by the Rev. Barbara Threet
Well, at least we know a little more about what we’re dealing with as we plan this coming church year.
We know we will not be meeting in person, indoors, in our beloved building. Not for worship, not for Board meetings, not for dinners or social events, not for at least several months. The Board will monitor the situation: we are all hungry to meet in person, and we’re also determined not to do so until we can do it without risking one another’s health and even lives, or that of our families. We’re an older congregation: easily half of us are in some “high-risk” category. Part of caring for our UUCGF community right now, sadly, is remaining apart physically, especially in enclosed spaces. Special thanks go to Rich Myette and Bob Rockwell, who have been keeping a careful eye on our building during these months, so that it will be ready to welcome us back when the time comes.
We know we will continue to hold worship each week on-line. Committees will continue to meet on-line – I attended a Board meeting earlier this week, and a meeting of the Building Your Own Theology group earlier this summer. (Is ‘attended’ the right word? Maybe ‘participated in’ is more accurate? How do verbs and prepositions work in this Zoom world?) Many of us are regularly in touch by phone or email, we’re taking walks together or meeting outdoors. There were regular on-line services this past summer, and many of us are involved in social justice work – some of it is even in-person, outside! All of these maintain our congregational life, and also our individual emotional health through this time.
One of our challenges this coming year will be in finding ways to maintain our connections as a community, and also in developing ways to continue to live our UU values in the wider world. There’s renewed energy for the development of a state-wide UU social justice organization, known as New York UU Justice State Advocacy Network, and affectionately called NUUJ (pronounced ‘noodge’). Our own Social Action committee has been involved in efforts to expand recycling within our area, as well as participating in a local Save the Post Office rally and in a celebration of 100 years of women’s right to vote. Our Worship Committee continues to plan and offer excellent Sunday services, and a few people who can’t regularly attend services are finding their way to us on Zoom! But we can’t hold pot-lucks or social events in our building. When winter settles in, gathering outdoors will be increasingly uncomfortable. So what can we do to maintain our community?
At the Board Retreat on September 3 (on Zoom), we’ll be imagining new ways to stay connected and effective this year, and we welcome your ideas. Here are a few of mine, and I welcome your feedback:
- A quiet mid-week meditation/vespers Zoom experience on a regular basis – weekly? bi-monthly? – open to all three congregations that I serve. That could be both a daytime and an evening event.
- Resuming emails of letters and poetry (more likely weekly than 2-3 times a week as I did last spring).
- Teaching a monthly class on-line – another Building Your Own Theology class? UU History? UUs and Bible? What interests you enough to attend, or what other topic might draw you to participate?
- How about informal Gather-On-Zoom-For-Dinner evenings on a regular basis – we could use Zoom’s break-out function to form us into groups of half a dozen or so for relaxed, free-flowing conversation.
- Possible game nights (Pictionary? charades? or?), or Zoom open mic or Nipper Club nights?
- A regularly-scheduled political discussion group, for those who want to delve in together? Other on-line discussions around a particular book or movie or theme?
I’d love to hear your ideas, or send them to Will Aitcheson, our Board President or Elayne Leonelli, our Vice-President. And we’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, stay well and stay in touch!
Shalom and Salaam,