Dear congregation:

I am writing to inform you of some hard news: in-person worship services and religious education classes are canceled, beginning this Sunday (3/15) and until further notice. I know that this may seem very abrupt (Sunday is only two days away!) I assure you that, though the decision was made late in the week, it was informed–over an extended period of time amidst ever-evolving circumstances–by recommendations from reliable sources, connections with colleagues and congregations, and reflection on how we can best live out our values in light of the particular public health challenges we are facing.

Protect:
As UUA President, Susan Frederick-Gray noted in her message to congregations, “we believe it is our moral obligation to follow the guidance of health professionals who recommend early action even before cases have been confirmed in an area because it is most important to protect public health and the most vulnerable people in our communities.” And so it is that we are doing our part to “flatten the curve,” lessening the opportunity for transmission and slowing the spread of the virus such that, if people contract it, health services are not overtaxed and can comfortably provide necessary treatment.

Connect:
We recognize that another serious challenge to good health is isolation, most especially when grappling with uncertainty and anxiety. Missing out on our chance to gather together is not a small loss. We will be doing all we can to stay connected. Our web site (http://uuslo.org) will be updated with a link to live-streaming services and other opportunities for connection. I can’t promise a full service this Sunday, but we will definitely connect in some fashion for a worship experience. Stay tuned.

I am also planning to be available online at a yet-to-be-determined time during the week (details about how to connect will also be on the web site). And-of course-feel free to contact me (minister.uuslo@gmail.com or 805-439-0188 ext. 101)

As to other congregational meetings and activities:

We will not be hosting groups (congregational and renters) within our building of 25 or more, per recommendations. If your group is smaller than that, you are invited to make your own decisions on the possibilities of suspending meetings, relocating appropriately, or continuing to meet here.  If your group chooses to continue meeting here, please contact David Robinson, Congregational Administrator (office.uuslo@gmail.com), as we would like to make sure that you are meeting in a room big enough to accommodate good health practices (e.g. maintaining “social distance”). Thus, there will be no meetings held in the Meeting Room (RE Classroom) or Library until further notice.

We know how important it is to feel connected, most especially through this time, so don’t be afraid to use the means we have at our disposal to do so. Call. Email. We will not be gathering in our building on Sunday mornings, but we will stay connected. Feel free to contact me. Don’t worry about bothering me. If I don’t answer, I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Reflect:
This is also a time for reflection on our mission:

To deepen connections by nurturing spiritual growth, practicing justice, and inspiring joy.

We are a group of people who (traditionally) meet on Sunday mornings. But that is not all that we are. Not even close. This is a time to tap into all the rest of who we are. How can we be boldly imaginative in creating new ways of deepening connections? How can we continue to advocate for the most vulnerable in our society, who are made yet more vulnerable by the current public health challenge? How can we adapt communal rituals into personal and virtual spaces? How can we continue to inspire joy, strengthening our resilience as a community in an anxious and uncertain time?

We close each service with these words:

We extinguish this flame,
but not the light of truth
the warmth of community
or the fire of commitment.
These we carry in our hearts until we are together again.

And though our traditional weekly gathering has been interrupted for now, that light, that warmth, that fire still burns in each of our hearts. And our lights can still shine!

In grateful community,

Rod

A Thanksgiving Homily.

Pointing at the Moon