Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence

Virtual Tour

Through their Facebook page, the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence advertise Covid-safe events like this storytelling event, Telebration!

 

As Andrea Reber said during her Emotional Intelligence speech, “despite our differences in skin color and class, we can connect deeply by being deeply human together. What a gift”. This is what Unitarian Universalists are all about, even after our world was struck with COVID. Never did anyone imagine a global pandemic to hit our world so quickly, wiping out more than a million people and shutting down countries, causing us to live in isolation.. We wish we were able to be on our school campus, or go outside without worrying about contracting or spreading the virus, hoping for that little bit of social interaction we miss. However, although the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence has been deprived of in-person gatherings that create the spiritual connection that brings them all together, the pandemic has not stopped them from connecting to their faith and advocating for equality.

 

The Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence has found a way to still be connected despite the pandemic, and it’s via Zoom just like the rest of us! Every Sunday at 10am Eastern Time, the congregation meets via web chat for their weekly service. Before service begins, people are allowed to turn on their cameras and greet each other via the chat function, bringing in a sense of comfort and joy seeing familiar faces one has not seen in so long. Opportunities are given to members to share a reading, story, or even be invited into the sanctuary to sing hymns, in limited numbers, masked, and socially distanced, of course. Usually, after the service, the congregation engages in coffee hour. However, members now participate in this activity through small breakout groups to which they are randomly assigned for informal conversation and connection.

 

One would think that during this pandemic, people would participate less without the in-person aspects of hymns, community, and prayer; however this is not the case with The Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence. Alongside regular services with hymns, time for greeting, sermons, and many other aspects of in-person services, every other week the congregation engages in small group conversations. These conversations consist of about seven to eight people who share their stories and concerns, while focusing on a particular theme. In addition, the congregation has organized a phone tree, where congregants call one another in an organized manner, for “personal connection” to as many people within the community as possible. With services and activities now being organized via Zoom, individuals who do not live in the Northampton area are able to participate which has also increased attendance and activity within the congregation. The congregation has also organized other ways members can help each other with daily needs. For example, because some people might not be able to go outside or are in more of a risk for Covid, some members are able to help you with any necessary shopping.   

 

At the start of the pandemic, the congregation appointed a small team including a minister and religious educator to help guide and instruct them in the events following the pandemic. This team aids in drafting guidelines for use of the building and other provisions to maintain the health and safety of staff and members. Through all this, the team follows state and local recommendations and drafts guidelines that are approved by the congregation’s board. 

 

Due to Zoom making it easier for those who may not be able to attend in person service, the congregation is certain that they will continue to offer services on-line once in person worshipping is allowed. It is also likely that they will still use Zoom on the regular for meetings of committees and groups. 

 

In all, Unitarian Universalists are peaceful people who focus on being accepting of others, no matter who you are. They believe we can put our differences aside, and there should be no valid reason as to why we all can not get along. Unitarian Universalists strive for a world filled with joy and love. This congregation has been striving to advocate and fight for equal rights since its birth, and despite the pandemic hitting, this community is still racing to help bring people together.

YouTube Page for The Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence