Sanctuary open for in-person worship

Sep 30, 2021 | COVID-19, News, Religious Education, Worship

Enter, Rejoice and Come In! Or…. Continue to Log On with Zoom

This Sunday, October 3, we’ll be opening the sanctuary back up for in-person worship for the first time since everything shut down in March 2020.  I can’t wait for us to be together once more in our spiritual home. Some things are going to feel familiar and comforting.  Some of the changes to accommodate Covid safety might feel strange – at first.

Our Religious Education team has been surveying families.  Some families are rarin’ to go, totally comfortable bringing children to indoor activities, as long as everyone is masked.  Other families are not comfortable returning with their children at this time, especially for children who remain unvaccinated.  And, that’s fine.  I suspect the same is true for many of our adults. Some are ready to move indoors and, for others, not right now.

We honor you, no matter where you are on that wide spectrum of differing safety and comfort zones.  That’s why Murray is offering two ways to do RE and multiple ways to worship.

Multiple Ways To Participate in RE

Robi Altamari, our Director of Lifespan Religious Education, is offering the same lesson in hybrid formats, to meet all our families’ needs.

  • For those who prefer not to return to in-person church at this time, please log on at 9 AM to join Robi for a half-hour of online RE fun and exploration.
  • For those who are comfortable bringing children to church, please plan for your family to join us in the sanctuary for worship – everyone masked.  The children will leave with Robi at about 10:15 AM to head outside to the Unity Garden, or gather indoors practicing social distancing in Fellowship Hall, depending on weather.
  • Or, you may bring your children directly to the Unity Garden at 10:15 AM to meet up with Robi for outdoor RE, weather permitting.
  • Youth Group will continue to meet at noon either outside or indoors, spread out, depending on weather.

Multiple Ways to Worship

We will offer hybrid worship options as well.

  • We will gather for in-person worship at 10:00 a.m. in our sanctuary.
  • Or, if you prefer — or if you are feeling sick — please continue to log on to Zoom from the comfort and safety of your own home to be a part of our worship experience.

Covid Safety Practices Indoors

  • Everyone will be masked at all times, for the safety of everyone throughout the building.  You will be encouraged to sanitize your hands.  We have dispensers around the building.
  • Anyone over the age of 18 will be asked to sign our Covid Safety Covenant (just once), agreeing to abide by Murray’s safety guidelines to help us create as safe an environment as we can.  So far, we have 45 folks who have signed their Safety Covenant.  We’ll have more forms available this Sunday.
  • We’ll be experimenting with a one-way movement pattern in the sanctuary for safety – people will be asked to enter the sanctuary through the back double doors and exit through the front door by the pulpit or the front door into the hallway if someone needs to use the restroom.  There will be no after-worship receiving line with the minister for the foreseeable future.
  • Our seating will be different – the pews have been marked with ribbon to block off half of each pew, so people will sit in a zig-zag pattern.  Families or those who bubble together can sit close together.  For those who have been vaccinated, the CDC recommends a three-foot separation and those who are unvaccinated will need to honor six-foot social distancing.
  • We’ll be asking families with children to sit along the stained glass window side, to make it easier for the children to exit for RE.  Our Deacons & Deaconesses will help guide families to the designated seating area.
  • We’ll have the air circulating.  The good news is that our huge heating and air conditioning units recycle the air inside our sanctuary every 15 minutes.  But we will also have the ceiling fans running, as well as all the doors to the sanctuary open with fans to keep the air moving for the safety of all in the room.
  • We won’t be singing hymns together.  And our full choir will not be singing.  Small ensemble groups of choir members may sing, spread out from one another upon the chancel.
  • We won’t be passing the plate for the foreseeable future.  Just as we’ve been doing outside, there will be giving plates set up in the front and the back, and people will be invited to make their gift either as they come into the sanctuary, during the offering, or as they exit worship.
  • We will not be hosting coffee hour at this time, but people are encouraged to visit with one another outdoors after they exit.

Nothing is Set in Stone

I know that Covid has been a long, dangerous schlep, and we’re not done yet, dang it.  The good news is that the Delta variant seems to be on the decline.  Yet other risks related to Covid remain unclear. We hope to see more of our youngest ones able to get vaccinated as soon as possible.  All this means that Murray’s safety protocols are going to shift and change as we respond to the latest science.  We ask for your patience and flexibility.  We’re all in this together, working to create whatever the new normal at Murray will be.

Please plan to join us this Sunday as we explore Frederick Douglass, the former slave and abolitionist activist from the 1800s, and his spiritual journey from traditional Christianity to an early form of Humanism.  He had a number of influential Unitarian friends along the way that may have influenced his path.

In love and faith,

Rev. Gretchen

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