Dear beloved members and friends of First Parish in Bedford,
We want to take a moment, at the midpoint of summer, to update you on our current thinking regarding our plans for the health and safety of our congregation.
This continues to be a challenging time for all of us. As the pandemic goes on, COVID safety has become an increasingly confusing and politically-charged topic. With some folks in our country refusing to take any precautions at all and others still avoiding other people at all costs, the spectrum of behavior we are seeing is wide. We want our values and safety to guide us forward. What are our First Parish protocols for this fall?
1. We will not gather in ways that exclude people.
Our UU values call us to equitable and compassionate behaviors and toward inclusion and fairness. For worship and any other large gatherings we will remain a virtual congregation, at least through the end of January 2021. We strongly encourage small group ministries, committees and other groups to also choose virtual gatherings over those held in-person when they would exclude vulnerable people in our community.
2. If we gather in smaller groups, we will meet outdoors and use social distancing and masks per CDC guidelines.
If a group of First Parish members feels safe gathering outdoors using social distancing and masks – and can be inclusive of all in that group – then we will feel free to do so with these safety practices in place. (Examples might include a committee having a backyard meeting or a youth group holding a BYO picnic on the Common.) In these events, we ask that the community takes care to balance our need for connection with sound public health practices of our community, knowing that both matter.
3. We will stay flexible and listen to your needs and concerns.
We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is shifting and changing. Our Leadership Team (comprised of our ministry staff, administrator, Treasurer, Parish Council Chair, and Board President), will continue to listen to your thoughts and needs, and will make and change decisions as necessary. Our goal is to continue to reflect the values and mission of First Parish in Bedford in all we do and say.
We remain proud of our work with the Bedford Research Foundation to carry forward COVID-19 testing in our narthex. We are gratified each time we’ve seen or heard from you, as you carry forward your values on the Town Common, the streets of Boston or elsewhere; as you shout with compassion that Black Lives Matter. We are encouraged every time you post a message that continues the fight for justice and equity; to save our environment; to free those held in captivity; to create a society that lives up to the best aspirations of this country. Please, do not lose faith – we must continue this work with renewed passion and drive.
This is hard, friends. We miss the hugs, the live music, the sound of children in our hallways, the clasping of hands in solidarity. Joy does not transmit as easily through a computer screen or a phone line. But we are a people of resilience and justice, grit and grace. We will continue. Know that we are here, and not just in spirit. Keep staying safe and taking care of each other.
John, Annie and Deb
Rev. John Gibbons, Senior Minister
Rev. Annie Gonzalez Milliken, Minister of Faith Development
Deborah Weiner, Developmental Director – Faith Development for Children