By Susan Frederick-Gray
November 19, 2020
Originally published here on www.uua.org
I send you my deep care in this time of changing seasons and tumultuous days. I continue to hold all of you in my prayers–as you lead your communities in these fraught times.
While there is very hopeful news about the efficacy of new coronavirus vaccines, there is still cause for serious concern. Given the dramatic surge in cases, we reiterate our recommendation for congregations to plan to gather virtually through May 2021. We have made some updates to our Guidance on Gathering, including revised prevention measures and how decisions can be guided by our values.
As the holiday season approaches, I feel the grief of not being able to physically be with family and friends. While the longing to be together is real, so too is the way in-person gatherings increase risk. This pandemic is a vivid reminder that our decisions impact those around us—not only our loved ones, but those most vulnerable, including weary healthcare and essential workers. This is why we continue to lean into our values of collective care and interdependence.
The way that Unitarian Universalists are living our values is my greatest source of hope at this moment. Whether we are adapting to safely minister to one another or responding to the urgent demands of our world, UUs everywhere are showing up and making a difference.
I continue to celebrate joyfully everyone who voted in this critical election and all who overcame the extreme voter suppression. Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people were especially targeted but they still made their voices heard. Across the country, UUs showed up to protect the integrity of the electoral process, as election workers, poll monitors and election defenders. UU the Vote and local grassroots partners—including in contested states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia—helped mobilize historic voter turnout!
Even as we recognize the scope of our work, I am aware of how incredibly difficult these last four years have been. And the election cycle is still laden with fraudulent claims. The President is spreading pernicious misinformation that is dangerous to our democracy. His thwarted attempts to discount votes in Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Milwaukee amount to trying to steal the electoral count and are deeply rooted in anti-Black racism. Election Defenders is a core organization to volunteer with to help protect the vote in states around the country, including important virtual actions.
We must not let these corrupt efforts overshadow the fact that the election results are a win for democracy and the will of the people. This is a time to remember our collective resilience and ability to protect each other, to defend democracy, and to organize unfailingly for justice, equity and dignity.
As we anticipate the holiday season and create new ways to connect and celebrate this time, let’s remember the joy and love present in our hearts and in our communities. Let us also make space for grief and honor the memories of those who have passed away this year. May we feel the unseen but real threads that binds us all. We are not alone. We are powerful. Our communities are powerful. And we belong to each other.
In this season, may you find restorative space to lean into what you love and what makes you feel connected. May we find strength in our faith, and in the foundation of our families, friends and the people who came before us. While there is much work ahead, may we also make room to breathe and rest, and time to connect with our community and those we love.
Yours in love and care,
P.S. Join the UUA tonight for the start of an online event series, Harvest the Power Justice Convergence and Teach-In, Nov. 19 to 26. We will mark the fall season with a call to reimagine Thanksgiving, honor the Day of Mourning and connect through shared spiritual grounding.
Join UU the Vote in this critical time. If you are not already part of this national effort, sign up at UUtheVote.org or by texting VOTELOVE to 51555. There are ongoing opportunities to participate virtually, including support for the Georgia runoff election and a national debrief with election partners.
ICYMI (In Case You Missed It), I’m sharing the Facebook video of the #CountEveryVote rally in Harrisburg, PA.
About the Author
The Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray began her six-year term as president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in June 2017. As president of the Association, she is responsible for administering staff and programs that serve its more than 1,000 member congregations. She also acts as…