What You Can Expect at Church on September 19

Fred Hulting and Rev. Lisa Friedman

We had a successful return to in-person Sunday Services last weekend, with about 50 people in the building and an equal number online.  A big thank you to our staff and volunteers for making everything run so smoothly.  To learn more about our approach to managing COVID as we return to the building, please read our welcome back article from September 12th.

This weekend we are very excited to welcome our children and youth back to in-person RE.  Jennifer and the CYRE team have been working closely with parents to develop new procedures for the classes and to create outdoor classrooms for grades 1-6.  This is a big milestone for our reopening, as our families have really been looking forward to getting back together at church. Continue reading →

Welcome Back to the Church!

What you can expect on September 12

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 →

From the Board: September 2021

Each month, a member of the board will share a reflection on the Soul Matters monthly theme and the state of the church. The theme for September is Embracing Possibility. This month’s post is offered by Fred Hulting.

September has arrived and – just like every other year – we are returning to schools and work and churches after summer breaks.  Of course, this year is not like every other year, as the challenges of the last 18 months have changed the world around us.  We now find ourselves doing the same old things, but in ways we’ve never done them before.

So, as we get ready for reopening our UUCM church building, it is understandable that we are approaching this with caution.  We will be finding our way over the next weeks and months, guided by the values of safety, inclusion, and consent, as Rev Lisa tells us in her midweek video message. Continue reading →

August 20 Update on Church Re-Opening

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.

August 6: Phased Reopening Update

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.