UUA staff curate a library of resources to help congregations adapt to COVID-19; Pandemic Response Fund provides grants to local groups and religious professionals in need.
The UUA website now offers more than 130 resources for congregations responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo illustration © 2020 UUA; mikimad/iStock)
As COVID-19 began disrupting every part of life in the United States in March, the staff of the Unitarian Universalist Association rapidly assembled resources to help congregational leaders adapt. The UUA also launched new funding initiatives to aid local groups and religious professionals in need.
The ever-expanding resource guide for congregations (UUA.org/safe/pandemics) includes detailed advice for congregational leaders on staffing, fundraising, pastoral care, and many other aspects of church life in the midst of a global health crisis.
Members of the UUA’s Congregational Life staff began publishing COVID-19 resources on UUA.org in early March as they were also reaching out personally to the leaders of each of the UUA’s 1,000-plus congregations. The Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, program manager for Leadership Development, estimates that at least 130 different resources have been published in the first month of the crisis.
Many of these resources grew out of conversations that religious professionals are having with each other in their own networks. Ministers, religious educators, musicians, administrators, and lay leaders are brainstorming, collaborating, and offering support as they reimagine and transform worship, pastoral care, family programs, personnel policies, facility rentals, fundraising plans, and even the search process for new ministers.
The UUA’s Office of Church Staff Finances published recommendations on congregational staffing and finances on March 30, which include guidance on using new government programs that can help cover payroll and family or sick leave costs. The Church Staff Finances team has offered eight webinars and has assembled a guide to “Congregations as Employers During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Worship resources include a guide to offering a “Simple Online Sunday Morning,” with content, facilitation, and technical instructions; a comprehensive guide to online meetings and programs; and worship texts that reference COVID-19.
Pastoral care resources include guides to building a lay pastoral care network; offering memorials and funerals when people cannot assemble in groups; and distributing “grief kits.”
Religious education and faith formation resources include resources for religious educators and resources for parents.
The UUA is also raising funds for distribution through two existing grants programs. The COVID-19 Pandemic Response Fund is raising money for the UUA’s Disaster Relief Fund, which rapidly provides grants to local organizations through UU congregations, and the UUA’s Living Tradition Fund, which provides emergency assistance to ministers and religious professionals. The Rev. Lisa Presley said Disaster Relief Fund applications are reviewed each Friday, and payments are processed for approved applications the following Tuesday.
Some links have been updated.
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Christopher L. Walton is editor of UU World. He holds degrees from Harvard Divinity School and the University of Utah and is a member of the Church of the Larger Fellowship.