Moving Forward as Beloved Community During COVID-19

On Sunday we held our first on-line service at the Fellowship. The uplifting feeling of being supported in our community was not diminished by the few tiny technical glitches. Nearly 60 devices were logged in to the meeting, quite a few from outside Peterborough. Many of these represented 2 or 3 people participating. In the feedback we’ve heard that people particularly appreciated the impromptu finale when we could all see each other waving and looking pretty happy. Really well done after only 2 days of planning.

We are holding online services every week. If you missed Sunday’s livestream, you’ll find it right here, and on the home page of our website. The link for this coming Sunday’s service is on the home page too.

Our first online service, “We’re All In It Together,” Mar 15, 2020

On Monday night, UFP leadership representatives met (on-line of course) to make plans for how to fulfill our mandate beyond Sunday services while the broader community is under extra stress from COVID-19 for what looks to be an extended time. We made some “big visible decisions,” and bounced around many other ideas about how we will provide support and community.

The decisions:

  • Until at least May 3rd there will be no in-person gatherings at the Fellowship.
  • Sunday services will be held via Zoom.
  • Not more than 8 people will be in the Fellowship assisting with Sunday services; some of these will be singers to support music during the service.
  • These policies will be reviewed in mid April.

While these Sunday changes are really bringing out the creativity of the appropriately named Creative Worship Team, many other changes are in the works with details to roll out as our energetic teams discuss how and who will do what needs to be done.

We are fortunate that we can communicate with most of our members via email and our website. For those members who are not as fluent with these technologies, we will reach out by phone and in person with extra support.

We will explore ways to enhance physical support such as shopping and driving people to appointments. Needs for this kind of help will only increase as this period of isolation extends.

We anticipate that as this crisis continues there will be more need for pastoral care so we will provide ways to make this happen. We are working towards virtual office hours when people can drop in and talk either by phone or by Zoom.

The last few minutes of Sunday’s online service were an impromptu “coffee time,” and prompted us to think about extending it more formally. We are also exploring ways of scheduling a “Zoom Café” a couple of times during the week where anyone can join and share time together.

We have re-invigorated the private UFP Facebook Group “Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough” to provide another way for people to share experiences and virtual space. Look for an invitation to join — or send a private message via Facebook requesting to join to Stephanie Cee.

Most importantly, we are committed to keeping members of our community informed and engaged as well as possible. So look forward to weekly updates in The Flame and on the website, and anticipate that this difficult time will make us stronger.

— Your Board, Committee on Ministry and leadership team