Kairos April 13, 2021

Kairos                                                      04/13/2021

May All Beings Be Well
April 18, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. (Online Only at Youtube)
Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson

Mindfulness is a central practice in Buddhism.  Becoming mindful is a path to spiritual peace, enlightenment, and justice.  But mindfulness isn’t just about deep breathes and mantras.  It is becoming mindful of the true nature of the self and the universe, and the path to relieve suffering.  We’ll explore how Buddhist mindfulness practice can shift how we approach our lives and our common world.  
Happy Birthday to: Alice Enichen (04/13), Michelle Lattanzio (04/13), Geordon VanTassle (04/14), Cynthia Swacina (04/17), Wanda Hoover (04/18)!

We will Share the Plate with Alignment Rockford

Alignment Rockford (AR) is a unique and scalable framework for developing community schools. Their mission is to align community resources in support of public school strategies to raise student achievement, improve the health and happiness of our children, and advance the economic and social well-being of our community.
 Click here to donate.
Matthew’s Memo
One of the reasons that ministers were able to get vaccinated earlier in the queue was so that we could visit folks in the hospital and in nursing homes.  I was excited to go see people after I got 10 days past my second dose – but the nursing homes were still not allowing visits.  That’s now changed, so over the last week I was able to make some visits to some of our folks. 
Some of them I haven’t seen in person since last year, and it was so good to see them and hear their voices.  Some have memory loss, but their charm, wit, and spark is still there.  Passing along that the church has been thinking of them, and that I’ve been praying for them, matters to them greatly.  I look forward to seeing them again. 
Visiting the sick, as it is often called, is an important part of the pastoral task.  It’s a privilege to be with folks in times of need.  My visits are often pretty short – their memory and energy level don’t always allow for more – but I think they matter.  It is not the primary focus of my ministry (there are chaplains for whom this is their focus; I did not choose that career on purpose), but I find that it reminds me of the importance of our beloved community and the ministry we do together.
We accompany.  Sometimes that happens through me, and sometimes through you.  But through life – through growing up, children, work, moves, changes, illness, growth, discovery, death, mourning, and memory – we accompany each other on the journey of life.  We help each other make meaning of our days and years and keep one another company. 
One of the great losses of this COVID year has been a diminishment in our ability to accompany one another.  Yet the silver lining is that we have been reminded of how much it matters.  I invite you to find others in the church and in your life that you wish to accompany through their life, and for them to accompany you through yours.  Reach out and begin today.
In faith,
Clean Air at Church!  We need your help!
We are planning to install 16 “Ion Generators” for our 16 HVAC units, which will keep the air in our building clean.  These devices reduce the amount of dust, allergens, VOCs, and pathogens – including COVID – in the air. They are part of our way to keep us safe.  Each until is $800.  So, if you don’t need all of the $1400 American Rescue Plan payment many of you will soon get, and want to donate that to the church, we would be grateful.  Send a check and mark it in the memo line, or give online and email us to let us know. 
Coffee Hour with Ministerial Intern–New Hours!
Join Omega for an informal chat on Zoom Fridays between 10 and 11am. Can’t make that time? Feel free to contact Omega to set up a private meeting! 

Zoom information:
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Meeting ID: 566 236 4814
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Wonderful Wednesday
Two-session class on “How to Have Hard Conversations.”  April 14, 21 at 7 pm

This two-week adult program will discuss how to have hard conversations with folks we disagree with — and when not to.  We’ll discuss political, theological, and social differences.  When do you engage?  When do you walk away?  We’ll talk about how to respond to conspiracy theories as well.  Most importantly, we’ll look at how to uphold our 1st principle, that everyone has worth — in a way that also respects our integrity and the truth.  

On zoom, led by Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson.  There will be time to practice what we learn in class and work through example situations. 

