As I write this, we are about two weeks out from the start of our congregational year, on September 5. COVID-19 cases have been rapidly rising in Lancaster County, and as of this week 1) the county risk dial is in orange, 2) Bryan hospital has announced that they have reached capacity, and 3) the school year is starting for both public school and the University.
When we started this summer, we were optimistic that the worst of the pandemic was behind us. Many of our members are vaccinated, and cases were very low in June and July. Unfortunately this is no longer the case. Because of that, we’ve been working to put together a clear stepwise plan, that will help us to modify our work at the church in response to events around us, rather than trying to make it up as we go along. This plan is an evolution of the stepwise plan we used last spring, and case be summarized this way:
This plan in available in more detail on the ReEntry page of this website at https://www.unitarianlincoln.org/reentry.html, and in video form on our church’s YouTube channel, linked here: https://youtu.be/aXGQvqbEho0
Dr. Bob Rauner, president of the Partnership for Healthy Lincoln and a member of the Lincoln school board, equates measures like these to an umbrella. Unlike last year, when we were in an extended lockdown, we are now in a place where we will regularly check the weather report (the risk dial) to find out if we should bring an umbrella (masks, online programing, etc) with us when we leave the house.
This is not where we thought or hoped to be at the start of this congregational year- I wish I was writing that the storm has passed, and we can put away our umbrellas for good. However, even though we are still in this pandemic, the message that we will preach at the Unitarian Church of Lincoln remains the same: that each person has inherent worth and dignity, and that we are all interconnected. If anything, the events of the last year have strengthened those convictions. We will be a people of hope, and a church of love, whether that is in person, live-streamed, or prerecorded.
In the meantime, the pandemic is both an individual and a collective challenge. While we are seeing case rates this high, and breakthrough infections occurring, please wear a mask while out in public, and if you have not yet been vaccinated, please do so. The pandemic ends with enough of us as individuals do the concrete actions to care for all of us in the community. We know this in our faith, and we are living in a time to practice this.
See you soon,
Rev. Oscar Sinclair serves as the Settled Minister for The Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska.