Register for In-Person Worship!
With excitement and caution, this week, on October 3rd, we will begin truly hybrid worship services - welcoming a limited number of congregants into the Sanctuary to worship in person alongside a virtual congregation on zoom.
In order for us to be as safe as possible, registration for in-person worship is required, and all in-person attendees (over age 2) will need to be masked, with social distancing between households. We are also asking that all in-person attendees are either fully vaccinated or have had a negative COVID-19 test within the last week, and of course, that no one has symptoms or recent contact with someone who has COVID-19. Weather-permitting, we will hold a pared down outdoor coffee hour after the service, and though Children's Religious Education is still on hold, we hope to offer children's programming soon as well.
How are we making this decision?
Based on the feedback from the congregation, our re-opening team has recommended welcoming back a limited number of congregants for in-person worship alongside our zoom worship starting on October 3rd, 2021. We are following the COVID-19 risk data at https://covidactnow.org/
, and intend to continue to hold limited in-person worship as long as we remain in the orange, or "high," risk level for a week prior to the service in question. If we need to return to completely virtual worship (due to increased risk) or loosen our restrictions (due to lowered risk), we will share that in our weekly E-Beacon and on our website, www.philauu.org
. There is no way for us to eliminate the risk of COVID-19 entirely, but an informal survey of the congregation indicated we are over 90% vaccinated, and with the precautions we are putting in place, we hope the chance of COVID-19 being transmitted in worship is very low.
What will in-person worship look like?
We are making a number of adjustments to the way we used to worship in person to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission. In addition to universal masking (above age 2) and social distance between households, we are asking those who attend to affirm that they are either fully vaccinated or have received a negative COVID-19 test within the last week. We unfortunately won't be singing together as a full congregation for a while either, though a small number of musicians will still lead music from the front of the sanctuary.
We are striving to minimize the places and ways that we used to find ourselves in close quarters - therefore we will hold a simplified coffee hour outdoors, will keep our offering mostly virtual with text-based giving, and will not hand out orders of service. Though it will be hard, we are asking congregants not to hug or shake hands and honor social distancing at all times in our building. Some of our worship leadership will take place live from the Sanctuary, and some of it will continue to take place in congregant's homes or in a pre-recorded videos shared on a large screen in the sanctuary.
Otherwise, worship will look similar to the way it used to look before the pandemic, and in our virtual services - we will hear warm, spiritually nourishing, and inspiring messages from lay leaders and our ministers, be moved by the music from our choir and band, pray and meditate together, and build community through our rituals. No matter whether you come in person or online, we hope you will join us!
Can I register to attend in person every week?
It's complicated. We are going to take the first few weeks in this new format to see how many people register for in-person worship and, if the demand is larger than we can accommodate, we may find new ways to make sure everyone who wishes gets at least a few Sundays a month attend in-person worship. More on that as the weeks unfold!
Children's Religious Education
Children's programming remains postponed until we feel comfortable providing a safe option for everyone. We hope to begin outdoor programming for children sometime in the coming month; more info on that soon. We're asking all parents interested in RE to fill out this survey
. Questions? Contact Jean Wiant, Acting RE Administrator, at CRE@philauu.org