Zoom ID: 337-267-3668

Upcoming Wonderful Wednesdays

May 5, 2021: Socially Responsible Investing
Student Debt:  A Racial Equity Issue
While I attended college in the ’60s, when the cost was a fraction of today’s cost, and I had full scholarships, I know that today’s graduates leave with debt.  I can appreciate that Illinois continues to decrease support for higher education, which raises tuition for state universities.
One of the ACLU’s Systemic Equality Action issues in Student Debt.  While President Biden is considering a $10,000 limit and asking Congress to make it happen, experts on this issue want $50,000 as the limit and encourage the President to use executive orders to make it happen.
The reason this is a racial equity issue is that the average African American student’s debt is higher than that of white, middle-class students.  Due to lower-income levels, black students have to borrow a higher percentage of their costs.  Forgiving $10,000 would help the majority of white graduates but leave black graduates deeply in debt.  And the huge wealth discrepancy between white and black citizens in this country would get larger rather than smaller.
In order to narrow that wealth gap, President Biden needs to forgive $50,000 of student debt. Yes, this would still help the majority of white graduates, but it would also give black graduates a chance to build equity.
This CNBC video, “Will Your Student Loan Debt be Forgiven?” defines the problem in about 6 minutes:


I signed the ACLU petition urging President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 of student loan debt by the end of 2021.  Will you join me?  Find the petition at:
Submitted by Teresa Wilmot
UU Friends,
Please join us as we offer a welcoming space to hear what you’ve been thinking about.  The Chauvin trial?  Voter suppression?  Asian American hate crimes?  COVID 19 impact on marginalized population, the mental health of our students, the economy?  Other?

   We would like to remind you of this MLK quote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”  (Thx for reminding me, Shiraz.)

Come and share what’s on your mind.
The Justice for All Committee

Lunch with Matthew
Each Wednesday, next one on April 14, you are invited to join Matthew and other church members at noon, at the church, to chat, catch up, and reconnect.  We’ll talk about whatever is on our minds. Bring your own lunch if you like — and bring a lawn or folding chair, because we’ll be outside for this.  (Vaccination encouraged but not required).  If the weather is bad, we’ll skip that week, so check in with the church’s Facebook page if you’re unsure. 
Around 12:45, those who are interested are invited to join Matthew on a walk through our neighborhood, as part of the “Faith Leaders ‘Walk the Neighborhood'” challenge.  We’ll see what’s going on in our neighborhood — to celebrate and connect folks.  

Do You Have Church Keys?

We want to make sure our records are correct and do a bit of “spring cleaning” on our security system. Please email Autumn at uurockford@gmail.com with which keys you have, if you have a front door key we will need the number stamped on it and your security code. If you have lost any keys, it is ok! Just please let us know. If you do not need your church keys anymore you can drop them off in an envelope with your name written on it in our mailbox located outside the office doors.
Thank you!
Eliminate Racism 815
Book Discussion:​
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown: An eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America. Growing up in majority-white schools and churches, she writes that she had to learn what it means to love blackness.
Date: Thursday, April 29, 2021 at 6 PM CDT – 8 PM CDT

An In-Person and Online Future

The staff and board have created a draft plan of how we welcome in-person participation in church programs, including worship.  This plan is for your feedback, questions, concerns, and suggestions.  This is a community process, and we want everyone to have lots of time to consider these matters.  We are planning for a future where we have both online and in-person programs, including worship.  We are planning for a future when we can hug – if both people want.  Where we can see each other’s faces, hear each other’s voices, and be in each other’s presence – and where robust online options, safety measures, and other steps keep everyone connected and safe.

Our general principles remain:

  • Inclusivity and justice: We will not exclude people and will take special care that equity and anti-oppression are centered in our decision making.

  • Safety: We will do our utmost to keep our people and the community safe.  We will not contribute to community spread.

  • Community matters: We value our community and being together.  As soon as it is safe to gather in an inclusive way, we will. 

  • Pro-science: We support vaccination for those who are able as a scientific, reasonable, and loving decision.  You protect yourself and others. We believe that vaccines are effective and trust the scientists who have worked on them. 


Here is our plan:

We are in Phase 4.  Matthew will be 10 days past his second dose on Feb 22nd, and at that point in person pastoral care with other vaccinated people will begin in earnest.  Beginning in March, small groups can choose to meet in person or stay online.  We will always continue to have some online-only small groups.  However, worship will remain an online only experience.


When three criteria are met, we will plan to begin hybrid worship – online and in-person – for six weeks following the ascertainment that the criteria are met.  Those criteria are:

1. Illinois has entered the Bridge phase between Phase 4 and 5, or has entered Phase 5.

2. On CovidActNow, Winnebago County’s Infection Rate and Test Positivity is “green.” (meaning below .90 and 3%, respectively).  These numbers may fluctuate, especially if the number of people getting tested drops.  We’ll look at the longer trend. 

