UUs reached out, connected online during pandemic

UUs reached out, connected online during pandemic

Media roundup: A sampling of stories about Unitarian Universalists from other media, March–April 2020.

Staff Writer


When “ Pandemic,” a poem by the Rev. Lynn Ungar went viral, a Chicago Tribunecolumnist was curious about the poet who had written it. The columnist wrote: “sometimes emergency aid includes helpful words, and Ungar has given us some at a moment of need.” (March 13)

Writing for the Washington Post, the Rev. Galen Guengerich of the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City warned against xenophobia, saying that “the person is not the infection. When you conflate the two, you become susceptible to a moral disease, one that gets transmitted not by bodily fluids but by fear.” (March 14)

The UU Society of Geneva, Illinois, partnered with local businesses to reach out to those most vulnerable in their community, including splitting the cost of a homeless shelter meal with the restaurant that prepared it. (Daily Herald, April 11)

The UU Church of Lawton, Oklahoma, purchased an outdoor handwashing station for homeless people. (KSWO, April 8)

In a column for the Peninsula Daily News, the Rev. Kate Lore of Quimper UU Fellowship in Port Townsend, Washington, wrote that “it is precisely when life appears dim that we most need laughter in our lives.” (March 20)

The joys and sorrows of meeting online

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. María McCabe of the UU Fellowship of Harford County in Churchville, Maryland, pointed out a positive aspect of online services. “We are finding that using a virtual platform gives folks who are ill or have different kinds of accessibility issues an opportunity to participate,” she said. (Capital Gazette, April 2)

The Rev. Diana McLean of Peterborough UU Church in New Hampshire said, “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. Emily Wright-Magoon of the UU Church of Midland, Texas, said, “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, said: “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.” (Marin Independent Journal, March 22)

The Rev. Dr. 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.” (Port Charlotte Sun, March 20)

The Rev. Donna Renfro of the UU Church of the Brazos Valley in College Station, Texas, described online groups they created. “I intentionally did it randomly so that people go outside of their regular circles. . . . 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. Jenny Peek of 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 “its own little inoculation against those ills.” (Idaho State Journal, March 19)

As congregations shifted online, common digital problems occurred. The Rev. Ann Keeler Evans, minister of the UU Congregation of the Susquehanna Valley in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, experienced problems with hackers interrupting online meetings. (The Daily Item, April 5)

First Parish of Northfield, Unitarian in Massachusetts, held virtual services, and Homer “Tony” Stavely said, “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)