Return to Only Online Gatherings

Today, Tue Dec 21, is the winter solstice and the day we all remember as “the shortest day” of the year. In addition to colder weather, the winter season this year brings new twists and turns in our ongoing battle with the COVID pandemic. Just as we were embracing our return to in-person services and looking forward to a Christmas Eve service back in our sanctuary, the emerging trends arising from the Omicron variant have forced us to re-evaluate what is safe and prudent. To ensure the safety of our congregation and staff, we have decided to suspend in-person access to CUUC’s buildings and grounds. Our Christmas Eve celebration, all Sunday worship/Religious Education classes, and any other gathering on our buildings and grounds will immediately migrate back to virtual, “Zoom-based” format.

As we try to keep pace with the evolution of the virus, we understand the frustration of working with partial and rapidly developing information. On the eve of a number of traditionally large gatherings at our buildings and grounds, this decision was guided by four main points as summarized by Christian Force, chair of the Reopening Committee:

1. Positive cases are exploding especially quickly over the past week. Just by the numbers, we haven’t seen cases spike this quickly in Westchester since the beginning of the pandemic – and this is now happening in a population that is heavily vaccinated.

2. Many people who are triple vaccinated are becoming infected during this wave.

3. Some reason for optimism: anecdotally, infections seem less severe, and hospitalizations, while rising, don’t seem as likely for the vaccinated population.

4. But, even if hospitalizations seem fewer on average, we simply don’t have enough information yet to say conclusively who is and isn’t at risk from this new variant.

The conclusions:

•   Even with everyone vaccinated, there’s a strong possibility that one or more folks attending service and other activities in coming weeks will be unknowingly infected;

•   With the higher infection rate of Omicron, we don’t know how effective our protocols will be yet; and

•   While early indicators give some optimistic signals, we can’t yet dismiss the possibility that some people may have much worse impacts – “better on average” doesn't translate to “better for everyone.”

Hopefully Omicron will be remembered as the shortest variant that arrived on the shortest day of the year, and we can rebound from this strategic retreat stronger and with even deeper connections than ever. Our spirit and resilience will carry us over this latest hurdle, as well as our imagination and creativity in how we deliver on our Mission Statement. We just need to stick together.

Please join us for the virtual, Zoom-based Christmas Eve service, Sunday services, and RE classes as scheduled – we are distracted, not defeated.

Thanks for your continued support and commitment to CUUC.

Joe Majsak, Chair, CUUC Board of Trustees
Christian Force, Chair, CUUC Reopening Committee, and At Large Member, Board of Trustees