First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia ~ Welcome home!

Returning to Virtual Worship for Now

Dear Friends,

Warm Holiday wishes to you, as the cold settles in around us.  I hope you drew as much delight as I did from last week's wonderful pageant.  Thanks to Hannah, John B, and all the staff and volunteers who made that celebration such a success!  May we all find as much awe and wonder in the season as baby Nova.

I write to you with the results of some difficult decisions that have been made about the next few weeks in light of the recent upsurge in COVID infectious due to the highly infectious omicron variant. The covid response task force met this weekend, and after hearing thoughts from everyone gathered, the group decided with much heartbreak to make Christmas Eve service a virtual service. We will continue as planned for Sunday service on December 26th to be a joint online service with other local congregations.  And we are currently planning for January 2nd to also be a virtual service.  To sum up: Here is how we came to this decision: The task force heard that hospitals around the country are urging people to not congregate and to get vaccinated, and that we should anticipate a sharp upswing in infections.  The latest numbers indicate that local hospitals are already at critical capacity, and that the surge of this latest wave of the omicron variant is just beginning.  We also heard a sense from some of the task force that our congregation should not hold in person gatherings at this moment to signal to our congregation and broader community that it is not a good time to congregate if we can avoid it.

We also heard complicated feelings about this.  We heard heartbreak, frustration, anger, sadness - both over the timing of this outbreak, and also about our congregation's handling of it - that perhaps we are being too cautious at the expense of the spiritual need of some of our members and leaders.  We arrived at a consensus about moving Christmas Eve eve to a virtual service, but the choice was a complicated and heavy one.  

We also are currently planning to be virtual through Jan 2nd, and during that time we hope to collect more information from the congregation about comfort with risk, and also about the degree to which we have received booster vaccinations, which have proven highly effective against the omicron variant.  We will also have two weeks more information about the new variant and its spread to make informed choices moving forward.
Tonight I am thinking about ways to help our congregation, ministers, staff and volunteers grieve the loss once again of in person worship, even if short lived.  I am thinking about the many people who have been working hard in preparation for Christmas Eve, and grateful to those who are once again making a big pivot so we can worship together meaningfully.  And I am thinking about the people who most need the solace and connection of worshiping in person, and holding them up as they are once again not getting this need met.  I wish you all peace.

I hope you all have a safe and warm holiday season.  Please feel free to reach out to me or the board with any questions, concerns, or feedback.

Thank you.

David O'Connor (He/Him)
President - Board of Trustees

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