Update from the Board on Church Services – May 19, 2020

Dear UUCM Community,

At our Board meeting last night (May 18, 2020) we reviewed the guidance received in the last week concerning holding worship services in person.  At this time, the Board has decided to continue our virtual services over the summer and to revisit whether to resume in person services in the fall when more information becomes available over the summer. Some of the factors we will need to look at are the guidelines for those who are considered at risk, our sanctuary capacity and steps required to maintain distance and cleanliness, any changes to the guidance for houses of worship, as well as public health data in our area. 

The May 14, 2020 guidance from UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, based on  consultations with multiple public health officials, continued to recommend that congregations begin planning for virtual operations for the next year (through May 2021). 

The reopening guidelines issued by Governor Baker for Massachusetts on May 17, 2020 permit houses of worship to hold in person services now subject to general public health guidelines.  

While it is heartening that our Governor feels that Massachusetts is making enough progress in its battle with COVID-19 to permit churches to resume services, those on the Board expressed a number of concerns.  Our congregation has many members who are over 65 and others who are considered at risk, who remain under the Governor’s stay at home order preventing non-essential trips from home.  Under the guidance, no coffee hours are permitted, nor are childcare services. 

Many health care experts feel church services are high risk encounters at this time.  Evidence of this is a recent Washington Post article about churches that had opened but subsequently decided to suspend in person services again.  

We know this is disappointing to all of us who long to greet each other in person.  We believe the wisest course is to follow Rev. Frederick-Gray’s advice:  to be guided by science and our deepest held values. The safety of our congregants is paramount.  

We are proud that our congregation has been able to produce meaningful and creative virtual services and virtual coffee hours that can sustain us until we can safely meet in person. A huge thanks to the worship and technical teams that have made this possible!

May we all stay safe and well.

The Board (Molly Ruggles, Paul Marcucilli, Nancy Kurtz, Susan Jhirad, Loren Bernardi, Steve Schmidt, and April Evans.)