Following a successful summer of hybrid worship services and improvements to our campus and meetinghouse, the Parish Committee has approved a plan to continue with the combination of in-person worship and live-streaming worship this fall (aka hybrid worship). The emergence of the Delta variant and the continued lack of approved vaccinations for children have led us to the decision to re-institute stricter safety guidelines for September for all joining in-person worship.

It is important for us all to remember that these are still uncertain and fragile times. Many UU congregations have decided to postpone in-person worship until later this fall or January 2022. Each community must make a decision that works for them. At First Parish in Milton, we believe that a hybrid model for worship with clear and consistent safety protocols for in-person worship, along with continued live-streaming of worship for those who prefer the safety of their own homes, is the best approach for our community at this time. This enables all to be included in worship and also allows each of us to make a personal decision about how our families can remain connected within our beloved community.

Leadership will continue to monitor the status of COVID cases, vaccinations, and state and federal guidelines on a monthly basis so that we can respond to any necessary changes in our policies and practices. Above all, in the days and months ahead, our Unitarian Universalist values remind us that:

  • there is intrinsic value in the act of gathering as a community. Whether in person or online, our faith is strengthened by our connections.
  • each person is the expert on their own life, and their own risk tolerances. We respect the personal decisions of others even when they differ from our own.
  • each person in our community has inherent worth and dignity, so we have a collective responsibility to care for the most vulnerable among us.

FPM Phased Reopening Policies: Update 1/23

The Parish Committee has made the decision to extend remote only worship through 2/6.

FPM Reopening Policies (Update:  January 9, 2022)

The hybrid worship model we have been using at First Parish Milton since the summer has worked well for our community.  It has allowed people to gather safely in the meeting house if they choose, while also providing worship remotely for those who feel safer participating from home.  Unfortunately, COVID cases have skyrocketed since Christmas, in large part due to the highly contagious nature of the Omicron variant.  There is particular concern because breakthrough cases for vaccinated people have occurred among those in our community and because people who are “COVID-positive” AND asymptomatic increase our level of risk in settings we considered safe – like our meeting house.  The Parish Committee has made the difficult decision to shift back to remote-only worship for the next two Sundays (January 16 and January 23) while the Phased Reopening task group takes time to reassess our safety protocols and consider whether to resume having the option of in-person worship on January 30.  During this time, we encourage all to take care of themselves and those around them by wearing masks in public and staying home when not feeling well.   We all look forward to being able to gather again, safely, soon.

FPM Reopening Policies (December 2021)

Approved revisions for Parish Committee – December 12, 2021

As we enter the 4th month of our church year, we are happy to report that our hybrid worship, outdoor RE, and outdoor social hour events have been well received by the First Parish community.  Some members and friends continue to enjoy remote worship and many committees continue to use Zoom for meetings — both for safety and convenience.  As we enter the winter months, the Parish Committee has approved some changes to our safety policy as recommended by the Phased ReOpening task group working in collaboration with RE leadership and the Hospitality committee.  These changes accommodate limited indoor activities during cold winter weather months.  We expect these changes to be in effect through March unless the COVID situation changes dramatically.  We will revisit them for spring.  If you have questions about these guidelines or how to interpret them for specific events, contact Tracey Robinson (email is best:  tdr02186@ gmail.com) or contact Rev Lisa Ward. 

Safety Guidelines (updated December 2021)

All members of the congregation are strongly encouraged to get fully vaccinated – including boosters as they become available.  The scientific data indicates that this is the most important action we can take to keep ourselves and our community safe.

As always, people should stay home if they are feeling sick or have even mild symptoms of illness.  This is both for your own health as well as the health and safety of other members of our community. 

Hybrid worship will continue to enable congregants to choose between in-person and remote worship experiences – based on individual preferences. 

Outdoor gatherings may be held on campus and food/drink are permitted at outdoor gatherings.  Masks are recommended but may be removed for eating/drinking.

