Agreement for Safer Small Groups (version June 25, 2020)
As we to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic together, we continue to explore modified methods for connecting with our community. The FUS virtual landscape is now full of rich opportunities for deep engagement, growth, and learning. We’re excited to further cultivate those offerings over the coming year. Simultaneously, as the local public health conditions allow, we will support small in-person gatherings, with an ever-present commitment to inclusivity which guides us to embrace a hybrid of in-person/virtual gatherings. Below is the agreement that guides community interactions in this new era.
Together, we agree to:
- Honor the importance of being mindful of both our physical and mental health. We recognize there are risks and challenges in gathering together physically. We recognize there are risks and challenges in solitude. There is potential joy and fulfillment in both. We trust each other to weigh these interconnected needs carefully.
- Recognize that everyone is doing their best in an era of uncertainty. We will strive for kindness in our interactions. We will strive for flexibility. We recognize that there may be times when small groups may not be able to meet at FUS. We’ll continue to monitor the outbreak of COVID-19 locally via the Madison & Dane County Public Health and will reassess gatherings regularly. Together we will embrace patience and prudence.
- Ensure there are opportunities for higher risk populations to participate and stay involved, especially when in-person events occur. No one should feel pressured to interact in person. Every in-person gathering must also have a virtual option available. This will take additional time and effort but is essential to avoid marginalizing the most vulnerable among us.
- Enjoy each other from a minimum distance of six feet.
- Wear a mask. This is what love looks like. This is what we do for each other. FUS will ensure extra masks are available. Staff and volunteers do not need to wear a mask when on camera (with appropriate social distance measures taken) or when alone in their office with the door closed.
- Contribute to sanitizing and disinfecting the facility. At the entrance of each meeting room a “Good Health Station” should be fully stocked with necessary materials. Please clean and disinfect areas you’ve touched or have been breathing on, especially chairs, tables, and doorknobs, prior to leaving. This is a two-step process. First, please use available paper towels to clean surfaces with “EnvirOx Concentrate 118” and then disinfect with “EnvirOx Critical Care.” When your group is done utilizing the space please place a pink post it on the meeting door, so staff knows to take extra care in its cleaning that evening. FUS will continue to use EPA-approved emerging viral pathogen products for daily disinfecting.
- Recognize that singing, chanting, reciting prayers, playing wind instruments, and deep breathing carry a higher risk of transmission of COVID-19. At this time these activities must continue to happen virtually and not at in-person gatherings at FUS.
- Recognize the importance, in this new era, of knowing who is in our building and when, for the safety of all. Small group gatherings now include a process of collecting all participant’s names prior to meeting. Please RSVP at least 48 hours before the event start time. This small group practice will eventually become useful in larger group gatherings down the road. This new norm of RSVP’ing is a change that will invite us to be intentional in the commitments that we make to one another. Your event scheduler will send you this information prior to your meeting. A final list of attendees should be verified by the event scheduler with Florence Jessup within 24 hours of the meeting.
As individuals, we agree that:
- We are responsible for assessing our own risk factors and susceptibility for contracting, or developing severe reactions to, COVID. We will not assess anyone else’s risk or judge decisions others make regarding their risk tolerance. We all enter the FUS grounds and facility at our own risk and hold FUS and all affiliated organizations harmless. The current recommendations, as of June 15, are that the following individuals continue to shelter in place:
- Those over the age of 60, or with
- Underlying conditions that include, but are not limited to, chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, hypertension, severe heart conditions, weakened immunity, severe obesity, diabetes, liver disease, and chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis.
- We agree to stay home if we are experiencing symptoms such as a fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell, and agree to immediately leave the FUS facility if we begin experiencing symptoms.
- We will refrain from bringing items for sharing with others.
- We will embrace the recommendation to avoid touching ones’ face and frequently wash or sanitize hands.
- We understand that this agreement is legally binding and entry into the FUS facility implies consent. We agree to making this agreement accessible and available to everyone who enters the facility. It is posted at the facility entrance. Leaders should email the agreement to participants before the gathering. Agreements are also to be reviewed in person with a staff member, the first time the group meets in person. We will hold each other accountable to all elements of this agreement.
Special requests for exceptions may be made to the FUS Staff Leadership Team, at least two weeks prior to the gathering date. You may email Monica Nolan at email@example.com with questions or requests.
Beginning September 1, 2020 we intend to invite one group, of 10 or less individuals, into the FUS facility each day (assuming our leadership team, heeding the advice of public health officials, still feels it is still feasible to do).
- Groups are welcome to gather for two hours or less.
- Group gatherings will occur either in the Atrium Auditorium or Courtyard A&B. Please refrain from entering any other space other than the assigned location (with the exception of the bathrooms). Please avoid touching surfaces unnecessarily.
- An outdoor space will be made available for gatherings, weather permitting, but technical accommodations must still be utilized to engage those who prefer to participate virtually.
- Please direct requests for space usage to Tom Miskelly and Monica Nolan at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com at least two weeks prior to the preferred meeting time. Meetings can be booked no more than three months in advance. Higher priority will be given to FUS small groups that have not yet utilized the facility. At this time small groups should plan to meet at FUS a maximum of once every three months. We are not taking requests for reoccurring meetings at this time. To see a list of potentially available dates please visit the FUS website.
SMALL GROUP UPDATE: Message from the FUS Leadership
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
WORSHIP SCHEDULE CHANGE: Message from FUS Leadership
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
Message from FUS Leadership
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
A Message from our Ministers
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