March 13, 2020: COVID-19 Announcement

Beloved UCM members and friends,

This is an extraordinary moment for our church and broader communities as we grapple with the coronavirus pandemic which is yet in its early stages here in Vermont and changing rapidly as time goes on.

Some of you have already started sharing concerns about how the spread of the virus and the disease it causes may impact you and your loved ones. Some of you have already started raising questions about what this means for our church and our church’s ministries and programs.

This is a frightening time, and it is natural that we are all feeling worried, stressed, and anxious.

Please know that the leadership of this congregation recognizes the vital role the Unitarian Church of Montpelier (and any religious community) plays in creating and sustaining social and spiritual connection. As we make plans to respond to this public health emergency, we are prioritizing caring for one another as a church community and also making practical, informed decisions about the operations of our church to do all we can to protect your health and the health of the general public.

The Executive Team and Board have decided to follow the recommendation of the Unitarian Universalist Association to “avoid gatherings of more than 25 people, including worship and religious education, for the time being.” To that end, Sunday morning programs, including worship and spiritual exploration, and any church gatherings of more than 25 people will be immediately suspended until further notice. All events scheduled to take place in the church building for the next two weeks (church-sponsored events as well as non-church events) will be canceled, and we will reevaluate after that time. We WILL continue to offer a free meal on Mondays and are exploring options to do this without gathering inside the Vestry. We are also committed to continue serving guests of the Bethany Overflow Shelter on Thursday evenings in some way.

This Sunday, March 15, we will LIVE STREAM our worship service at 10AM. Go to our church website or follow our Facebook page to find the stream.

Further updates about current church programs and initiatives like March Mystery Madness and the Annual Budget drive will be coming soon.

Committee chairs and group facilitators will be receiving further communications and guidance about conducting your meetings or programs remotely. Stay tuned.

We are also mindful of our continued need to care for one another especially now in this time when our physical distance causes us to lose an important aspect of our community. “Social distancing,” however, does not mean we lose all of our social connection!

The Lay Pastoral Care Ministry Team will be reaching out to individuals within the congregation.The Caring Network will be offering to assign people to small groups of five or six households to provide support to each other in the event of quarantines or illness, or just provide emotional and social support. A separate email will arrive in the next few days and if you reply with some basic information, you will be assigned a group in your area with varying ages and abilities to assist. Remember, “Don’t Touch–Stay in Touch!”

If you or someone you know does not regularly receive online communications, please call Rev. Joan (802-223-7861 x1) to let us know so that we can be in touch with you in other ways.

This is uncharted territory for us all. There is certainly much grief and sorrow as we find our lives dramatically disrupted. Yet, this is also a time for us to creatively adapt to the new possibilities present. And, now more than ever, we can feel the power of our connections to one another. We are all in this together, and our shared compassion, care, and service is needed to face this challenge.

Please know that you do not need to face any of this alone. You can always reach out to me to meet in person, over the phone, or even over FaceTime, Google Hangouts, etc. (802-223-7861 x1).

May we find resilience in the care we receive and that we show one another.
Though we may need to keep our distance, may we know we are not alone.
May we rely on one another and a Wisdom beyond our understanding
Knowing that a deep love abides.

With love,

Rev. Joan