Rev. Josh to Partcipate in CT Voices for Children’s Community Budget Forum

Carry On: Baggage [Video and Artist Talk]

with Sandra Gustafson

Sunday, October 16th, 1:00 PM
UUS:E sanctuary and Zoom

On August 12th, about 20 UUS:E members and friends joined artist (and UUS:E member) Sandra Gustafson for her performance of Carry-On: Baggage. If you missed the performance, but want to get a taste of the experience, join us on Sunday afternoon, October 16th at 1:00 PM. Sandra will share a beautiful and compelling video about the project, followed by discussion. This event will be held in-person in the UUS:E sanctuary, and also streamed live over Zoom. (Watch our regular eblasts for login information.)

Questions? Contact Rev. Josh at [email protected] or (860) 652-8961

———-

Carry On: Baggage is an exploration of how personal and intergenerational memory combine to form unique identities. Through the construction and deconstruction of a freestanding, transient mural, artist (and UUS:E member) Sandra Gustafson highlights the duality of trauma. “We are restricted by the very legacies that define us,” says Ms. Gustafson, and “sacred communities arise from suffering. Carry-On: Baggage asks audiences to consider which parts of our experiences are worth holding on to, and what happens when we challenge our value structures.”

Carry-On: Baggage was created with the generous financial support of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation.

Aesthetics Chair Opening

After more than a decade of decorating UUS:E’s sanctuary, Cyndi Krupa is stepping down from her role as Aesthetics Chair. Similarly, her partner in this work, Kristen Dockendorff is also stepping down. When you encounter either Cyndi or Kristen, please give them a big, warm UUS:E ‘thank you’ for their years of service.

Cyndi writes:

I have had the total pleasure of being the Aesthetics Chair for many years but now find I need to move on.  This position for me has been a joyful one with fringe benefits. In the beginning it was as simple as being part of a group that agreed to bring flowers in once every 6 weeks, but I was totally inspired in a different direction with the opening of our new Meeting Room.

While the music played during that first service I glanced out the window to see a Red Tailed Hawk flying effortlessly through the trees outside.  It felt like we now had our own special version of “stained glass windows,” only ours were alive, moving and changing with the seasons, and I wanted to see more of nature in the room as well.  But that was my vision and now it’s time for someone new.

The “fringe benefits” I spoke of earlier included meeting many more people in our congregation which helped me feel even more connected as a member.  It also introduced me to the wonderful artistic community we have within UUS:E!  These talented artists can be called on to enhance any service and would gladly have their art work hanging on our walls.  Then there’s our annual holiday Deck the Halls in our Meeting Room, which has taken on a party vibe and we’ve had fun!!!  The actual time allotment has not been huge, especially when you invite people to help you.

UUS:E is looking for a new Aesthetics Chair! Are you interested in volunteering? Or perhaps being part of an Aesthetics Team? Let us know. Contact Rev. Josh at [email protected] or (860) 652-8961. And please know that Cyndi has graciously offered to coach anyone who is willing to take on the position; and Kristen has offered her ongoing services as an artist available for special aesthetics projects.

Women’s Circle Forming

Nora Mijares Alpers-Leon, facilitator

Third Tuesdays at 7:00
In person at UUS:E

Suggested Donation: $10 per session (or ask about sliding scale)

Nora describes this women’s circle as a “judgment-free comfort zone.” She invites participants to “sit, connect and share.” Bring a journal and a pen and a cushion or mat to sit on if you prefer that to a chair. 

The theme for the first session is “Falling Gracefully into Autumn.”

Nora Mijares Alpers-Leon is an indigenous (Colombian) mother, developmental psycholinguist and educator, who has a background in dance, yoga, and mindfulness. She completed 2 bachelor and 2 master degrees and a graduate certificate between UW-Madison and UConn. She did her Yoga Teacher Training in the Berkshires, and has led mindfulness workshops and talking circles in the United States and Colombia with both adults and children.

To sign up for this circle, or if you want more information, contact Nora at [email protected] or (608) 620-5969.

 

Belonging in the Midst of Isolation / Isolation in the Midst of Belonging

I want to talk about social isolation in the post-pandemic era. You might think, Oh boy, isolation, that’s such a heavy topic. Maybe we should  just let the band keep playing. The music is so uplifting. It’s all about community, family and friendship. Why does he have to talk about isolation? Blech! If you are actually thinking something like that, please know that this sermon has a happy ending. Isolation is very real, but some combination of community, family and friendship is the response. Community, family and friendship contribute to a person’s experience of belonging, which is our ministry theme for September. They are antidotes to isolation. I am also exploring belonging in the post-pandemic era, but to get there we need to consider what isolation looks like right now.

To begin, I said last Sunday I’m not even sure what to call this moment in time. I’m calling it the post-pandemic era, but I am not personally convinced the pandemic is over. Covid is still spreading, though certainly not at the dizzying rates it has in the past, like last winter’s omicron surge. And obviously in Connecticut, high vaccination rates contribute to lower numbers of hospitalizations and deaths, and greatly reduced severity of disease when contracted (though not for everyone). And regardless of how I may personally assess the overall situation and my own tolerance for risk, most of the rest of the state and the country has accepted that we are in the post-pandemic era, or that we have transitioned from Covid as pandemic to Covid as endemic. We will now treat it like we treat the flu. It makes for some messiness. Different people make different decisions about what they deem safe and what they deem unsafe. In public life, messy. Different people tolerate different levels of risk for a whole variety of reasons, in public life, messy. It’s especially messy for anyone who is still Covid-vulnerable due to age or a health condition that compromises their immune system. And it’s messy for any institutions—like faith communities—that endeavor to take those vulnerabilities seriously.

Let me back up from Covid for a moment, and acknowledge first that in any faith community, it is rare that everyone involved experiences the same level of belonging. As I said last week, we want everyone to feel like they belong. That’s the aspiration. I think we do an excellent job of providing that experience here, and yet we know not everyone feels like they fully belong, at least not all the time. Even in the midst of a very supportive, caring community, it is possible to feel isolated. I love the way Sheila Foran put it in her reflections on belonging at our September 4th service. She asked, “What if … even though you are part of several cohorts … you may have a family, you have colleagues from work or school, you have friends and hobbies and yes, you have UUS:E  … what if you still feel that you may not fully belong? That there is always a part of you that is standing outside the circle.” In my experience this is common.

Sheila offered a number of reasons why one might feel this way. I want to add one to her list: In our culture—meaning our wider United States culture, which impacts our congregational culture—for most people (not all, but most) it is profoundly difficult to name our vulnerabilities in public. Especially for people who are independent, who easily manage their own affairs, who  at least have the appearance of “having it all together,” who are used to helping others but not needing help themselves—people who others regard as competent, resilient, courageous, even powerful—it’s really hard to say I need help, I am afraid, I am in pain, I am lonely, I can’t do this by myself. Remember adrienne maree brown’s list of questions: Can you drive me to the hospital? … Can you open this water bottle? … Can you put my bag in the overhead bin? Can you bring me groceries? … Can you hold me while I cry? … Can you listen while I feel this?[1] It’s really hard to make these kinds of requests if we aren’t in the habit of making them. It’s really hard to reveal our messy, hurting, vulnerable selves, even to people who we know, intellectually, care about us.

Why is it hard? We come up with all sorts of reasons why we don’t want to share our vulnerabilities. I don’t want to burden anyone. I’m embarrassed. I don’t want anyone to judge me. I don’t want people to think I’m needy or weak or that I don’t have it all together in my life. I don’t want this to get in the way of my friendships. If I ask for help it means my life is changing and I desperately don’t want my life to change. What if people don’t take me seriously? What if the people I tell can’t handle it? What if they don’t want to hear it? What if they say, ‘oh, you’ll be fine,’ when I am terrified that I won’t be?

Have you ever had the experience of sharing a vulnerability with another person, sharing something painful in your life, your grief, your medical condition, a financial problem, a parenting challenge, an addiction you’re struggling with, and the person with whom you shared it, the person you thought was with you, suddenly wasn’t with you. They stopped making eye contact. They changed the subject. They looked at their watch or their phone. They made some excuse to end the conversation. They had to go. They didn’t check in with you later. Afterwards you felt more isolated than you did before you shared. If you don’t share with anyone, your isolation deepens. If you share and people don’t respond the way you hoped they would, your isolation deepens.

