Pandemic Response Letter
March 12, 2020
Dear Beloved Community,
We have decided, in the best interest of our entire community, to avoid our regular in-person services for a few weeks. Rev. Jenn and Elissa, who hold the responsibility to decide about services, consulted with Vic Marshall (a science professor), Virginia Gracen (a public health educator), and a few other members in leadership. Both Vic and Virginia stated that, based on available scientific evidence, it would be wise to avoid regular in-person services for a few weeks.
While the symptoms of COVID-19 are mild or even unnoticeable for some people, it is a particularly dangerous virus for older adults, and it is spreading more rapidly than familiar cold and flu-type viruses. We have several members of our community who have medical needs that put them in higher risk groups, and our UUCEL congregation tends to be older and more tight-knit than other social groups in the area.
Why take this action?
Public health response works best when it begins before a virus has spread in a community. Once multiple cases have been identified, the virus has already been spreading for a few weeks. As sporting events are postponed and schools are moving to online instruction, it is time for churches like ours to consider the steps we will take to prevent the spread of this disease.
At this time, the CDC and state health departments are recommending “social distancing” for those who are NOT sick and have no known exposure. Social distancing means avoiding gatherings of people and keeping space between individuals when gatherings are unavoidable. It slows the rate of spread for a virus by changing the behaviors of those who are still healthy. (For those who are sick or have been exposed, they recommend quarantine/isolation.)
Social distancing is not the same as isolation, and we are not required to stay in our homes. As long as you are feeling well, it is fine to visit each other one-on-one. Consider activities like walking together or having a picnic. It is important to still wash your hands before and after all social visits. If you’d like to find out more information about the value of social distancing, please visit www.flattenthecurve.com.
Changing our behavior now is not only about protecting our personal health as individuals. It is also about lowering the rate of transmission for everyone. As Unitarian Universalists, we know we are all connected to one another in the interdependent web of all existence.
What does this mean for us?
Through the end of March, our UUCEL Sunday morning worship will be held in the Social Hall and will be broadcast on our webpage for those who can access the internet at home. You will be able to participate at www.libertyuu.org. If you do not have internet access at home, please come to the church social hall instead. (Small gatherings are still low-risk.) If you do have internet access but are not sure how to go to our website to watch the service, Rev. Jenn and Virginia are available to help. Just call Rev. Jenn or come to the social hall this Sunday, March 15, for a demonstration.
Please email Rev. Jenn with your Joys, Sorrows and Announcements before Sunday so they can be included in the broadcasted worship.
We will, unfortunately, have to reschedule our pledge drive potluck for a later date.
If you have a pastoral need, you can drop in to see Rev. Jenn during Monday office hours at the church, from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm. She is also available to meet in-person or by phone at your request. Through the end of March, she will not be holding her public community office hours.
The board will be meeting next week to continue planning together how to meet the needs of this congregation and community.
This congregation is over 150 years old. We have weathered many national storms. This will be a brief blip in our history. Like our spiritual ancestors before us, we will move through it together. As UUs we know that we have a responsibility to listen to the scientists and to take care of one another. Please continue to reach out. Call someone you don’t talk to often or someone you’ve never talked to.
If you need anything, please contact me or someone in the community. We are here to support and care for one another.
Future updates will be sent by email, phone tree and posted on our website.
In Faith and Handwashing,