We are now in our thirteenth week of suspended in-person activities for UUFB; and I’m hearing a longing for our lives and activities to go back to normal.
I feel this longing, too. The last time I stepped into a store was March 14th or 15th. I haven’t been to the gym in weeks – I’m really missing my work-outs. And like many of you, I miss being in our Sanctuary, singing and laughing and worshiping together – and chatting over good snacks and coffee or tea afterward. A couple of clergy I know in the area have opened up their churches for worship again. There are probably more that I don’t know about. I’m very concerned about this.
I’m concerned because, according to DHEC data, the coronavirus is not done with us. This state is at the beginning of a second wave of infections, and there is still not an agreed upon, effective treatment or vaccine. Moreover, while some activities are relatively low risk, attending religious services is not. In fact, a group of Michigan epidemiologists rating activities from 1 (low risk) to 10 (high risk) places attending services at a risk level of 8. Other activities with this level of risk include going to the gym, a buffet restaurant, or an amusement park. The risk level goes up if the congregation sings. *
Let me say that again: The risk level goes up if the congregation sings. Singing involves pushing out a lot of air, and with the air comes aerosolized droplets that travel farther and stay in the air longer. It also involves pulling a lot of air into one’s lungs to sing, and breathing in droplets expelled by others.
We are a congregation that loves music, and loves to sing. We are also a congregation that likes to be close to one another. One expert recommends this calculation: 113 square feet of space for each person in a room. I’m not sure how much square feet there is in our Sanctuary, but I think that means we’d be able to safely have about 10 people in there for worship, including Chris and me. (Our attendance on Zoom has been in the range of 45-50 people.)
And so, we continue for now with the suspension of in person meetings, events, and worship, for the health and safety of ALL our members and friends. We continue to watch the data, both locally and nationally, as the infection numbers peak and ebb. We want to be able to gather in person again when it’s safe for all of us.
In the meantime… If you would like to get connected on Zoom, please let me know! There are volunteers ready and willing to help!
Thank you for being here, for being part of this Fellowship, and for staying connected! I love you. You are beloved and precious. We will get through this. Keep breathing and stay safe, everyone.
Rev. Lori Hlaban
*Here’s the article: https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2020/06/from-hair-salons-to-gyms-experts-rank-36-activities-by-coronavirus-risk-level.html?fbclid=IwAR1W7DlT39eI3QOiGBhggmAmc3ZV_VI8fb6hTxygRzhaiyoFTFlFen2KWX0