On the Pandemic and Regathering

Hello, all,

The last year and a half has been a difficult time for our world. Like many congregations and houses of worship, here at AUUF, we found ourselves closing our buildings due to the threat from the COVID-19 pandemic that swept the world. Even as we learned new ways to be together, many have yearned for when we can be together again in-person. 
To that end, your Board of Trustees charged me to create a Regathering Team last month to make recommendations to the Board on when, how, and under what circumstances we can gather in person once again for Sunday services and other Fellowship related activities. We are calling it a Regathering Team and not reopening because we never closed. However, we are looking at regathering in person after a year and a half away.

I have been meeting weekly with that group (Susan McCallister, Tom Hodges, CJ Marbutt, Pat Kenally, and Eric Scotch) and we have been wrestling with questions from gathering information from the congregation to what hybrid Sunday services will look like to thinking about what activities like Religious Exploration and Choir will look like. Many of these conversations are still in progress.

We wanted to communicate with you as a congregation what to expect this summer and fall. 

First, please be on the lookout for an email with a survey developed by the Regathering Team. We are seeking to gather information from you that will help inform our thoughts on regathering. Please fill it out as soon as possible! You may remain anonymous if you don’t wish for your identity to be associated with your answers, but sharing your identity will help us come to you if you have any questions.

For Sunday services, summer services will continue to be virtual only. We also plan on having a work party in July to help clean up our buildings and grounds after a year of disuse. 

Ingathering is currently being planned for Sunday, August 15. This service is being planned as a hybrid outdoor in-person and online service, meaning that, if wish to join in person, you will be able to.  Further details about this service as well as safety precautions will be announced as it gets closer

We will be monitoring the situation in Alabama and Lee County over the summer. We intend to start having indoor services as soon as it is safe to do so. If it is not safe yet in August, we will continue having outdoor services with the hope that it will be safe to do so before it gets too cold for such services. 

Every scenario for Sunday services will include the option for attending online. We will be putting together a tech team to help make hybrid services a reality without Darrell having to be the tech person every week.. If you are interested in being on this team, please let me know. We don’t anticipate this will require any more than a one Sunday a month commitment and we will train you!

Plans are also being made for Religious Exploration, Choir, and other small groups, and these plans will be announced in the near future.

I want to emphasize, of course, that all plans are tentative and subject to unforeseen developments that are happening in the world. However, please rest assured that we are working hard to find inclusive ways to allow folks to connect with one another.

As always, if you have questions, concerns, or suggestions, I invite you to contact me or a member of the Board or the Regathering Team.

As we start looking forward to the future, may we continue finding ways to stay connected.

Rev. Chris