Articles, Reflections, & Announcements
Deepening Connections: Joys and Sorrows in the Meridian
Have you ever felt like you don’t have enough time or know what to write in the chat during joys and sorrows? You now have a new way to share ahead of time with our new submission form.
You are invited to share your joys or sorrows, celebrations or heartaches as a way to share and deepen connections among congregants. You can choose how you would or would not want your joy or sorrow shared in the weekly Meridian, during service on Sunday morning, or with the minister.
This fall we are again entering into a time of uncertainty about how we can be in community with our loved ones, friends, and church. I like many of you, imagined returning to in-person services once more people were vaccinated. There is a lot of sadness about the decision to remain virtual for longer than any of us could have foreseen. I pray that you will find new ways to support one another and that I will be able to connect with many of you individually or in small group sessions. Stay tuned for more information about small groups which will focus on a series of questions to aid the transition process during the interim.
Autumn 2021 Religious Exploration Offerings Survey
Hello and Bright Blessings! As COVID cases in Florida continue at critical levels, in-person offerings are not an option at this time and likely will not be for several months. As we know we are all stretched thin and exhausted at this phase of the pandemic, our goal is to find some consistent programming options during this time that allow families to come and fill their cups when they need to rather than feeling obligated to perform, volunteer, or show up every week.
Please fill out the brief survey below about how your family might want to engage with RE at UUCT this fall.
Survey Link: https://forms.gle/
Your feedback is valuable and will help us design a calendar of events and offerings that we hope will better meet your family’s needs. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
Grace Mission – Ministry of the Forgotten
By Ev Anderson
This Sunday’s Share-the-Plate partner is Grace Mission, a transformative ministry of the forgotten. Founded in the mid 90’s by St. John’s Episcopal Church, Grace Mission is located on the edge of Frenchtown at the corner of Bronough and Brevard Streets. Focused on worship, Grace Mission crosses racial, social, and economic lines to minister to the whole person.
Partnering with other Tallahassee churches including UUCT, Grace Mission last year served more than 40,000 free meals, provided 1,144 showers, cleaned 416 loads of laundry, sponsored a monthly clothing giveaway as well as an after-school program three times weekly for children in grades 1-5, paid for primary and life-saving prescription medication through its medical fund, gave referrals to counseling, recovery, and in- and out-patient rehab facilities, provided for birth certificates and state photo ID’s to help in securing employment, and much, much more.
This wonderful charity deserves our enthusiastic support. Please give as generously as you are able.
The New Battle for Voting Rights And the 8th Principle
by Ed Oaksford
In the wake of record turnout in the 2020 general election, state legislators around the country have pushed more than 380 bills to create new voting barriers that disproportionately disenfranchise Black, Latinx, and Native American voters. Amplifying the threat is a disappointing Supreme Court decision in Brnovich v Democratic National Committee that upheld voting restrictions in Arizona and adopted a narrow view of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 2 is one of the more effective tools available to challenge voting restrictions on the grounds of racial discrimination and a tool the ACLU continues to use in the fight to eliminate racially repressive laws.
Access to the vote is critical to retaining our civil liberties. Even though these bills are tearing at the fabric of our democracy, advocacy and the ACLU’s efforts to push back have been effective. As Florida, Texas, Georgia, and Montana continue to enact democracy damaging voter suppression laws more advocacy work is needed.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Get involved with the Unitarian Universalist for Social Justice’s (UUSJ) efforts to pass the “For the People Act”, the “John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act” and the “Washington D.C. Admission Act” by visiting https://bit.ly/2WpxPBI .
2. Support the ACLU and urge your legislators to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) to curb state voter suppression efforts. Visit ACLU Action to learn more.
Cleary this is something we at UUCT can do in covenant to affirm and promote the 8th Principle: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.
Faith in Place’s Green Team Summit 2021
By Ed Oaksford
Interfaith Power and Light has invited us to join in Faith in Place’s Green Team Summit 2021. Join Faith in Place September 12-14th for a 3-night virtual, immersive, and interactive journey into healing.
9-12-2021 from 4:00pm to 5:15pm
9-13-2021 from 4:30pm to 5:30pm and 6:00pm to 7:00pm
9-14-2021 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm, 5:30pm to 6:30pm, and 7:00pm to 7:30pm
During this summit, we will explore ways to heal our connection with our land, body, mind, spirit, and community. From walking through vividly green wetlands in Shawnee National Forest, to touring a farm, and gathering in a racial healing circle, this virtual Summit will honor our interconnectedness and inspire our environmental work through healing.
Free Registration at: https://www.greenteamsummit.org/2021-registration
In Case You Missed It!