And while I am describing this dynamic, I think it’s important to ask: have you ever had the experience of someone sharing their vulnerability with you, and you were the person who couldn’t hear it, couldn’t make eye contact, etc? I think we all struggle with both sides of this equation. I always appreciate when people say to me, Rev., I don’t think you’re really listening. I don’t think you’re really with me in this. But it is also hard to hear that I’ve let someone down in their moment crisis.

People not sharing their vulnerabilities deepens isolation. People not hearing the sharing—or somehow discounting it—deepens isolation.

Back to Covid. We ended, at least for now, our mask mandate here at UUS:E. The Policy Board voted, not unanimously by the way, to end the mandate during the first full week of September. We now recommend masking, but don’t require it. From one angle, we are joining the rest of society where mask mandates were disappearing all last year. In my experience, the only place you find mask mandates now is in health care facilities. Waiting so long to remove our mandate definitely made us an outlier. It seems like such a simple change, like it could have happened sooner. But it wasn’t simple. This change carries huge symbolic weight. Masks are loaded with symbolic energy now, engendering not only heated conversations, but full-blown arguments, disruptions of school board meetings, lawsuits, even fist-fights over the value of science, about the role and effectiveness of public health protocols, public health officials and public health agencies, about freedom and personal choice, about educational pedagogy, about parents’ rights, about workplace safety. Remember April of 2020 when we and every other congregation were desperately sewing masks to donate to hospital staff, and we were becoming aware of huge disparities when it came to which workers got personal protective gear and which workers didn’t? Masks are a big deal.

I wear my mask faithfully in the grocery store and really anywhere I go in public where I expect to encounter large groups of people I don’t know in potentially close quarters. When I walk in and I’m the only one wearing a mask, my mind races, my anxiety rises. What do people think? Do they think I’m sick? Paranoid? Self-righteous? Are they judging me as one of those people who believes in science? Am I judging them? Why aren’t they wearing masks? Do they not care about my health and well-being? Do they follow Covid Act Now? I have no opportunity to explain why I am still wearing a mask. I can’t strike up that conversation with random people. So I feel …. isolated. Masks are loaded with symbolic energy.

For our congregation, for the Emergency Preparedness Team, the Policy Board and the staff, that energy had and still has everything to do with meeting the needs of the most vulnerable among us. From March of 2020 we’ve been doing our best to center the needs of the people at most risk for greater health complications or death if they were to contract Covid. That has meant mandating mask-wearing inside our meeting house. As the Policy Board was discussing the removal of the mandate, the primary question was: what about the most vulnerable? The last thing we want to do in removing our mask mandate is inadvertently say to covid-vulnerable people: you’re on your own now! thereby creating more isolation, even as the end of the mask mandate actually reduces isolation for others. We remain fully committed to doing everything we can to center the needs of the most vulnerable. I want to share some preliminary steps we’re taking to do that.

Thank you to the members of the Pastoral Friends Committee. They are developing a UUS:E buddy system. If, in this post-pandemic time, you feel isolated, vulnerable, not sure how to navigate the loosening of restrictions here or anywhere, maybe you’d like a church buddy; someone to check in with from time to time, someone with whom you can share your concerns, someone who will listen to you and to whom you will listen. It’s totally voluntary. If that’s something you’d like, watch our eblast for information, or contact me. We will set you up with a buddy.

We’re also getting ready to launch three new small group ministries. For those who are unfamiliar with this program, small groups are usually 7-10 people who meet monthly to check in with each other and discuss topics relevant to our spiritual lives. They provide an excellent opportunity to build deeper relationships with a few people, which can sometimes be difficult in a congregation as large as ours. I want to encourage people who are feeling isolated to consider joining one of these groups when they are ready to go. And for people who still feel unsafe meeting in person, we are designing one of them as an online only option. The others, we expect, will be hybrid meetings, meaning some people will attend in person while others participate online at the same time. And if I say “online” and you start to feel even more isolated because you’d like to participate, but you aren’t very tech savvy and have trouble with platforms like Zoom, let us know. We have folks who can coach you.

These are just two ideas. We’d love to hear other ideas and I encourage you to share with me or Sally Gifford who is the current Pastoral Friends chair. Even if you don’t have an idea to share, if you are feeling isolated in this post-pandemic era, for any reason, I encourage you to say it out loud. Say it to me. Say it to someone in the congregation to whom you feel close. Let’s talk about it. Maybe there’s nothing we can do, no change we can make, no action we can take in response. But in the very least we can know. And you will be acknowledged, believed, supported, loved.

