March 14, 2020
Dear First Parish Members and Friends,
We acknowledge that this is a long notice, and to please bear with us as there is a lot of information in it. We will cover (1) The FPUU Congregational Well-Being Task Force, (2) Changes to Sunday Worship Services, (3) Caring for our community during this time, (4) ancillary church business. Each of these sections is identified with a heading.
The Task Force
We are writing to let you know that the Board of Directors has established a Congregational Well-Being Task Force that includes: Joan O’Hara, Merideth Norris, Andrea Rohde, Christopher Wells, Wayne White and Rev. Lara Campbell.
This group is charged with reviewing current data regarding COVID-19 and determining the best way for First Parish to respond. As always our intent is to show “compassion for ourselves and others,” to “grow in spirit by opening our minds and hearts,” and to “work together, building a loving, just and peace filled world” (FPUU vision statement.)
The Task Force will be monitoring the situation closely and will update you with any changes in a timely fashion. Decisions will be made on a bi-weekly basis. The Task Force is scheduled to meet again on Sunday (March 15) in the evening.
In the next few days you will receive information about how you can schedule video or phone meetings with Rev. Lara and when her on-line drop in office hours will be.
Rev. Lara will be at church today (Saturday 3/14), and will have a Zoom room open from 11 am -2 pm (https://us04web.zoom.us/j/5846453088) if you would like to do a trial run with zoom or you can always call her cell phone.
First and foremost: we have decided to move on-line for both worship and church business effective immediately. We made this decision after deep and careful consideration, rooted in best practices as described by the CDC and the Unitarian Universalist Association, which is currently urging in person gatherings of no more than 25 people.
Now more than ever we need connection and community, so please know that the church is not closed, simply the building. First Parish will remain alive and open in the relationships that we have built and will continue to build in new and exciting formats. We are actively stepping into the demand of this moment that we imagine new ways of being in community, of supporting one another, and of noticing and caring for the most vulnerable among us.
Below are some of our first steps. There will certainly be more.
We will worship online, using Zoom. Zoom is a very simple video conferencing platform to use- clicking a link will take you right to the online gathering. If you don’t have a computer or access to the internet, there is also a phone number- you can simply call in. We’ll not only offer a worship service, but after we will have “coffee hour” with breakout small groups for you to check in with.
Here is the invitation to our Worship Service:
First Parish UU Church is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: First Parish UU Church's Worship and Coffee Hour
Time: Sunday 10:30 am
To join the meeting from a computer or a mobile device/tablet with the Zoom App installed, you can click this link:
If you’re reading this on your phone, and wish to dial in, you can click one of the below links to join:
If those aren’t working, you can make a call to one of the numbers below:
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US
+1 301 715 8592 US
If at any point you are asked for a “Meeting ID” it is:
734 887 010
You can find out more about Zoom and other virtual meeting options on our web page: www.uukennebunk.org/virtual
In the next week, we are planning to establish Community Circles of 6-10 people. Each Community Circle will have a lead member who will coordinate with the other members, ensuring that everyone has the friendship, food, medicines, and spiritual resources that they need during this time. These circles are an opportunity to connect with community members and friends in ways we wouldn’t otherwise, and build new networks of support that last far beyond this situation.
Beyond Community Circles, we also want to be responsive to all who may be needing a little extra support. There’s so much about this experience that can produce anxiety, grief, confusion. It may cause serious financial hardship. It can bring up past traumatic experiences and crises. If you are struggling right now, please reach out to Rev. Lara at [email protected] or Andrea Rohde at [email protected] we are here to help.
Church Business & Meetings
We are encouraging meetings to be held over Zoom (or a similar platform), and will provide the resources to do so. Our Zoom account will allow leaders to schedule and run their own online meetings. If you are in leadership, you can find the necessary information on how to do this at www.uukennebunk.org/virtual
While our communal response will certainly shift over time as we gain clarity about needs and resources, what we know right now is that we are stronger together. Many of the steps we are taking as a church at this moment are the direct result of brainstorming and sharing resources with colleagues across the nation. In the same way, our own shared wonderings will lead to deep and powerful ways to be together that meet the demands of this particular time. We have been reminded that we are woven together in ways known and unknown. Our commitment to fierce hope and radical love will ensure that our response honors not only the hardness, but also the holiness, of that connection.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to us, we are here for you.
In Faith and Love,
Joan O’Hara, Co-Chair, First Parish Board of Directors
Wayne White, Co-Chair, First Parish Board of Directors
Rev. Lara Campbell, Minister