Pathways to Healthy Connection

CVUUS Mutual Aid Spreadsheet: Please check out the spread sheet Poppy Rees has created for us to register our needs and our offers to help each other. CVUUS Mutual Aid spreadsheet.  It’s conveniently divided up by category and will be a big help to the Caring Network. We can’t guarantee every request can be met, but there is absolutely no harm in asking for help and you may be creating an opportunity for someone to enjoy the blessing of being helpful. On the other side of the coin, not every offer to help may end up matched with a need. But every offer will invite people who might not otherwise express a need to feel safe to say something. Contact Rev. Barnaby if you are in urgent need of a mask to protect yourself. He has a very limited supply of 10 he can issue.

Caring Circles: We’ve formed local contact circles during the Covid-19 crisis. Each circle includes 6 to 8 people who live relatively near each other, headed by a team leader whose function is to make sure everyone gets checked up on at least once a week by phone or email. If you are willing to be such a leader, please email revbarnaby@cvuus.org. Leaders help us make sure no one in the congregation gets ignored. Circle leaders are not expected to make all the contacts themselves.

Food Project with Breadloaf Mountain Zen Center: Anyone who wants to participate in working on bag lunch distribution to homeless and otherwise food-short folks with Breadloaf, please drop off your bags in the open trunk of Rev. Barnaby’s gray Hyundai Elantra, which will be parked in the CVUUS parking lot Thursday. Joshin will be picking them up Thursday evening.  A bag might include: any mix of fresh fruit that is easy to handle and chew (grapes, clementines); individual apple sauce servings; small boxes of raisins; small packages of small carrots; string cheese (two per bag if possible); packaged trail mix; granola or protein bars; and bags of chips. Hand sanitizer and wipes are precious additions. Individual tissue packets and cans of seltzer water are also appreciated. Last but certainly not least, the best bags include a kind saying, prayer or other expression of kindness. PS — give the trunk latch a wipe before you open it and after you close it and take all recommended precautions to avoid picking up or passing on the virus on the food and bags you are handling!

Yellow Card Milestones & Passages: You can now you these  electronically to be shared in the Milestones and Passages portion of our online worships: https://cvuus.breezechms.com/form/YellowCard. Rev. Barnaby will be the only one receiving the form. On weeks when he is not doing this part of the service, the information will be passed to the Worship Associate to the degree you designate on the form. 

Virtual Visit Request one via https://cvuus.breezechms.com/form/VirtualVisit

Response to Gov Scott’s Announcement March 24, 2020: In light of today’s announcement that all people working at non-profits not involved in safety and health care enterprises stay home from work, I think it is clear we must further tighten up our access to the buildings. I don’t interpret this as forcing us to allow unsafe conditions to develop in our buildings, so individuals from the Facilities team may occasionally go in to inspect our systems. Laura may also stop by once a week for her monitoring work. Everyone who enters the property is responsible for washing hands on arrival and departure and using the cleaning supplies on hand to disinfect what they touch, and staying 6 feet away from anyone they encounter. Until further notice, all of Keith’s cleaning activities need to be suspended. We will continue to pay him as if he was working 8 hours a week and may ask him to do some outside work in that time even though it is not in his job description. It will be up to him if he wants to do it.

Our worship for this week at least should be restricted to what we can do from homes (or outdoor settings). Staff members who find they need something from their office for their work can stop in for the time needed to retrieve that item. Laura will be asked to move the office computer to her home.

The order speaks of limiting all person to person contact so it may emerge that Gov. Scott does not contemplate restricting people from going to jobs where they have no direct contact with anyone. Indeed you can easily imagine scenarios where people are in less danger of getting the virus or exposing others at work than they are at home, especially a communal home. But for now, It is clear that the most practical and, most likely, safest thing is to go with the restrictions I have outlined above. So that’s what I expect all of us to cooperate in doing until we hear further from the group designated by the Board to develop a written policy.

I know this creates a lot of uncomfortable scrambling for all of you who do so much to keep CVUUS vibrant. And it may create extra work down the road preparing to “reopen.” But this course is truest to our values in the immediate circumstances.

