Gather the Spirit
June 6, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. Online and In-Person
Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnoson
We will gather both in-person and online for the first time since last March. What does it mean to “gather in spirit and power?” Why is a gathering of spirit so important? We’ll rededicate our space and our community in a briefer-than-normal service, then there will be time for folks who are in-person to socialize and connect.
MASKS REQUIRED IN-PERSON.
We will Share the Plate with Interfaith Council Interfaith Council supports Interfaith understanding and conversation in Rockford. The Church has long been a member of the council. Click Here to Donate
Happy Birthday to: Debra Harmon (06/01), Brooke Garcia-Nettz (06/01), Kathy Welch (06/02), Ryan Hyser 06/04), Marj Christen (06/05), Julie Parks (06/06), Roger Poznan (06/08), & Amy Brandon (06/08)!
Aria Beert is giving her Senior Recital at the Rockford Music Academy this Sunday, June 6 at 3:00 pm!
Matthew’s Memo June 1, 2021
I can’t wait to see many of you this Sunday at 10 am for our first in-person and online worship since last March. Here are some quick notes, in response to some of your questions:
Yes, we will still be streaming, both to Facebook and YouTube. If you live further away, can’t come that day, or don’t feel well – stay home and watch live or later.
Yes, masks are required indoors, regardless of vaccination status. This will probably change eventually but not yet. We have extra masks if you forget.
Children 2 and up who are not yet fully vaccinated must be part of Religious Education. When you arrive between 9:45 and 10, bring your child to the right of the offices and you’ll be directed to the right area. Children who are 0 or 1, or 12+ and fully vaccinated can choose (or their parents can) to have them in the sanctuary or in Religious Education.
You can sing, with your mask on, softly, if you’re fully vaccinated.
Other than RE volunteers, we’re not checking vaccination status – it’s the honor system.
We’ll have a full-length service on June 13th and each week thereafter.
See you Sunday!
The board reviewed the plans for the annual meeting on June 13th. Look elsewhere in this Kairos for details on the agenda. The Board also approved Steve Hall to join the Investment Panel.
Resolutions for Annual Meeting
The annual meeting will take place on June 13th, at 11 am. The agenda will include the election of officers (see elsewhere for the report from the nominating panel), the approval of a budget and permanent fund allocations (forthcoming – please complete your pledge if you haven’t already), and two resolutions. The first is very simple.
“We, the members of The Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford, vote to authorize the ordination of Omega Burckhardt to the Unitarian Universalist Ministry at a ceremony in the near future. The date for the ceremony shall be set by the Senior Minister and the ordinand.”
It’ll be our pleasure to ordain Omega – and a chance for her to be with you in person! Please be prepared to vote enthusiastically to support her ministry.
The second resolution is longer. If you’ve been reading Teresa’s columns about UUA business, you may know about this. The resolution itself explains what it is all about. It reads:
“Whereas, The Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford, has connected our living faith with our work against racial injustice since we proudly called the abolitionist Unitarian minister Rev. Augustus Conant in 1855, including the vigorous efforts of ministers and members of this church to establish and defend the Booker T. Washington Community Center, and to work for fair housing, equitable education, intercultural understanding, and end systems of racial injustice nationally and locally; and
Whereas, a group of Unitarian Universalists has advanced a proposed 8th Principle, which reads: Journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.; and
Whereas Unitarian Universalist congregations have endorsed and adopted this 8th principle in solidarity with these aims, and congregations have been asked by Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism to add their support for this work; and
Whereas The Unitarian Universalist Association has appointed and empowered an Article 2 Commission to propose a long-overdue rewrite of the current principles and purposes (Article 2 of our association’s bylaws) and that this commission includes an original author of the 8th principle, Paula Cole Jones, and that the commission has indicated that the spirit of the 8th Principle will be included in their draft to be presented to the General Assembly of the UUA;
Therefore, The Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford, affirms that building a diverse multicultural Beloved Community and accountably dismantling racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions is an essential part of our journey to spiritual wholeness and supports the inclusion of the spirit of the proposed 8th Principal in the Article 2 Commission’s forthcoming language; and
We also commit ourselves to building a diverse multicultural Beloved Community in our congregation, including through our common and individual actions to dismantle racism and other oppressions. “
The most important part of this resolution, for us, is the last sentence. We are not just affirming for this for Unitarian Universalists in general, but for ourselves. We already have very similar language in our ends statements, and we have been doing this kind of work for a long time – but there’s a lot more to do.
This 8th Principal resolution comes to you from the Senior Minister and the Board, with the support of our Justice For All team leaders. We hope you’ll strongly support it as well.
Reparations: We Need the Truth to Heal
One of the ACLU’s 6 foci of action in support of HR 40, a bill first proposed in 1989 by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas) and reintroduced in 2019 as the “Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans Act.” During those 30 intervening years, it has become clear that African Americans are still not treated equitably. The result of that discrimination is extreme wealth inequality—1/16 the wealth of an average white citizen—inequity injustice, incarceration, and police action and laws to restrict voting.
On April 14, 2021, this bill was approved out of the Judiciary Committee on a vote of 25 (Dems) with 17 against (Reps). Now it comes to the House for consideration.
Why do we need a reparations bill? This bill would create a commission to document the many federal and state laws, which served to enforce white supremacy after the Civil War when African Americans were no longer “slaves.” These laws changed the descriptive noun without changing the social or economic status of freed Negroes. These discriminative laws aren’t merely historic; they exist today, most currently in voting restrictions that affect more African Americans than white citizens.
The bill doesn’t define what reparations would be; the first step is to define the problem.
