Gathering Safely at First Unitarian

First Unitarian met the challenge of presenting services during the pandemic with services on YouTube that kept us connected while we sheltered in place at home. Covid protocols that we have developed by following the current advice of the UUA and CDC will continue to keep us safe as we gather in person at First Unitarian.

Safety will depend on masking, distancing, ventilation, hand sanitizing, and adjusting our beloved rituals. Please be aware of and practice the following:

  • Hybrid service and vaccination. Members and guests are welcome to attend in person or via Zoom at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings. The Ushers and Greeters will assist the congregation in following Covid-19 protocols—masks, seating, distancing, and no singing, among others. At this time, we will not require proof of vaccination of members and guests, though we encourage unvaccinated adults and unvaccinated children over 12 years old to zoom from home. All First Unitarian staff are mandated to be vaccinated by the middle of October. Any unvaccinated staff must test regularly until vaccinated or remain off duty. While attending in person our safety protocols will maximize a healthy environment for all.
  • Water Communion. To limit the spread of Covid, Sunday’s service will look a little different. Instead of saving your water for later if you brought some, please place it in the vessels by the door as you enter and staff will carry the vessels forward before the service begins. If there are kids with you, please take an activity packet if you would like one, as the typical amount of movement usually included in a multi-gen service will be lessened. For Time for All Ages, masked students will be called up by group and may sit in the spaced chairs on the chancel. They will be dismissed by groups as well. Parents with kids under the age of 2 who have not taken the kids to the nursery are encouraged to remain seated instead of processing to the chancel for the time for all ages. 
  • Masking. All attendees must wear masks in the building—sanctuary, Hull Chapel, and Pennington Center—regardless of vaccination status. We encourage everyone to be vaccinated. If anyone forgets to bring a mask, they will be available from the Ushers at the front door. Masks will be also be required to be worn by children during services and RE programs regardless of vaccination status.
  • Sanitization. Hand sanitizer will be available at various stations throughout the building for your use. Pens and markers at the greeting table will be sanitized after each use. Hearing aid devices will be sanitized after each use at Sunday services.
  • Distanced seating. In the Sanctuary, some seats will be blocked off and unavailable for seating to maintain social distancing. Individuals will sit in unblocked chairs separated by blocked off chairs, and family groups may sit together in areas with groups of unblocked chairs. Overflow seating, if necessary, will be arranged in Hull Chapel. Ushers will be available to help seat you.
  • Ventilation. Open front doors during service will increase ventilation. The Nursery and some RE classrooms serving unvaccinated young children will have individual HEPA filter air purifiers.
  • Music. Music will continue to be a vital part of our worship services, but for now, the choir will not perform, nor will the congregation be asked to sing. Jeff Hamrick, our music director, will provide piano and organ selections as always, and we look forward to welcoming occasional guest instrumentalists.
  • Hand of Friendship and Pass the Basket will be modified to minimize contact. Please see the OOS for Pass the Basket information, and remain in your spots as you greet your neighbors.
  • Nursery and Children’s RE. Nursery and Children’s RE will be available starting on Sunday, Sept. 12th. We will also maintain some online options for those not ready to return in person. Beth Moss, our Director of Religious Education (DRE), and the Ushers and Greeters will be able to provide additional information as needed.
  • Coffee Hour. Weather-permitting, we plan to hold Coffee Hour outside on our lawn on Sunday. We will have individually-wrapped food and individually wrapped cups and stirring spoons. Brewed coffee and any other beverages will be served by a volunteer. We ask that attendees wear masks unless eating and drinking, and maintain a social distance of at least 3 feet.

Virtual Zoom Coffee Hour will not be held until we determine the demand for it and the availability of virtual coffee hour facilitators. 

We’re all so happy to welcome each other back, in-person! Thank you for your patience as we enter into our new normal, trying our best to keep everyone safe and healthy. We know we must all remain flexible as things change and new information becomes available.