|NUUC Reopening for face to face Worship on September 12, 2021|
connecting via Zoom will remain an optionVaccination (for 12+ only) and face masks required
We have all worked extremely hard during the pandemic to keep our families, congregations and communities safe, while longing for the time when the pandemic is behind us. Unfortunately, vaccine hesitancy, breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals and the alarming contagiousness of the COVID-19 Delta variant (even among the vaccinated) call for re-evaluation of many of our plans.
The Delta variant setback has many of us, feeling frustrated, heartbroken and exhausted. We are not where we hoped to be. We are all coming to terms with the reality that the pandemic will be with us in various forms for some time.
And creating a space for those who choose to gather in person for worship is increasingly important for our ongoing social, mental and spiritual health. Therefore we art still committed to reopening our building for worship on September 12, although we will be requiring vaccination (only for those 12 years and older) in addition to the already established requirement for masking while on church property. While vaccination will be a community expectation, we will not be asking for proof. In making this recommendation, we are following the most current guidelines of the Unitarian Universalist Association. We will continue to offer virtual attendance at worship through Zoom for those who either cannot, or prefer not, to attend in person.
There will be a greeter at each entrance with a supply of masks for those who haven’t brought their own. Due to the mask requirement, we will not be having coffee, food or drinks after the service.
While our sanctuary is far too small to accommodate social distancing between all attendees, we are making some provisions for those who prefer not to be too close to others. The service will be screened in Fellowship Hall to provide additional seating space in case the sanctuary exceeds capacity, and there will be limited distanced seating in the chairs to the right of the sanctuary entrance.
As we greet each other in person again, please be aware that our comfort levels will differ, and obtain consent before touching others. Red stickers will be provided that can be put on name tags as a visual cue to others to keep as much distance as possible, if that is what you choose.
We will continue to monitor the number of COVID cases in Franklin and Delaware Counties. If the risk level becomes severe, or if some other aspect of the situation changes to reflect new dangers, we will return to offering virtual services only, and reopen again when it is safer to do so.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns! firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. Greeters Wanted!
We are looking for greeters for once we reopen for face to face worship. We’ll have one greeter at the front door, and one at the back. You can sign up to greet using this link.
|Religious Education and Children’s Programming Plans for Fall 2021|
It is hard to believe we haven’t had face-to-face Religious Education in almost a year-and-a-half. I can’t believe how much our children and youth must have grown during this time and am eager to see them again. And yet, with no vaccines available for children under 12, we simply can’t resume gathering them together normally. In fact, the Unitarian Universalist Association recommends that in-person RE happen only outdoors for the time being. So, like all congregations we have adjusted plans yet again. Our kids are resilient, and we hope you’ll encourage them to join us in a new way.
To that end, starting September 12 for in-person Religious Education we will offer two options. First, for vaccinated children ages 12 and older, we invite them to attend worship, fully masked. We are also working to create periodic in-person, socially distanced and masked opportunities for this age group–stay tuned. Second, we invite those ages 4-11 to join us for Outdoor Playtime during service each week, weather permitting. During this time we will have games and activities that support social distancing, with an emphasis on nature exploration. Playtime will coincide with service from 10:30-11:30 AM Sundays, providing a safer alternative to service for unvaccinated children. While we wish we could also offer nursery services, we simply cannot maintain a safe environment for children under age 4 either in the nursery (no ability to social distance) or outdoors (dangers of road, parking lot, etc…). However, if a parent/caregiver wants to accompany a child under 4 to Outdoor Playtime and take full responsibility for their child, we welcome them to join us outdoors.
We are also excited to share that we are joining a consortium of congregations from around the country to jointly offer Remote Religious Education. Here, our children from 1st-12 grade will meet and gather virtually with others from across the country, including Madison and Eau Claire, Wisconsin; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Huntsville, Alabama; and Corpus Christie, Texas. The age groups and times are:
Children’s Chapel (1st-5th grade): 10-10:30 AM SundaysUpper elementary Children’s Chapel (3rd-5th grade who want an age-specific experience): 10-10:30 AM SundaysYouth Group (6th-12th grade): first 3 Wednesday evenings of each month at 6:45 PM
Our involvement in this consortium is just beginning, so more details on this opportunity and general RE registration will come in an RE-specific email to the congregation in the next few days.
Finally, as you can imagine, all of these RE options will require a full team of Religious Education volunteers. Please consider volunteering, especially if you have volunteered with RE in the past or have other experience working with kids. All volunteers will be background-checked and onboarded for the format (in-person or remote) for which they’re volunteering. Also, our Board has graciously approved hiring paid RE teachers to ensure that we have the qualified adults we need to keep our kids connected during this pandemic. As soon as our job announcement for paid teachers comes out in the RE email, please share it with potentially interested and qualified people you know! You can email me at email@example.com with questions or to volunteer!
Thank you for supporting our children and youth during this time when it is all too easy to disconnect and isolate. We need each other, including our young people.
Jennifer L. Aultman, M.A.Director of Religious EducationNorth Unitarian Universalist Congregation