Media Roundup: Forging connections in a time of social distancing

Media Roundup: Forging connections in a time of social distancing

A weekly guide to stories about Unitarian Universalists from other media sources


The Rev. Dr. Nori Rost of All Souls UU Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said that as COVID-19 isolates us, “We have to come up with creative ways to touch people’s hearts. . . . There’s more than one way to be a community of faith, and church is more than a building.” (The Gazette, March 23)

The Rev. Debra Guthrie of Aiken UU Church in South Carolina spoke frankly about the limitations of technology: “Even if we have so many ways of connecting, we lack a (connection of) vulnerability. . . . When we have that snatched out from under us in times like this, it doubles down on the problem. We're not able to get together and comfort each other." (Aiken Standard, March 22)

First Parish Unitarian of Northfield, Massachusetts, held virtual services, and Homer “Tony” Stavely, who is in his 80s and practicing social distancing, said, “You’re face-to-face with your friends, so that’s a positive. The negative is that it’s software. Even now, thirty years into the modern internet, it’s kind of like the photographs you see of early 20th-century automobiles being pulled out of the mud by some farmer’s oxen. We’re still in that early era of virtual life and sometimes things don’t work real well. But to see smiling faces of familiar friends and to go through familiar rituals, and hearing some thoughts and inspiring words (made it worthwhile).” (Greenfield Recorder, March 18)

The Rev. Diana McLean of Peterborough UU Church in New Hampshire said of online spiritual community: “It’s smart for people to stay home and safe, and I’m glad our community is taking it seriously. That’s how we’re going to keep it from being a problem here. I think that, right now, the connection may be even more important than the content we offer. People will appreciate the content, but seeing each others’ faces and hearing their voices is what’s really needed.” (Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, March 22)

The Rev. Donna Renfro of the UU Church of the Brazos Valley in College Station, Texas, described the online groups she created with her congregation’s Caring Team. “The Caring Team groups — I intentionally did it randomly so that people go outside of their regular circles. Those who are close already to each other are staying in touch with each other as they always do, but I really wanted to use this as an opportunity to get more folks talking to folks they don’t normally talk to.” (The Eagle, March 22)

The Rev. John Crestwell of the UU Church of Annapolis, Maryland, officiated a particularly special wedding. Webcast on Facebook Live, the wedding complied with the state’s current limits: one bride, one groom, one minister, one photographer, one reporter, two guests, and a dog—all practicing appropriate social distancing. The bride, Montana Geimer, and her sister, Summerleigh Winters, are no strangers to difficulty; their mother, Wendi Winters, was among the victims of the Capital Gazetteshooting in 2018. At the end of the service, Geimer turned to her online guests and said, “It means everything to us that we have your love and support.” (Capital Gazette, March 22)

The Rev. Emily Wright-Magoon of the UU Church of Midland, Texas, said of online offerings, “We’re a small congregation. I think what people were really craving was just to see one another and connect. We’re not looking for super-polished services; we’re looking more for a connection. We like to say that church is not canceled, we’re just finding new ways to do church.” (Midland Reporter-Telegram, March 21)

The Rev. Marcus Hartlief of the UU Congregation of Marin in San Rafael, California, pointed out the benefits of Zoom’s video and chat options: “I think that being able to see everyone’s faces, hearing their voices added to that social connection that we really need. It’s a fundamental human need. It provides a foundation of well-being.” (Marin Independent Journal, March 22)

The Rev. Dan Lambert of the UU Fellowship of Charlotte County in Port Charlotte, Florida,received positive feedback after online meetings. A quiet congregant said, “This was a life saver for me. I feel really good.” Lambert said many people got in touch, thanking him and pleading, “Please, keep doing this.” (Port Charlotte Sun, March 20)

The Rev. Jenny Peek of the Pocatello UU Fellowship in Idaho said, “There’s the real enemy of a disease, (but there’s also) another enemy of isolation. A sense of loss and connectedness that can lead to despair, loneliness, and depression—so many of those things that are also societal ills.” A chance to connect can be, she said, “its own little inoculation against those ills.” (Idaho State Journal, March 19)

The Rev. Kate Lore of Quimper UU Fellowship in Port Townsend, Washington, writes that “the time seems ripe to consider the benefit of belly laughs.” (Peninsula Daily News, March 20)