Wed March 11th 1:30pm
How To Care for Ourselves, Our Community,and the Interdependent Web During COVID-19 Pandemic
Dear UUFSC Community,
I am writing to you about how to care for yourselves in community, and how community can support caring for yourself during what the World Health Organization has now categorized as the COVID-19 Pandemic.
I begin with this quote from Helen Keller, from her 1940 “Let Us Have Faith”:
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of [humanity] as a whole experience it.”
This is a confusing and anxious time for many, exactly the time connection with others is extra important. Being together in community, singing, sharing joys and sorrows…these are the practices that calm our souls and nervous systems. And coming together in groups, particularly for folks over 60 and those with health conditions (Click here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html), is exactly what some public health officials are suggesting we many want to avoid in the near future, if not sooner.
The Board and I have decided that UUFSC will temporarily suspend in-person gatherings AFTER Sunday morning worship on March 22nd, if not sooner depending on new information. We will do worship online and work to move small groups and other meetings to video-conferencing via the Zoom program (details to follow–this is all a work in progress!). We hope to do livestreaming of worship on March 15 and 22nd as well– please do not expect our initial livestreaming efforts to be ‘polished’ productions, as we are learning on the fly! More details to follow.
This decision is based on conversations church leaders have had with local officials and with church leaders around the country. This decision is based on the deep love, care, and concern we have for the UUFSC community and a desire to preserve and protect one another, our larger community, particularly the most vulnerable.
The California Department of Public health has recommended that in counties where there is no evidence of community transmission (as of the sending of this email, we just received word that Stanislaus county has its first two confirmed cases, click here to read the Modesto Bee article), gatherings can still be held but in a modified form (which is what we plan to be doing the next two Sundays). However, news reports have revealed that it is very difficult to get tested for COVID-19 and the number of cases in the U.S. are likely under-reported.
For the next two Sundays (March 15 and March 22) that we presently expect to meet in person, we will gather for worship but will not have “coffee hour”– no yummy treats or coffee. We will ask people to avoid hugs or handshakes–instead, we will greet one another with jazz hands or hands clasped at the chest.
Please note: I will be at church this Sunday March 15th supporting our Worship Team, though I was originally scheduled to be away.
This is a moving and evolving situation and we will rely on email and the church facebook group and page to communicate quickly with you.
What I want to ask of you all:
1) Breathe and Breathe and Breathe. Perhaps sing our When I Breath In hymn.
2) Follow public health recommendations. Wash wash wash your hands!
2) Install and get familiar with Zoom. https://zoom.us/ Zoom is a video conferencing program for your computer and/or phone. It allows people to do online video meetings. The church has an account and I will be distributing the login information to our program leaders and small group ministry leaders.
3) If you come to church the next two weeks, bring hand sanitizer to share! (There has been a run on hand sanitizer and it is difficult to come by either online or in stores. I think I have been able to locate a one gallon jug of it but it will not arrive until middle of next week).
4)Stay connected! Please make phone calls, text messages, use facebook and the church facebook group. I feel ambivalent about social media AND in a moment like this, I hope it can serve us well in staying connected with one another even as we may need to implement social distancing. If your anxiety about this, or anything else going on in the world, is at a breaking point, or just feeling too much, you are not alone. Reach out to someone you trust. Risk connection.
These are strange times –and we are going to navigate them together. And we are together, no matter where we find ourselves in these upcoming weeks.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.
In deep and abiding LOVE,