July 1, 2021
The Covid numbers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have hit the target set by the Transitioning to In-Person Task Force for outdoor and indoor gatherings. The Board has approved significantly relaxed guidelines for off-campus church events (auction events, committee meetings, etc.)—see details below under UUCSS Covid Guidelines.
The Hybrid Ministry Task Force along with the Worship Committee and Sunday Support are planning for live-streamed worship from the Sanctuary to begin on Sunday, September 5th and expect to welcome the congregation back in person into the Sanctuary beginning on Sunday, September 19th.
RE for children and youth is scheduled to begin on Sunday, September 26th. Thanks to vaccinations available to people 12 years and older, we plan to begin the year with the 7-8th grade class, Coming of Age, and our High School youth group in person inside. Because vaccines for children younger than 12 are not yet available, we plan to begin RE for children in the 5-6th grade class and younger either outdoors or online, with a hopeful transition to indoor in-person classes early in the new year. Nursery care is currently not scheduled to resume in the fall, but babies and young children are always welcome in the Sanctuary for worship with their caregivers.
All these are welcome and major shifts. Now that the “when” is more certain, between now and September, we will be working on the “how” to enter this new phase. The technical aspects include installing equipment that will make live-streaming worship possible and training our tech volunteers and staff in how to operate that equipment. The non-technical parts include figuring out how to discern and accommodate varying comforts levels so that all who want to can participate, sprucing up the Sanctuary building now that the renovations have been completed, and training Worship Associates on assisting with services that are simultaneously in-person and online.
UUCSS has risen to the many challenges this last year has presented, and while many of us are eager to go back to church in person as soon as possible we know that next year will present challenges of its own. After such a trying year our staff and volunteers all need a break, so they are at their best to lead us through the coming transitions this fall. Rev. Kristin Grassel Schmidt will be off for a combination of vacation and study leave from July 3rd through August 8th. Michael Holmes, our Music Director, is also taking a well-earned vacation through mid-July, and Dr. Laura Solomon, our new Director of Spiritual Growth, doesn’t begin until August 15.
Even though we won’t return to the Sanctuary for worship en masse until September, that doesn’t mean church members and friends can’t get together in the meantime. We hope you will enjoy our virtual summer worship series “UU at the Movies” and encourage you to consider getting together (in whatever way is comfortable for all participants) in person at one another’s homes to watch them together. And now that our metrics have been met for in-person events, the congregation will be able to reserve rooms at the church again for meetings and other gatherings.