August 31, 2021- Mask Update

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I direct your attention to an important message below from our re-entry team. Given our current COVID moment in the state of Vermont, we are asking that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, use a mask while inside the church building, beginning today, September 1. The note from the re-entry team goes into more detail on the reasons and ramifications for this shift, though none will be surprising. We have been watching our numbers climb for several weeks now, and while we rejoice that high vaccination rates continue make our state among the best places to be, we know there is more we can do to ensure everyone’s safety so that we can continue to meet in-person.
Please reach out with any questions or concerns. I look forward to a special Labor Sunday worship experience this weekend, followed by a trip to the Pride Parade for all who want to go.

The UCU re-entry team met on August 31st and effective immediately we are asking all persons over age two to wear masks during indoor group activities at the Church. We discussed the “why now” question and offer the following considerations:

  • The Delta variant is increasingly predominant in VT and appears to be more contagious than the earlier strains of COVID.
  • While VT has a high vaccination rate and the vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious illness and death, there are breakthrough cases and even people without symptoms may be exposed and spread the disease. VT’s case load is stubbornly high and may not yet have peaked.
  • The CDC has recommended indoor masking in areas with increased spread. In VT that includes Chittenden County.
  • Vermont’s Health Commissioner is now recommending indoor masking even for vaccinated Vermonters
  • As summer winds down, we anticipate the size of our Sunday congregation may increase bringing more people together in the sanctuary.
  • As we have observed our congregation in Church over the past few Sundays, most people are choosing to wear masks. This is a powerful signal about the comfort level of our own congregation.

As we implement indoor masking, we are taking a few steps:

  • Signs asking people to wear masks will be posted in the Church
  • We are contacting outside groups who use the Church facilities and are asking them to assure masks are worn during their gatherings in the Church
  • We are asking that fellowship time after worship occur outside under the tent. If the weather is not good, we will not have indoor fellowship time that Sunday.
  • We will continue to have communion indoors and allow people to take their masks off momentarily while they consume the elements.

Clearly COVID has been and continues to be with us far longer than we could have imagined. The re-entry team is monitoring both federal, state and denominational guidance on an ongoing basis. We likely will need to adjust our gathering policies to perhaps be more or less stringent in the weeks and months ahead. The re-entry team feels the power of worshiping in person and wants to take the steps that will enable us to continue in person worship in a way that is safe and as comfortable as possible for our congregation. If people are not comfortable wearing a mask during worship or do not feel safe gathering in our sanctuary with others, our Ministry of Inspirational Worship continues to offer virtual worship on-line. Your patience and cooperation is greatly appreciated. Re-entry team- Liz Manz, Robin Simard, Dianne Sisson, Dan Manz, Pastor Jen Mihok