ASCU's COVID Information

Current as of 12/21/2021

Dear All Souls,
From the beginning of this pandemic, your Executive Team and staff have relied on two core values: caring for the community coupled with scientific advice.  This week, we met with and heard concerns expressed by a small group of lay leaders who are physicians and involved with helping to shape Covid policy for the Federal Government.   Their medical advice and opinion was sobering.  Their advice to us was to avoid all large, in-person gatherings. 
Both the Delta and the new Omicron variant is among us and it is breaking through to even those who are vaccinated and have received a booster shot.  We are deeply concerned about the long-term effects of Covid, particularly among children and elders.   
After consultation and deep reflection, it is with a heavy heart that we concluded that we too must cancel our plans for an in-person pageant and in-person Christmas Eve services at 4 PM and 10 PM respectively.  We did not come to this decision lightly or unadvisedly.  Yet, it is because we love you and care for you that we believe it is unwise to continue with a service that could potentially be a super-spreader event.  
So, we will offer a virtual service on Zoom.  On Friday, December 24th, you are invited to gather at 6:30 PM for conversation and prelude music.  Our virtual service will begin at 7:00 PM.  We pledge to offer you that sense of connection and hope and a meaningful Christmas Eve that is safe and will bring us together, even while forcing us to remain apart.  The link for the service can be found on the church’s home page.  
Dear Ones, we understand how difficult these times are.  This is exactly why we need church and why we need each other.  We will get through this, together.  We will emerge and we will once again sing and laugh and be joyous together.  But for now, your health, well-being and safety is our first priority. Thank you for understanding and for continuing to support All Souls through these very tumultuous and demanding times.
Virtual Services through January 2022.
Because we believe that the worst of this most recent Covid spike is yet to come; we are returning to Zoom services, beginning December 26th – January 30th, 2022.  We hope that if predictions are proven wrong, that we may return to in-person services sooner than that.  But for now, we plan to pivot to on-line only through the month of January.  
Finally, we know that this may be upsetting news.  If you’d like to process your feelings about this decision, reach out to Rev. Louise, Minister of Congregational Care.  You may contact her at 
If you have questions or concerns about this decision, please contact Interim Senior Minister, Rev. Kathleen Rolenz at   
See you at 6:30 PM, Christmas Eve, to celebrate the ancient story of hope and resilience in the face of desperate times.
Your All Souls Staff (please see attached video postcard)
Building and Staff News
The Church Building will be closed from December 24 – January 1st.  
Staff members will be taking a much needed holiday break.  
Executive Director Traci Hughes-Trotter will be away on vacation from December 23 – January 9th.  Direct any calls or questions for Traci to Rev. Kathleen Rolenz (
Congregational care concerns may be directed to Rev. Louise Green at Rev. Louise will be staying in the DC area over the holidays.

Dear All Souls –

The Christmas Season is here, and the All Souls Staff is busy planning a spectacular Pageant and Christmas Eve service. We are looking forward to seeing you on the 24th. If you plan to attend, please take a moment and go to the website and RSVP by December 23rd for yourself and any family members or guests. From what the elves tell me, the service will be magical!

The All Souls Christmas Pageant will be an outdoor event, taking place on the terrace, playground and front steps of the church. It starts at 4pm and will happen rain or shine. The Pageant is in person and will not be live streamed.

The All Souls Christmas Eve service is 10p-11p. Can’t make it to the church? No problem. The service will be streamed on Zoom. Just go to the All Souls homepage.

If you have the time, and plan to attend the service at the church on Christmas Eve, please help spread the holiday cheer and volunteer to usher. All Souls could use a few more people to help direct people to their seats. Please contact Rose Eaton for more details.

Finally, in the spirit of spreading goodwill to all, and gifting the All Souls staff with a bit of a respite, there will be no in person services on December 26th and January 2nd. We’ll be back to hybrid in-person and zoom service on January 9th.

