In March of 2020, our Ethical Society, like so many institutions, suddenly shifted how it operated. It was a crisis, and we had to shift right away, without time for planning. What followed was a mixture of adaptation and innovation, with individuals and our Society trying to survive and do the best we could with what we had.
Now it’s time to emerge. Not to “come back,” “return,” “reopen,” because it will not be quite the way it was. There will be minor and major changes.
We currently plan to emerge to in-person meetings in September 2021, including having our major space-sharers back in the building. We’re still not able to plan every detail. What will the effect be of the delta variant? Already cases are rising precipitously. What will the effect be of cold weather, when contagious infections usually rise considerably? We don’t fully know. We don’t even know exactly what the public health recommendations will be in September.
Flexibility is probably the most important word at this time. Not the flexibility of “anyone does whatever they want to do,” but the flexibility of, as a community, bending without breaking, responding to and adapting to the circumstances we find.
To be flexible, we’ll likely also be in an experimental mode. When we shifted our Sunday meetings to completely virtual, we chose to continue many of the elements of our Sundays that built connection. In person, it may be harder to do that, especially indoors. So we’ll try some alternatives. We’ll try to be inclusive of those who cannot or don’t choose to be at in-person meetings, with a virtual component that is active, not passive. We appreciate kind, constructive feedback, about what works and doesn’t work. We recognize that some changes will be frustrating and sometimes they won’t work at all or work for everyone equally.
I’ve spoken before on Sundays about the between-time with transitions. The old we know has to go, the new we don’t yet know or aren’t used to.
For last year’s words
belong to last year’s language.
And next year’s words
await another voice.
~ T.S. Eliot
What won’t change are our values and identity as a community. Our focus is on inspiring ethical living, in our personal lives and in the wider culture. Our key values are human worth and human relationships. Our commitment is to deed above creed. Our journey is lifelong ethical growth and learning. Our hope is to renew ourselves and the world. Our invitation is to find community and a welcoming home. Our future is in building an ethical culture together.