Reopening Announcement & Information
As we prepare a path for gathering together in person, we do so as a community grounded in science and bound by principles of radical inclusion. From the beginning, we have centered the most vulnerable to severe complications from COVID in our operational decisions throughout the pandemic. With the rise in vaccinations and decline in hospitalizations, we are hopeful that we can safely gather in person through a phased approach. We recognize there are those among us who cannot receive a vaccine, those who live with unvaccinated individuals such as children, and those struggling to feel safe gathering in groups again. As UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray said recently, “Let us never put an already weary, already vulnerable high-risk member of our community in the painful position of having to ask their congregation to value their life.” This call of love and care is at the heart of our reopening strategy.
Our reopening plan is based on science provided by the Center for Disease Control, Dane County public health data, advice from the FUS Medical Advisory Team, and UUA recommendations. The plan is also rooted in our commitment as a community centered on inclusion and welcome. We recognize this plan might feel too conservative for some and others might feel uncertain. The work of living in community has always been holding the tension between individual needs and group desires. We ask you to abide by these guidelines, respect the comfort level of others by asking for consent rather than assuming, and keep lines of communication open. Our reopening plan will call us to live into our Relational Covenant as we continue to navigate the pandemic’s continued uncertainty.
The Leadership Team, along with the staff team, has developed a comprehensive reopening plan. Within this plan are four levels covering several areas of community engagement–from small groups to worship services. Regardless of the level, centering the most vulnerable among us remains at the forefront of our decisions. The levels are as follows:
- Level 3: All activities are virtual.
- Level 2: Small group gatherings indoors resume with guidelines. (Current level as of July 6.)
- Level 1: Worship and large group gatherings resume at partial capacity and with guidelines. (Anticipated to begin on September 11.)
- Level 0: All activities resume without guidelines. (To be determined.)
As we continue our reopening efforts, we encourage you to practice grace and patience, root your response in our Unitarian Universalist values of inclusion, and reach out to the Staff Leadership Team with your questions and concerns at email@example.com. As always, our ministers are here to provide support as we continue to process the shared trauma and grief resulting from the pandemic.
June 29, 2020
To our FUS Community,
Just over a hundred days ago, we shared our intentions to temporarily close the Meeting House and open our virtual doors, inviting us to navigate the effects of this pandemic in a new form of togetherness.
For some, this time has ushered in a surreal solitude that has resulted in a need for connection. Through weekly meditation groups, check-ins with the ministers, small groups, support groups, and music, we’ve strived to stay connected. For many of us, there have been meaningful connections bringing moments of joy, laughter, comfort, and support. Some of us have experienced profound losses during this time – jobs, loved ones, hope. Ministry sometimes looks like a loving voicemail that needs no reply, a shawl on your doorstep, and the reminder that you are always welcome here. That “here” has always been in the hearts of our fellow community members and has never really been about a building.
This time also calls us more fully into our larger connections as we benefit from the thoughtful and informed recommendations from the Unitarian Universalist Association. In mid-May, UUA President the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray shared the UUA’s recommendation that congregations plan for virtual operations through May 2021. She wrote, “Public health officials consistently predict a long trajectory for this pandemic. A majority of our congregational members, leaders, and staff members are in high-risk categories. Our care for the well-being and safety of all our members and staff must be a priority in this pandemic.”
The letter introduces the detailed UUA Guidelines on Gathering In Person as COVID-19 Subsides document, intended to help congregations determine readiness plans for eventual gatherings. It encourages us to think of our congregations as primarily digitally-connected communities, with small in-person nodes that grow as the pandemic subsides. Our leadership team, in collaboration with local physicians, other UU congregations, staff, and lay leaders, has been deeply and deliberately engaged in a discernment process about what the next year holds. As local public health conditions allow, we’ve asked how can we support members who wish to gather together as safely as possible in small groups while keeping our commitment to inclusivity? How can we provide opportunities for higher-risk populations to participate when in-person events occur and ensure that virtual-only participants aren’t marginalized?
Together, we’ve created the FUS Agreement for Safer Small Groups intended to guide community interactions in this new era. This living document is much like the sacred covenants that guide our commitments to one another. Given the tremendous importance of our collective compliance with these ideals and actions, it will be shared regularly – posted on doors and read at the onset of each meeting. Though our community wholeheartedly embraces the diversity of beliefs, we continue to live into our commitment to protect the most vulnerable amongst us. Please familiarize yourself with these agreements and reach out to our leadership team with questions or concerns. We must remain in loving dialogue.
