I write to you with great excitement this month as the time approaches for me to begin meeting some of you in person! The Board recently passed some guidelines for how and when we might begin to gather in small groups and is planning three outdoor gatherings to “Meet the Minister” in person. These guidelines are based on recommendations made by the Re-opening Task Force which met shortly before the CDC announced its new guidelines for mask wearing. We are now entering a time when I expect guidelines of all kinds will start to change or evolve more quickly. So, this is a good time to start talking about ethical questions.
There are many factors to be considered as our UU congregations begin to reopen. As of this writing, no one under age 12 is vaccinated and many over age 12 remain unvaccinated. As we begin to navigate these new beginning-to-emerge-from-a-pandemic cultural waters we have much to learn about how to do this with care and compassion. Some may not be vaccinated due to medical reasons. Some may not be vaccinated due to issues related to racialized injustice. Some may not be vaccinated due to age or various social barriers. While we will want to advocate for a pro-science approach to minimizing the spread of Covid-19, it is also not our role to place judgment on each other or subject each other to any kind of peer pressure to share our vaccination status. We will need to learn how to do many new things, including online options for in-person meetings and worship services and how to navigate various comfort levels in how close we get to each other, if and when we wear masks, if and when we shake hands or hug each other, and if and how we eat together. One idea that has been floated is a color-coding system that we can wear on our nametags letting people know how close it is okay for them to get to us.
So, while this is exciting and I can’t wait to meet you all and eventually worship together in person, this is not a return to the “normal” of the before times. We will be creating a new normal together and it will take practice and hard work and we will be imperfect at it. And that’s all okay. We will learn how to care for each other and look out for each other in this new way and we will be stronger for it.
By the way, I have been and will continue to share publicly that I have been fully vaccinated. I believe this is important to do in my role as a religious leader, for many reasons, but especially to use my prophetic voice to shout from the rooftops that religion and science go hand in hand. My sharing my vaccination status does not convey an expectation that anyone else share theirs. I would also like to share that while the purpose of the “Meet the Minister” gatherings are to meet in person, there have been and will continue to be lots of opportunities to meet me online – if you haven’t done so yet, all you have to do is reach out and ask!
With Love and Great Anticipation,