As Austin and our surrounding communities see an uptick in Covid cases (the New York Times reports a +381% change in the 14 day average of daily cases in Travis County, and the City of Austin reports a 7 day moving average of new hospital admissions at 33), I want to give you an update on our UBC guidelines. The Covid Response Team has been working hard, analyzing data and prayerfully considering what the rise in cases and hospitalization, as well as the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant, mean for us as a congregation. Here are a few things for you to know:
- Vera Lee’s Memorial Service will go on as planned this Saturday at 1 1am. Masks and distancing will be required, and we will ask everyone to move outside to the Guadalupe St. sidewalk immediately after the service to express your condolences and visit with the family.
- Sunday morning worship will continue both in-person and online, so long as Austin remains under Stage 3 Covid guidelines. If we move to Stage 4 between now and Sunday, we will pause our in-person gathering and ask that everyone participate in worship online. If that happens, you’ll receive another email letting you know!
- We realize that Austin already meets some of the main criteria for Stage 4, and Austin news outlets are reporting that a move to Stage 4 is imminent. Even if we are in Stage 3 on Sunday, you are encouraged to worship online if you are feeling ill, or if you have any concerns about underlying health conditions or unvaccinated children or anything at all. God is present with and among us, no matter how we gather!
- New guidelines that are going into effect at UBC now:
- A pause on unmasked in-person gatherings – This primarily affects the choir, God’s Family Dinner (who will serve to-go boxes instead of inviting guests inside), and Soul Food Sunday.
- Masks will be required during the workweek for all staff and volunteers, regardless of vaccination status, when working with others or in shared spaces.
I know that things are uncertain, and it is so disappointing to feel like we are moving backward, but we will get through this together! Anna’s image of the labyrinth in her sermon last Sunday is a good one for us to hold onto: We may feel like we’re making a turn away from the center, but if we keep following the path, we’ll get there eventually. In the meantime, I am so grateful to serve a church that prioritizes care for each other and for our community. You are a shining light of God’s love, even when it’s difficult, and I love you all!
Grace to you, and peace,
Rev. Natalie Webb