Given the uncertainty of these times and the ever-evolving public health conditions, it is challenging to make definitive plans for the future. We must all remain nimble. At this time, we intend to begin allowing one group, of 10 or fewer individuals, into the FUS facility each day, starting September 1, with the understanding that all in-person gatherings must also include a virtual Zoom option. For more details, please read the FUS Agreement for Safer Small Groups document.
We anticipate that worship services will continue virtually for the foreseeable future, as will CRE classes (except Mind, Body & Soul and Coming of Age). We recognize that this a continued source of loss for many of us, and we also hold in our hearts gratitude for the ways our new virtual gatherings offer unexpected joy and connection. Did you know that the virtual coffee hours held each Sunday after service include a 15-minute check-in with a few other participants? Despite the distance, we continue to grow in our relationships with one another.
Thank you for continuing to be in a relationship with us, with each other, and striving to embody the principles we hold so dearly.
In community and in hope,
Rev. Doug Wadkins, Rev. Kelly Crocker, and Monica Nolan
March 13, 2020
Dear FUS Community,
As we continue to monitor the outbreak of Coronavirus in our community, we have decided to stop in-person worship services starting this weekend March 14 and 15. This is a change from our email yesterday.
Worship will take place virtually this Sunday, March 15, at 10 am. Please use this link to watch us online: https://www.youtube.com/user/fusmadison.
This decision was made out of love and care for our community and at the recommendation of UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue our efforts to care for one another and those unknown to us.
Other important information:
- Children’s Religious Education classes are canceled this weekend. CRE Director Leslie Ross has emailed parents and teachers with more information. For questions about CRE, contact Leslie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The town hall meeting (“Who are we called to be”) for this Sunday, March 15, has been postponed. A new date will be provided later.
- As of today, currently scheduled meetings of small groups (defined as 15 people or less) are permitted to continue meeting at FUS if they feel comfortable attending. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to your staff liaison.
- The Red Floors for this week will be shared on Monday, March 16, with information about how to navigate FUS for the coming week. If you have any changes to events you need to be shared with the congregation, please contact Brittany with this information at email@example.com.
- We will temporarily change the look of our website homepage (www.fusmadison.org) to better assist you with navigating FUS virtually. Please continue to visit our website for updated information.
- All messages shared with the congregation regarding the Coronavirus can be found at www.fusmadison.org/coronavirus.
- We are planning several virtual meetings and events designed to keep us connected as a community. More will be shared as we finalize plans.
- The physical offices are temporarily closed, but your staff and ministers are available by phone and email. Please visit www.fusmadison.org/welcome/our-staff-2 to find contact information.
We continue to hold you in our thoughts and hearts. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the ministers or a lay minister 608.233.9774 ext. 126 for support.
In community and with hope,
Rev. Doug, Rev. Kelly, and Monica
March 12, 2020
To our FUS Community,
We continue to hold you all in our thoughts as we move through this challenging time. For many of us, uncertainty and anxiety occupy our minds and hearts.
Our principles teach us that we are part of the interconnected web of life, that our actions impact the lives around us. We believe deeply in community care and the need to protect the most vulnerable among us. It is in this spirit of connection and care that we are moving forward with safeguards to protect each other. As your leadership team and staff, we have identified the following next steps:
Weekend Services for March 14 & 15
- We will continue to hold our regular services on Saturday at 4:30 pm and on Sunday at 9 am and 11 am. In compliance with CDC recommendations, please do not attend services if you are ill or if someone in your home is sick.
- If you are planning on attending services:
- please honor your neighbor by maintaining a safe space when possible (and be aware that others may be seeking a safe distance from others too),
- coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a tissue,
- washing your hands,
- and not shaking hands or hugging.
- We will not be holding coffee hour after services.
- We will not hold our 2nd Saturday Potluck.
- We will continue with our Town Hall Meeting on Sunday, March 15, at 12:30 pm.
Weekend Services starting March 22
- We will discontinue regular, in-person worship services starting the weekend of March 21 & 22.
- We will livestream one service on Sundays at 10 am. More information,including links to the livestream, will be provided next week in an email and on our website.
- We will continue to assess the situation and update you on Wednesday, April 1 on how services in April will be held.
