Kairos March 9, 2021

Kairos                                                      03/09/2021

Calling In, Calling Out, Cancelling and Context
March 14, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. (Online Only at ReStream)

Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson
As we continue our month on “respect,” we’ll turn the question of how Unitarian Universalists, who believe in both freedom and accountability, should approach these difficult questions of “cancel culture,” “accountability,” “freedom” and such. 
Happy Birthday to: Mary Caskey (03/09), Ken Ring (03/09), Brian Gustafson (03/09), Steve Blomgren (03/12), Shirley Spilmon (03/13), Rebecca Beneditz (03/13), Pam Lonsway (03/14), Lerryn Gough (03/14), Matthew Johnson (03/15), Carolyn Arevalo (03/15), Randy Locke (03/15), Heather Gunnell (03/16)!

Please keep Jan Cooper Clark’s family in your thoughts and prayers. Jan died Tuesday, March 2, 2021.

Shari Smallwood’s partner, Clay Johnson, was recently diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and is receiving hospice care at home.  Shari wants to stay in touch with church friends and welcomes calls. 

We will Share the Plate with UUSC

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization advancing human rights together with an international community of grassroots partners and advocates. For more information click here.
Click here to donate.
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. 

Matthew’s Memo March 9, 2021

One year.  

It was late January 2020, when the exchange student from China, who was going to stay with my children and their mother for a few weeks, had her trip canceled due to this strange illness in their country.  With family in Seattle, I heard about some of the first cases in late February and early March.  But I did not think things would happen so fast or last so long.  

March 11th, 2020, we had the first session of Beloved Conversations at the church.  Three small groups met and followed the curriculum set out for us.  After, I went – as I did most Wednesday evenings after my last meeting – to the Olympic Tavern.  I sat at the bar with my friend (he and I go most Wednesday to drink beer, eat wings, talk politics and economic and fatherhood) and we chatted about this and that.  While we sat there, we saw the breaking headlines:  first, that Tom Hanks had it.  Second, that the NBA canceled the rest of their season.   The NBA cancellation felt like a big deal.  

The next day, Thursday, we held a staff meeting where we discussed what to do with Sunday.  Cancel coffee hour?  No touching?  Yes, we agreed.  Should we go online only?  We were leaning towards going online only when we saw the health department make the order: no gatherings of more than 10.  

That Sunday, March 15th, we were online-only, and we have been since.  Small groups met online – and outside when it was nice enough.  We tried online Sunday School for a while but gave it up – parents and students had more “online” than they could handle.  We adapted.  We mourned.  We got hopeful, then despondent.  Denial, bargaining, acceptance – and back again.  

We’ve lost beloved, and see the numbers count up and up – an overwhelming presence of grief.  All while trying to save the country from a wannabe dictator and his volunteer army of white nationalists.  Only in the last two months have we experienced imperfect but competent and caring leadership – and it is clear how much we lost for its lack.  

As we pull ourselves out from this year, we have much to do.  We’re not there yet, so keep wearing masks, staying distant, and get your vaccine as soon as you are eligible.  But we can begin the other work.  To rebuild the economy, the institutions of community, our schools and congregations, and gathering places.  To build a better public health system and attend to the “social determinants of health” – those factors, like racism, poverty, and the like which have made this pandemic so brutal on some communities.  And to grieve – to notice all those we lost, both from COVID and other causes.  To wail, and notice, and honor their lives.  

And, we must learn how to be hopeful and joyful and together.  This is hard.  Any traumatized person will tell you that it is hard to have joy, because of the fear of its loss, again.  Yet, breathing in and breathing out – we can learn that we can be happy again.  We can hug.  We can smile.  We can remember that life is good – and worth fighting for.  

For this week, I ask you only this: be gentle with yourself and others.  

It has been a year.  

Be gentle.  

In faith,
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
The book we will discuss on Wednesday, March 31st is So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Olua, first released in January 2018.  It’s been around long enough to have a reputation.  If you’re wondering if this is something in which you want to invest your time, take 8 minutes to view this introduction:

If this grabs you, find a copy and join us at 10:30 am on the last day of March. 
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!


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 March 7, R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
Before there was mansplaining, there was Rebecca Solnit’s 2008 critique of male arrogance. Reprinted here with a new introduction.  An enjoyable short essay with humor.
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit, an essay from her 2010 book.
“Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.”

• “Respect” by Melissa Studdard
“because bedtime is a castle / she’s building inside herself /with a moat
and portcullis /and buckets full of mist“ 
• “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” by Audre Lorde is a short essay. The poet Melissa Studdard writes of her, “Realizing that you can be yourself, write as yourself, and write about issues that matter to you is not the same as feeling empowered to do so. For me, it’s a process, and the biggest awakening has been reading Audre Lorde.”  From Lorde’s essay:  In the cause of silence, each of us draws the face of her own fear _ fear of contempt, of censure, or some judgment, or recognition, of challenge, of annihilation. But most of all:, I think, we fear the visibility without which we cannot truly live.”
• ‘Whale Rider’ (2002) [movie]
Girls aren’t allowed to be Whangara chiefs. But that’s not acceptable to Paikea (Keisha Castle-Hughes), the 11-year-old powerhouse who believes her destiny is to ride whales and lead her tribe. Courage, leadership and defiance—they’re all at play in this Kiwi drama from Niki Caro, an essential watch for any budding feminist. Stream on 
amazon.com, $4 to rent
• Here are six self-love poems to remind you of your worth and value in this world; to bring you to a centered place of peace within yourself.


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