3. The vaccine is widely available to adults.  Widely available means free to patients, at multiple accessible locations in the County, with a same day appointment.    We’ll know we are at this point when the “Appointments Available” is green all the time on the Walgreens site, and/or the WCHD allows same or next-day appointments at the mass sites. 

Once these criteria are met, we will select a Sunday, at least six weeks out from that date, to welcome in-person worshipers.  The first Sunday may be an outside service, before moving inside the next week.  

Assuming this date is in the summer, we will have outdoor-only children’s programs through at least Sept 5th.  If the weather cooperates, children’s programs will be outside as long as possible.  It is important to note that we cannot begin hybrid worship until we have enough RE volunteers to staff the program, including when Lauren and Lindsay are off.  These volunteers cannot be anyone – they need to be able and willing to be out in the woods, on the grounds, being active with children during Summer Sundays.  Vaccines are required for volunteers who work with children, for so long as children cannot be vaccinated.  If you know you will be vaccinated by mid-summer and are ready and able to be a regular RE volunteer, please contact Lindsay. 

Only people who have been vaccinated should volunteer as greeters, ushers, and hospitality hosts.  Contact Chris if you are interested in these roles when we return. 

We pledge that we will be transparent, responsive, and deliberate about how we go about this.  Below is our beginning list of questions and answers.  If you have a question, please ask – it will help us think through all the aspects of this process.  You can email or call Matthew at minister@uurockford.org or 815-398-6322. 



What about masks?

We will require all people to wear masks until Winnebago County reaches a “herd immunity” threshold of at least 70% of the total population vaccinated.  (Staff may remove their masks when working in their own office, and Matthew and Tim will remove their masks when speaking or singing, with adequate distance.) 

After we reach the 70% vaccination threshold, people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, or because they are children for whom the vaccine is not yet approved, should continue to wear masks.  Other people are more than welcome, though not required, to wear masks, whether they’ve been vaccinated or not.  People with any COVID or flu-like symptoms should worship online, and not in person. We may adjust these requirements based on CDC and IDPH guidance.

Will we require proof of vaccination?
We will only require proof of vaccination for RE volunteers.  Hospitality volunteers should be vaccinated, but that, and our encouragement for everyone who is able to be vaccinated, is on the honor system.  We did not feel it was appropriate for the church to ask or keep track of this information.  However, if we find that we have a large number of unvaccinated people whose choice to not get a vaccine puts those who cannot get one for medical reasons at risk, we will reevaluate this.  The Board and staff agree that you can be trusted to get your vaccine – please do so.

Why don’t we worship outside all summer?
Outside worship, though lovely on a mildly warm day, is not accessible.  It is hard to make audio work well outside, it can be too hot for many people, and, if we are on the lawn, folks with mobility challenges cannot access it.

What happens if new variants or slow vaccine uptake changes things?
In all cases, we’ll follow the most conservative advice of the WCHD.  That includes how we might respond to a new strain, to rising case numbers, or other measures.

What happens if we have an outbreak in the church?
If an outbreak occurs among our people (5 or more cases that may be linked), we will pivot immediately to online-only worship while we assess what happened and what steps we should take.

What happens if we can’t get enough RE volunteers?
If we cannot secure sufficient RE volunteers, we will have on-line worship only that week.  Under no circumstances will we have in-person worship without an RE option.

What about singing?
When and how we begin to sing at worship is an open question.  We await the science on this.  It may be that we can begin to sing when we return, or it may be that we wait for a herd immunity threshold. At the moment, we are leaning towards having instrumental, vaccinated soloist, and/or pre-recorded music only until we get to 70% vaccination.  

What if lots of non-vaccinated people are coming and putting folks at risk?
If we become concerned that a large number of unvaccinated persons is putting the health of those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons at risk, we may require vaccination (or proof of ineligibility) to attend.  The Board will make this decision. Please, plan to get vaccinated if you can.

I know this is driven by metrics, not dates, but what’s your best guess for when we will start in-person worship again?
The key measure is when vaccine supply outstrips vaccine demand. Folks have been guessing that this happens in May, which means it is possible – but by no means for sure – that we will have an outdoor informal worship on July 4th and begin in person worship on July 11th.  That’s a reasonable guess, but it could be a few weeks later or earlier, since some are now estimating that supply could outstrip demand as earlier, as production increases.  A fourth surge would delay our opening. We’re preparing for everything from June 6th to July 18th as first days for indoor worship. 


