April 24, 2020

Pastoral Message

Dear Beloved Community,

It has been over a month since I wrote to you with a “sense of sadness, abiding hope, and a heart full of love for our Beloved Community.” At that time I was announcing our decision to suspend all in-person gatherings and programs. As I revisit that e-mail I am reminded that we agreed to reassess the situation as of April 13th. That day has come and gone. As some of you know from joining Vespers with me on Tuesday through Friday at 5:00 p.m., I have adopted the phrase “the weirds” as a shorthand for this current moment. I have also been naming the small aha moments when I realize that my earlier expectations of the progress of COVID-19 and our human response need to change, sometimes drastically, “COVID moments.” My sense that we would somehow be together just after Easter is a distant memory as I and we continue to adapt. Governor Whitmer today extended the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, and obviously as a religious community deeply committed to an ethic of care and love, we will not be resuming any in-person programming any time soon. We will continue to use YouTube and Facebook for worship and Zoom for coffee hour, Vespers, and many other small group engagements (see this e-mail for information about all of those).

Our Pastoral Assistants and other volunteers have called everyone in our directory, and we will be doing that again very soon. If you did not receive a call or message please contact the church at office@uulansing.org so we can update our database with your new information.

For at least a year or more (COVID moment), our lives and how we engage as a religious community will be shaped by the timeline as set by COVID-19. This will be further impacted by the actions and decisions of ourselves, other individuals, communities, and governments. There is no timeline. Navigating what are now life-and-death decisions will take faithful discernment of ever-changing circumstances and responding as best we can with the best knowledge and understanding we have in the moment. The health and safety of all our beloveds and the greater humanity is a calling which we take seriously and will to continue to prioritize.

And in all this we continue to be called to incarnate the values and mission of our religious community. Now, possibly more than ever, our saving message of love and justice is needed within ourselves, UU Lansing, and beyond. May we together continue to make it so.

The ever-changing expectations and adaptations are emotionally, physically, and spiritually taxing, draining, and exhausting. We need one another. May we ensure that no one in our religious community feels alone. Please continue to reach out to each other in the ways that you can. Please reach out to me if you have needs. Because of your generosity the Ministerial Discretionary Fund is available for me to, on behalf of the congregation, support those who may be financially challenged for one reason or another.

Be gentle with yourselves, be gentle with each other.

With abiding love for you all,
Rev. Neal

 


March 14, 2020

Dear Beloveds,

It has been a few days since I wrote you about our decision to suspend all in person programs of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing. I know that this is a great disappointment for all. Tomorrow was to be our much anticipated Youth led worship. I am so saddened that we will not have the opportunity to worship with the youth of UU Lansing tomorrow. The youth have been assured that when we can return to being together on Sunday morning they will have priority for when their worship is rescheduled.

The anxiety that has come with this public health emergency is palpable. I am hoping that each one of us finds just a little space to touch the ground of our being. A spiritual practice can be comforting in difficult times.

I have posted below the most recent information about Worship, Joys and Sorrows, and Pastoral Care.

You can view this Sunday’s worship service anytime on our website.

blessings,

Rev. Neal
Join us for worship tomorrow morning via our website.

It will also be posted on our Facebook page.

If you would like to post a Joy or Sorrow on our website page please fill out this form.

Go here to view congregants’ joys or sorrows on our website.

If you are in need of pastoral care, please call the church at 517-351-4081 ext. 102 to leave a message on our Pastoral Care Hotline, which is monitored, or e-mail Rev. Neal at revneal@uulansing.org


A Message from the Rev. Neal Anderson

March 11, 2020

Dear Beloveds,

It is with a sense of sadness, abiding hope, and a heart full of love for our Beloved Community that I write you today. With the support of the Board and the staff of UU Lansing, we are suspending all in-person programs of our religious community until at least April 13 (this includes Sunday morning worship, RE, Adult RE, Circle Suppers, Community Circles, Mapping Our Future Together, Chris Crass Weekend, Music Program, and all other UU Lansing programs). The Board, Senior Minister, and staff will reassess the situation at this time and inform the congregation of further action.

I invite all of us to be part of “flattening the curve” and suspend all of our in-person gatherings whether at UU Lansing or at other locations.

It is during these times of deep concern and high anxiety that we need each other most. And yet the current public health emergency necessitates us to be physically separated for the time being.

We know that our religious community is not just a building but the abiding promises that we make to each other to care and support each other on our journeys and the values we incarnate together. I with the staff and program leaders are working to create ways that we can stay proximate without being physically together. We will be letting you know soon various ways we can gather “virtually.” Watch for ways our committees, teams, and ministries can meet remotely.

In the recent Mapping Our Further Together gatherings, we have begun to answer the question together, “What does it mean to be a community with courageous, vulnerable, loving relationships and where could that take us in the future?” Our experience as a religious community in responding to the current public health emergency will certainly inform these conversations into the future.

The staff and I will continue to work from our offices and/or home through this time as we continue our ministries of administration, communication, engagement, religious education, pastoral care, worship, and serving the mission of UU Lansing. We are all working on how to adapt our ministries to the current reality. We will still be available via e-mail and phone during our individualized work hours.

I also invite all of us to be gentle through this time. May we be gentle in our e-mails, gentle in our interactions on social media, and especially, especially gentle with each other.

This is another opportunity to practice supporting the institutions, like the church, that are necessary in these times.

Please, please take care of yourself and each other now, so that we may take care of each other in the future.

blessings,

Rev. Neal

P.S. If you are in need of pastoral care, please call the church at 517-351-4081 ext. 102 to leave a message on our Pastoral Care line, which is monitored, or e-mail me at revneal@uulansing.org