Weaving the Web: It’s complicated

Dear UUCPA folks,

Weaving the web of community can get messy. Sometimes it’s practically picture-perfect:

Cephas, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

That’s how we want our welcome to be on Sunday mornings. Our goal is to have everyone in place, welcoming each person with a smile and a head full of information about where to register for Sunday school, whether it’s okay to drink coffee in the Main Hall. And certainly with no pesky questions about your proof of vaccination.

But usually it’s a little messy around the edges. A staffperson is sick, the ushers are hurrying to get everything set up, newcomers are arriving even as the checklist of bivalent-boosted folks appears in the lobby, and none of us who are trying to warmly greet everyone is sure whether someone else is checking vaccination status. That’s what happened last Sunday.

Chandrasen31, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Vi Mitchell, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Common

File:Spider Web Covered with Flower.jpg
Vespertunes, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Some of the messiness is just built in. (Try to find a photo of a perfectly symmetrical, flawless spiderweb, and you’ll see what I mean.) What one person (let’s call him Raymond) needs to be welcome is an assurance that everyone present is masked and vaxxed, because Raymond’s frail parents live with him and he would be heartbroken if he risked their lives by bringing COVID back to them. What someone else (let’s call them Terry) wants is to enter their beloved worship space without an inquisition. Ack! How do we balance all these needs?

What we’ve done so far is:

-consult public-health experts constantly and gather a task force every 1-3 weeks to bring our recommendations in line with the latest.

-ask the congregation what level of community vaccination would make us feel protected. In our county, only about 26% of people have up-to-date vaccinations, and hospitalization rates are rising fast. So until we can gather the congregation to ask again, we are guided by the fact that COVID is, sadly, once again a significant risk to many members of our community, even when they are vaccinated.

-ask the congregation whether they want people to show vax cards, or enter on the honor system. That might have changed in the past year, but as of a year ago, the answer was definitely “Ask for proof.”

-collect information from as many people as possible in advance, so they can just check their name off and come in.

-provide attractive options to indoor seating: outdoors on the patio (more attractive some Sundays than others…), Zoom services, and a radio broadcast of the service.

What else we can do is organize our welcome so that only one person is the card-checker and everyone else can simply smile and greet you as you come in. And each person can speed things up by sending a photo of their card in in advance, so if you haven’t done that, consider it.

We also reeeeally hate telling anyone they can’t be inside, and everyone 5 years of age and up must have the bivalent booster by this Sunday in order to enter the buildings. So please update your vaccines and bring your card! (I’m forgetful, so I have snapped a photo and starred it so it’s always findable on my phone.)

Our needs vary, our staff get sick, and volunteers sometimes have to scramble to get ready, so we won’t always get it perfect. But it’s our community, and we love each other. So it will still be beautiful.

Sandra Fauconnier from Rotterdam, Netherlands, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Thank you for helping make our community everything we want it to be!



P.S. And oh yes–I apologize for being a bad example on Sunday mornings, when I want to sip my mocha in the Main Hall. I’ve rationalized that I’m 20 feet from the front row, but it’s not fair and it confuses others when I’m up there with my thermos. We do want to keep eating and drinking to a minimum during the service; this enables us to open it up for food when it’s really essential to be able to unmask indoors, at Second Sunday lunch. So please don’t bring coffee in, and I will be a good role model by also abstaining, except for a little water in case my throat gets dry mid-sermon.