Dear beloved members and friends of First Parish in Bedford,
This continues to be a challenging time for all of us. As vaccines roll out and kids go back to school, we know the landscape is shifting in terms of how we approach COVID safety. We have gathered a Re-opening Task Force to set some guidelines for us that are in line with our values and with guidance from health officials. In the meantime, what are our First Parish protocols for this spring and summer?
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 we will remain a virtual congregation, at least through the end of August 2021 and we will hold any large group gatherings online or outdoors. We strongly encourage small group ministries, committees and other groups to choose virtual or outdoor gatherings over those held indoors when they would exclude people in our community. We will remain aware that children cannot yet receive the vaccines and therefore may be more vulnerable than adults at this point.
2. If we gather in smaller groups, we will use social distancing and masks per CDC guidelines.
If a group of First Parish members feels safe gathering in person 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. We will always use outdoor space when it is possible, resorting to indoor space only when everyone in the group has already been vaccinated or when a large space with social distancing can be used.
3. We will stay flexible and listen to your needs and concerns.
We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is shifting and changing. Our Re-opening Task Force is meeting regularly and would love to hear from you. The group consists of: Rev. Annie Gonzalez Milliken, Brad Conner, Bob Doud, Susan Lincoln, Joel Parks, Bea Brunkhorst, Kath McCafferty, Sarah Dorer and Bob Batt. Our goal is to continue to reflect the values and mission of First Parish in Bedford in all we do and say.
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