Enter, Rejoice, and Come In

A Religious Education Message from Gina

Dear Friends,

When UUS:E abruptly went into quarantine mode last March, many of us imagined that our time apart would be short-lived. I know that’s what I thought! Who knew that nearly six months later we would still be coping with a coronavirus crisis requiring vigilant social distancing and mask wearing protocols? Who imagined that in September schools and universities would not be welcoming students and teachers back to classes as usual, and that much schooling would happen through distance learning? Who dreamed that UUS:E’s worship services and Religious Education program would continue to take place only virtually? None of this is what I anticipated. And yet, here we are.

Here we are, beloved community, as strong as ever. Dare I say, stronger than ever. We’ve had to be creative in figuring out how to be “together” without a brick and mortar structure to envelope us. We’ve had to learn to use virtual platforms like Zoom and familiarize ourselves with forms of technology we never even knew existed prior to the pandemic. (Or maybe that’s just me?) We’ve had to figure out ways to support one another from a distance, and we’ve done so beautifully! We’ve replaced in person hugs with handwritten notes sent in the mail, pretty painted stones left anonymously on doorsteps, and texts or phone calls simply to say, “Hello, I’m thinking of you.” Those who are musicians have recorded some beautiful musical pieces to enhance our virtual worship services. Those who can sew have generously made cloth masks for the community at large, as well as for members of the UUS:E community who can’t so much as sew a button. (Again, maybe that’s just me?) We’ve worked hard, with diligence, determination, and love to support one another through this challenging time of instability and losses of all types, and I believe this has made our community stronger than we’ve ever been.

When will be able to gather together again at UUS:E to worship, sing, learn, play, read, meditate, light a chalice, drink coffee, make music, and share hugs? At this point, we just don’t know. But it’s fair to say it won’t be anytime soon. While this is disappointing, I urge you not to despair, but to persist. Let’s persist in creating, supporting, and nurturing beloved community in new ways. Let’s redefine church as a community of people who share a vision, as opposed to a physical building where they meet. Let’s rethink Religious Education as something that happens every day, at home, around the dinner table, at bed time, explored, learned, and practiced through the stories we tell, the decisions we make, and the way we treat one another, as opposed to something that takes place solely on Sunday mornings from 11:00 – 12:15 on the Garden Level. Let’s continue to work for social and environmental justice, to care for the vulnerable, to cultivate our gardens, share our harvests, rally for fair and equitable treatment for People of Color and our LGBTQ siblings—even if it means we have to find new and innovative ways to do so. Join a letter writing campaign encouraging people to vote, support a political candidate by phone banking or text banking, organize a drive by demonstration, or perhaps even don a face mask and attend a socially distanced outdoor protest—but only if you feel safe doing so, of course.

The point is, we were Unitarian Universalists pre-pandemic, and we will be Unitarian Universalists post-pandemic, but in order to do that we must remain Unitarian Universalists in the midst of this pandemic. We were Unitarian Universalists together, and we can and must be Unitarian Universalists apart.

I’m up for the challenge! I hope you’ll join me.

With love,

Gina

Gina Campellone, Director of Religious Education