Happiest of Holidays to You and Yours,

Traci Hughes-Trotter, Executive Director

Current as of December 2, 2021
Dear All Souls,
The tree is up, the sanctuary is in the process of being decorated and we, your staff, are excited to see you in church and on zoom for our holiday services this month!    We are cautiously relaxing some of our covid restrictions based on declining numbers of infection in our area, and new guidance from the CDC and the District of Columbia.   The purpose of this article is to provide you an update about our revised protocols:  
Do I still need to register to attend Sunday morning service and/or Christmas Eve service?
No!  Just come!  We no longer require that you register to attend services.
Do I have to bring my vaccination card and show it every time? 
Yes.  We cannot securely store everyone’s private vaccination status in our database, so we ask that you show your card to an usher each time you enter the building. 
Do I have to wear a mask, even though DC has dropped the mask mandate?
Yes.  We are asking everyone in the building to remain masked the entire time.   Wearing a mask during the entire time keeps everyone safe.
Can I sing in church?
Yes — sing out loud and proud – but with your mask on! 
Can my children sit with me in the sanctuary?
Yes – but only if they have been fully vaccinated, and proof of vaccination is required.  We are working on a plan to keep unvaccinated children safe while in the building, but it is not in place yet.  Unvaccinated children will continue to enjoy Religious Education activities outside under our heaters. 
Will we still need to be physically distanced?
Yes.  We’ve heard feedback from those who are still nervous about large crowds.  We will continue to create distance between rows so that those who want or need to keep some social distance are able to do so.  We ask that you be mindful of those who want to maintain that distance. 
Can I visit with people after the service?
Yes!  Now that the weather is getting colder, we are opening Pierce Hall as a space to socialize and connect.  We’re not yet ready to serve beverages yet but encourage you to connect with your friends and welcome visitors and guests.  Again, everyone must always remain masked, and of course, everyone in the building must be vaccinated. 
What’s happening on Christmas Eve?
We are so excited about our Christmas Eve services and hope you’ll plan to attend, either in person or, at the 10 PM service in-person or on Zoom.  
Christmas Pageant.
At 4:00 PM, we’re having the Christmas Pageant as a true outdoor journey both for the characters in the story and for the congregation!  The parts will take place on the Terrace, the Playground and on the Front Steps of the church.  It will take place rain or shine.  Join us on this journey towards the manger on 16th and Harvard Streets.   All Souls Jubilee Singers will be singing in addition to all of YOU! This is an in-person service only.  
Lessons and Carols at 10:00 PM
The 10:00 PM Traditional Service of Lessons and Carols service will be held in the sanctuary with all the above protocols in place.  The choir will offer music from Benjamin Brittan’s “Ceremony of Carols” and will conclude, of course, with Silent Night.  This service will also be available via Zoom, with the link available on the church’s home page. 
And finally, what about this new variant?
As has been the case since March 2020, we will adapt quickly and responsibly to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our members, friends, and visitors.  Although we long to be together in person as in the “before times,” we also place a higher value on ensuring that ALL of us get through this together.  If we need to adapt these protocols again, we will and we will inform you promptly of these changes.
We can’t wait to see you and to enjoy this season in a way we were unable to do so last year.  
Warmest holiday wishes,
Your All Souls Staff

Current as of November 17, 2021.

All Souls Changing Covid Protocols
We are aware that while earlier this week Mayor Bowser lifted the general mask mandate, there are still members among us who would feel safer coming to church if everyone were masked and vaccinated. We want to be respectful of the needs of all who wish to come to church in person. Therefore, we are cautiously optimistic that we now can adapt our Covid protocols in these ways:

No Registration required. You will no longer need to register to attend Sunday Morning Services. We have not been reaching our registration limit of 100, and we do not anticipate a significant increase in in-person attendance. Our Sanctuary can hold at least 200 people on the floor of the Sanctuary with appropriate distancing. Pierce Hall is available as an over-flow space for viewing a livestream. We are not yet prepared to open the building fully for after service and RE meetings.

