Dear CUCC –

As life is opening up across the country, in our state and in our schools, our work and personal schedules are also morphing to include different behaviors and safety protocols than we have observed so closely over the last 15 months. Guidance from CDC, the federal government, our governor, our schools and our churches regarding various groups engaging in what were once normal activities has actually become more fragmented. Our numbers are improving but no one can say for sure when we will be completely out of the woods. As of this writing, mask wearing restrictions are being lifted for vaccinated people in some situations and vaccines are rolling out everywhere for those 16 and up (as well as for some younger children). https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/participate-in-activities.html

We hope you can take a moment to celebrate these milestones! We also recognize that clarity remains elusive when thinking through the details of worship and church life. While dire restrictions on public life are lifting, we don’t regard our church community as ready to hold in person worship services in our sanctuary this summer. Our main concern is safety, and we are also considering the time needed for our community to accept and embrace these changes.

The general guidance from the CDC continues to emphasize safety in all situations. CUCC has stayed abreast of this guidance.

Attending church, eating and gathering in small rooms with little ventilation remain among the most cautioned against activities. Still, the country and our state seem to be moving forward this spring and summer in all walks of life. What does this mean for worship and other activities at CUCC? We want to be among the safest, if not the safest, place in your life. We have always managed the reasonable risks of being a church through our staff and council volunteers as well as common sense from congregants. Now that we have navigated what we hope and pray are the depths of this pandemic, we face a hybrid time where guidelines writ large remain less than satisfactory. Even though half of our state’s population is vaccinated, people in our lives and in our congregation bring a wide variety of circumstances to which we strive to respond with love and care. As our recent survey showed, some folks will jump at the chance to get together in person for any reason and some have not begun to imagine our return to in-person church life. Our preparations for in-person church wide re-opening will run on two tracks – worship and “other gatherings.”

WORSHIP – Zoom until target date of Sept. 12

Path Forward has decided to target Sunday, September 12 as the date for our return to in-person worship. We will continue with Zoom Sunday worship until then, knowing that we all have peace to make with this journey. Between now and then CUCC is purchasing equipment to live stream our services, learning more about our technology options and getting trained as we consider the many tasks of reconvening in our sanctuary as our Sunday practice. We will continue to puzzle out our options for crafting worship services over the summer. We hope to offer a live stream of worship by Sept. 12. Council, Deacons, staff and many volunteers are actively involved in imagining and working through these many details. Thanks for your patience and flexibility as we prepare for this target date of September 12, which is our traditional date for Welcoming Sunday. Should the date for this re-opening change, we will alert the congregation a month ahead of time.

FELLOWSHIP, STUDY, SERVICE and JUSTICE – increased in-person options and food service

Also between now and September 12, we have the opportunity to plan other events that will help reconnect us to our church campus and to each other as an in-person body. Small groups are encouraged to make plans to be together as spirit is moving you to do so. Please continue to follow the Path Forward guidelines. Some small groups will plan events off campus in order to share a safe meal together. Path Forward recognizes your autonomy to do so and again encourages safe practices. You will naturally be assessing comfort levels in your group as well as determining who is vaccinated. Finding consensus and consent can be more complicated than you might think at first! (Maybe this is why guidelines have often felt insufficient.) We trust the covenant between us all as we continue to navigate any difficulties in our quest to get together safely.

We plan to gather for larger group events over the summer as well. Leaders from Religious Education, Welcome & Fellowship, and our Moderating Team have joined staff and the Path Forward team to craft these events. Our plan is to put several events on the calendar that bring us together in a variety of ways to embrace our life as the church. The addition of food to any of these events instantly complicates our planning with regard to safety protocols. It’s time to wade into these waters! We will progressively roll out some food service during this period, assessing successes along the way and potentially making adjustments as necessary. Please take part in events as you are comfortable. And please share your thoughts with Pastor Lacey, Mike Cline or other church leaders.

Look for more info on upcoming church wide events on the website:

May 23 – Pentecost Celebration (food truck)
July 25 – Summer Daze (bbq)
July 28, Aug 4 & 11 – VBS Wednesdays (pizza or subs)
Aug 15 – All church picnic
Sept 12 – Welcoming Sunday (modified pot luck)
Sept 25 – Narthex Dedication (pot luck)

Our response to this long pandemic season and all of its challenges has highlighted the grace, strength and resilience of our Community. Thanks for being the church!

Blessings,
Welcome & Fellowship and Path Forward Team