Dear WUUC Community,

This week marks one year since we had our Candidating Week (which was actually 12 days!), which ended in you voting and calling me to be your settled minister. That week was the first time I met many of you. It was the first time we worshipped together. And because of the pandemic, all of this happened virtually.

And here we are, a year later. We still haven’t worshipped together in our church building. With a few exceptions, I have still only met most of you virtually. A year ago, we had hopes that we would be able to gather again by now; but none of us knew how this last year would play out.

Who knew that wearing a mask would become politicized? Who knew that people would willingly resist a life-saving vaccine? Even now, with many folks in our community vaccinated (yay!), we still belong to a broader community. And unfortunately, in that broader community (King and Snohomish counties) we are likely about to go backwards in the reopening plan, from Phase III back to Phase II. This means that despite the vaccination efforts here, the number of COVID infections and hospitalizations is still too high, and they’re going up, not down.

And one more important thing to note: at the beginning of the pandemic, it was the older folks among us and those with previous health conditions who were most at risk. Now that all adults are eligible for the vaccine, it is our children and youth who are most threatened by COVID. And with variant strains of the virus emerging, our kiddos may be more at risk than we previously thought.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Health experts believe older kids may be able to be vaccinated by as soon as this fall, and younger kids by the end of the year, or possibly sooner. So while there is hope that the end is within reach, we’re not there yet. Even though it doesn’t feel fair, we have to double down and re-commit to the health of our community; because our Unitarian Universalist faith calls us to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. That certainly includes our children and youth.

Now here’s the hard part: It also includes those folks who won’t wear masks, and who won’t get vaccinated. I know it is harder to see the inherent worth and dignity in people who don’t see it in us, but we still have to try, because we live by our values, not theirs. We don’t have to agree with (or condone) their actions or choices. But we still have to see their humanity. And maybe (just maybe), a message delivered with compassion will reach them in a way that a message of confrontation won’t. So let’s be patient, and let’s be compassionate. It’s a tough time for everyone.

We are a resilient people. We will get through this, and better days are ahead. I look forward to the day we can be together. It’s not here yet, but it is coming soon. Blessed be that day.

Peace and Blessings,