UUFC President’s Letter: Reopening Sunday, June 14, 2020

Greetings Fellow UUs:

I sincerely hope this letter finds you safe and well. On Wednesday, the UUFC Board met in Grace Fellowship Hall to consider and plan our future reopening. The Board is well aware of the risks posed by the coronavirus, and our decisions about reopening and the accompanying requirements and guidelines were made after much deliberation, current information, and above all, a desire to do what is best for our congregation. With respect for your ability to make an informed decision for yourselves, we are offering a chance to gather in fellowship again, if you choose.

We tentatively plan on reopening the Fellowship on Sunday, June 14.  It’s tentative because new government directives and data about the pandemic could change that plan. Governor Kemp’s directive requires seniors (65+) and those with compromised immune systems to shelter in place until Friday, June 12 at 11:59 p.m. 

Our relatively small congregation is fortunate to own a large building with high ceilings and chairs instead of pews. We have analyzed ways to space the chairs and manage the flow of entry and exit so that safety will be maximized. There will be many other protocols to minimize coronavirus risks.

First and foremost, the Board unanimously agrees that face masks must be worn while inside the Fellowship. Because masks are primarily to protect others from the wearer of the mask, it is about social responsibility to others. Many think the mask is about protecting the individual, like when wearing a gas mask, but it isn’t quite that simple. Yes, the wearer does gain some protection, but it is primarily to hold in droplets from sneezing and coughing. Asymptomatic people can still transmit the disease to others. The use of masks, while helpful in reducing transmission of COVID-19, is not perfect. Knowing this will aid in making an informed decision about attending. There will be three exceptions to the mask rule: the service leader and the speaker when at the podium and the pianist when playing.

During these times, this warning cannot be stated enough: if you feel sick, have a fever, or coughing or sneezing from hay fever, please stay home. If someone around you feels unwell or if you have been in contact with anyone with coronavirus, please stay home. We’ll love you even more for considering us.
Latex gloves are optional, and will not be provided, except for our team involved in cleaning and sanitizing. However, please feel free to wear gloves if they make you feel safer.
Social distancing is part of the new social dance. Six feet apart. No embraces or hugs. Bowing is nice. The chairs have been separated by six feet, so please, they need to remain where they are and not moved. The arrangement provides for a capacity of between 34 and 44 depending on the mix of singles and couples. We will be counting the number of people entering, so it is important to claim your seat early to help manage the number of attendees. 
Donations will not be by passing a plate, but by placing baskets at exits. Our fearless treasurer, Ron Ussery, will use gloves to process the donations. Checks may also be mailed to UUFC, P.O. Box 698, Fortson, GA 31808. It’s a new world, but we will adjust.

Flow is important in maintaining social distancing. Please enter the building through the front door or the handicapped access ramp, and exit through the side doors. Also, the small front office will have a gate to avoid crowding. 

For those preferring not to attend, we will video the service and post it to YouTube as soon as possible after the service. Joys and concerns can be expressed with mask on at a standing microphone.The entire Service will be videoed to give the people not attending in person, but in spirit, more of a complete Service. 
Our kitchen will be closed, but you are welcome to bring your own beverage. 
Hand sanitizer will be available at the entry to the sanctuary. Also, there is plenty of soap and water in the restrooms. Keep hands clean for a safer tomorrow. Be aware that some of our hand sanitizer was prepared according to FDA standards by the local brewery, Chattabrewchee Southern Brew House, and has a distinct odor of alcohol. The good news is that it’s effective against the coronavirus.
Based on health guidelines from our insurance company, for the welfare of our children we will postpone childcare and children’s Religious Exploration. Because we will not be using the Meeting House for a while, Adult R.E. is also postponed.
Stay tuned for more announcements.The Board will adjust and communicate as the situation evolves. Not all religious institutions view this pandemic the same way, as can be expected. Even within the broader UU family, there is a wide spectrum of views on how best to ameliorate risks. The individual risk assessment is a personal responsibility. Therefore the UU Board encourages each of you to make the decision about returning to UU based on your own unique circumstances.

Other UU News
Barbara Owens, our Board’s secretary, has been provided the opportunity to move to be closer to her daughter in Atlanta. She will really be missed on the Board, and as a member of the Fellowship. We hope she won’t be a stranger and will have the opportunity to visit us on occasion.
There will be a May UU Fellowship Newsletter. Bill Harlan is diligently working on a new format.
You can tell how much our Fellowship is responding to the hardships that the local population is trying to endure. There are stresses on the ability of many to feed their families, so the Fellowship has donated over $1500 to Feeding the Valley to help alleviate some of this stress. Kudos to Susan Stephenson and the Social Action Committee. For the May Give Away the Plate, we would like to continue to support Feeding the Valley. 
David Rush led the Zoom Wednesday Night Discussion Group. It was great. We learned how to change our background, and we had a lively sharing of what we are doing to improve ourselves. John Land made some very poignant observations about how any effort to switch to online classes for CSU during the Fall could have a major disruptive effect on businesses downtown.
This Sunday, May 17, Rick Spradlin will provide inspiration in his presentation entitled “Prayer.” Brenda Stevens will provide a link for the YouTube, which will be on our YouTube channel. If anybody has Joys and Concerns, or announcements, please forward them to Brenda at our new email address:  uufcga@gmail.com ​
​As Garrison Keillor said:   “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.”

Hal Midgette
UUFC President