What can I do to support this bill?
Urge your Congressional representative and senators to co-sponsor the bill, even if that person is unlikely to support the bill.
Ask your Congressional representative and senators to take the Systemic Equality Oath:
The Systemic Equality Oath
I recognize the existence of systemic racism, denounce white supremacy in our institutions, and pledge to support the passage of H.R. 40 –– historic legislation that will establish a commission to examine the legacy of slavery and make recommendations for reparatory justice.
Becoming an Anti-Racist Parent Class Postponed
Due to low RSVP responses at this time, we have decided to postpone offering the Becoming and Anti-Racist Parent class for a later date. We’ll keep you posted as to when we will offer the class again. Additionally, please let Lindsay know if there are other topics or books that you are interested in discussing in the future. We welcome your feedback!
Join us for the next Prison Ministry meeting on June 6th at 12:30 pm. In May, the Social Justice Council met to decide on the next steps for many of our groups, events, and collaborative relationships. Now is a great time to get involved with the Prison Ministry group as we prepare for pulpit guest Rev. Allison Farnum, Executive Director of Unitarian Universalist Prison Ministry of Illinois (UUPMI) in July.
Topic: Prison Ministry June Meeting
Time: Jun 6, 2021, 12:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
The Social Justice Team is seeking nominees for the Connolly Community Service Awards for 2021. A bit of history of the awards and the nomination procedures follow. If you know someone – or a group of people — you think should receive one of these awards, please turn in nominations to the church office.
History: In 1993 the church initiated a community service award to recognize a member of the congregation for significant contributions to the community. The award was named for Dr. Charles Parker Connolly, minister of our congregation from 1913 to 1942, and a recognized community leader.
To date the award has been presented to the following individuals: Walt Lewis, Marky Caskey, Martha Logemann, Pat Tollefsrud, Sandra Locke, David Weissbard, Lynn Liston, Pat Lewis, Jon McGinty, JoAnn Shaheen, Leigh Lakey, Roger Oehlke, Lola Gustafson, Allen Penticoff, Colleen McDonald, Jackie Dehler, Bob Arevalo, Dave Black, Myrna Lake, Dave Lantz, Barb Giolitto, Duane Wilke, Ellyn Ahmer, Dale Dunnigan, Nikki Ticknor, and Bob Babcock.
More recently an award was established to recognize a young person, 8th grade through high school, for service to the church and community. Recipients to date are Emma Stocker, Katie Whitworth, Sandra Hill, Jackie Whitworth, Emily Pfleiderer, Max Freund, and Ari Almonaci.
For the second year, the Social Justice Council has decided to have a “group” award. This award will be for a group of people, formally or informally organized, who has done the work of justice in our community. Last year the award went to the Cornucopia Group.
The awards are presented at the annual meeting of the congregation.
The nominations should include:
A detailed description of volunteer and/or professional involvement and accomplishments, tasks, performed and issues addressed impact on others, and other relevant information.
A signed statement that the nominee is willing to be nominated.
A nomination should include the name of the nominator and is due in the office (Send to Autumn email@example.com) by June 7th. The nominations will be reviewed and a selection made by the Social Justice Team before the annual meeting on June 13th.
For more than 20 years, a group of men from the church has been meeting once a month for breakfast. Our next get-together is tentatively set for June 5. If you are not already receiving men’s breakfast emails and would like to be included in the invite list, all you need to do is send me an email.
Lunch with Matthew
Each Wednesday, next one on June 2, 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.
Literature Link for May 30, 2021, What We Learned the Hard Way
• “Japanese Bowl”by Peter Mayer [poem] “So now every old scar shows
from every time I broke” How do we mend ourselves? The commentary at the end is also worthwhile. https://ambitioninthecity.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/japanese-bowl-refelctions-of-a-poem-by-peter-mayer/ To listen to this being sung: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hta7R6ZXpk&t=2s • “Heavy” by Mary Oliver [poem] “ How I linger to admire, admire, admire
The things of this world that are kind, and maybe also troubled” https://tellingthetruth1993.com/2020/04/17/heavy-mary-oliver/ • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khal Hosseini. [public library, novel] “In this ambitious work once again the setting is Afghanistan, but this time [Hosseini] has taken the last 33 years of that country’s tumultuous history of war and oppression and told it on an intimate scale, through the lives of two women.” “ Hosseini mixes the experiences of these women with imagined scenarios to create a fascinating microcosm of Afghan family life. He shows us the interior lives of the anonymous women living beneath identity-diminishing burqas… and tells this saddest of stories in achingly beautiful prose through stunningly heroic characters whose spirits somehow grasp the dimmest rays of hope.” This made such an impact on me about the endured pain and strength of Mariam and Laila. You can borrow my copy. For a review, see” https://www.amazon.com/Thousand-Splendid-Suns-Khaled-Hosseini/dp/159448385X • Resilience: What Rivers Know. [15 minute read] Here is an interesting and inspiring website with 6 short resilience example stories. “Rivers are stronger than mountains.” “In these challenging times, it has become essential for all of us to guard our mental health. In case you enjoyed this post, do try our Nature Calm course and find new ways to grow your resilience” [freeon-line] https://healingforest.org/2020/07/24/resilience-examples-stories/
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
*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
-Social Justice Committee will meet on July 7th at 7:00 p.m. in the Library
– Coffee Hour on Sunday. 337-267-3668. 11:10 am. Chris will
– 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 Meetingsare 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 email@example.com 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 Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford, IL | 4848 Turner St., Rockford, IL 61107 | 815-398-6322 | uurockford.org |