What about Staff who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons?
Staff who are contraindicated for a vaccine because of a history of medication-related anaphylaxis or another similar reason will be offered a reasonable accommodation when possible, and in accord with our staff policies.   That might mean limiting their exposure to crowds though shifts in duties (but not a reduction in hours), providing social distance space around their work area, or other measures.  We will not generally disclose which staff are contraindicated for vaccination, and we strongly encourage congregation members not to pry into the medical status of employees.  Staff who are not medically contraindicated may receive some accommodations, but there are no guarantees.  They have chosen to take that risk.  

How do I submit a question?
Email Matthew at minister@uurockford.org or call at 815-398-6322. 

Literature Link for April 11,’21 about Mindfulness: Place, Space, Time

• The Neuroscience Behind Mindfulness.  [Non-fiction article.] Then, Click on the free guided meditations.   
• I especially enjoyed the one-minute meditation—animated. Under 3 minutes.
• Here are two poems from Joy Harjo, an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee Creek Nation. She was named United States Poet Laureate in 2019 and the author of eight books of poetry and a memoir, Crazy Brave.
For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in Its Human Feet.” “Watch your mind. Without training it might run away and leave your heart for the immense human feast set by the thieves of time.“ https://poets.org/poem/calling-spirit-back-wandering-earth-its-human-feet?mbd=1   AND

“Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings” “Recognize whose lands these are on which we stand./ Ask the deer, turtle, and the crane./ Make sure the spirits of these lands are respected.“

This One Wild and Precious Life: The Path Back to Connection in a Fractured World.  By Sarah Wilson. Yes, her title comes from the Mary Oliver poem read on Sunday. “Many of us are living with the sense that things are not right with the world and are in a state of spiritual PTSD. We have retreated, morally and psychologically; we are experiencing a crisis of disconnection—” For a short review, go here:
In Faith,
Dale Dunnigan

Use this simple application to sign up to receive a Covid-19 vaccination through Winnebago County Public Health Department. 
*ZOOM Church Calendar*
Most “all church” events will be 337-267-3668. This is the Personal Meeting
ID for “Thomas Kerr,” our online identity (and the minister from 1870-1900,
who used all the new technology of his time to reach those he
served). Generally, there will be a waiting room and the host will need to
admit you. 

Coffee Hour on Sunday. 337-267-3668. 11:10 am. Chris will
be host.

Touchstones: contact your touchstones group facilitator for the time
and meeting ID, if you don’t already have it.

– Caring Team Meeting – The first Tuesday of each month at 6 pm.  ID 337-267-3668

-Membership Team Meetings
are on the 1st Thursday of the month at 7 pm. Meeting ID: 980 2780 4780

Want to have a group – a book group, a parent group, a “circle supper”, or
whatever you like? You can create a free Zoom account (40-minute limit,
though often waived by zoom at minute 35). Or, you can use “Thomas Kerr’s”
– just email Autumn at
 office@uurockford.org and she can give you the login
and password. Please make sure to tell Autumn if you are having a meeting so we can put it on the calendar.

The Right to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Act will help make Illinois a safer and more welcoming place for immigrants and refugees.  Legal counsel has proven to be the key to fair treatment in the immigration process, but currently it is available at the individual’s own expense, beyond the means of most immigrants and refugees.  A task force will develop a holistic and comprehensive approach including all legal counsel entities currently receiving state funds to provide legal aid, with the goal of recommending a program that provides legal counsel to all individuals involved in immigration removal proceedings.

This program will be instrumental in ensuring fairness and dignity for immigrants negotiating our systems

The Senate Committee for Human Rights will hear SB684 THIS THURSDAY, April 15, at 8:30 a.m.  
You know the drill:  file a witness slip in favor!

 File a witness slip HERE 

Witness slip instructions:
Fill in your info
For Agency, use “self” or UUANI 
Same for representation
Select “proponent” and “Record of Appearance”
Agree to ILGA terms on the left and create a slip on the right

Illinois is doing an exemplary job protecting the human rights of immigrants — let’s stay in the forefront!

Allied with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Comments, questions, suggestions?  CONTACT US

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The Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford, IL  |   4848 Turner St., Rockford, IL 61107   |   815-398-6322    |   uurockford.org  |
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