Church of the River Coronavirus Update

(Updated July 25, 2020)

Our church building will remain cloased through at least September, 2020.

(Updated July 18, 2020)

All scheduled activities at the church are currently cancelled. No groups are meeting in person at the church, including AA. Ministries and small groups are not meeting at the church; please contact the Congregational Life Administrator to find out about alternative plans.

(Updated March 16, 2020)

Dear Church of the River family,

As sad as I am that none of us will be gathering at the river any time soon, I am also heartened by our staff, congregation, and minister’s response to the COVID-19 situation. Rev. Sam, Cindy, Lisa, Chris and Chuck have been hard at work creating guidelines and procedures to help us follow the current CDC recommendations as well as to help us remain as "together" as possible in this strange time! Please review all of the information below and do not hesitate to reach out to me or any staff member if you have any questions.

With strong hope that we will be together again soon,

Vickie Clark
President, Board of Trustees

(March 16, 2020)

All in-person gatherings cancelled for eight weeks:

In line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Unitarian Universalist Association and in an abundance of caution to protect vulnerable populations, all in-person activities at The Church of the River are cancelled now through May 11 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and this timeline may change as the situation evolves.

Alcoholics Anonymous meeting exception:

The one exception to the cancellation of gatherings is AA which may choose to continue to meet on Tuesday evenings. For those in recovery, the support needed and small-group size mean that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Rescheduling:

We are currently not rescheduling cancelled events but plan to do so at a later date when there’s more certainty about this situation.

COVID-19 Task Force:

We have established a COVID-19 response task force consisting of board members, staff members, and medical professionals in our congregation. They will continue to discuss church operations and make decisions on how to best serve the church and larger community during this time.

Online Worship:

For at least the next two Sundays (March 22 and March 29), we will continue the online worship service format in conjunction with Neshoba Church. With more time to plan these services, we hope to include music from both church choirs and additional content.

Contact Pastoral Care:

Staff and the Care Ministry Team are exploring ways to provide parish care and pastoral care at a distance. We created a new church email account for pastoral support (connections@churchoftheriver.org), that will be checked by several staff members, so that someone will be monitoring it at all times. If you have a pastoral need or information (not announcements) you would like to share with staff, please send those emails to the new email address.

Zoom for Group Meetings:

We are setting up a Zoom account to facilitate online meetings and small-group gatherings. More details to follow.

General Assembly:

As there is uncertainty about whether General Assembly will occur this summer, we have extended the deadline to apply to be a GA delegate until April 12. We will share any GA updates from the UUA.

eBlast:

We will continue to send the weekly eBlast on Thursdays. If you have announcements or other information to share with the congregation, please send the information to the church office (info@churchoftheriver.org) by noon on the Tuesday before publication.

Church Staff:

In line with our UU values and our dedication to economic justice, we will continue to pay our hourly and per-service staff members for the Sundays we cannot have in-person services. Those staff members will be creating digital church content to help us all remain connected while we are unable to gather in person. Core staff will be in the office occasionally during the building closing, but we will not maintain usual office hours and most of our staff will be working from home as much as possible.

Waste:

We have temporarily suspended our recycling and compost collection services. For staff and any others at church over the next eight weeks, please place all your waste in our regular city garbage receptacles.

Rentals:

We have begun the difficult task of notifying our wedding renters that the church will be closed to rentals for the next several weeks and possibly longer. We are offering the chance to reschedule, to receive a refund, or to be married in a small (couple and two witnesses only) ceremony at no charge by Rev. Sam.

Off-site meetings:

The task force recommends that church groups planning to meet off-site postpone those meetings, especially if those who might attend are in a vulnerable population. We recommend following CDC or state health department guidelines for gatherings.

Prevention Recommendations:

  • Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid close contact with other people, especially those who are ill or are in a vulnerable population (over 60, immunocompromised, or other underlying health conditions).
  • Stay home if you’re sick.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes and throw away tissue immediately.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces frequently.

Donations:

Online and text giving will continue to be available during online worship services. If you would like to set up a recurring donation or make a one-time gift, please visit the Online Giving Page on our website.