We have all worked extremely hard during the pandemic to keep our families, congregations and communities safe, while longing for the time when the pandemic is behind us. Unfortunately, vaccine hesitancy, breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals and the alarming contagiousness of the COVID-19 Delta variant (even among the vaccinated) call for re-evaluation of many of our plans.
The way forward will be different across communities. Rates of vaccination, the ability to meet outside, quality ventilation, physical space, congregation size and the particular needs and risks of our staff and leaders—these all vary and are vital factors in our planning. We urge leaders to be guided by the latest information from the CDC and trusted local public health departments in planning how your congregations can worship safely. We have also issued Updated Guidance for the Delta Variant in response to the Delta surge, including six specific recommendations for congregations.
The Delta variant setback has many of us, especially leaders, feeling frustrated, heartbroken and exhausted. We are not where we hoped to be. As vaccine inequity and disparity continues, with only 15% of people across the globe vaccinated, we are all coming to terms with the reality that the pandemic will be with us in various forms for some time.
While we are not able to share Ingathering services as we have in the past, nor in the ways we may have planned, these rituals are still needed. Ingathering, regardless of the form it takes, celebrates the ways we are held by a wider circle of love and care.
I invite you to share this Ingathering message from me with your congregations or as part of your Ingathering service.There is great healing power in our tradition, and our work is to make that power manifest in our communities. I am inspired by the incredible creativity I witness in our congregations, by the way we are all leaning into mission and remembering how much our families, children and elders need support and ministry.
Let us continue to prioritize inclusion and consent, centering those who are most at risk, following the science, being flexible in making decisions and changing course when necessary. Our ministry is life-saving and resilient, especially when it is responsive to our realities, helping us all navigate these unprecedented and precarious times. As we celebrate Ingathering, let us draw strength from this time of renewal, this time to reaffirm our covenants and commitments to one another and to our wider community.
May we remember that care, kindness and patience—with ourselves and others—are needed in abundance. Practice these often!
Thank you for your commitment to Unitarian Universalism and your leadership for your UU community. We will get through this together, caring for one another and being held by the larger embrace of abiding love. Many blessings to each and every one of you.
Yours in love,
P.S. In case you missed it, here is my Ingathering video message and our Updated COVID Guidance for the Delta Variant. The video message is available to watch on YouTube. Using YouTube’s “Share” option, get a link to the video that you can share in an email, on social media or on a website.