Earlier I read to you a passage from the activist, organizer, writer adrienne maree brown, in which she talks about learning to ask for help. It wasn’t easy. It took practice. There were a lot of cultural norms around not sharing that got in her way. But she learned to ask, even when she knew there was no way she could return the favor to the person helping her, and it changed her life. “The result of this experience is that I feel so much more woven into the world. I still anticipate independence, my default can-do self space. But I don’t want to sever any of this connecting fabric between myself and all of the incredible people who held me through [difficult times], saw me, corrected me, held me in my contradictions, met my needs. I want more of my life to feel this interdependent, this of community and humanity.”[2]

Community, family, friendship: always messy. Never perfect. But what are we here for—in this faith community, but also on this planet—if not to be there for each other when times get tough. Vulnerabilities and isolation are a part of the human condition. They are not going away. But here’s the happy ending. This congregation will do its best to address the needs of the vulnerable among us. This congregation will do its best to reduce isolation and increase belonging. And in doing so, all our lives will feel more interdependent, more, in brown’s words, of community, more of humanity.

Amen and blessed be.

[1] brown, adrienne maree, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds (Chico, CA: AK Press, 2017) p. 95.

[2] brown, adrienne maree, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds (Chico, CA: AK Press, 2017) p. 96.

Participate in our “UU the Vote” Efforts!!!

Despondent about democracy?  Enraged about Roe?  Harness that energy with UU the Vote, our denomination-wide effort to fight for fair elections, advance voting rights, protect abortion access, and resist the targeting and criminalization of Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities. UUS:E members have already started writing letters to traditionally under-represented voters urging them to vote. It’s quick, easy, and something you can do from home.

Sign up through UU the Vote’s partner organization, Vote Forward, at voteforward.org.  They’ll provide print-ready letters encouraging voter participation along with names/addresses.  You print the letters, add a brief handwritten personal message, and address and stamp the envelopes.  We’ll mail our letters in late October for maximum effect.

There’s one more step.  In order to be counted as part of UUS:E’s effort to UU the Vote, please email: Maude McGovern at [email protected].  She will also provide tips and answer questions.

And if all this sounds familiar, it’s because in 2020 UUS:E members and friends wrote almost 6,000 (yes, 6,000!) letters.  Join us in 2022!

Please know also that UU the Vote has many resources and ideas on getting involved with voter turnout for the 2022 midterm elections. Explore their website here.

UUS:E Policy Board removes mask mandate

Dear UUS:E members and friends:

The UUS:E Policy Board has voted to remove the mask mandate at the meeting house. Though we still recommend wearing masks when present for services and events, they are no longer mandatory. Please take a moment to view Rev. Josh’s message about this change.

Moral Monday Teach-in on the Poor Peoples’ Campaign (June 11, 3:30 PM)

Leaders from Moral Monday CT will be at UUS:E on Saturday afternoon, June 11th from 3:30 to 5:00 to discuss the latest news from the Poor People’s Campaign and the June 18th mass action in Washington, DC. Questions? Contact Rev. Josh Pawelek at [email protected]

 

Final Report and Analysis of the April 2022 Covid-19 Questionnaire

UUS:E Emergency Preparedness Team, May 24, 2022

Table of Contents

Introduction                                                                                      

Section 1 – The 7 situations ranked for levels of comfort:                    

  • Mandatory mask wearing
  • Social distancing
  • Limiting attendance
  • Food and drinks being allowed
  • Leaving windows open
  • The Omicron subvariant BA.2 continuing as cause of surge
  • Overall comfort with restrictions at the time of the survey

Section II – Reporting on several questionnaire Narrative categories:

  • Expectations on different rates of removing restrictions
  • Reporting on 4 categories spontaneously listed:
    1. Having Zoom meetings
    2. The presence of the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron
    3. Concern for the vulnerable – the unvaccinated and immunocompromised.
    4. Offering suggestions for considerations
  • Reporting on 3 categories that won’t affect future decisions:
  1. No comments offered
  2. Miscellaneous comments
  3. Expressions of appreciation

    Introduction

In late February, 2022, the CDC changed the recommendations for groups and agencies to implement mitigation steps.  The new process is now to recommend actions taken by individuals based on hospital admissions and deaths in the counties in which they live.  The primary reason for this change was impatience by the public to follow mandated mask wearing and vaccination recommendations imposed for participation in organizations and agency gatherings.

