Seesawing through 2020

By Vivian Preston Sellers, Vice President, Board of Trustees

Ever played on a seesaw? It was one of my favorite playground items when I was a child. I still remember the fun and yet the fear. Who gets on first and holds it still for the other person? Who gets off first, and how do you keep the other person safe, not letting them hit the ground so hard? How can you go fast and still stay on? How can you maneuver your bodies on the see-saw, even if you are not the same weight, so that you both can perfectly balance, toes dragging the ground, sitting still and talking with one another?

Well, 2020 has been pretty much a seesaw for the Board at UUFA as it has for the congregants.  At the beginning of the calendar year, the previous Board was told by our minister that she would be leaving. “Boing!” We hit the ground with a crash, but working together, the Board led the congregation through the process of letting go and looking forward, going up and down with the seesaw of emotions the congregation felt. The interim search committee was formed, an interim minister found and hired, and the see-saw balanced for a bit–at least for that part of congregational life.

But COVID-19 has kept everyone seesawing since early in the year, particularly since March, when everything at the Fellowship went virtual. “Boing! Boing!” However, we pushed that see-saw up, balancing with the work of the Worship Arts and Celebrations team, our fabulous AV personnel, the staff, and the ministers to provide online services of quality and depth and to keep connections going through virtual meetings and social events.

The Board has been working since last spring and continues to work to create a plan that would allow folks to be as safe as possible, to balance that seesaw of our desire for three-dimensional contact with our need for physical safety, given current COVID-19 conditions.

At its August meeting, the Board voted not to accept the Phase One Guidelines as written and not to allow people to meet outdoors at the Fellowship as they had been doing under pilot programs set up by the prior Board because the current cases were again rising and UGA was about to begin fall semester. “Boing!”

Then, at its September meeting, the Board was advised by its medical advisory panel that small outdoor meetings could resume and services in the sanctuary could continue, using guidelines begun by a task force created in the spring (Barb Schell, Lee Cornell, Kelli McConnell, Amber Fetner, Rev. Alison Eskildsen, Shaye Gambrell) with updates and revisions suggested by the medical advisory panel, so the Board voted to allow those things to happen. “Boing!”

Hopefully, you have seen the announcement of the re-opening of the grounds to small (10 or less) group events. If not, look under the “News” section on the main menu of the UUFA website for more information including the guidelines for meeting.

The finding of balance during the time of COVID has been tremendously difficult. Does the Board allow folks to meet who may or may not follow the guidelines? Will we put into place all the guidelines necessary to keep folks as safe as possible? Can we balance mental health needs with physical safety? Do we rush through this process so as not to anger folks, or do we take our time and consider as many voices as possible? “Boing!”

The Board hopes that we will be able soon to find that balance on the seesaw of safety and desire for contact which we desire, where we’re on both ends, equally balanced, talking to one another, in person—but physically distanced—again.