Over these last week, AUUF’s staff and leadership have been responding to the ever-changing landscape, making adjustments and plans to keep you and our community both safe and connected. Yesterday, the Unitarian Universalist Association released guidelines strongly recommending that all congregations immediately cancel all in-person events of twenty-five or more people.
While these actions may seem “alarmist,” I, along with the Board of Trustees, believe AUUF must do its part to minimize the number of interactions that cause the opportunity for COVID-19 to spread. If no one from AUUF gets sick and COVID-19 goes away, you may wonder what all the fuss was about. Yet public health experts remind us that if this fizzles out because of our efforts, then we’ve done it right. Here are some of the immediate measures we will be taking:
AUUF’s Plans for Sunday Services, Programs, and Services
As approved by the Board of Trustees, these plans and directives are valid as of March 13, 2020, and may change at any time; we will remain in touch with you throughout this pandemic, and the Board and Staff will assess weekly.
- Sunday Services: We will suspend in-person Sunday Services and post-service activities through May 10, at which time we will reassess; we will stream our services instead. (Click here for instructions.)
- Listen via phone or Connect Online. Information about connecting to our online platform will be sent out. (Click here for instructions.)
- Board and Committee on Ministry Startup Workshop: Saturday’s planned Ministry Startup Workshop for Board and Committee on Ministry members will go ahead as normal. A Zoom link will be provided for anyone who wishes to attend online.
- Second Hour this Sunday: Alex Kapitan is in town and will be conducting the planned workshop via web conference. Be on the lookout for a link tomorrow.
- Meetings: Unless absolutely necessary, conduct business via email OR choose to meet online.
- Religious Education: In-person RE is cancelled during the same period as Sunday Services. Julie Meadows will be in touch with RE families regarding Religious Education.
- Staff: We are encouraging staff to work as they see fit from home or AUUF. Ministerial office hours will be offered by phone and web conference. Be on the lookout for more information.
- Medical Debt Forgiveness Project: The launch of the Medical Debt Forgiveness Project, originally scheduled for March 29, will be rescheduled.
- March 22 Town Hall Meeting: The March 22 Town Hall Meeting will be rescheduled at a later date.
- Building Use: We will be in conversation with groups who use our buildings about their programs and services.
Congregational Support Connections
Please let us know if you have decided or are ordered to self-quarantine and whether you might need any food or other supplies while staying home. Also let us know if you are ill, have tested positive, and/or have been hospitalized. You may reach out to Rev. Chris Rothbauer (firstname.lastname@example.org, 334-246-9313).Because some may feel isolated, we would appreciate having more helpers for Congregational Support who can make visits, deliver supplies, make a phone call, assist with technology, and help those who may not be going out at this time. If you would like to help, please contact Rev. Chris Rothbauer (email@example.com, 334-246-9313).
We are also developing many other ways to connect – including online meditations, virtual coffee hours, small group check-ins and watch parties, playing games together, and more. If you have ideas or wish to help, please reach out to Rev. Chris Rothbauer (firstname.lastname@example.org, 334-246-9313). We will send along a schedule of these great ways to connect each week.As always, please let us know how we may be of assistance, and what questions you may have.
Our Role in Preventing Further Spread of COVID-19
We know that pandemics rely on close social contact, and we can “flatten the curve” when we reduce our social interactions.
This is important, because COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus that adversely affects people living with compromised immune systems, older members (over 60) whose immune systems are generally more vulnerable than younger members, and people living with chronic health conditions, especially lung conditions. There may also be underlying conditions that have yet to be identified. We also know that younger folks may get sick but are also carriers, so social interactions can compromise otherwise healthy people. This means that we should all consider practicing “social distancing” to prevent the spread.
Let’s be clear: we trust you as adults to take care of yourself, to know when you’re sick or need to self-quarantine. AND the reason this is spreading so quickly is that folks don’t necessarily know if they have been exposed and are often out in public/in close social interactions after they have been infected. We don’t know how many people are actually infected – because of how this spreads, incubation periods, and lack of testing; the number is likely to be much higher than is being officially reported. Social distancing is not about not trusting individuals – it’s about a community mindset – it’s making sure we are taking care of all of us.
We are all in this together – let’s take care of one another with kindness, love, and comfort.