Dear WSUU Friends,
The board continues to be busy with several different projects and we are pleased to provide an update. We met this past Thursday and talked about many things, include revisiting COVID policies and discussing the future of RE programs in light of staff changes.
As you probably read in last week’s Westside Week, we agreed to plan for in-person worship at WSUU beginning on December 5. We are deeply grateful for the work of the COVID Task Force (Liz Berggren, Jill Jackson, Amanda Maier, and Chris Hollinger), who have spent many hours reviewing safety guidelines and public health recommendations and requirements. They also reviewed the results of the congregational survey—we had 127 responses! Overwhelmingly, respondents reported that they are vaccinated and interested in returning to in-person worship with appropriate safety measures like masking and social distancing. The board discussed their recommendations and consulted with staff, and we believe it is time to provide an option for in-person worship (folks can also continue to join virtually). This timing gives staff and volunteers time to prepare and gives us a few weeks of worship before the holidays.
Last month, we wrote about the departure of Rev. Cynthia Westby, Director of Religious Exploration, and Cheryl Brown, RE Assistant. Since we continue to get questions about this, we will share again that they both resigned and indicated that job changes requested of them recently resulted in their jobs no longer being the right fit for them. Some of you have asked for additional information. There are some limitations on what we can say about HR matters. In this case, communication challenges and differing ideas about how to right-size the responsibilities of the DRE given the reduction in hours contributed to staff dissatisfaction. Rev. Christopher has developed an interim plan for RE using guest speakers to provide children’s programming and engaging in a planning process as outlined here. RE children and youth programs will continue to be a priority for our congregation, and we invite you to reflect on what role you could play in rebuilding a stronger program.
We also enjoyed talking with Leilani about learnings and resources from General Assembly. With GA coming to Portland in June 2022, there is a special opportunity to have a larger contingent from Westside attend, and attendees can join in-person or virtually. Consider whether you might want to participate and mark your calendar for June 22-26. We are also looking at how we can identify our GA Delegates further in advance this year.
Thank you for taking the time to read our update. We look forward to connecting with you in the coming months, and perhaps even being in the same room together with some of you.
Warmly, WSUU Board of Trustees