Fred Hulting and Rev. Lisa Friedman
With the increase in vaccination rates, and the relaxation of state COVID restrictions, many of you are asking the question: “when will we reopen the church?” We are all looking forward to a time when we get back together safely and resume many of our familiar rituals and programs.
At its May 13th meeting, the Board approved a plan from Rev. Lisa Friedman for the phased reopening of the church. This approach will accommodate the needs of our community, while ensuring the safety of our staff, members, and friends. And it will give our staff the necessary time to work through the many details required to reopen the building. This is not just a return to the way things were. We get to learn from the past year and work towards a new multi-platform ministry, with Sunday services and other programs available both in-person and online.
Currently we are in Phase 1, which allows for very limited access to the building and some outdoor events with masks and social distancing. In June we will move to Phase 2, which will initially make it easier to hold outdoor events with access to the building restrooms. The CYRE team is planning outdoor family gatherings, for example, as well as an August open house for new and returning families. We will also work towards bringing groups of up to 25 people into the building, and allowing exceptions for specific events (e.g. memorial services).
During the summer, UUCM will be participating in a worship collaboration with 6 other congregations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, where we will be sharing services and taking turns hosting. This collaboration will allow the staff time to work on a proposal for Phase 3, which will include multiplatform worship, in-person and online options for CYRE, and procedures to allow the regular use of the church by groups. We expect the Board to approve the move to Phase 3 at its August meeting so that we are ready by early September, but we are keeping open the possibility of a “soft” open in August, if the technology permits. Phase 4, a full return to the “new normal” will happen later in the year.
Current trends with the pandemic are encouraging, but forecasting the path forward is difficult and we will adapt as needed. Still, we are optimistic that in the Fall we will be gathering again in our building. Please watch the Friday update for updates on the progress of the reopening, and please reach out to us with questions at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.