June looks to be a busy, exciting, and sometimes sad time at UUCC – Candidating Week and meeting Rev Partain, beginning to gather in person, decommissioning the Lancashire building, saying goodbye to Rev Joe, and much more.
Leading up to this most of you probably received a copy of our Covenant for In-Person Gathering in your mail in the last week or so (if not, here it is https://uucleveland.org/reopening-building-use-guidelines-may2021/). I hope you (and your family) took a little time to look at it. Our intent with this is to remind us of how we can be our best selves as we begin to gather in person, in spite of what the current Covid CDC of Ohio Department of Health Guidelines might be.
We want UUCC to be a comfortable and safe space for all of us. We want you to feel safe in gathering with us. A fair amount of discussion and thought went into how we can achieve that, and thus crafting each of these statements. Here’s some of the thought process behind each of these statements in our Covenant for in-Person Gathering.
We promise to:
Gain consent before touching / hugging others. It’s the 21st century, this probably should be part of any covenant – post covid or not. People have different levels of comfort especially after more than a year of not hugging. The same goes for shaking hands, or whatever other touch might be part of your nature. Think about how you will gain consent in a way that doesn’t assume the person is ok with it. Asking “May I give you a hug?” is better than “It’s ok that I give you a hug, right?”
Wear masks in shared spaces until vaccines are available to all the children. We want to be a place that is safe for as many as reasonably possible for all our congregation to meet. By agreeing to wear masks until all populations can be vaccinated, we are allowing that – in addition to being in solidarity with those still waiting. This agreement is for shared spaces – entryways, hallways, restrooms, coffee hour. Once a small group is in their own meeting room they may mutually agree that people may remove masks.
Find ways to be inclusive of adults who cannot be vaccinated. I haven’t figured out how exactly to do this, but if we’re all paying attention and listen to the people who are in this group, I’m sure we’ll come up with ways.
Give and accept reminders to the covenant gracefully. We’re human, we all will make mistakes – forget to put our mask on when leaving a meeting, leaning in to hug someone without remembering to ask permission. If we’re in a group when someone leans in for that hug, we all have the responsibility to gently remind that person to ask permission; and when someone reminds us to put our mask on, we need to graciously do just that. There is no need for an explanation, a simple “thanks for the reminder” is plenty.
Prioritize the obligation to think about the safety of the whole before our own sense of what is safe for ourselves. We all read and hear and synthesize the news about this pandemic. We each decide what is ok for us in our homes and private lives. At church we are asking to prioritize the whole, no matter what you might do individually. We think it’s better to be together wearing masks than to not be together at all.
Assume good intentions, but policies and this covenant will guide our actions. We trust none of us will intentionally make someone else feel uncomfortable – but we need to follow this covenant and the regathering guidelines to insure we don’t do that accidentally.
Respect the authority of the people making policies. It’s easy to question any of the guidelines for meeting in person. It’s a constantly changing world. The reopening task force welcomes input that will help them guide our re-opening. Truly, they are working to do their best to understand the risks and impact on the congregation.
Not attend in person gatherings if we are not feeling well, or if not vaccinated and have been exposed to Covid 19. I think this one speaks for itself.
Carol Gay, board president