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Church in the Time of Cholera (aka Covid-19)

By Grechen Wingerter, President of the Board of Trustees

Not an original title and paraphrased apologetically from Gabriel García Márquez, but it’s a place to start. Just like this blog is a place to start for me. It’s my first blog post as Westside UUC President of the Board of Trustees. But, it’s also my first blog post — ever. Who knew it would all happen during a global pandemic....

I’m three weeks into my tenure as Board President and already there are a myriad of things happening and decisions to be made. As a Board we are in the process of determining when, if, and how to move forward with re-opening our building to in-person services and activities. Stay tuned for more information about changes to times and platforms for our regular online Sunday services, small group outdoor in-person gatherings, and more long-range plans. All subject to change, of course, as we learn more about this virus and the effect it has on Knoxville. Just know that as we navigate through these changes, we are all doing our best to make sure all of our members and friends are able to connect with one another in ways they feel most comfortable doing at this time.

One of the issues I have been struggling with most recently is whether or not to send my kids back to school in person, or choose the virtual school option. Both choices have their positive draws. But both choices also have their negative drawbacks. It’s a bit like Sophie’s Choice. No matter what, there are major repercussions for either choice. I want my kids to be safe. I want their teachers, friends, and their families to be safe. I also want my kids to be able to return to some semblance of a regular routine. Four months — five months by the time they are set to start classes again — is a long time to have been away from school, friends, any sense of regularity. For all of us.

For now, we must all continue to navigate the “new normal”. We wear our masks. We keep six feet apart from strangers and people outside our immediate circle. We wash our hands frequently and carry hand sanitizer with us wherever we go. We pay attention to the latest data and do our best as a society to keep each other safe. That is the least we can do for the most of us.

There are still many challenges and decisions to be made in the coming weeks. No one has all the answers. Here at Westside we are doing our best to do what is best to foster community when we must still be vigilant about keeping safe distances physically. As such, we must continue to hold each other in our hearts and minds and reach out to each other in different ways.

Should you have any questions or concerns, or just need/want to chat, feel free to contact me at

Peace, love, and compassion.


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