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Friday Pastoral Message - May 8, 2020
Will We Do "Virtual Church" for Another Year?
Dear Ones -- the Unitarian Universalist Association is recommending that all congregations continue to avoid gathering in person at this time. They also recommend that congregations begin planning to continue virtual operations through May 2021.

REALLY? Virtual church for another YEAR? Yep, that's the UUA's recommendation: that we plan to be able to “stay virtual” for up to a year – while paying close attention to the ever-changing pandemic in our state and local area. The recommendation is that we make the health and safety of our church members, friends and staff our top priority in any decisions about re-opening face-to-face worship or meetings.

A year of “virtual church” kinda seems like forever – but ask yourself: who from our church would you sacrifice just so we could meet in person? It’s a horrible question. But it brings home the reality of our vulnerability, our interdependence, and the love we have for one another.

WHO DECIDES? The UUCW Executive Team, Board of Trustees, staff and I are in conversation about all of this. We will continue to pay close attention to the shifting “safer at home” order here in Wisconsin, and the recommendations of local experts, as well as attending to the growing scientific understanding of how the virus spreads, and its impact on adults and children.  But we also need to remember that a majority of our congregational members, leaders, and staff members are in high-risk categories, and that religious gatherings are considered highly contagious events. The acts of singing, the familiarity of people across households, the multi-generational community of children, youth, adults and seniors— all of those lovely things that make our congregation special— create more risk for spreading the virus.

We will certainly look into the possibility of “phased re-opening,” and some outdoor, in-person events may be held over the summer. But we do plan to continue offering our worship, small groups, programming for children and youth, and pastoral care on-line for the time being.
The truth is: UUCW is still open – very much so! At the Leadership Council meeting last night we heard from 23 lay leaders and five staff members about all the ways they are reaching out to other church members, holding online meetings, living their UU faith, and taking care of themselves. I was wowed by their resilience and creativity.

I hope you’ll read the full UUA message from President Susan Fredrick-Gray (click the red bar below). I love what she says, “In making our recommendations, we are guided by science and our deepest held values. This pandemic teaches us that our actions directly impact the health and well-being of our neighbors and so it is imperative that we make choices that keep our congregations and larger community safer. As COVID-19 disproportionately impacts people with disabilities, Black people, Indigenous communities, Latinx people, the elderly, and essential workers, a majority of whom are women and women of color, religious communities have a moral responsibility to do all we can to reduce risks for those already at such high risk.”

We will keep you updated as discernment and decision-making proceed. In the meantime, please keep reaching out - to the UUCW staff and me, to the Board, and to one another. UUCW has resources and caring to share - and ways for you to contribute and connect! I love you all -- The Rev. Suzelle Lynch
Come  as  you   are  - leave inspired!