by Heather Diddel

Have any of you noticed how warm some of our days have become? Some of us love that, others of us prefer to see our breath in the air, but we all have to find a way to deal with the heat and humidity of the Capital District. It’s been a while since we have been in the sanctuary together, but you may still recall that when we move into the heat and humidity of late Spring and Summer in Albany, the sanctuary can get quite hot and, at times, rather stifling. So, a while back, the Church invested in air conditioning. While that has proved to be a noisy, less- than perfect system, it does provide relief and greater comfort for many.

This summer, cooling and closed windows poses a new issue for us: with COVID19 in the air (literally) in a room without fresh air, how do we keep our musicians and minister well-protected?

As our understanding about COVID19 evolves, it has become increasingly clear that physical distancing is really important (as is handwashing, etc.), particularly when we are indoors in rooms with closed windows. It is also clear that there is limited space at the front of the sanctuary where our musicians, minister and platform assistants do their thing. They have worked out an excellent approach to spacing, but given recent information about COVID19, it has dawned on us that it would be a wise safety measure to create more space for physical distancing when the windows close and the air conditioning is turned on.  This is particularly important during singing and vocalization.  (See link to recent NY Times article below *)

There are only two ways to create more physical space for the Sunday Service Team: (1)  knock out the back wall of the sanctuary  and expand into the cloak room or (2) remove two rows of pews from the front of the sanctuary. For a number of good reasons, the Board decided to remove two rows of pews.
So, when you tune into this week’s Sunday service, you will notice that there is more room up front for our musicians, minister and platform assistants. The first two rows of pews (on which many of us have sat for years) are now safely nestled in the garden room.

We expect to continue with remote Sunday services for a while. While NYS has done a great job of not only flattening the curve but bending it (which Governor Cuomo announced with pride and relief earlier this week), the virus is still real. There is no vaccine yet and no remedy. The best thing we can all do right now is stay as healthy and centered in the light as possible, and keep practicing physical distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing.  So, let’s all keep developing our remote access skills and comfort with going to Church on YouTube, singing with gusto at home, joining in heart-felt prayers and affirmations together, and sharing heart to heart in Zoom meetings, prayer hour and classes. Unity Church in Albany is up to the challenges and gifts of this time. We are rooted in Spirit, resilience, resourcefulness and loving! And so it is!

And in terms of our pews, please send them your loving thoughts and know that we will be back in touch as we go with The Flow. We trust that one of the many issues we will discuss as we go through Honoring Our Past, Creating Our Future (aka HOPCOF) is what kind of seating our congregation wants in the sanctuary as we move forward. We know how near and dear that issue is to a lot of us, so we will move forward in discernment at some point down the road when the time is right.  As always, the path becomes clear when we join together and trust The Flow to guide us. Onward and upward we go, together!

* From the June 9, 2020 New York Times:
When Will It Be Safe to Sing Together Again?
Choirs have been linked to several coronavirus outbreaks. And some scientists are skeptical about efforts to bring them back with protective measures.