Kairos April 6, 2021

Kairos                                                      04/06/2021

Mindfulness in Nature: Place, Space, Time
April 11, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. (Online Only at ReStream)
Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson
Many of us are familiar with the works of great nature writers and how they inspire us to consider our relationship with the natural world. Poet Mary Oliver and naturalist Henry David Thoreau’s writings have guided our mindful explorations, especially in our Unitarian Universalist communities. What does it look like to broaden our understanding of what is nature writing? What new ways of being can we discover while reading Zora Neale Hurston or Grace Lee Boggs? What can scientists like Robin Wall Kimmerer and Ursula Goodenough help us discover about our interconnected and ever-expanding web? 
Happy Birthday to: Del Clark (04/06), Leslie Mahan (04/11), Kay Hotchkiss (04/11), Dick Lake (04/11), Pat Lewis (04/12), Linda Spelman (04/12),  Alice Enichen (04/13), & Michelle Lattanzio (04/13)!

We will Share the Plate with United Way of Rockford

All of us want to make the Rock River Valley a thriving community, where we can raise our kids in a healthy environment, get good jobs, and lead good lives. And what we’ve been doing together is exactly that – uniting people to help create the kind of community we all want, with the kind of opportunities we all need.

United Way of Rock River Valley builds up people’s lives in the areas of education, income, and health – key building blocks for a better life. We prioritize middle school success initiatives and ensure that everything we do supports programs that deliver results and create lasting change in our community. That’s what it means to focus on the big picture – the whole person and the whole situation – and that’s what makes United Way about lasting solutions, not just short-term charity.

 Click here to donate.

From our Partner Churches in Transylvania

Matthew’s Memo
April 6, 2021

Tired. Of. Zoom. 
That’s how I feel.  You too?  I’ve noticed a drop-off in participation in virtual events.  As the pandemic enters its 13th month, as more people (but not everyone yet) get vaccinated, and as the weather gets nicer (what a beautiful weekend it was), folks are signing off. 
And I feel it.  Today, Tuesday, I have four zoom meetings.  Talking with my colleagues recently, I said “I am excited about preparing to welcome people back.  Everything else?  Not so much.” 
And, wonderfully, I have been able to start visiting folks in person, and some have gathered in person for lunch (outside) at the church – each Wednesday at noon, weather permitting.  My kids are going to be in school a little more, and I’ve started spending time with vaccinated friends.  It’s great.
And yet, we’re not quite there yet.  And we’ll never quite let go of the zoom, remote, e-option for gathering.  That’s true for three reasons:
1 – we’re not quite there yet because not every adult has a had chance to get vaccinated.  Until folks can get one easily, it is not inclusive or safe to have large events.
2 – we will continue to be online for some events, and in addition to in-person, because it is accessible.  Some folks can’t get vaccinated and they need an option until real herd immunity arrives.  Others live at a distance.  An evening meeting on zoom is accessible to parents in a way that an in-person meeting is not.  We need both options. 
I’m remembering these two realities as I plan for both the next few months and the long term. For the next few months, it means I’m offering a class on zoom (see the Wonderful Wednesday description for details, and please come).  I’ll go to my meetings tomorrow, and the next day, because that’s how we need to do things for a while. 
Long term, it means that we will offer a quality online worship experience as well as a quality in-person experience.  It means some gatherings might be online, especially if that makes it more accessible.  But we’ll also have ways people can be in person, hug, sing, etc – because embodied human community is important too. 
In short – hang in there for a little while longer, and then, build options.  We’ll figure it out as go together.  If you are feeling tired of it, you are not alone.  Just a bit more. 
In faith,
Board Update

The Board had its monthly meeting on March 31st.  We agreed to support the local chapter of Compassion & Choices.  We heard and acted on a staff plan for filling the duties of our departing membership manager.  We heard an update on the upcoming Stewardship plan.

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:
Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 566 236 4814
One tap mobile
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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

Lunch with Matthew
Each Wednesday, next one on April 7, 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.  
The Root of Racial Injustice
The country is watching the trial of George Floyd’s murderer with bated breath.  Will this crime go unpunished?
The UUA is invested in anti-racism. 
            Widening the Circle of Concern
            Beloved Conversations
            Black Lives UU
            New Day Rising
I invite you to view Megan Ming Francis’s TED Talk, given in 2016, but so relevant today.

The problem isn’t a few bad apples; the tree is diseased.  The time is now.  Each of us needs to invest in this campaign.  What are you doing today?
Submitted by Teresa Wilmot

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

Film Discussion:
Power of Illusion: The Difference Between Us: So why doesn’t it
make sense to sort people into biological races? This examines
contemporary science, including genetics, and challenges our
assumptions about race
Date: Friday, April 9, 2021 at 6 PM CDT – 8 PM CDT


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
Rally to Demand Democracy: Fighting for the Freedom to Vote

Many UU’s have been concerned with voter suppression. During the congressional recess rallies are popping up around the country in support of the “For The People Act” and S.1 in the U.S. Senate. Rockford will have its own “Rally to Demand Democracy: Fighting for the Freedom to Vote” on Thursday, April 8th at 5:30 PM where W. State St. meets Wyman St. and YOU’RE INVITED! Sign up here: 
Recovery Recess | MoveOn.org Spread the word among your friends and family. Need more info? Bob Babcock   630.417.0042

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 to as scientific, reasonable, and loving decisions.  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 or is clearly on track to enter, Phase 5 of the recovery plan.

2. On CovidActNow, Winnebago County’s Infection Rate and Test Positivity is “green.”

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.    


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. 


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.  


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 Easter 2021 Sermon
• Renewal: How Nature Awakens Our Creativity, Compassion, and Joy by 
Andrés R Edwards  [public library]  Renewal explores the science behind why being in nature makes us feel alive and helps us thrive. Using personal experiences and cutting-edge research in cognitive science, this book weaves delightful stories. For a quick review:
• “Fear” by Khalil Gibran.  “It is said that before entering the sea
a river trembles with fear  . . . And in front of her, she sees an ocean so vast,

• “Three Questions” a short story by Leo Tolstoy  “…there is only one time that is important—Now!”    A brief read about a king seeking answers.      http://www.online-literature.com/tolstoy/2736/

• Galileo & The Art of Ageing Mindfully: Wisdom from the Night Skies by Adam Ford. [public library or e-book] Click on the “free sample” at the website below. Mindfulness is a lifelong exercise and the older we get the more appreciative we can become of the practice. Galileo & The Art of Ageing Mindfully reveals how the father of modern science introduced a new era in our mindful understanding of ourselves and our place in the universe. Adam Ford turns his telescope towards the stars to reveal a natural fusion of science and spirituality and to offer his own perspective on aging. Questions of deep time and existence and spiritual insights are shared alongside wise notes to his grandchildren. Add in a constellation of meditative insights, and Adam proves how our existential journey with aging is the natural opportunity to experience the true benefits of mindfulness.
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.
Register Here
The Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford, IL  |   4848 Turner St., Rockford, IL 61107   |   815-398-6322    |   uurockford.org  |
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