No Temperature Checks. Our ushers will no longer take temperature checks; however, you still need to bring your vaccination card;

Remain masked. We require everyone to remain masked throughout the service and while in the building;

Masked singing encouraged. You may sing with your mask on. All Souls Choirs will be singing masked and in the balcony on December 5th. The balcony will be closed to congregant seating.

Religious Education will still be held outside through December. We are currently not allowing unvaccinated children in the sanctuary.

We expect to continue with one service through the rest of 2021, and likely into 2022, but will adapt as necessary.

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding!
Traci Hughes-Trotter & Rev. Kathleen Rolenz
All Souls Executive Team

Current as of September 9, 2021 – This information is for individuals who have registered to join us in person on September 12 and September 19.

Service will begin at 10:30am in person and online.
Registered attendees may begin arriving as early as 9:30am. The doors will close at 10:25am.

Prior to Entry:
If you are bringing children to RE programming, please drop them off at the playground. Once children are dropped off, then join the line for entrance into the Sanctuary through the 16th Street door. Middle School and High School RE students who are eligible for vaccination are recommended to have their vaccination card as a photo on their phone.

If you are not dropping off children, please join the line for entrance into the Sanctuary.

If you need to use the Access ramp, please do so, and the Ushers will seat you in the Accessibility pew if necessary.

• All attendees over the age of 2 MUST be masked at all times while indoors.

• All attendees must present either:
1) negative COVID-19 test results from within the last three days
2) A vaccination card (a hard copy or a picture of) and an ID; names must match on each document. The vaccination card must have 1 Johnson & Johnson vaccine dose listed or 2 Pfizer or Moderna doses listed. The last dose must have been 15 days prior to 9/12/2021.

• All attendees will have their temperature taken and must be under 99.5 degrees.

Nametags may be picked up and dropped off on the racks as you enter the 16th Street doors.

All seating will be on the main floor, we are unable to allow seating in the balcony at this time. Please fill in from front to back. Pews that are roped off and cushions flipped up will not be used. Please maintain three feet of social distance between your family and those seated near you on the same pew.

You must remain in the seats you sit in initially. You will not be allowed to change seats.

We will not be passing the collection plate. Digital donations are still preferred. If you wish to leave a check or cash, please complete one of the envelopes in the pew, and place it in the basket with the Usher at the center doors as you depart.

Hearing Assist Devices will be with the Ushers. Please ask if you need one when you arrive. ASL will be offered in person.

Children Remaining with their Parents:
Children must stay with their parents, or in their RE class. They will not be able to leave the service to join RE later.

Children who are not vaccinated will not be allowed in the Sanctuary. Families with children younger than 12 or with children 12 or older who are not vaccinated, may view the service from Pierce Hall. The Member/Usher managing the line will make sure you are escorted to Pierce Hall to watch the service on the monitor installed there.

If you need to leave the Sanctuary, you must exit to the NARTHEX or outside onto the 16th Street Stairs or the Terrace. The rest of the building will be off limits.

3 people will be allowed in each restroom at a time. You may leave the Sanctuary to use the restroom. The restrooms in the lobby and the all gender restroom will be available during service.

All attendees will be asked to depart out the 16th Street doors following the service.

There will not be a coffee hour, but you will be able to mingle outdoors on the Terrace and 16th Street stairs and walk.
Parents must pick their children up from the Playground gate immediately.

Thank you for reading this far! We are excited to see you and to worship with you in person. Please contact Rose Eaton if you have any questions about our Sunday reentry information. All RE reentry questions should be directed to Dolores Miller.