This new streamlined approach allows people to view Covid-19 as being endemic.  It will never completely go away.  However, scientists expect that these guidelines will result in higher morbidity and mortality than with other endemic diseases like the seasonal flu.  The assessment of risk is now up to the individual.

The UUS:E Policy Board has defined the need to set individual restrictions based on the scientific analysis of the rise and fall of the surges and on the perception of acceptable safety by the congregation.  In this confusing interaction between science, politics and culture, what are the differing perceptions of acceptable safety levels within our church family?  This questionnaire was developed to provide some answers.  The following summarizes the findings:

Report of Findings and Analysis of the April 2022 Questionnaire

The questionnaire is in two parts.  Seven situations were cited and the responders were asked to indicate the degree of comfort they felt with each.  Then, a second section asked for narrative comments.

Section I – Rating of comfort level for different situations:  On the following pages, each situation in Section I of the questionnaire asked the respondent to rank their perception to different actions on a scale of 1 to 5.  For the following analyses, the two levels of scoring at either side were consolidated in the resulting graphs to visually discern the three sides of the issue.  All original data from the responses are displayed.

 

 

 1) – Mandatory Mask Wearing 

“If wearing masks was optional, how comfortable would you be attending these events?”

Discussion: Of all the respondents, (46%) indicated they would be most or more comfortable if they or others were allowed to enter the building unmasked than those (31%) who would be less or least comfortable.  Part of this finding includes many who might prefer not to wear masks.  Another part is those who could feel uncomfortable breathing air that might contain aerosoled varioles exhaled by unmasked others, putting them at risk for infection, even if they were wearing a mask

Analysis: In the future, these respondents would tend to accept changes to lessen restrictions on mandatory face masks more than we have done before.  But the percentage of those who would be less comfortable have to be considered by not moving this way rapidly.  More education is needed on the need for better ventilation as a pre-requisite to lessen mask wearing to make such a move safer.

This analysis will be used as we develop future changes to our policies.

 

2) – Social Distancing

 “If social distancing was not required for events, RE, or Sunday services,
would you feel okay with that?”

 

 Discussion: More respondents (49%) of the respondents would feel greater comfort than the 32% who would feel lesser comfort if they were allowed to sit closer together during Sunday services and other gatherings.  It is now recognized that Covid-19 infections are spread by aerosoled varioles suspended in the air.  Anyone who is infectious can reduce the release of their virus particles into the air by wearing a properly fitted mask.  The ambient air near the infectious person not wearing a mask will have a higher concentration of varioles as they disperse throughout the room. making social distancing important to control the spread.

Analysis: If a future decision is considered to reduce social distancing, the level of mask wearing needs to be examined.  And, again, the percentage of those who would be less comfortable have to be considered by not moving this way too rapidly.

This analysis will be used as we develop future changes to our policies.

 

 3) – Limiting Attendance

“If limits on Sunday services (currently 60) were lifted, would that be of concern to you.”

 (NOTE: Responses indicating greater risk are displayed in the above graph by its equivalent, lesser comfort)

 Discussion:  Fewer people (32%) would have greater comfort with an increase in the attendance at Sunday services and other gatherings than the 49% than would be uncomfortable.

Analysis: If a decision is made to increase the attendance limit, it should be more limited than we are used to making in the past.  But the change should not be seen as precipitous as those with lesser comfort would resist.  The consideration of improved ventilation with the HVS system would be an important factor to consider with such a decision.

This analysis will be used as we develop future changes to our policies.

 

4) – Food and Drinks Being Allowed

 “Would you be comfortable if food and drink were allowed at events, RE or Sunday services?”

 Discussion: More respondents (55%) feel greater comfort with having coffee and snacks or meals in the building than the 28% who would feel uncomfortable.  The immediate cause for this may be the familiarity people have eating in restaurants.  The frequent cause for limiting this variable is that masks cannot be kept on when drinking and eating.  But as restaurants are learning, adequate ventilation and social distancing between patrons can compensate for not wearing masks.

Analysis: Drinking and eating might be considered possible as long as there is adequate ventilation – including improving the HVAC system, and meeting out of doors – and keeping small groups standing or diners sitting less crowded closely together.

This analysis will be used as we develop future changes to our policies

 

5) – Leaving Windows Open 

“If windows were not open during events RE or Sunday services, would that be of concern to you?”

(NOTE: Responses indicating greater risk are displayed in the above graph by its equivalent, lesser comfort)

 Discussion:  Fewer respondents (34%) reported feeling greater comfort than the 46% that would feel lesser comfort if the windows were closed during meetings.  It has been reported that cold air in winter, and humid air in summer makes the rooms uncomfortable.

Analysis: These findings lend urgency to modifying the HVAC system to provide adequate outside air in rooms allowing the windows to remain closed.

 This analysis will be used as we develop future changes to our policies

 

6) – The Omicron Subvariant BA.2 Continuing as Cause of Surge

“To what extent will the new variant BA.2 impact your thinking on safety on attendance at events, RE or Sunday services?”

 (NOTE: Responses indicating greater risk are displayed in the above graph by its equivalent, lesser comfort)

 Discussion: More respondents (46%) reported they are not impacted in making decisions about safety considering the BA.2 subvariant before attending gatherings at the church.  This contrasts with the 35% who said they were influenced.  This balance shows that many respondents are aware of the greater risks presented by this subvariant being more infectious while not resulting in more serious disease.

Analysis: This balanced awareness and concern over the characteristics of different mutations of Covid-19 does not significantly impact the perception of acceptable levels of safety of the various mitigation measures we are considering in the future.

 

7) – Overall Comfort with Restrictions at the Time of The Survey

 “Presently, with precautions in place, how comfortable are you attending events, Religious Education (RE) or Sunday services?”

 

 Discussion: The vast majority of the respondents (74%) expressed their greater confidence in attending events at the church with the precautions that are in place.  This contrasts with 12% who are less than comfortable.  One explanation for this may be the people who are vulnerable – unvaccinated, or unable to gain immunity if vaccinated, because of their immunological condition, and other risk factors.  There is certainly a psychological consideration where many may have lingering concerns or fears about the coronavirus pandemic and its possible impact on one’s health.

Analysis: The response to this variable is reassuring that the general sense of acceptable safety has and continues to be met.  It also stresses the importance of virtual alternatives, e.g. Zoom meetings, to continue to meet the needs of those who feel uncomfortable with attending in-person gatherings.

 

Section II – Categorization of 147 narrative responses.  For each of the questionnaire forms returned, the respondent was asked to make comments.  Entries were made (or not made) of thoughts as they came to mind.  A review of all comments found that all entries fit into one of nine categories.  A tenth category was defined as “no comments.”  It is noted that some of the narratives offered several thoughts that fit more than one category and these were all assigned.  Therefore, the total number of entries in all categories are greater than the 147 responses listed.

 

8)  – Opinions on need for faster or slower movement to return to normal

Description: Of the 147 returns, 51 (35%) offered comments in the narrative portion about the pace of reopening in the face of ever-fluctuating risk in the number of Covid-19 that rise and fall.

Analysis: In the future, these respondents would likely accept changes that would be slightly less restrictive than we have made before.  But that edge is narrow, and dramatic moves to remove or impose restrictions would not be possible.  Those on either side can easily see that not everyone feels the same way that they do.

 This analysis will help us pace the development of future changes to our policies. 

 

Three separate considerations were analyzed.

These three categories are separately discussed:

A. Zoom Meetings: 14 (10%) of the 147 respondents mentioned Zoom meetings in their narrative comments. All were appreciative of having this resource.

B. Reference to BA.2: 10 (7%) of the people completing the narrative made reference to the then current Omicron subvariant causing the upsurge in cases.

C. Protect the Vulnerable: 7 (5%) of the respondents referred to those who are not or cannot be vaccinated. Some of these may be among the vulnerable people.

