You may know that over the past week, daily case counts for Covid-19 have been rising in our area. As of Thursday afternoon, the transmission risk for Chester County had moved up into the “Very High” category, as measured by the website CovidActNow. Therefore, according to the UUA guidelines our Board adopted this Fall, WellSprings is temporarily suspending the in-person component of our worship gathering, beginning this Sunday, September 19.
Personally, I feel frustrated by this… and I would guess I’m not alone. After just three services back in Bell Hall, we were finding our groove, welcoming new members and visitors to our physical space, and simply enjoying being in each other’s presence. Our volunteers and Staff have put in hundreds of hours to bring our Sunday experience back to the full congregation, both in-person and online. We’ve been growing our skills, building a sense of momentum, and most importantly, feeling the warmth of hope for something new: that we might finally be able to put the days of online-only worship behind us.
But alongside my frustration, sit the values I hold closest to my heart. I know that we set our guidelines for a reason. When cases rise, this is one of the things our congregation can do, to keep us and the wider community safe and well. I don’t want cases to continue to rise. I don’t want any of us to lose another loved one to this pandemic. I don’t want any of our parents who sent children back to school buildings this Fall to have to face your own closures. We are doing our best to follow the guidance available to us, to hold our community together through the pandemic – and to balance all that with the knowledge that when things start to get worse, anything we can do to reduce the spread of this virus helps to turn that trajectory around.
This Sunday, we are going to try something different: about a dozen people (our musicians, preacher, worship leader, and tech volunteers) will gather in Bell Hall to bring you a “live broadcast” of the Sunday service at 10am on YouTube. It’ll be similar to what you saw, if you joined us online for September 5 or 12 – just with no congregation in the room. YouthSpirit will also return to its online “ZoomRoom” while in-person services are suspended, gathering at 9am.
We will wait to resume gathering the congregation for in-person worship until transmission risk in both Chester and Montgomery Counties falls back below the “Very High” level for at least 7 consecutive days.
This suspension of in-person services will be temporary. We’ve made this transition once before, so beautifully – and we will be even more ready now, when it’s time to gather again in Bell Hall.
I miss you all, and I pray this is a hiccup in our plans, rather than a long-term adjustment. But as our Fall message series, beginning this Sunday, reminds us: none of us can predict the future. What we can do is choose our actions in each moment – and continue to choose this world, and all the beloved people within it, on each new day that we’re given.
Take care, and be well,