Singing in Person: A letter from Jen Hayman
Director, Music & Arts

Dear All Souls,

Like many of you, I have greatly awaited our return to in person worship. Over the past 17 months, your music team has continued to persevere, learn, innovate, and bring beauty to our zoom worship. We are proud of the ways this work has continued to build our church’s online and international presence, and for the privilege of being able to help smaller congregations with less robust music programs persevere by sharing selections from our virtual catalog. But nothing is quite as good as when our voices soar together in our sanctuary, and we can witness how this touches the congregation and helps better equip us all for the week ahead. Since the spring, I have known there would be no perfect plan for re-entry, but that any plan should protect the most vulnerable among us, and spark joy in our weary spirits.

Given this, I have made the decision as Director of Music and Arts to withdraw live, indoor singing from our Homecoming service this Sunday, and from all live services in the foreseeable future, for the following reasons:

1) It is not currently the recommendation of the CDC, the UUA or AUUMM (Association of UU Music Ministers) to do this, at least not in these large numbers for such an extended period of time.

2) Singing with masks is challenging and problematic. It is difficult to take in sufficient air while singing in a mask. It is also hard to clearly articulate diction or be expressive. I worry for those with respiratory issues and elder choristers. It’s too much pressure to put on everyone for a lower amount of satisfaction musically.

3) My own health risks. Many of you know that I have an autoimmune disease and must take immunosuppressing medication. With an unvaccinated child at home, it’s not a risk that I am personally willing to make at this time.

For those of you for whom this is a great disappointment, I am so sorry. For those who just need the experience of coming into the physical sanctuary of for whom music is not central to your worship experience, I’m hoping that this decision allows the capacity numbers to increase so more folks will be able to worship together in person.

However, and most importantly, I have realized, now more than ever, the need for singing with others. For sharing beauty and small talk and smiles and gratitude. For doing anything that takes us away from the sterile and transactional and brings us closer to our best selves and our shared humanity. We need this art to keep us strong for other parts of our lives. As the choir sings: “I need you to survive.” But not only that, I need you to thrive. And I need to thrive. And right now, I don’t believe these risks, compounded by the limitations on our indoor singing for worship, will help us thrive. There are still many things still to be decided (re: smaller ensembles, instrumental music in worship, etc), but there will be singing, in more creative outdoor spaces and circumstances, and it will be glorious. And we will be prepared to adapt as health and safety trends allow.

On Sunday, members of the All Souls Choir and Jubilee Singers will gather on the steps of 16th St at the conclusion of worship to sing two selections. I remain hopeful for the day when we can raise the roof off the sanctuary as we did in days past. Till then, the sky (or some other safer, outdoor vantage point) is the limit.

With love, respect and appreciation for you all,

Jen Hayman

Current as of September 3, 2021.

One of the most important things we have learned over these past 18 months is how to pivot and adapt. This week, your Executive Team consulted with Jen Hayman and Lenard Starks about the recommendations that have been published by both the UUA and the current guidance from the Association of UU Music Ministers (AUUMM) about singing in public. They have also been listening closely to the concerns of their choir members.

We know that both choral and congregational singing still poses a risk, even with masks and with proof of vaccination.

Out of concern and respect for the safety of our choir members and congregants, we have decided that we must further limit the number of people in the sanctuary to 100 or less.

What does this mean for you? If you have already registered for in-person worship, you do not need to do anything else. If you haven’t, then please register now. When we reach the capacity of 100 persons registered, you will be notified and a link to watch the service via Zoom will be provided.

Please watch the video at the top of this page and continue to read more in depth about our vaccination requirement (after this post), the metrics we are using to determine our reopening protocols, registration for our Celebration Sundays, required RE Registration for children, our safety protocols, and what you can expect in person and virtually.

Friends, we know all of this is overwhelming. It’s overwhelming for your staff too! However, we also feel that staying connected with one another – whether in person or online is critical for our emotional and spiritual well-being. We hope that changing circumstances will allow us to be less restrictive about these guidelines.

Our biggest concern for all of us is to safely make it through this pandemic together. We continue to be so grateful for all the notes of encouragement and support you’ve given us. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Rev. Kathleen Rolenz, or to Executive Director Traci Hughes-Trotter.

Current as of August 26, 2021

Dear All Souls Members and Friends,

We are just two weeks away from hosting two Celebration Sundays, on September 12 & 19 at 10:30 AM. Traci, the Ministry Team, the All Souls staff, and I have been working on adapting our re-entry plan as new data emerges. Thank you in advance for your willingness to adapt with us! There have been some new developments since our last plan that we want you to know about.

First, you should know what metrics we use to determine re-opening. We have been closely monitoring the re-opening status in DC, using these metrics. Currently, the DC area status is GREEN. If that changes between now and September 12, we will re-evaluate our plan.

Registering your intent to attend in-person. At the bottom of this letter, you will find a link to register to attend worship on either September 12 or 19. (Note: If you have agreed to be an RE teacher this fall, you may bring your children and/or attend both services.) The reason for this registration is as follows:

  1. Your staff needs to know how many people are in the building. In addition to the worship leaders, choir members, and ushers, we can accommodate 300 people per Sunday. When registration reaches 300, we will either create an overflow space or will recommend that you register for the next Sunday.
  2. We need to be able to do contract tracing.
  3. We do not want to expose the staff or our musicians to a large in-person gathering for more than an hour.

Remember, our goal is to provide you with the best worship experience possible, while keeping everyone safe. By registering to attend All Souls in person, you are agreeing to the following:

  1. You, your children, and your guests will remain masked when indoors.
  2. You will provide proof of vaccination.
  3. You will respect the social distance guidelines between individuals or families.

Requiring vaccination to attend in-person worship. With the FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, and with vaccination mandates now being required by many schools, businesses, etc, it is in your – and our – best interest to require proof of vaccination.

We are now requiring that everyone who can be, must be vaccinated.

When you register to attend EITHER the September 12 OR September 19 service your name will be placed on a list. As you enter the building, we’ll check your name and ask for your proof of vaccination before you enter the building.

What about children and youth in Religious Education? Dolores Miller and James Ploeser have been working hard on plans to welcome your children and provide a safe, quality experience while at church. We ask parents to bring your children (Kindergarten and older) to the playground gate (via the 16th Street stairs) to check in and/or to register your children for RE. Children in the Nursery and Pre-School should be taken downstairs via the staircase next to the narthex. For complete details of this process will be found in the RE Newsletter and on the website. If you do not receive the weekly RE education newsletter, please contact James Ploeser.

We have paid attention to the room capacity, have installed air filtration devices, and will use the largest spaces in the church for overflow if necessary. Children must remain masked while in the building.

What about masks? Yes. Bring yours. If you forget, we’ll have one-time-use masks available for you to wear. We will also have hand sanitation stations at the entrances.

What about music? Singing? The UUA has published recommendations about singing. The All Souls Choir and Jubilee Singers will be singing live, with masks, spaced out and appropriately distant from the congregation. Sadly, we are suspending the processional to keep distance between the singers and the congregation. We don’t yet encourage congregational singing, except for those of you who are watching from the safety of your homes, where we hope you’ll sing out loud and proud!

What else can I expect about in-person worship and RE?

  1. Staff members Joanne Blanco and Rose Eaton have created a process (details of which will appear in next week’s e-bulletin) that in-person attendees must follow to ensure that we can both check vaccination status and create an orderly flow in and out of the building.
    Orders of service will be available by using a QR code. We will print a limited run of orders of service for those who cannot use their phones;
    We will not distribute hymnals; lyrics will be available on the screens in the sanctuary and in your order of service.
    We will not pass the plate – but you can donate to the church via your phone or on-line. And THANK YOU for supporting your Beloved Community!

Watching the live-stream service from home. Thanks to your generous support of our most recent Stewardship Campaign, we were able to invest in high quality cameras and hire tech professionals to support a live-stream service. You will be able to watch the service on Zoom and other platforms either in real-time or after the service. Information about the service can be found on the homepage of the church’s website.

