(Archive) Welcome Back to the Church!

(Archive) Online Worship Note: If you would like to continue attending worship online, please check your Friday Update email for the Zoom link and follow the usual steps to connect. For technical support, text your name to 612-486-2656 (or call) and a member of our team will help you.

Fred Hulting and Rev. Lisa Friedman
We are looking forward to welcoming everyone back this weekend for the multi-generational Ingathering Service that marks the traditional start of the UUCM program year!

As discussed in previous articles, the church has moved to Phase 3 of our COVID-19 building reopening plan, which allows regular use of the building with safety protocols still in place. Please know that the Board, the staff, and our volunteers are all working hard to offer a multi-platform worship experience and to minimize the risks association with gathering in-person at the church.

In creating a new hybrid in-person and online version of Sunday mornings, we are working through many difficult decisions.  These decisions are grounded in the values of safety, inclusion, and consent (see Rev Lisa’s video).  They are informed by MN regulations, UUA recommendations, and CDC guidance.  And they reflect the feedback that over 60 Members and Friends provided during the recent survey. We heard that many of you are looking forward to returning in-person and being in community.  We also heard that you have concerns about the spread of the virus and want us to take precautions (e.g., masking). We are planning accordingly. Continue reading →

(Archive) August 20 Update on Church Re-Opening

(Archive) Fred Hulting and Rev. Lisa Friedman

As mentioned in our last update, the Board of Trustees met with Rev. Lisa last weekend to discuss a move to Phase 3 of our COVID reopening plan, which would allow us to return to regular building use with some safety protocols in place.

There are good reasons to open the church this Fall. Parents want to see the return of in-person religious education, which is more effective for children and youth. Others are seeking a worship experience that cannot be offered over Zoom. And many of us are looking forward to seeing people during social time in the community room. Still, as we are all aware, there are risks associated with the return. Risks that will change over time.

After a long discussion, the Board approved the continued work by staff and volunteers toward a Phase 3 reopening on September 12th. This is subject to finalizing the necessary policies and procedures. We will keep monitoring the situation, and pause this work if the COVID situation worsens. As we get closer to reopening, specific protocols will be communicated so you can make informed decisions about participation.

Even as we move ahead, Lisa will continue to have the authority to enact restrictions for the safety of the congregation and our staff, such as the current mask requirement for everyone in the building. Still, on September 12th we hope to:

  • Restart in-person RE for Nursery through 12th grade, either downstairs or outdoors.  Jennifer and the CYRE team are working with families to develop procedures that will keep our children and youth safe and healthy.
  • Hold Sunday worship services in the Sanctuary, and continue to offer the services over Zoom.  Our new audio and video system will allow us to share the in-person service with virtual attendees.

Please watch the church communications  for continued updates, and please reach out to us with questions at boardpresident@uucmtka.org or revlisa@uucmtka.org.

(Archive) August 6: Phased Reopening Update

(Archive) Fred Hulting and Rev. Lisa Friedman

In May, we shared an update on the phased reopening of the church during summer and fall. At that time we were full of optimism given increasing vaccinations, lower infection rates, and a loosening of restrictions in Minnesota.  In July, we moved into Phase 2 and began allowing small groups to use the church with fewer restrictions. It has been fun to see people gather in the church and to reconnect after such a long time.  Now, as September approaches, we continue to work towards Phase 3, which would allow us to return to regular building use, including Sunday worship.

At the end of our May update, we wrote “Current trends with the pandemic are encouraging, but forecasting the path forward is difficult and we will adapt as needed.”  And so here we are, trying to navigate a difficult path forward as the Delta variant creates new challenges for our community.

For now, our Phase 2 protocols remain in effect, and small groups and priority events (e.g. memorial services) may continue in the building. However, the Board has given Rev. Lisa authority to enact additional restrictions – such as requiring masks for all persons in the building – whenever she feels it is necessary for the safety of the congregation and our staff.  For example, at memorial services we are asking all those attending to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. So, if you are coming to the building, thank you in advance for adhering to the posted policies and guidelines. To request event space, please fill out this form.

The Board will meet with Rev. Lisa in mid-August to discuss the situation in Hennepin County and review the necessary steps that will allow up to move to Phase 3 and begin to hold in-person services in September.  But even as we welcome you into the building, we will continue to offer virtual options for Sunday services and for many church events. The successful fundraising for our new audio and video system in the Sanctuary is making that possible.

Please watch the church communications  for continued updates on the progress of the reopening, and please reach out to us with questions at boardpresident@uucmtka.org or revlisa@uucmtka.org.

(Archive) Plans for a Phased Reopening of the Church

(Archive) 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. Continue reading →

(Archive) Update on COVID-19 Preparedness for UUCM

(Archive) Fred Hulting, Board President

As mentioned in my earlier post, the Board of Trustees is developing plans to manage the short- and long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the activities of the UUCM community. To accelerate this work, the Board created a COVID Task Force led by Cathy Bujold. The members of that Task Force include volunteers and staff with experience in COVID workplace regulations, knowledge of church practices, and expertise with our facility: Shelley Buss, Lisa Stock, Allison Laura, Bob Dachelet, and Rev. Lisa Friedman.

Guided by state regulations, advice from the UUA, and the latest science, the Task Force has initially been focused on the risks of using our building. The recommended approach is to open the building in four phases, gradually allowing more people into the building as we are able to do safely. We are currently in Phase 1, which allows for a small group of four to five staff and volunteers to be in the building for specific needs and purposes. There is no timetable for moving to Phases 2, 3, and 4.

A detailed Phase 1 Preparedness Plan has been created by the Task Force and approved by the Board.  The plan’s emphasis is on enabling our staff to do their jobs safely and accommodating necessary volunteer activities.  It covers building access and use procedures, health and safety policies for staff and volunteers, and facilities maintenance and cleaning protocols.  The Board has also appointed our Minister, Rev. Lisa Friedman, as the Plan Administrator.  Lisa will manage the implementation of the plan and she will coordinate training for staff and volunteers who must be in the building at this time. Continue reading →