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.
Safety Guidelines (as of September 12, 2021)
All members of the congregation are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. The science indicates that this is the most important action we can take to keep ourselves and our community safe.
Updated mask recommendations 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) will be required in the meetinghouse; seating will be limited to alternate pews.
- Special requirements for choir members: because of the close proximity among 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 will be held outdoors in the courtyard until further notice.
- Plans for religious exploration for children and youth are still under development with the expectation that programming will be held outdoors until further notice. More details will be forthcoming soon.
Policies for other church related activities:
- Committee meetings may be held in the parish hall or Chase Parlor. 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 will resume 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 rental patrons.