Fellowship sanctuary

January 5, 2022

Dear Ones, I have some hard news to share:

Due to the massive spike in Covid cases in our community stemming from the highly contagious Omicron variant we need to suspend in-person gatherings at the Fellowship for at least one month. We will re-assess at the beginning of February and communicate with you at that time.

Starting this Sunday, January 9th, Sunday services will be live-broadcast at 10:00 am CT on Zoom only. The information to log on to the service will, as always, be listed at fvuuf.org/upcoming-services. Registered religious education families will receive separate information from our director of religious education Kim Hartman about online RE meeting times; if you are not registered for RE, please do so HERE. Committee meetings, small group gatherings, adult faith formation, and other connections will return to Zoom-only for the time being. Our director of congregational life, Marie Luna, will be in touch with group leaders. Our building will be closed to walk-ins, but staff will be available for masked and distanced individual or small group meetings by appointment.

Several months ago I assembled a wonderful team of dedicated Fellowship members who are also healthcare professionals in our community. The team consists of a psychologist, hospital system vice-president, adult doctor, pediatric hospitalist, and a nurse. I am so grateful for their thoughtful and nonreactive approach to guiding our Fellowship leaders. They have advised me that, for the moment, it is not wise to gather in groups for risk of increasing the spread of Covid-19.

I am writing this message from home as I isolate with my two-year-old son who is sick and tested positive for Covid a couple of days ago. He is unable to be vaccinated, and it is for vulnerable populations like our young children, our elders and immune-compromised neighbors, for whom we make these cautious decisions. We also hope to reduce the burden on our painfully stressed medical system and not add to the caseload in our community. The current models predict for this wave to be very severe, but quick—almost doubling from our current numbers (which are already in the Severe/ highest-risk category according to CovidActNow.org) by the end of January and returning to current levels by the end of February. We hope that this return to Zoom-only operations will be over soon.

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we need to be flexible in our plans, hold our expectations lightly, and be kind to each other. Please be gentle with your Fellowship staff; the decision-fatigue, rewriting of plans, and constant pivoting has been hard on us as it has been on the rest of the world! Thank you for your commitment to the Fellowship, to our UU values, and to each other. Our community thrives because of you.

Please know that I join you in sadness and frustration. I love you.

-Rev. Christina Leone-Tracy
Senior Minister

Whenever you are in the building:

Appropriately worn and properly fitting masks are required for all persons over 3 years of age who are visiting the Fellowship building, regardless of vaccination status. If you have a major and documented medical issue with mask compliance, please contact Rev. Christina Leone-Tracy in advance of coming to the building. We will have a limited supply of masks available in child and adult sizes.

Individual food and drink are not allowed indoors (with the exception of a personal water bottle for small group meetings), but is allowed outdoors. We encourage people who are eating or drinking outdoors to socially distance.

Worship Service Safety When We Are Open:

  • Solo and small group singers will distance and wear high-quality masks, provided by the Fellowship if needed.
  • The sanctuary, hallways and lobbies, Legacy Room, and Fellowship Hall will need to be entirely emptied for 30 minutes between services to allow for the air-exchange system to fully clean the air.
  • If you have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19, the Fellowship recommends following the CDC guidance regarding quarantine or isolation: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html.
  • The Fellowship is not able to provide notification for possible exposures to Covid-19 in our building, except with limited exceptions and in our Religious Education program. If you were at our building and test positive within 3 days, please let our office know. Confidentiality will be upheld.

Religious Education (RE) is happening!

  • Nursery care for children 6 months through 3 years is available at both services in our building.
  • RE for children 4K through 6th grade is offered on Zoom at 9am and in-person at 10:45am in our Fellowship Hall. No in-person RE is available at 9am.
  • 7th grade and older will meet for Crossing Paths on the first and third Sundays in-person in our building, or they can join the class by Zoom (both options are at 10:45am). At 9am, or at 10:45am on 2nd and 4th Sundays, these youth are invited to attend the service with their families.

If you are not participating in our RE program, please consider attending the 9 am service to relieve overcrowding at the later service with in-person RE. If necessary, we will implement advance registration to attend services.