-2565