On August 25th, the Board affirmed a recommendation from GGAT for a temporary pause in some of our indoor gatherings, specifically large meetings indoors. This includes Sunday services and all Sunday religious education classes (nursery, children’s RE, and Forum). See details below.

It’s been meaningful and joyful to gather on Sundays. This pause challenges us all to create new ways to gather as safely as possible outdoors on our beautiful grounds. The Worship Committee, Rev. Ed Brock, and the Tech Team are committed to holding outdoor services (weather permitting) as well as our regular Zoom Sunday service.

Leaders and staff are also leaning into this most recent and unwelcome change with intention to explore ways to be together that don’t depend on a traditional indoor experience. We’re hoping to collaborate with you all to offer new meaningful ways to be together in person outdoors. What’s your idea? How can leadership and staff help your committee or group make that happen?

We did not come to this decision lightly and it’s not one we were eager to make. Other organizations, and even some churches, continue with business as usual, but we’re trying to behave in accordance with our principles and respect the interdependent web of which we are a part.

GGAT and the Board will reevaluate conditions regularly. Be assured that we are using what we’re learning to return to large indoor gatherings as safely as possible as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience and grace as we navigate the challenges of rapidly changing conditions.

Temporary updated operating guidelines:

~Large indoor in-person gatherings, including Fellowship sponsored Sunday activities (worship services, forum and religious education for all ages), are suspended temporarily and should continue Zoom and outdoors (masked).

~Committees, small groups and other events/activities can meet indoors with in-person participation limited to 12 or fewer people. (Others may join via Zoom for multi-platform inclusion.)

~Everyone indoors, regardless of vaccination status must remain masked at all times. (One masking exception: Staff or Fellowship leaders working alone in a closed room may unmask.)

~Outdoor meetings and events, such as potlucks, are encouraged and should be scheduled with the Fellowship Administrator. Masks must be worn outdoors at large gatherings and during direct interactions with children under 12. Masking outdoors is optional among vaccinated adults but should be considered in the context of covenantal consent.

~Choir decisions are at the Music Director’s professional discretion.

~Decisions about rentals by outside groups are at the Fellowship Administrator’s professional discretion.

There’s just a short time left to collect a small amount of water from your summer travels—or a meaningful spot here at home—to contribute to our Homecoming and Water service on Sept. 12. If you want, you can drop your water off at the Fellowship by the morning of Sept. 12 so that it can be added to the communal bowl and waters from past services. Please email a photo and description of where you got your water to Rev. Ed at minister@uufws.org by Sept. 7. (Questions? Contact Julie Palm, keeper of the water.)

Can you help us improve our broadcasting and conferencing capabilities? If you haven’t already, please consider a donation to our Tech Fund for audio/video equipment.

As we begin to gather again, we carry with us what we learned from the pandemic experience. Among the most important of these lessons is the value of staying connected and how technology can play a vital role. There are many who, for a variety of reasons, will still be unable to participate in services, activities, and other events because they can not physically attend. Broadcasting our services and providing online conferencing for meetings offers them a way to be more engaged in the life of the Fellowship. It’s also an excellent way for someone to check us out before they walk through the doors.

We are raising funds to purchase equipment to make this possible. And right now, the next $4,000 in donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar by a generous member. You can make your contribution online using the Donate button at uufws.org (select Donate Online Now and Tech Fund from the menu) or sending a check to the Fellowship office (write “Tech Fund” on the memo line). If you have questions, please contact techteam@uufws.org. Thank you for your support!

Dear Ones,
Growing up, I was fortunate to live with my Gran and she helped build the foundation for my whole life. My Gran taught me to love and appreciate people. She taught me to work hard, make a joyful noise, and not to waste any of the life that I’ve been given. I’ve been extraordinarily lucky and I’m beyond grateful for the twenty years that I’ve spent in partnership with the Fellowship building relationships with so many beautiful souls. The many, many helpful hands and loving hearts in this community have made even hard work a joy. You have brought meaning and joy to the necessary task of earning a living. Thank you so much for the lovely and celebratory Worship Service, the many kind notes and emails, and the very generous gifts. I am completely overwhelmed by your kindness and generosity, and I look forward to discover how these next years unfold.
Much love,
Pam Lepley

We expect that anyone who can be vaccinated is fully vaccinated. Masks are required at all times for the unvaccinated.

For the time being, we ask everyone to wear a mask in the common areas, such as the foyer, halls, kitchen, bathrooms and Fellowship Hall. However, if you are meeting in the library or classrooms, you may remove your mask if

1) you are comfortable doing so,
2) there are no children in the room, and
3) everyone in the room agrees.

Masks are required throughout the building (for ages 3 and up) during Sunday services. Until children can be vaccinated, everyone must remain masked in all indoor spaces on Sundays.

Masks are not required outside unless you are close to children.

Questions? Email the Fellowship Board at board@uufws.org.

