by Maureen McNair
Thanks so to hundreds of individual donors, our South Bay Food Pantry will continue operating in a new space once in-person services resume at our Chula Vista campus.
We are not moving far, either. We are staying in the same strip mall as the worship space and social hall. In fact, we will be moving into the suite adjacent to the social hall. So, our South Bay church is expanding its footprint.
This is a time of hope and looking forward. Our team's "reopening" label isn't quite the right word. We as a community are more like turning a corner, embracing the challenges of a new future for First Church.
First, we recognize new concerns about Covid variants being more powerful and easier to pass on, about vaccines being our great savior but not quite 100% effective. With an eye on science and faith in human resilience we're willing right now to say OK to certain future plans, knowing anything and everything can change. If so, we'll just have to deal with it.
"Soft reopening" is a phrase being used for where to start. It means in-person worship service, but not Religious Education, youth group, or social hour just yet. Our beloved Rev. Kathleen's final service will be on August 22. We've okayed the worship planning people to prepare for in-person worship on that day, in the Meeting House, with all of us wearing masks. (Services are open to the public and we can't assure everyone will be vaccinated.) On August 29 we've okayed a similar plan for in-person worship but no other "normal" aspects of gathering together. Rev. Arvid Straube has graciously agreed to lead this service. Masking will be required for everyone.
We do encourage families to come, we'll have some activities available for youngsters who want to play while the adults worship. (Or the other way around!) Families, please come.
We'll have more to say about any additional protocols. For now, consider the dates, and consider whether you might want to come: a survey will be forthcoming later this week.
On September 5 we've given the green light to a "grand" reopening service, led by our Social Justice Ministry Team. This will include an in-person meet-and-greet with our transitional minister, Rev. Michael Brown. This will be a coffee and socializing Sunday, pretty much the whole deal (with some protocols).
While we'd love to give the go-ahead to South Bay for a similar start-up, this can't happen until October when the Food Pantry is relocated and space is freed up for services. In September, the plan is to meet for services at a park in South Bay; details will be announced in August.
A survey about interest in attending in-person services will be reaching you. More details about times, on-line alternatives, how we'll continue to stay safe, plans for Rev. Kathleen's going-away, all of that will be coming. For now, please enjoy the moment, and enjoy the steps forward we'll all be taking.
UU's in action! SOLACE volunteer Farrah Karapetian teamed with Rebecca Merton, Freedom for Immigrants staff to write a multi person medical and mental health neglect report. The result is that Otay Mesa Detention Center asylum seeker S. received the MRI he needed and was enabled to get help from a law firm to file a stronger request for disability accommodations at Otay Mesa Detention Center. Learn more about our SOLACE program.
by Maureen McNair
One of the things weighing on my mind as I planned the food distribution for last week was whether or not the food pantry would end up with more perishable food than we could distribute. We had over 1,800 pounds of fresh potatoes, apples, and tomatoes, a few hundred pounds of food from Starbucks, and about 400 pounds of bread. On any given Saturday, we can easily distribute that much perishable food along with many hundreds of pounds of frozen meat and dry goods.
Our experiences with small group meetings are going well. No major issues have arisen, and we feel more confident about how other meetings may go. Any other small groups that wish to begin to meet on campus should apply for permission through Robie Evans. Church groups are free to meet off campus. Vaccinations are recommended. Mask wearing should continue. Of course anyone with symptoms should not participate. Each group leader should keep track of those who attend. Larger groups, up to about 30 people, will now be permitted to meet on campus. Please apply through Robie Evans to get the okay. The on-campus mask "mandate" continues, along with the other recommendations set out for small groups. The church has acquired a portable sound system which could help facilitate large group meetings.
By Maureen McNair
Feeding San Diego recently gifted our food pantry with over 2,800 pounds of watermelons. Our pantry clients were thrilled to receive such a classic summer fruit.
Our volunteers worked too hard for words! I am calling out Steve Gelb here, with gratitude. Steve rode his bike from Mission Valley to Chula Vista, lifted many melons, then rode his bike back home!
By Maureen McNair
The City of Chula Vista honored the pantry with a public service award during this ﬁrst full year of operations. Here is what some of our amazing volunteers accomplished during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The South Bay Food Pantry continues to squat in the three suites that comprise the Chula Vista campus which has been closed to other uses during the pandemic. A team of over 50 volunteers have distributed over 300,000 pounds of free food and over 33,550 free diapers.
We’re happy to share the very good news that Rev. Michael Brown is coming to serve as Transitional Lead Minister from September – December. He will focus on preaching, pastoral care and Board support. He looks forward to meeting members and friends of the congregation beginning on Sunday, September 5. After December, other transition ministers will come between January – June and your Board will keep you posted on this as we continue to work with the UUA’s Transition Office. We look forward to working with Rev. Brown and are excited about his arrival. Rev. Brown writes that he recently completed a 27-year ministry at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Peoria, a pre-civil war church with Universalist roots. During Rev. Brown’s tenure the church grew by nearly 250 adult members, built a new church home, played a leadership role in the community, and received the UUA’s Breakthrough Congregation award. Rev. Brown was a co-founder of the local Interfaith Alliance and received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Leadership Award. After retiring as Minister Emeritus, he and his spouse, lifelong UU Diane F. Brown, moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to start a new path, but that path unexpectedly led him to First UUSD for a new chapter of ministry. He joins us with a sense of excitement, appreciation of our congregation, and readiness to serve in a time of transition and new possibilities for caring, community and transforming action.
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