Updates about Union Church’s Response to COVID-19

March 17, 2020 Updates

  • You can find Union Church on Facebook. Many announcements are here and this new group is a spot for conversation and connection.
  • You can find last week’s sermon from Grant on “Improvisation, Risk and Collaboration” here and a presentation to lead you through a time of prayer and reflection here on those themes here.
  • Stephen C Edwards and Stephen Uhl will be livestreaming a hymn sing on Wednesday, March 18, at 1:00pm. Look to the Union Church facebook page for the hymns so you can sing along, or e-mail Stephen Edwards at sedwards at uchinsdale (dot) org.
  • Our middle school youth group will be meeting virtually tomorrow, 3/18, from 4:00-5:00pm. Contact Grant Glowiak at gglowiak at uchinsdale (dot) org for more information, or just logon!
  • Please complete this form to help us assess what gifts and needs our community has.
  • If you’re looking for immediate ways to help, check out this update from Hinsdale Community Services.
  • Join us in worship via livestream (and live chat!) of our 10:00am worship this coming Sunday, March 22nd, here. Once again, the livestream will open at around 9:55am.
  • The church office will be closed and most staff working largely remotely for the time being. We are intending to reassess the situation on Thursday, March 26.  We will be checking voicemail periodically, but email or cell phones are the best way to catch us!
  • More resources for the children in our community are still to come, but for now, check in with Michael’s Music Machine, on facebook live and instagram, each weekday.  UCECP kids will remember Michael from this fall’s Big Day Programming, and others from last year’s VBS!

March 12, 2020

Dear ones in Christ,

I am not one of those people who routinely laments what I didn’t learn in seminary. After a childhood and youth spent in the church and more than fifteen years in pastoral ministry, in a host of varied contexts, there isn’t much that surprises me.  But I will confess, I did not ever anticipate having to write a note such as this: about what our congregational leadership has decided to do in the midst of a global pandemic.

To be clear, at the moment, no one in our community has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. But all the best information suggests that the disease is spreading widely and quickly, and can be especially dangerous for the elderly and those with other immune deficiencies or health complications. Given the particulars of our life together as a congregation – the ways we gather and the informality of many of our gatherings – it is difficult for us to regulate interactions in a way that, say, our preschool and other schools can avoid (with limiting who is in classrooms, enforcing handwashing, increasing disinfecting procedures, etc.).  Indeed, UCECP follows the guidelines of the Department of Health, CDC, and school district and is thus able to stay open while determining this decision on a day to day basis.  

 As a congregation, however, the biggest and most effective intervention we can offer our community is enforcing “social distancing” before any infection has been confirmed in our community.  Given the incubation period and gradual onset of this infection, if we want to “flatten the curve” (limit the scope and severity of the pandemic), we need to act in advance of the virus’s movement.

The Union Church staff, in consultation with our moderator, Marilyn Johnson, and other church leaders, (and with input from Mike Solberg) have come to the decision to suspend in-person gatherings at Union Church, including Sunday worship, effective immediately and through the end of March. We will reassess risk at that time (and during the coming weeks) and either resume Sunday worship and other activities or extend the break.

This decision is not made lightly, and brings with it a host of complications, challenges, and disappointments. We will be live-streaming 10:00 Sunday worship on March 15th, 22nd, and 29th, and will not gather in-person.  You will be able to access the services via this link and the sermons will be available on Monday, as always, on the Union Church youtube channel.  The website will be the first and best source for up to date information.

While we will be practicing “social distancing,” our staff and other leaders are working tirelessly to help us stay connected as a community of faith. We will be posting online resources – videos, music, devotions, prayers and activities, ways of talking to your kids about pandemics! Tips for managing anxiety and fear — available for pastoral care via phone or online chat, and reaching out to those who are self-quarantining. The building will be open (and the preschool still in session for the time being, as they follow the District 181 calendar for the most part), but we will be asking all other church groups not to meet.

We will also need your help and faithfulness. Can you check in with folks over the phone? Deliver groceries or supplies to those with limited resources or mobility? Help the staff know who is in need of a phone call or other support?

I missed worship on Christmas Eve because my whole household had been diagnosed with the flu; now we are wondering if the most danger will have passed by Easter. We are postponing special music and making both short- and long-term plans. But we are also hoping that this time can be used to help us strengthen our connections in new and creative ways; can help us to minister to one another and worship together in ways we’d never thought to imagine.

Please feel free to reach out to me at bmccleneghan@uchinsdale.org with any questions or concerns and watch this space and your email for more information. Thank you for your faithfulness. We’re all in this together, in this new and strange story of our life.

Grace, Peace, and Hope to you,

Rev. Bromleigh McCleneghan