Our building is closed but our community, hearts, and minds are open! 

This phrase, or something like it, is in the email signature line for several of us on staff at OUUC.  When the Governor closed everything down in March, we worked hard to stay as connected and open as we could.  We made several decisions to preserve as much openness as possible: we decided to offer live rather than pre-recorded services; to use Zoom so we could all see each other; and to post our Zoom login link on the OUUC website so newcomers and visitors can still join us for worship on Sunday morning and other events, too.

In other words, we’ve worked to keep our virtual doors as open as our building and sanctuary doors were.  I have been and remain so proud of you all for working together to stay connected despite the challenges.

Today, after almost six months of stay-at-home orders, our beautiful building is still mostly closed. This is in line with our state and county health guidance, and our Unitarian Universalist principles to care for each other and for those most at risk. I wish I had a crystal ball so I could know when we can gather in one place for worship again. Sadly, I don’t expect that will be soon.  In the meantime, some of us gather outside OUUC just to converse or start off on a walk. Many others have worked to care for the beautiful OUUC grounds.

And, on Sunday afternoon, September 13, we hope to see as many of you as possible as we gather (at a safe distance) at OUUC for giving and receiving.  (Check out the Drive-Through event on September 13 from 3 – 4:30 pm!)

And, be encouraged that we are working to be ready for reopening and being together again!  An OUUC task group is researching everything we need to do to prepare for reopening. This group emerged from and is continuing the work of a task group that the board created in January to consider ways to address crowding in the sanctuary. The Capacity Task Force has expanded its mission and is tackling the job of creating policies, procedures, and protocols for buildings and grounds use during these times. They are figuring out what we need in the way of supplies, information, and protocols so that everyone can stay as safe as possible. I am deeply grateful to these folks and ask that you join me in thanking them: Chris Parke, Jerald Dodson, Mary Ann Thompson, Tim Ransom, Frank Turner, Polly Taylor, Pat Sonnestuhl, and Marie Arensmeyer.

It may be possible for small groups to gather at OUUC before too long. But first, we need some things in place, such as building modifications such as increased ventilation capacity for more fresh air exchanges; changes to the bathrooms to decrease the risk of spread of the virus; and new protocols for sanitizing and cleaning everywhere.  We’re moving as quickly as we can and yet with due care for each other, and with full recognition that COVID is often a matter of life and death for vulnerable persons, of which there are many among us, with many others connected to the rest of us.

So, for now, the building will remain mostly closed. But even so, we remain connected across the world-wide-web and the web of life.

Hold on to faith and hope–our community, hearts, and minds are open still.

Blessings on your week.

Rev. Mary