D. Suggestions Made: For the 21 (14%) who offered suggestions for future activity, a listing follows on the next page:

 Suggestions:

  • It is important to encourage attendance to maintain a sense of community.
  • A slow, measured reopening should happen based on the Covid status.
  • If we raise the limit of attendees to over 60, we must require masks.
  • We must maintain any two strategies: Limited attendance/social distancing OR masks and windows open for services.
  • (3 people commented) Hold outdoor services (perhaps using a tent).
  • (2 people commented) Modify the HVAC system to improve ventilation.
  • What if we required everyone to be boosted?
  • (3 people commented) We should use the new CDC guidelines as the primary tool for church safety.
  • We should require no hugs and no handshakes.
  • Individually packaged snacks outdoors (as is done for RE) is okay.
  • (2 people commented) Food and drink or other activities outside are good.
  • How about requiring vaccinations for those over 12?
  • If BA.2 continues to surge just a bit, we should not change the protocols.
  • “If people don’t feel well, they should stay home” should be stressed.
  • Consider installing UV lights in the air ducts.

Analysis: Many of these suggestions support work behind the scenes to increase safety in the future.  Many ideas are either too complicated or expensive to carry out at this time.  And they might not achieve any improvement in safety.  But each was reviewed and appreciated because they demonstrate that all respondents were thinking and willing to share in the maintenance of a safe environment in our church.

Some of this analysis will be used to suggest future changes to our building infrastructure and our policies.  Others will trigger explanations on the scientifically approved mitigation techniques to make the environment safe.  See upcoming articles in the weekly postings of the Frequently Asked Questions in the E-Blast, posters and by other means.

 

 Findings not influencing future decisions are analyzed:

These three categories are discussed separately:

A. No Comment: The narrative section of the survey was designed so that the space to make comments had to have an entry to be returned. A blank space held the survey form open.  Many wrote in “no comment” or “N/A”.  A few entered just a period “.” 19% of the 147 returned forms contained no comments.

B. Miscellaneous Comments: Of the survey forms returned, 12% stated comments that did not fall into the 10 categories defining the above discussions. Most of these were just verbal restatements of the preferences stated in Section 1, above.  One example, the words that stated: “I feel most comfortable when everyone is wearing a mask.”

C. Appreciation and Thanks: of the 147 people filling out the narratives, 10% took the time to express their gratitude to the members of the task force, for conceiving, conducting and reporting on this survey, and for all their work over two years to keep the UUS:E safe.

In exchange, the members of the Policy Board, the Emergency Preparedness Task Force and the church staff return their appreciation for the help and cooperation everyone provided as we work toward improving safety.

 

 

The Glass is Refillable: Community Care During Difficult Times

A Workshop with CB Beal
Saturday, June 4th, 9 am to noon

Who and What: CB Beal will lead participants in a grounded, thoughtful experience with humor and a light touch about the complex reality of engaging in community care during difficult times. (Sponsored by the Adult Religious Education Committee and Rev. Josh Pawelek)

When and Where: Saturday, June 4th, 9:00 to Noon in the UUS:E sanctuary

Register

Why: Human physiology—our brains and bodies—reacts to the damaging and dangerous events in our lives such as pandemic, police violence, personal injury, or loss of bodily autonomy in our legal system. Humans can regulate our emotions together, whether by accident of circumstance or with intention. Humans often get upset together and we can ground and calm together.  Intentionally co-regulating is a community skill many of us were never taught in families that prioritized pretense or image over emotional presence, or in a culture based on white supremacy and patriarchy that prioritized denial and compliance over emotional processing.

How:  CB will facilitate an experience that invites us to engage one another, bear witness, and enjoy fun learning activities. Community Care means that we mindfully tell the truth about what is difficult, and that we listen carefully to others and affirm their experiences. We will breathe together, practice slowing down, choose to prioritize need over preference, and then slow down more when needs appear to be in conflict.

Note: This will be the first in-person congregational workshop CB has done since before the pandemic. Being in-person will enable us to be present with one another, to be reflective and curious, to move our bodies together in space and learn together, present and grounded — practicing community care.

For the Sake of Inclusion:

  • Childcare will be provided upon request. Please contact Rev. Josh Pawelek by Tuesday, May 31st to request childcare.
  • Please come to this workshop wearing no fragrances (other than the natural scents of some body products such as coconut or jojoba oils.)
  • Please come to this workshop wearing a well-fitted N95 quality mask to ensure we are doing everything possible to protect those most vulnerable to Covid. (Two-way high quality masking increases the safety for vulnerable people between 10-100 times—depending on how well fitted they are—over that of a single vulnerable person wearing an N95 quality mask.)
  • There is a $10 fee to attend this workshop. If you are not in a position to pay for the workshop, please contact Rev. Josh Pawelek. Nobody will be turned away for lack of fund!

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