Office Closure begins on Monday, March 16
- Our physical offices will be temporarily closed, but our staff will be working remotely and will be accessible via phone, email, and video chat. Closing the building ensures safety for our members, visitors, and staff.
- If you need to reach a specific staff member, visit https://fusmadison.org/welcome/our-staff-2.
Future meetings and events.
- We are also planning other ways that we can stay in touch with one another and care for one another without meeting in person. In the meantime, we encourage you to take the initiative in reaching out to other members and friends of the congregation who you think might appreciate it. This is a time when we need more connection with one another, in the time being it will need to take a different form.
- Various events are being evaluated to determine if they can be postponed or should be canceled. We will share this information as soon as possible on our event calendar and in the Red Floors.
- Staff will be reaching out to groups regarding meetings to identify the best way to continue our work. Please look for emails from your staff lead.
- We will also be utilizing Zoom to hold meetings and other small community gatherings. Please visit https://zoom.us/andhttps://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362233-Where-Do-I-Download-The-Latest-Version- to learn more and to download the program to your phone or computer. This is free for you and we have an established FUS account that will allow us to invite you to our meetings. Staff will be available at the welcome table this weekend to help you with any installation needs.
We will reevaluate these practices regularly. In the meantime, we are taking extra measures to disinfect common spaces and are adding more stations with tissues and hand sanitizer.
Where to start. On Wednesday, we shared with you “A Message from the Ministers.” With this message, we created a new webpage www.fusmadison.org/coronavirus. We will continue to update this page regularly. You will also see additions to the Red Floors designed to help you navigate FUS virtually for the upcoming week. We will also send out more regular mass emails to keep you informed. If you need to subscribe to these emails, please click here.
We know that this is a particularly anxious time for many of us. If it would be helpful to you to talk to someone, please feel free to reach out to Revs. Kelly and Doug or any other staff member by phone or email. You can always call our Lay Ministry line at 608-233-9774, ext. 126. If you have any questions or concerns about this email, please feel free to contact us as well.
Please take care of yourselves, and may we hold in our hearts all of those in our community and around the world who are most affected by the coronavirus as we hope, pray, and do all that we can to minimize the suffering it is inflicting. Our community life continues in compassion, creativity, patience, and grace.
In community and in hope,
Rev. Doug Wadkins, Rev. Kelly Crocker, and Monica Nolan
March 10, 2020
Dear FUS community,
Our lives have been inundated with news reports, social media threads, and conversations regarding the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Worry and concern for our loved ones, communities, and ourselves weigh heavily on our minds. As your spiritual and religious home, we understand the importance of grounding oneself in uncertain times.
In these times, we must practice care both for ourselves and our neighbors. Small acts of care such as washing hands, staying home when we’re sick, and offering a greeting without physical contact, honor the interconnected web of life around us. We need each other to do our part to reduce the risk of infection to those we know and those unknown to us. We are also called to continue our work in advocating for justice. In an email to all UU congregations, UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray reminded us that “UUs must also speak up against the anti-Asian sentiment that has emerged when people talk about the coronavirus.” In efforts to protect our communities, we also called to dismantle prejudice born of fear.
We recognize there are concerns among us about participating in events at FUS in the coming weeks as we continue to see the spread of COVID-19. Our leadership team has developed an action plan specific to this outbreak and has informed staff of the necessary steps should we need to implement. This plan is based on the recommendations from both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Wisconsin Department of Health (DHS), and we continue to monitor their reports closely. We are fortunate to be able to livestream our worship services on Sundays at 9 am and 11 am. If you are feeling unwell or are concerned about attending services during this time, we encourage you to join us virtually at www.fusmadison.org/worship/livestream.
As recommended by the CDC and DHS to reduce the spread of infections, including COVID-19 and influenza, please:
- stay home if you are sick (or if someone in your home is sick),
- cover your cough with your elbow or a tissue,
- avoid physical contact with others such as shaking hands,
- avoid touching your face,
- and regularly wash your hands for at least 20-seconds.
Your staff is thinking about how we can continue FUS programming in order to support our community and offer care to one another during the days ahead. Updates will be available on the website as these plans emerge.
We have called upon our tradition to see us through difficult and challenging times, and we have relied on each other to build this supportive community. We will remain connected as a community through the many avenues available to us–even in isolation, we are not alone. We encourage you to contact us if you have concerns, questions, or need support at 608-233-9774 ext. 126.
In hope and love,
Revs. Kelly and Doug