Blessed be, Rev. Barnaby

Rev. Barnaby’s Pastoral Message March 22, 2020

Dear ones, Thanks to all of you who tuned in for our second livestream worship service, and first ever virtual coffee hour. We tried a bunch of new things as we race to get up to speed on the possibilities, and almost everything worked fairly close to plan. Just as we as a society and congregation aren’t set up for social distancing, our technology wasn’t designed with that in mind either. We owe an immense debt of gratitude to Margy Levine Young and Jordan Young for what we have learned and achieved so far. Steve Butterfield also played an important support role this week – he and Richard Hopkins are working closely with the Youngs to learn from them and provide us with more confidence that we can keep doing this – better and better – for many months to come, if necessary.

This is also a good time to thank Scott Smith for showing up to do as much of the traditional sound volunteer’s job as is possible using our current technology, and to worship associate Karl Lindholm, Chuck Miller for his piano work (not all of which we managed to send out to you successfully), Ted Scheu, Dr. Morris Earle Jr., and the Singh family for their contributions.

Look for a different form of worship service next Sunday. We will do our best to honor the spirit of what was to be a worship service created by our RE leaders to spotlight and appeal to the interests, insights, and talents of our children.

In closing, I mentioned today that we have an opportunity to work with the Breadloaf Mountain Zen Center to expand their program for feeding homeless people and others lacking regular shelter. The program currently serves food in Rutland but we are looking for ways to also meet needs that may arise in Middlebury as the pandemic spreads. The program has recently shifted its focus for safety reasons to passing out food in individual paper bags.

Our friend and former congregant, Joshin (head priest of the Zen Center), tells me a bag could include any mix of the following: fresh fruit that is easy to handle and chew (grapes, clementines); individual apple sauce servings; small boxes of raisins; small packages of small carrots; string cheese (two per bag if possible); packaged trail mix; granola or protein bars; and bags of chips. Hand sanitizer and wipes are precious additions. Individual tissue packets and cans of seltzer water are also appreciated. Last but certainly not least, the best bags include a kind saying, prayer or other expression of kindness. As he says, “We are also attending to their spiritual needs during this very difficult experience.”

If you are willing and able to supply such a paper bag meal — or several – at least once a week, contact Laura Asermily (office@cvuus.org) or me. I want to give Joshin some idea of what CVUUS can bring to this program. Blessed be, Rev. Barnaby

Rev Barnaby’s Pastoral Weekly Blast Letter March 18, 2020: With social distancing overwhelming our in-boxes while Covid-19 stokes our anxieties, I’m grappling with how often to attempt to reach out to you collectively. Some of my colleagues are crafting daily messages of comfort and inspiration. Others are sharing a bounty of links to sites on the Internet that lift their spirits or spur them to compassionate action.

For now, I am concentrating on our steep learning curve toward making our livestream Sunday worship a highlight of your week. I’m also working each day on our all-out effort to support remote meetings for small groups and committees. And I am periodically spreading the word about fulfilling ways to connect wth UU’s around the country, like the broadcast tonight from a large congregation in Colorado of a music-centered Vesper service that will be offered every Wednesday evening at 9 pm EST at Evensong Service Online. This was brought to my attention and that of the choir by Lucy Tenenbaum, our choir director. It’s a good example of why I am so proud of how the entire CVUUS staff is responding to the Covid-19 challenge.

Beyond all of this, though, I want to emphasize that each of you is welcome to contact me directly via email (revbarnaby@cvuus.org) or phone 989-9303 with your personal concerns. Be assured that even when I can’t get back immediately, I don’t see such contacts as an imposition. We are just in the beginning of figuring out our coping mechanisms. Our goal will be to not just get by this crisis but to discover countless ways that we are stronger together, more creative collectively, and, when all is said and done, more beautiful as a congregation than we realized.

Rev Barnaby’s Pastoral Weekly Blast Letter March 13, 2020, updated March 14.    

This has been an agonizing week for all of us as we monitor the advance of the Covid-19 virus around the world, the nation, in Vermont, and in Addison County.  There have been calls to completely shut down all face-to-face activity at CVUUS in the belief that this maximizes our contribution to slowing the inevitable spread of the virus. As we have said in worship and other ways this month, anything we do to “flatten the curve” in the spread of the virus. That will help give our healthcare system more desperately needed time to prepare for and successfully manage the coming peak in contagion that many experts believe could overwhelm hospitals and clinics everywhere in the US, including Vermont, if the impact is not delayed.

