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Blog Post for Friday, May 22, 2020

Dear Friends,

As we go through this sheltering in place time, some weeks seem harder in the world than others.  This week has brought news of the 100000th death within the United States from Covid-19, the death of George Floyd and the threat to a Black birdwatcher in Central Park, and at the local church level, disheartening activity by scammers. So I just thought I would take a moment today to write a message to say that in the midst of all this I am buoyed by the work of this community and all the small acts of kindness that I get to bear witness to done by our members and friends. I thought I would just list a few:

The ways in which people have been calling and comforting one another and making that connection that is so vital to all of our well being;

The continued efforts to ensure the well being of our guest in sanctuary;

The engaged conversations about what it means to support Black and Indigenous people who are disproportionately affected (by sending support and by sending masks);

The care and comfort that have been offered to people who are living alone who have experienced health problems not related to the pandemic directly but which are complicated because of the reduced number of medical and other assistive services;

The food that is dropped off that has literally saved people from extreme hunger at a time when opportunities to earn money have disappeared and the gifts to the discretionary fund that allow people to be housed in extreme heat this week;

The number of people who have given of their creativity, time and talent to help make our worship services so inspirational including the choir members who have struggled with technologies that are not their natural place of comfort to allow us to have music;

The parents who have maintained a commitment to support their children’s religious education though another task while trying to work at home.

The quiet teams of people that have rallied around a number of the friends of the church who have been unhoused during this pandemic, offering so many small and large services that otherwise they literally would have no access to in a time when most services are shut down or nonexistent;

The continued efforts to rally voters for the fall;

The number of people who have continued to faithfully pay their pledge or pledged for next year to ensure that our staff can be paid for their extra hours during this time period.

For all that you do to make our community work and for all that you don’t see every day, please know that you are making a real difference in real people’s lives.

We face threats to our health and general well being, to our economy, to our political system, to our environment and yet we also are witness each day to simple acts the counter all these trends. If you would like to get more involved in activities that might help post your spirit, please feel free to be in touch. Mostly though, THANK YOU!

And take good care,
Leslie

PS Remember that we have been amassing resources to help us when the world seems overwhelming.  You can find them at:  Virtual Friday Meditation

A special recording for today is right here:

Sunday, May 24, 2020 – When War Is Not A War

On this Memorial Day weekend, Revs. Meg Richardson and Rodney Lemery will reexamine the parallels between this time and others. Those who lost family members to war, please email a photo and a name and your connection to Rev. Leslie Takahashi by May 18th.

MDUUC Board Announces Virtual Congregational Meeting June 21st

Last week board president Steve Hirsch announced that MDUUC’s board of trustees (which includes Lead Minister Rev. Leslie Takahashi) will host the annual congregational meeting VIRTUALLY on June 21, 2020, after a ‘shorter than usual’ worship service. There will be two virtual forums in the next weeks, for advance sharing of information to be voted upon at the annual meeting:  the first will be an informational sharing led by president Steve Hirsch and Treasurer Chris Carter, with Rev. Leslie Takahashi, which will be recorded and available for members to view when convenient (links to be shared via church emails);  the second forum will be a virtual gathering by ZOOM technology on JUNE 7th at 1 pm, to facilitate questions, answers, and dialogue amongst members. Instructions on how to join in these virtual gatherings will be emailed in advance.  And please mark the date for the VIRTUAL ANNUAL MEETING on June 21st!  We’ll be voting on next year’s budget.

We Are Better Together

Our congregation votes on by-laws, budgets and important actions at our annual meeting, traditionally held in the sanctuary on a Sunday in early June. Your board typically hosts Congregational Forums prior to the annual meeting, to share information, recommendations and facilitate dialogue and member input which benefits informed voting at the Congregational Meeting. These meetings are the foundation of governance for our faith community.

Clearly, the current situation does not afford us opportunity to meet in our traditional way so – welcome to yet another way we are virtualizing MDUUC. Get ready for Virtual Forums and a Virtual Congregational Meeting in June.  Here is what you need to know.

We will host two Virtual Forums. The first of these will be informational with, recorded next week and posted online by month’s end.  Members will be sent a link via e-mail to access it for basic background information on financial issues facing the church. The second Virtual Forum is scheduled for Sunday, June 7th at 1:00 pm via Zoom technology. The link to join this Forum will be provided ahead of time and members attending will have the opportunity to ask questions and provide input on the content shared. Church Treasurer – Chris Carter – will share information on both our current financial situation and the outlook for the year ahead, including an update on our pledge campaign and monies committed to date. This is in preparation for member vote and approval of the budget for fiscal year 2020 – 2021 which starts July 1st.

Our Annual Congregational Meeting will be held virtually as well – using Zoom to enable member participation and vote. We will open the Congregational Meeting at 11:30 am after a brief worship service on Sunday, June 21st. Instructions and the link to join will be provided ahead of time.  This is a voting meeting so we will need a quorum of members to attend in accordance with our Bylaws.  The proposed agenda for the meeting will include the following:

  • Approval of the Minutes from the January 19th Congregational Meeting
  • Lead Minister’s Report
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • VOTE: Approval of the Church Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2020 – 2021
  • VOTE: Approval of the slates for open and returning Board of Trustees, Legacy Committee and Nominating Committee positions

Please mark your calendars for these important dates:

Virtual Forum:  Sunday, June 7th at 1:00 pm

Virtual Congregational Meeting:  Sunday, June 21st at 11:30 am

We look forward to your virtual participation in governance!

 We Are Better Together—
Navigating our Path Forward Through Shared Ministry

In February 2020, MDUUC’s lead minister, the Rev. Leslie Takahashi, alerted MDUUC’s board of trustees to the coming safety threat posed by the coronavirus and began preparations for transition to more virtual worship and community connection. Members and friends saw a gradual transition from March worship services broadcast with ‘normal’ flow and procession from the sanctuary to May’s livestreams from individual homes, incorporating live ministerial meditations and homilies, with recorded music and messages from lay leaders.

Because the congregational worship has been live streaming for years (a component of its ‘Make it So: 2020’ vision to offer central programming with ‘spokes’ of outreach), MDUUC was well positioned for the (still challenging!) shift to livestream for its central worship service, despite the significant stresses of a pandemic threatening membership.  Similarly, years of foundational strengthening of shared ministry have well served the growing congregation’s pastoral needs, financial and programmatic needs from justice work to campus repairs to communications, even in these stressful times.

Today Unitarian Universalist Association president Susan Frederick-Gray made a call for UU congregations to stay physically closed until June of 2021. You can read it here: https://www.uua.org/pressroom/press-releases/message-uua-president-updated-guidance-gathering.  We know many of you received this communication which was designed for congregations throughout the nation, including many places where restrictions were lifted quickly.  Know that your board of trustees in conjunction with our Lead Minister are working on defining MDUUC’s continued path through this stressful time and will bring to you, our members, a considered recommendation our approach on a more staggered basis, in keeping, as we have for months, with the recommendations and guidance of health, safety and state government authorities in our area.

What is clear is that worship and especially live speaking and interacting in larger groups poses a continued risk and will continue to do so until a majority of people can be vaccinated against this virus. We thank you for continuing to support our virtual services and activities which provide the way we can continue to be together right now.  We are so fortunate to have the resources we have to enable this virtual approach as many other congregations do not. If and when local restrictions ease, our ministers and staff are developing a great collection of ideas including virtual music programming, on-campus self-paced spiritual renewal activities, musicality seminars with our talented musicians, a renewed network of small groups and more.

The can-do ethic which has guided us through March and April and now into May will guide us through these months ahead, especially if we remember our shared commitment, our mission and our values.

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