A Message from Rev. Lyn Cox for the UU Church of Silver Spring
It has been a very full week of changes, worries, and quick adaptations. I am heartened by the number of people I see reaching out, checking on one another, and using this time creatively. As your minister, my focus is on helping you to be the most compassionate, connected congregation you can be as we learn new ways of doing things. I continue to believe that this is a time for caution but not panic. We cannot control the world, but we can choose what to focus on. We can spend time on spiritual centering. We can touch base with vulnerable members of our community. We can remember that we are part of something larger than ourselves– something beautiful and life-sustaining.
Your outreach to each other is always meaningful, and is especially important now. You’ll be relieved to know that the beloved congregant mentioned in yesterday’s email is feeling much better and is being treated for a normal, non-newsworthy, seasonal illness. Your thoughts and prayers for all of those among us who are ill or injured are appreciated. Please let the Lay Ministers know if you’d like to talk with a peer listener about what you’re going through, and please let the Lay Ministers and me know if you are interested in being on a more organized outreach team during this pause in normal operations.
Worship tomorrow, March 15, is moving fully online. Please download the Zoom web conferencing application to your computer, smartphone, or tablet, and be ready to tune in for worship tomorrow morning. You can point your web browser to https://zoom.us/j/120667575 or you can open the Zoom application, choose “join meeting” and enter Meeting ID 120667575. The Zoom room will be open around 10:00am, so you’ll have some time to test your equipment before we begin the service around 10:30am. If you are having technical trouble, contact Tamara Bowman by email at BoardPresident@uucss.org or through the private chat feature within Zoom. Here are some other things to expect about tomorrow’s Zoom worship:
- Other than service leaders, all microphones will be muted so that we can avoid the feedback that sometimes occurs in large meetings. Please feel free to sing along to the hymns; the song of your heart will lift all of our spirits.
- You’ll be able to interact by typing into the chat feature during Joys & Sorrows, the Reflection, and Virtual Coffee Hour.
- You are welcome to mute your camera if you prefer, especially if this improves your internet signal strength, but if your camera is working, it might be nice for your neighbors to see your face; they miss you.
- We will record the parts of the call that are OK to record and post the video on YouTube for those who can’t tune in at 10:30am. Some of the music might not be legally available for us to archive as a public recording, and we’ll edit out anything too sensitive or personal for the general public.
This is our first try, and it won’t be perfect, and I’m so glad that we have the tools to be together virtually during this unprecedented time in our lives.
I had thought we might livestream from an empty sanctuary, but the Zoom format is a better choice for several reasons. First, everything we learned this week from experts in online spiritual communities tells us that online worship is, at its best, structurally different from in-person worship. Our goals are engagement and spiritual deepening, and we hope the plan we have in mind will achieve that. Second, even though our Sexton has been doing a great job of cleaning and sanitizing, our high-traffic building is perhaps not the best place to gather at the moment, even in groups of fewer than 20. I love you and I want you to be as safe as possible.
This brings me to my next point, which is that the buildings are essentially closed for the next two weeks. We have a few things that are cleared for building use this morning, but after that, I’m asking that we suspend organized activities that meet inside our buildings. A few people will be in the buildings, one or two at a time, for essential functions such as paying bills. To protect the people who have to be on-site, please connect by phone, email, and text message and do not drop by the buildings in person.
Again, we’re all about transforming and strengthening connections right now. Many of us are learning new skills, as well as dusting off some skills that may be rusty, such as calling people voice to voice on the telephone. Michael Holmes has some great ideas about singers and musicians of all ages collaborating and sharing videos of performances at home. Mike Knaapen is working on some resources for children and youth to keep Unitarian Universalism in their thoughts. I’ve been brainstorming with UU religious professionals all over the region about a calendar of shared events that could include Yoga and Tai Chi on-line classes, social justice conference calls, organized online games, meditation, and other ways for us to stay centered and connected.
Before I close this letter, I want to extend deep appreciation for all of the volunteers and staff who are working hard to equip our community for the times in which we find ourselves. The Audio-Visual Team, the IT Committee, the Web Team, the Music Committee, and the Finance Team have been among the fabulous volunteers who have really stepped up this week. I have enjoyed the cooperation and wise counsel of the Board, this week and always. Special thanks to Jacob Ryder and Tamara Bowman for co-hosting tomorrow’s Zoom worship service; to the ensemble of Sanctuary Singers who recorded material for our service; and to Juan Vargas, Melinda Yalom, and the Property Committee for making sure our campus will be in good shape when we return.
Keep the faith, and may it bless and keep you. See you (virtually) tomorrow.