To be sure, flattening the curve could never be traceable back to something as small as canceling all activities at CVUUS. But, under some admittedly highly unlikely circumstances, the opposite is not true. It is conceivable that a carrier showing no symptoms could show up to a service with even a limited attendance and pass the virus to one or more other people. And while there could never be a definite answer that the newly infected people were infected at the service, that could certainly emerge as plausible enough to require everyone involved to be quarantined and lead to complaints in the community that CVUUS had been reckless about the risks.

It has also been put to me that some other churches will follow our lead and that  if we are open in any way, it will encourage others to take risks that will ultimately harm our community. This implies a level of CVUUS influence on other churches that I have yet to see in action in my 8 years here, but I would like to believe it’s plausible.

Finally, some members have taken the position that as a “science-based” faith community, we are clearly called to follow the advice of those in the medical field who advocate immediate total “social distancing”, including closing CVUUS  as of this Sunday. Others have said that even if we could stay within recommended distancing guidelines and have onsite worship limited to a group of 25 or less adults we can count on to follow all instructions regarding safe interactions, CVUUS should not open for adults if it cannot also serve its children at the same time. For all of these reasons, the Board has reluctantly determined that CVUUS shall not host public worship services or other group events until further notice.

In closing, I want to share a message we all need from Rev. Lynn Ungar:

Pandemic

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,

in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

–Lynn Ungar 3/11/20

Rev Barnaby’s Pathways to Healthy Connections message March 8, 2020

This part of our Sunday Worship is normally called Pathways to Connection. It’s a time to call attention to opportunities to meet up outside of Sunday morning to learn, work for justice, share joys and friendship, and help each other in times of need.

       Today, because of that last way we bless each other – helping each other in times of need – Pathways to Connection is taking the form of Pathways to Healthy Connection. I want to report on how we aim to help protect each other during and outside of Sunday worship from the new disease known as the Corona Virus, or COVID-19. 

      First, the basics: this virus spreads relatively easily, mostly through people who are infected sneezing or coughing; it is easily mistaken for the common cold, flu, and other familiar condition;  people can be sick without showing common symptoms like fever and a cough – in other words, you can spread this sickness without realizing you are infected; most people recover from it within a couple of weeks, but that some older people who get it, or people who already have some other kinds of illnesses, have a serious risk of dying from lung failure. 

      For now,  there is no easy way to get tested to see if you have this new virus. Nor do we have a vaccine that can help protect you from getting it or any safe medicines proven to kill it once you are infected. There are no reported cases in Addison County yet but we must assume that will change in the near future. Thus, our calling – as UU individuals and as a congregation – is to do our part to help the world slow down the rate at which this Corona-virus is spreading. Buying time helps hospitals and clinics accumulate the respirators, diagnostic tests and other necessities for front-line medical care for people who do become seriously ill. Moreover, it is likely that with every passing month we delay the worst of the epidemic, the larger the pool we will have of nurses and doctors who have been exposed, recovered, and developed enough immunity to more safely help us fight the spread of this virus. 

        Our participation starts with not coming to church Sunday or for any other group activity if you have any of the common symptoms. Think about attending meetings and other events remotely over your computer or phone – ask us how to do that if you need help. You can always go to our website to enjoy the worship service, large portions of which are available by the next Monday. Let us know if you need help with shopping or other activities while isolating yourself. Our Caring Network will try to pitch in. And, by the way, if you feel healthy, contact Nita Hanson to see about helping the Caring Network in this challenging moment.  