Gatherings at the Church Adversely Impacted by Covid Trends
In our last update on the church reopening plans the Covid Task Force was guardedly optimistic that a return to in-person services was in sight, perhaps by early fall. But because of the surge of Covid-19 cases caused by the more infectious Delta variant, the high positivity rate of those being tested and the record number of hospitalizations that are straining local resources, more stringent restrictions on church social activities have been adopted.
This shows the disturbing trend. In July, the Daily New Cases in Leon County was at 20.7 (per 100k) with a 13.2% Positivity Rate. Now those numbers are 87 and 16% respectively with 251 hospitalized, and that number increases daily. The current course is alarming and cannot be ignored.
Although a significant number of our members have been vaccinated we know from public health experts that a vaccinated person can still carry the virus and spread it to others so it’s necessary to suspend some gatherings at the church that had been approved earlier. Such groups as the Old Guys Lunch Group, Women’s Lunch Bunch and BIPOC will be affected. Making a distinction between social gatherings and essential services, the Task Force has adopted these new restrictions:
- Effective immediately lunch and other social gatherings on the veranda or elsewhere on the church campus will not be approved.
- Requests to rent space at the church will be denied for the time being.
- Gatherings for groups providing services such as church work days, Manna on Meridian, church committee and staff meetings as well as staff conducting church business are deemed essential and will continue under masking and social distancing guidelines.
- DRE Director Helen Rivers Cassara has suspended all in-person children and youth programming.
The newly adopted restrictions are in line with recommendations released August 20, 2021 by UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray which encourage using greater caution. For our circumstances the recommendation is “In areas where transmission risk is Very High or Severe (per the COVID Act Now data), suspend all large, in-person (indoor and outdoor) gatherings such as worship, concerts, or fundraisers.” ; Due to the severe risk in Leon County, the Covid Task Force has opted for a more cautious approach at this time. We will continue to reassess and hope that we can reinstate small group gatherings in the near future.
Please be assured that cohesion and connection among the congregation is a top priority right along with safety. To that end, Rev. Holly Brown has presented a proposal to live stream services from the sanctuary that would involve three to seven persons to include Music Director Angel de Armendi, one or two musicians and tech support staff, all properly distanced and adhering to the strictest guidelines. Watch for an announcement about when that is scheduled.
If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to reach out the the Covid Task Force. Members are Phil Kiracofe, chair, Janet Temkin and Steve Urse serving as members, Rev. Holly Brown as an ex officio member, Bonnie Abellera, VP for Management and DRE Helen Rivers Cassara as consultants.
Feedback Still Welcome!
Room L Proposal: Reporting Survey Responses
The link below is to a report that compiles the input received from the congregation about the proposal to consolidate Child and Youth RE (CYRE) to Room L.
Input was sought in the form of feedback, questions, and desire to be directly or passively updated about a meeting to discuss next steps. Input was provided via an online survey with one person emailing their input.
The input has been organized into three sections: the first includes questions and responses; the second gathers the concerns and criticisms while the third presents statements of support or neutrality. The fourth section represents the contributions of one congregant. There really was no way to parse it so we decided to include it as its own section. Any quotes or references to input from other congregants has not been vetted. The promise was that this report would present anonymized input, so we have also not identified or asked the congregant to self-identify.
Recommendation from DRE and VP of RE after survey: We’d like to continue to hear from the congregation about the proposal (and bear in mind this is a proposal, not a plan), so the survey link (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScmRc5aaKO54lPySCfrheM9eCt4EzZR59gN0fIGsJQ09YBi6Q/viewform?usp=sf_link) has been reactivated.
Based on the responses gathered thus far, we believe that postponing the decision until we’re closer to being able to gather in person. At that point, should we move forward, the first step is a plan which will be created in coordination with all the other stakeholders. We believe a 4-6 week trial run when we’re ready to resume in-person services would be a great way to explore how to use our spaces in community for the community. This report was presented to the UUCT Board for review/discussion in the August 26, 2021 meeting.
Ongoing Need for Volunteers!
Kearney Center Meal Service and Preparation Volunteers Needed
By Janet Temkin
If you and your family are looking for a way to give back to our community, the Kearney Center can use your help.
UUCT has signed up to prep and serve lunches on the first, third and fourth Tuesday of each month at the Kearney Center. We will be assisting with dinners on the second Monday of each month. 4-5 volunteers are needed at each mealtime.
Meal prep is a fun way to connect with others and help our vulnerable homeless population at the same time.
You can easily sign up to volunteer using the link below:
Kathryn Schroeder is now our UUCT coordinator. Please email Kathryn at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.