Indoor gatherings may be scheduled through the church office for use of the Parish Hall, Meetinghouse, Activity room Chase Parlor or Children’s church.  Masks are required for indoor meetings and social distancing should be observed.  Air filters should be left on and a few windows should be opened to allow optimal air ventilation.  Food and drink are not permitted at this time for indoor events due to our mask requirement.  Capacity guidelines are based on the size of the room:  

Meetinghouse – max 150 

Parish Hall – max 40 

Activity room (basement) – max 15 

Chase Parlor – max 8 

Children’s church – max 12 

These capacity guidelines should be observed by church members.  The church office staff will oversee the use of these guidelines for church rentals.  

Updated policies for Sunday worship:

  • Masks are required in the meetinghouse for all, regardless of vaccination status; please continue to wear your mask when sitting in your pew.  Masks are optional for children 5 years and under.
  • Worship leaders may remove masks when speaking in the front of the meetinghouse; each worship speaker/soloist should have a dedicated microphone and podium; social distancing between worship leaders should be maintained throughout the service.
  • Social distancing (at least 6 feet) should be observed in the meetinghouse; seating will be limited to alternate pews.
  • Special requirements for choir members: because of the need for proximity for singers in the choir, vaccines will be required for all active choir members, including soloists. Special masks for vocalists will be provided by the church and will be required for all singing performers in the meetinghouse.
  • We are asking everyone attending worship to sign in for every worship service. This will facilitate contact tracing if needed.
  • All worship participants are asked to leave the meetinghouse directly after the service. Social hour – with refreshments, will be held outdoors in the courtyard, weather permitting.  During winter months (December-March) social hour will move into the Parish Hall.  Unfortunately, no food or drinks will be provided for indoor social hour; masks should be worn, at all times, and windows will be cracked open for optimal ventilation. 
  • Starting on December 19, Religious exploration teachers will do their best to plan for a blend of indoor and outdoor activities based on weather and other factors.  Masks are required for students and teachers.  The Parish Hall and the Chase Parlor will be the primary spaces used for RE.  Outdoor “breaks” will be integrated into classes as possible to limit group time spent in indoor spaces.

Policies for other church related activities:

  • Committee meetings may be held in the Chase Parlor (limit of 8 people) or in the Parish Hall. Meetings will not be scheduled in the library (because of its small size) until further notice. Masks and 6-foot social distancing are strongly recommended for in-person meetings. As in the past, all meetings must be scheduled in advance with the office.
  • Carriage House Nursery School resumed in September. Carriage House teachers and families will use the lower-level door and bathrooms for entering and exiting.
  • All members and guests visiting the church other than for Sunday worship are asked to sign in on the sign-in sheets located by the three entry doors: back doors to the link and the door next to the parish hall.
  • Rental guests (such as AA, Music Together, special events) do not need to sign in on church logs. These groups maintain their own attendance records and will be responsible for any contact tracing needed within their own communities. Masks and social distancing are strongly recommended for all rental patrons.  The church office staff are responsible for managing relationships with and guidelines for all rental patrons.

FPM Reopening Policies (Update:  September 2021)

Following a successful summer of hybrid worship services and improvements to our campus and meetinghouse, the Parish Committee has approved a plan to continue with the combination of in-person worship and live-streaming worship this fall (aka hybrid worship). The emergence of the Delta variant and the continued lack of approved vaccinations for children have led us to the decision to re-institute stricter safety guidelines for September for all joining in-person worship.

It is important for us all to remember that these are still uncertain and fragile times. Many UU congregations have decided to postpone in-person worship until later this fall or January 2022. Each community must make a decision that works for them. At First Parish in Milton, we believe that a hybrid model for worship with clear and consistent safety protocols for in-person worship, along with continued live-streaming of worship for those who prefer the safety of their own homes, is the best approach for our community at this time. This enables all to be included in worship and also allows each of us to make a personal decision about how our families can remain connected within our beloved community.

Leadership will continue to monitor the status of COVID cases, vaccinations, and state and federal guidelines on a monthly basis so that we can respond to any necessary changes in our policies and practices. Above all, in the days and months ahead, our Unitarian Universalist values remind us that:

  • there is intrinsic value in the act of gathering as a community. Whether in person or online, our faith is strengthened by our connections.
  • each person is the expert on their own life, and their own risk tolerances. We respect the personal decisions of others even when they differ from our own.
  • each person in our community has inherent worth and dignity, so we have a collective responsibility to care for the most vulnerable among us.