       You will see new signs this morning reminding you to wash your hands with soap frequently. This is hard, but also try to stop touching your mouth and nose with your fingers, towels, tissues, or clothing which might be harboring virus deposited on them within the past week. Hand washing needs to be much more thorough than you are used to if possible – the experts recommend at least 20 seconds. And it needs to be more frequent – think any time you are about to touch or have finished touching something you touch all day long, like a computer keyboard or your phone, or cooking equipment or door knobs. If you can’t wash with soap, use sanitizers like this one we are trying to place all around CVUUS. They are not as protective as good hand washing but better than nothing. They are also hard to find and expensive since tens of millions of Americans are all trying to buy them at the same time. Poppy made these Friday from alcohol and aloe verde, but these ingredients are also getting hard to find. We ask that no one walk away with any of these supplies intended for use here.

      Your staff and your safe congregations team have been working hard on planning for this. Our new seating arrangement, for example, should allow ushers to collect the offering without passing the baskets through everyone’s hands. Many of you have asked about our practices of hugging each other, and holding hands. For now, we are not forbidding it, but please make sure you have explicitly asked the person you are in contact with if that is what they want. Not if that is what they would allow. Is that what they welcome? Try other rituals that more safely express connection physically when disease is spreading, like bumping elbows as Ebola doctors like our Will Porter did in Africa, or bowing. 

       Many of you work at jobs or go to schools where certain activities have been canceled altogether. We seek to avoid that, but rest assured that we are considering how to offer as much of the CVUUS worship experience as we can without having an actual Sunday morning gathering if that becomes necessary for a period of time. Please carefully follow our Email blasts, the CVUUS Facebook site, and our website for last minute changes and new developments. 

      Our Safe Congregations team, supplemented by some folks like Dr. Paul Seward and Richard Hopkins with relevant medical experience, is going to meeting again Wednesday morning at 10 am to consider next steps. Feel free to send Alan Moore or me your suggestions, questions, and offers to help. We won’t let this virus stop us from fellowship, but we will adapt as necessary to be good stewards of health.

Pathways to Healthy Connections at CVUUS Weekly Blast March 11, 2020

1) We will continue to hold Sunday Worship until further notice. Don’t come if you are sick. Don’t come if you feel nervous about being with us after considering the known risks of encountering the virus.

2) We will begin experimenting Sunday with the capability of live-streaming the worship to people who are not attending over YouTube. Our first experiment will be set up by Margy Levine Young and Richard Hopkins using a very simple system that is not expected to produce ideal visual and sound output, with a handful of designated viewers to report on the results. If you would like to be among them, please contact Margy.

3) We will serve coffee but no food other than Canvass cupcakes at coffee hour this week.

4) We will continue to collect the Offering we are sharing with the Common Threads Project this month (https://commonthreadsproject.org/) in baskets that the ushers will hold out to you instead of passing it around. We will ask ushers to hand you the order of service from a basket instead of by hand. We will ask everyone to recycle the order of service if they aren’t taking it with them rather than leave it for others to pick up. The bin will be in the foyer.

5) We may print lyrics in the order of service and only sing familiar tunes for the next couple of Sundays. We will be considering alternating between the gray and teal hymnals in the coming weeks, given our understanding that the virus begins dying out on dry surfaces with hours and appears to have an outer survival limit of 9 days. Alternating hymnals would mean two weeks between touches. However, the whole issue of any group singing, including the continued performances of the choir that require proximity and group practice sessions, is not yet settled. Choir practice for tonight is cancelled.

6) Music concerts/rehearsals in March have been cancelled, including the winter coffeehouse. We’ll avoid scheduling any large group events until it is deemed safe. Music Ministry Team will focus on lining up music for our Rhubarb Festival.

7) Greeters will politely ask everyone to wash their hands upon entering CVUUS, or at least using the hand sanitizers. We also urge hand washing upon leaving.

8) All committees are being urged to test and become familiar with remote meeting technology like Zoom and Skype. It’s easy to use once you’ve been introduced.

9) The Safe Congregation Team will meet again next Wed March 18, 9 am in the Blue Room off the Fellowship Hall. If you want to attend either in person or via Zoom, please let Alan Moore, Margy Young, or Rev. Barnaby know. Safe Congregation Team: Alan Moore, Poppy Rees, Will Porter,  Mike Greenwood, Tracey & Jay Harrington, Donna LaRose, Rev. Barnaby, Margy Young, Richard Hopkins, Paul Seward

10) Continue to look at the News column of our website for updates, which we also plan to publish on our Facebook page.