With excitement and caution, we have begun truly hybrid worship services - welcoming congregants into the Sanctuary to worship in-person alongside a virtual congregation on zoom. 
     In order for us to be as safe as possible,  all in-person attendees (over age 2) will need to be masked, with social distancing between households. We are also encouraging in-person attendees encouraged to be fully vaccinated. While the vaccines do not completely prevent getting a COVID infection, they are very effective at keeping infections mild, and thus keeping people out of our overloaded hospitals and ICUs. We encourage everyone to get not only initial vaccinations but also boosters as recommended for them to be considered “fully vaccinated.”
     Weather-permitting, we will hold a pared down outdoor coffee hour after the service, and though Children's Religious Education is still on hold, we hope to offer children's programming soon as well. 
 
How are we making this decision?
Based on the feedback from the congregation, our re-opening team has recommended welcoming back a limited number of congregants for in-person worship alongside our zoom worship starting on October 3rd, 2021. We are following the COVID-19 risk data at https://covidactnow.org/, and intend to continue to hold limited in-person worship as long as we remain in the orange, or "high," risk level for a week prior to the service in question. If we need to return to completely virtual worship (due to increased risk) or loosen our restrictions (due to lowered risk), we will share that in our weekly E-Beacon and on our website, www.philauu.org. There is no way for us to eliminate the risk of COVID-19 entirely, but an informal survey of the congregation indicated we are over 90% vaccinated, and with the precautions we are putting in place, we hope the chance of COVID-19 being transmitted in worship is very low.
 
What will in-person worship look like?
We are making a number of adjustments to the way we used to worship in person to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission. In addition to universal masking (above age 2) and social distance between households, we are asking those who attend to affirm that they are either fully vaccinated or have received a negative COVID-19 test within the last week. With masking and distancing in place, the live congregation will be invited to sing.
     We are striving to minimize the places and ways that we used to find ourselves in close quarters - therefore we will hold a simplified coffee hour outdoors, will keep our offering mostly virtual with text-based giving, and will not hand out orders of service. Though it will be hard, we are asking congregants not to hug or shake hands and honor social distancing at all times in our building. Some of our worship leadership will take place live from the Sanctuary, and some of it will continue to take place in congregant's homes or in a pre-recorded videos shared on a large screen in the sanctuary.
     Otherwise, worship will look similar to the way it used to look before the pandemic, and in our virtual services - we will hear warm, spiritually nourishing, and inspiring messages from lay leaders and our ministers, be moved by the music from our choir and band, pray and meditate together, and build community through our rituals. No matter whether you come in person or online, we hope you will join us!

 

Children's Religious Education 
We have begun outdoor Religious Education programming for children. We are also offering childcare every Sunday during service. We are asking all parents interested in RE to fill out this survey. Questions? Contact Rev. Hannah Capaldi, Minister for Faith Formation, at revhannah@philauu.org
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