Dear Friends,

Last night the Board made the difficult decision to cancel church until at least the end of March. The UU churches in Concord, Manchester, Peterborough and Nashua have made similar decisions to suspend in-person worship and programming. The Board is taking this step to try to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We are following the direction of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, President of the UUA, writes, “We strongly recommend that congregations avoid gatherings of more than 25 people, including worship and religious education, for the time being.”  Read Rev. Gray’s letter in its entirety here: https://www.uua.org/pressroom/press-releases/preparing-coronavirus-your-congregation .

All of us are disappointed by the need to take what may seem like drastic measures. But everything I have read about minimizing the impact of the illness advocates social distancing, and the timing is everything. Making this decision before a lot of people present with symptoms can dramatically reduce the number of active cases. It is the only way to help prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed as the number of cases increases. If we can flatten the curve, our healthcare system will have more resources to treat the people who need care the most. Implemented early and wisely, social distancing slows the spread of the pandemic, making it more likely hospitals and medical professionals will be able to handle active cases.

At a time when many of us feel somewhat helpless in the face of this public health challenge, social distancing may be the most powerful tool we have right now to prevent the spread of this virus.

Our Mission Statement begins with these words: “We are a compassionate spiritual community…” Compassion in this case requires us to consider the impact this virus is having and will have on the most vulnerable among us. We understand that we’re all in this together and that the decisions we make have an impact well beyond our circle. We draw that circle wide every Sunday to include those people to whom we want to extend our reach. I invite you to consider how we can draw the circle wide from a distance. I will be working with the Worship Committee and Communications Team to set up opportunities for us to gather online, using ZOOM. Stay tuned for details.

Together we can light a chalice, share joys and concerns, spend some time in meditation, and reflect together. Mostly, it will be a way to connect with and support one another during this challenging time.

Another great opportunity to worship with other UU’s is by joining the Church of the Larger Fellowship for their weekly worship service online: https://www.questformeaning.org/worship/. UU’s from all over the world participate in this virtual service that happens every Sunday evening at 8pm.

This is also a good time to think about picking up the phone and calling people you know who might need support. If you need a current directory let the office know. Jamie can send you one electronically or get you a hard copy. If you can’t get out to get groceries or medications, please call the church office and let Jamie know. We’ll do our best to get you what you need.

It is especially disappointing to have to postpone our annual Stewardship Celebration scheduled for March 22nd. A lot of dedicated and creative folks have invested so much in creating a delightfully inspiring worship service and a delicious brunch. This is an event sure to nourish body and soul that we have every intention of rescheduling.

It’s hard to think about the opportunities that will surely arise from this challenge, but they’re there — and among them are new opportunities to learn and grow and care for one another both within and beyond the walls of UUCM. This is a great time to dream about the possibilities your gifts inspire. So – keep thinking about your pledge and what UUCM means to you. We have some very real opportunities to realize the best of who we can be together during the coming weeks and months. We can begin by reframing this challenge as a spiritual opportunity as suggested in this poem written by Rev. Lynn Ungar:

Pandemic
 
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath —
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
 
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
 
Promise this world your love --
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

Faithfully Yours,
Rev. Carol