At a special meeting on June 3, the Board voted on a phased plan for reopening the building and for funding tech improvements needed for their commitment to a multi-platform approach to gathering. This approach will allow us to do in-person and virtual services, events and activities going forward. The Board vote upholds our vision, mission, and covenant to each other.

Details of the phased plan are in this June 4th email from the Gathering Guidance Advisory Team (GGAT). Be sure to fill out an announcement request form here to reserve indoor or outdoor meeting space. And look for ALL HANDS on DECK announcements with specific ways you can contribute to our community regathering!

We wept, as we’re sure many of you did, with the loss of each of the three large oak trees that have died in the front of UU grounds lately. We wondered, was it old age, the stress of global warming, or some disease that was causing this loss. Even more important, was there anything we could do to slow the death of our remaining beloved trees.

Recently we had a complementary visit from Mark & Sam, two tree experts from the Forsyth County Forestry Office. When not fighting fires, they visit residents who are experiencing tree problems. They’re especially on the lookout for the spread of a disease called oak wilt.

The good news is: they saw nothing wrong with our oaks, other than a few lightening strike scars and some advancing age. So, like many of us, the oaks are just getting on in years. They recommended that we feed our oaks a bit of nitrogen for good health and be sure to clean our pruning tools with alcohol. Otherwise, they recommended our best course of action is succession planning by planting small trees on the edge of treed areas where they will get the most sun.

Most of our existing oaks are white oaks which are slow growing but long lived trees. We could replant with those or use faster growing red oaks. Another option would be sugar maples for pretty fall color. Any of these would make nice memorial trees. But, they would have to be small trees. The foresters said trees fare better when planted small so they acclimate to their new soil as youngsters.

We hate loosing our big old majestic oaks, but at least we can rest assured that we didn’t miss an opportunity to extend their lives. This summer, please take time to stroll around our beautiful property and appreciate the beauty of nature.

Sue & Rich Freeman, Grounds Coordinators

The members of our Fellowship voted with an overwhelming majority at the May 23 congregational meeting to pass a resolution to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030, with the long term goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. We also resolved to utilize 70% clean and renewable energy by 2030.

This resolution was modeled after the resolutions passed by the Forsyth County Commissioners and the Winston-Salem City Council, as well as inspired by the Paris Climate Agreement. “We see it as a challenge, but one that rapidly changing technology will make possible,” says Kathy Johnson, Co-Chair of the Fellowship’s EcoSolutions Team. “We hope our efforts will be emulated by other churches and organizations in the Triad.”

The UU Fellowship has long been recognized as a leader in the community on environmental and justice issues. We were the first church in Winston-Salem to utilize solar panels, which were installed in 2014. The Fellowship has also made other sustainable decisions, such as installing high-efficiency heating and air conditioning equipment, composting food scraps, and eliminating disposables such as coffee cups, plates, utensils and napkins. On our grounds we have installed a bioretention cell, or rain garden, to naturally filter runoff from their parking lot and planted native plants and flowers to support pollinators.

“The climate crisis is the single biggest threat to humanity” says the Reverend Ed Brock, the Fellowship’s Interim Minister. “We have been exploring the many sides of this crisis, and its intersections, in both our Worship Services and classes. I am proud of the commitment the congregation has made to take action and exhibit leadership on this issue. I will continue to integrate the work of climate and environmental justice into my sermons and into all I do.”

To read the full resolution, visit https://tinyurl.com/sma7d954

For many Mondays during the pandemic, Fellowship members and friends have gathered on the grounds for a Tai Chi class led by Misako Kay. Misako has generously shared her time and talent with us, and she is willing to consider offering the class again in the future if there’s interest. Here are some of the testimonials from regular participants:

“Thank you, Misako! We have enjoyed every session and are so grateful for your willingness to teach and guide us.”
~Andi and Ken Ostberg

“Misako, it was so generous of you to provide these classes for us! I enjoyed and benefited from them and look forward to taking more classes from you in the future.” ~Kathy Johnson

“Tai Chi has been so helpful for improving balance and strength. Thank you Misako; I greatly appreciated your classes.”
~Deborah Strube

Thank you, Misako. And thank you, Helen Etters, for your help in safely coordinating a Fellowship activity in a pandemic!

The UU Fellowship of Winston Salem continues to maintain an active social justice focus. We are specifically concentrating on opportunities to enhance racial equity in and around the Winston Salem/Forsyth County area, but may see the need to combine our voice with those of others in calling for justice on a wider scale. We enjoy a strong partnership with the UU North Carolina Justice and Legislative Advocacy action network, known as Forward Together. Forward Together allows us to network with other UU congregations across the state in pursuit of effective social actions and relevant justice issues.

Our Social Action Council (SAC) meets monthly, on the second Sunday of the month at 12:30 pm, and everyone is welcome to attend. We’ve been meeting on Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic response, but when the building re-opens, we’ll consider meeting in person again. Please see the Fellowship calendar for more information.