Kairos March 2, 2021

Kairos                                                      03/02/2021


March 7, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. (Online Only at ReStream)
Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson
Aretha Franklin took a song by Otis Reading and transformed it into a feminist anthem of self-respect and affirmation.  Grounded in gospel and the church, Franklin’s life and career testify to the power of resilience and demanding to be treated with respect.  We’ll begin our month on “respect” by exploring the theology of the Queen of Soul. 
Happy Birthday to: Lynn Salley (03/02), Keith Kruchten (03/03), Art Beneditz (03/03), Shoko Chien (03/08), Joe Morton (03/08), Wild Darke (03/08), Mary Caskey (03/09), Ken Ring (03/09), & Brian Gustafson (03/09)!
We will Share the Plate with RAMP
RAMP’s mission is to build an inclusive community that encourages individuals with disabilities to reach their full potential. We take a creative approach to find resources and opportunities available to team up with individuals with disabilities to access the community where we live, work, and play. We have this knowledge because the majority of our staff and board of directors have disabilities. RAMP staff meets individuals with disabilities where they are at and together as a team we take them where they want to go. RAMP also advocates for the implementation of current laws, promotion of needed legislation, and improvement of existing systems for people with disabilities while working to diminish negative attitudes that threaten to impede equal access.
Click here to donate.

Matthew’s Memo

As you can imagine, I’ve been closely following the data about COVID-19 and how religious communities can keep their people safe when they re-open for in-person activities.  Of course, many religious communities are already re-open for limited attendance; we – like all other Unitarian Universalist congregations across the country – are waiting a little longer.  

One metaphor I heard early on was “safety lasagna.” You need lots of layers of pasta between the filling.  There’s no one thing – but each layer adds a measure of safety.  

The most important layer, for us to re-open in-person, is vaccinations.  Vaccinations prevent severe disease and death and they reduce infections and transmission dramatically.  Many of you are getting your vaccinations because you qualify in the 1a or 1b stages.  Some of you are 1c and will get your opportunity soon.  Others are in phase 2 – everyone over 16 who isn’t in phase 1.  Once we reach phase 2, with no waiting list, then the countdown to gather begins.  Please get your vaccination as soon as you are able.  

Another vital layer, masks.  Masks work.  Wear yours in public and in crowds, please.  We will require masks until we reach 70% immunization in Winnebago County, and will welcome their use after that.  

The third most useful layer, it appears, is ventilation.  Air filtration, outside air, and such make a big difference.  Since COVID is airborne, keeping the air clean and moving really works.  

To that end, we asked our trusted friends at Rockford Heating and Air Conditioning what they recommended.  They suggested an “Ion Generator.”  These devices go on the air intake for each of our units (which blow both hot and cold air, so it works in all seasons).  They created charged Ion particles.  These particles attract pathogens, dust particles, VOCs, allergens, and other microscopic particles.  Clumped together, the particles then have enough weight to flow out of the room, through the return ducts, and outside – where fresh air and sunlight render them harmless.  You can read more about these devices here: https://globalplasmasolutions.com/.  

I shared that we were considering this with my colleagues – a few of whom have done the same thing and report great results on reducing odors, allergens, dust, and other harmful chemicals.  These devices are used in factories, airplanes, and medical facilities because they are proven to handle these kinds of chemicals.  So far, studies indicate they also reduce the amount of COVID-19 particles in the air.  It can be one layer of our “safety lasagna.”  

After meeting with the contractor and learning more about it, the Board has agreed to install these devices on our units.  Each device is $800, and we have 16 units.  

We would love your help to pay for these.  Soon, many members of the congregation will get a $1400 “relief payment.”  If you are able to donate a portion of that to this effort, it would help.  (Any excess raised will be placed in the Capital Maintenance Reserve Fund to be used for other building repairs and improvements.).  You can send a check or give it online (and send us an email so we know to move the gift to the right fund).  

Thank you for your help. 

In faith,

Board Update
The Board approved memorial fund expenses for the island work (already completed) and streaming technology, discussed the work for the nominating panel for this year, the spring Stewardship drive, re-opening plans and our investment portfolios.  

Prison Ministry Group: Next Meeting Sunday, March 7th, 12:30
Join us for a discussion about what folks are currently involved in, upcoming projects, and the group’s next steps. Since there is another training that day, this meeting will be intentionally short (around 30 minutes or so). All are invited, even if you’re just curious if you’d like to be involved!
Zoom ID: 337 267 3668 (Church’s Thomas Kerr account)

Solidarity Circle Training with UUPMI: March 7th, 3:00pm
“Solidarity Circles are spaces that allow interested individuals to engage in a community of commitment with someone returning from prison. They are formed in congregations where affirming relationships for many different types of individuals can be found. Solidarity Circles are born from experience and research that affirms that not only are individuals returning from prison the best judge of what they need, but also that these individuals can use several communities of support while attaining their full freedom.”

Read more about Solidarity Circles and sign up here:

Volunteers Needed for the Next 3 Months
Volunteers are needed to help greet people when they arrive for the COVID-19 vaccine appointment. Volunteers will help direct people to the correct locations for their shots and assist people with limited mobility using wheelchairs on site. Please report to the WCHD Vaccine site 1321 Sandy Hollow Road. There is someone at the front desk who will show you where to go.

WCHD greeters
We’re using SignUp.com (the leading online SignUp and reminder tool) to organize our upcoming SignUps. Here’s how it works in 3 easy steps:

1) Click this link to see our SignUp on SignUp.com: 
2) Review the options listed and choose the spot(s) you like.
3) Sign up! It’s Easy – you will NOT need to register an account or keep a password on SignUp.com.

