Dear UCM Congregation,
We write today to say hello and share our thoughts as we enter our Vermont winter. The days are getting shorter, storm windows and snow tires are being dusted off and bikes are trading places with skis and snowshoes. We hope this letter finds you happy & healthy.
As we pass the 600-day mark since we last convened in the Sanctuary, we are reminded of these difficult times. Although it brings great individual & social challenges, we are grateful and privileged to be part of the UCM community. We want to assure you that it is the top priority of the Board, Executive Team, and Staff to find ways to bring our community together, to stay connected, and to resume in-person activities as soon as conditions allow. We send this letter to provide an update on church activities and to reach out and solicit your feedback and suggestions.
Our weekly Sunday morning worship services continue in the virtual world, and we look forward to reconvening in our building as soon as possible. We assure you that a large group of dedicated people are working on how best to reconvene in the safest and healthiest way possible for everyone.
First, a quick update on our church building. As you probably know, we have several groups working on updating the building to accommodate challenges associated with the global pandemic. We are installing an HVAC system that circulates fresh air throughout our old building, and an audio/visual upgrade that accommodates multi-platform (in-person and virtual) services.
The Air Quality System has been designed by SLADE Engineering. We have sent the final bid package to four contractors interested in bidding. Contractor bids are due on Monday Dec. 6th. The Executive Team and Air Quality Project Management Team will select a contractor within a week thereafter, and work will begin as soon as possible after that date. Our Air Quality Project Team is working diligently to expedite the project.
If you have been logging on to our Sunday Services, you may have noticed that we’ve installed new cameras in the Sanctuary. We have constructed a new “AV Room” and are currently upgrading the electric service to accommodate AV needs. The addition of this technical capacity brings wonderful opportunities for anyone wanting to learn about digital media production. Please visit the website to learn more. The Air Quality Project and Tech Upgrade Team hosts bimonthly meetings, 2nd & 4th Tuesdays at 5:30pm to update the congregation, and to answer all questions.
Our goal is to offer an in-person option for Sunday services as soon as possible. We have put together a survey to understand how you, as a member or friend of this congregation, feel about returning to indoor, in-person activities in our building. After twenty months of the pandemic, we want to know the thoughts and priorities of our community. All decisions to re-enter the church will prioritize the health, safety, and capacity of the worship staff. We are also using the survey to explore other ways we can stay connected.
In addition to thinking about ways to stay connected, we want to explore how people may engage with and contribute to the collective efforts of our UCM community. We hope to facilitate the sharing of gifts among our congregation. We believe that a strong community is one where people can individually identify their unique skills, talents, crafts, and abilities, and share them. We hope to find creative ways to find these connections. Please think of gifts that you have and would like to share with our congregation. These can be shared in our Reopening Survey.
Speaking of the broader community, the Unitarian Church of Montpelier has long been an integral part of central Vermont. We strive to be a resource for neighbors who are economically and socially disadvantaged and need support. Much of our efforts over the past twenty months have been inwardly focused on what is needed to find ways to reconvene. We want to look outward and support others. We will be reaching out to the local press soon, to update them on our current activities, and to make sure people know that we are willing and prepared to participate in community affairs. We want to find ways to both live up to our principles and support our neighbors.
In summary, we hope that all members of the congregation are staying healthy and happy during these times. Your UCM community is here to support you, so please don’t hesitate to reach out. Many dedicated hands and hearts are working hard to update our building so that we can move forward with the accommodations needed to meet the challenges of the pandemic as well as a new way of doing church across multiple platforms. Thank you for your engagement in our community and for your generosity of heart and spirit as we seek to face these challenging times together.
The UCM Board & Rev. Joan Javier-Duval, Minister
Denise Bailey, Member At-Large
Vic Guadagno, President
Ryan Kane, Vice-President
Hugo Liepmann, Member At-Large
Ansel Ploog, Member At-Large
Charlotte Aurora Root, Financial Officer
Meredith Warner, Secretary
P.S. Please complete the UCM Reopening Survey by end of the day, Sunday, December 5, to help inform our reopening plans.