Things are changing so much, so fast, on the COVID front . . . so what is UUCPA going to do? Especially about resuming in-person services?
Since things are changing so much, so fast, the answers I give now might be out of date literally by the time you read this in the Weekly Update. But here is the thinking of the Hybrid Services Task Force, as of our May 14 meeting.
Whether we return to two services depends largely on demand and space. We have not needed two services with all of the space of a Zoom room available to us, and there have been some advantages to that. It’s been fun to mix with people who formerly went to “the other service,” and with a larger volunteer staff needed for livestreaming, putting on two services is a bigger challenge than when we were only in-person. Your input on the poll that will run in the May 30 service will be very helpful.
We are firmly committed to continuing to livestream at least one service per Sunday, and to having the online and in-person experiences being of equal quality.
We are firmly committed to making in-person services available to as many people as wish to attend that way if at all possible. If the capacity limits require us to have reserved seating on Sundays, we are committed to making the system equitable and welcoming.
Tech and facilities folks are doing a lot of work to bring the two types of service into alignment. Naturally, being at home and attending via Zoom is very different than being in the Main Hall, but there are ways to knit the community together across those differences. For example, we can have a video screen in the Main Hall so that the people there and the people watching online see the same guest musicians (since some of those will no doubt still be sending their music in from afar). We can do Caring and Sharing the same way whether we are in person or online. We can show the people online the faces of people at the Main Hall, and vice versa.
State guidelines currently say that children’s programming should not take place on church property at the same time as adult in-person worship services. However, we have reason enough to think that this is under review that we are planning for two possibilities: in-person (outdoor) Children and Youth Religious Education (CYRE) taking place concurrently with hybrid services, or one happening earlier on Sunday than the other. (Services that are online-only can take place at the same time as CYRE.)
One of the most difficult issues is whether we can sing together. That information keeps changing, but it is looking more and more possible that we will be able to have safe sung music, both from the congregation and the choir. We will do everything we can that is consistent with safety to return to singing.
And because there are some who cannot safely be vaccinated, we expect that we will not require attendees to show proof of vaccination. This makes it all the more important for everyone who can be vaccinated to be vaccinated, as an act of care, not only for others at UUCPA but for everyone. Our values as Unitarian Universalists tell us to consider the good of whomever we may encounter and treat them with respect and love.
For the same reason, all of our re-opening conversations include the consideration that many people either do not, or have members of their household who do not, have a vaccine available to them, because they are under 12 years old, or for other reasons. We are trying to meet their needs.
As to the big question, when?: we have a working date of mid-August, the traditional start to our church year.
Our task force is only dealing with the logistics of Sunday services, not with questions of how and whether small groups or any other activities can safely meet in person. If you do want to propose that your group do so, please reach out to the Board at board AT uucpa DOT org.
We would love to hear your questions! Write to us at hybridservices, also at the uucpa DOT org domain.
Thank you for your forbearance as we move through very complex decisions and logistics.
for the Hybrid Services Task Force: Amy Morgenstern, Bruce Olstad, Byron Brown, Harry Wachob, Heather Chen, Jeff Cashdollar, Linda Henigin, Paul Kostka, Tamara Harr, Tim Berry, and William Phelps.