Note: SignUp.com does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact me and I can sign you up manually.
Book Discussion Group

Widening the Circle of Concern:  Report of the UUA Commission on Institutional Change is about anti-racism in our denomination and its member congregations.  Because we exist in the United States, we are part of the white supremacy culture.  By reading books, we, mostly “white,” privileged citizens, can learn the legacy of our country’s history of slavery and racism.  We learn this best in homogenous groups, which don’t complicate communication by microaggressions caused by “whites” and perceived by people of color.

Today we have a wealth of well-written, well-researched books defining our culture and permitting privileged people to empathize with those traditionally discriminated against– people of color, African Americans, and Native Americans.

I invite you to join me in reading and discussing some of these outstanding books.  The first one is So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.  Our discussion will be on Wednesday, March 31st from 10:30 to 11:30 am.

To indicate your interest in this activity, please email me at teresa.wilmot@gmail.com.

Submitted by Teresa Wilmot


If you’ve ever hosted a dinner party, company meeting or life celebration, then you know how beneficial the guest count is to ensuring a successful experience. General Assembly is the same. The sooner we know how many UUs will attend, the sooner we can finalize decisions about what and how much to invest in production technology, speakers, programming, accessibility services, music, worship services, and financial support for attendees and volunteers. Moreover, the benefit of time means we can be more thorough in recruiting, onboarding, and training our volunteer teams. Help us serve our community by registering early. If need be, make a deposit using our payment plan. It’s one way to let us know you plan to attend even as you take more time to prepare due to the pandemic, political climate, and/or personal concerns. Let’s top the attendance charts this year! 
Registered attendees are among the first to hear program announcements, including featured speakers and the Ware Lecturer and only registered attendees will have access to the new GA app (coming soon!) So, register early to join online discussions, familiarize yourself with the GA schedule, and find your tribe in our community of communities.
Register Here!
Eliminate Racism 815

Book Discussion:  My Grandmother’s Hands – Radicalized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies
By Resmaa Menakem
Event by 
Eliminate Racism 815
Online: us02web.zoom.us
Thursday, March 25, 2021 at 6 PM CDT – 7:45 PM CDT
Price: Free · Duration: 1 hr 45 min

Film Discussion:  “PS, I Can’t Breathe:  Black Lives Matter”
Event by
 Eliminate Racism 815
Online: us02web.zoom.us
Friday, March 12, 2021 at 6 PM CST – 9 PM CST
Price: Free · Duration: 3 hr

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 Feb 28, about Mercy
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Dickens published his popular novels in serial, monthly magazines form. “A Tale of Two Cities is Charles Dickens’s great historical novel, set against the violent upheaval of the French Revolution. The most famous and perhaps the most popular of his works, it compresses an event of immense complexity to the scale of family history, with a cast of characters that includes a bloodthirsty ogress and an antihero as believably flawed as any in modern fiction. Though the least typical of the author’s novels, A Tale of Two Cities still underscores many of his enduring themes—imprisonment, injustice, social anarchy, resurrection, and the renunciation that fosters redemption. “Memorable Quote: ”It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
  For the film, I enjoyed the 1935 version more than the 1980 version, but both are good.
A nice assortment of reviews on one page is here
• “The Mercy” by Philip Levine. [poem] Here is a print and audio from NPR, read by Garrison Keillor. “The ship that took my mother to Ellis Island / eighty-three years ago was named “The Mercy.”“  [It helped me to read that the orange is used as the symbol for mercy.]

• In The Courage to Care bestselling author Christie Watson reveals the remarkable extent of nurses’ work. Told in a series of brief vignettes. A community mental-health nurse choreographs support for a man suffering from severe depression. A teen with stab wounds is treated by the critical-care team; his school nurse visits and he drops the bravado. Published on Sep 17, 2020. [public library or Kindle] [non-Fiction|
Read a review at
What If:  By Ganga White [poem] “What if religion was each other?”  I love the simplicity of the message.

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 Now 
Have you been meaning to get registered for the virtual Spring term of Beloved Conversations, but time has slipped away this week?  

Don’t worry, there is still time and it takes less than 20 minutes! 

Scholarships are still available, no one will be turned away for lack of funds. We want you here because your spiritual growth matters! Submit your request for a half or full scholarship at 
You can also check out these amazing testimonials from people just like you who feel called to this work and have been changed by it.

Beloved Conversations testimonials here:

https://youtu.be/3b0lhogUBN8 at 27 minutes
https://youtu.be/SWatZPHULl0 at 24 minutes
https://youtu.be/Ol2RdCdBnqU at 25 minutes
https://youtu.be/9p0j421GIY8 at 50 minutes

Program Start Date: Tuesday, March 16th
  • All new materials have been created for this session. If this is your first time or if you are returning, this session is an easy way to jump in and learn! 
  • Each term is comprised of 6 Online Lessons with resources for learning, including videos, readings, music, and artistic resources, as well as questions for reflection and projects to explore your inner landscape vis-a-vis racial justice.
  • 6 Learning Pod Gatherings where you will engage this material in small groups of 4-5 other folks from this learning community.
  • 3 Meaning-Making Sessions, where we will come together in a large group via Zoom (in our racial caucuses) to worship, learn, and share our evolving understanding of this journey.

Finally…We are so excited to have you with us. It matters that you are an active participant in your spiritual growth, and we are happy to help you on this life-long journey. 

If you are waiting on a scholarship email, don’t panic! As long as you’ve sent a scholarship request to 
belovedconversations@meadville.edu by the end of today, the program coordinator will work with you on your enrollment.

Please contact JeKaren Olaoya at 
belovedconversations@meadville.edu with any questions or problems you might have. 
Register Now
The Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford, IL  |   4848 Turner St., Rockford, IL 61107   |   815-398-6322    |   uurockford.org  |
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