What about social time? Coffee hour? We encourage everyone to visit with one another outside the building, on the terrace, the steps, the playground – wherever! The latest news about transmission of the virus is that outdoors and distanced is still the safest way for us to connect. We hope to resume coffee hour in Pierce Hall in January, but only when and if it is safe to do so.

Friends, we know all of this is overwhelming. It’s overwhelming for your staff too! However, we also feel that staying connected with one another – whether in person or online is critical for our emotional and spiritual well-being. We hope that changing circumstances will allow us to be less restrictive about these guidelines.

Our biggest concern for all of us is to safely make it through this pandemic together. We continue to be so grateful for all the notes of encouragement and support you’ve given us. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or to Executive Director Traci Hughes-Trotter.

Keeping the faith,
Rev. Kathleen Rolenz

Current as of August 6, 2021

Greetings All Souls Members and Friends!

On June 6th, we published a plan for re-opening and promised that the first weekend in August we would publish a revised plan based on data. We have consulted with the UUA, with other large churches, and with a local expert on Covid-19 protocols. In addition, we have had numerous conversations with All Souls Staff, many of whom have connections with colleagues in other churches and traditions. Our revised Re-Entry Plan is based on the data and the recommendations from both CDC and DC guidelines.

As you also know, the data and the recommendation for best practices continues to change. We are monitoring the spread of the Delta variant closely. What we are planning for now may change should science and guidance suggest that gathering in-person would pose a threat to those most vulnerable to the virus. However, for now we are still planning on in-person worship in September. Below is a summary of what you can expect this Fall.

Q: What will Worship at All Souls be like this Fall?
1. Two Homecoming Sundays! Homecoming Sunday is traditionally one of the largest gatherings of the year. In order to accommodate the greatest number of people in one service, we are expanding Homecoming Sunday to September 12th AND September 19th at 10:30 AM. Both services will include an enthusiastic “Welcome Back to All Souls,” fantastic music and two different, but related messages exploring September’s monthly theme of “Reunion.”

2. Please register for one of the two Homecoming Sundays. Because we need to observe social distancing protocols, we are asking you to register your intention to attend ONE of the two in-person Homecoming Sundays. This will help us determine how many people to expect in the building on either September 12th or 19th. Whichever service you do not attend in person, you can watch on-line. We will create a registration link in upcoming e-newsletter articles and on the website. NOTE: If you are a teacher in Religious Education and are planning to teach at both services, you are exempt from attending only one service.

3. Worship Registration is only for September 12th & 19th . We do not anticipate requiring registration for Sunday AM services beyond Homecoming Sundays.

4. Other Considerations:
a. All persons in the building must wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. If you don’t have a mask, we will provide one for you.

b. All persons must observe our distancing protocols.

c. We will also broadcast the service in Pierce Hall, via a large screen, with chairs, and in the lobby. The staff and/or ushers will direct you to the overflow spaces when the sanctuary has reached capacity.

d. Although we understand that the virus is transmitted by aerosol droplets, there is some growing concern about transmission from hands & surfaces. Out of an abundance of caution, we will create the order of service and hymns via a QR code and/or on monitors in the sanctuary. For those who do not have a digital device, we will print a limited number of paper orders of service.

5. In addition to the live in-person service, we will also offer a virtual option. The service will be live streamed from the sanctuary on either Zoom, Facebook Live and/or YouTube. We will communicate via the e-newsletter and website on how to access the livestream service. The service will also be recorded and available for download. There are cameras and monitors in the sanctuary which will serve a variety of functions: announcements, projecting our ASL Interpreter, the ability to see what’s happening up front, etc. They will enhance both the in-person and on-line experience.

6. Ventilation. We will place air purifiers in rooms without outside ventilation; we will continue to disinfect high-touch surfaces after the worship service and after religious education.

7. We will not offer coffee hour or space for after-church meetings until such time as we can be assured of everyone’s safety and/or when the transmission rate is “green” or low. However, we encourage you to gather outside in the playground, terrace, portico area of the building.

Children’s and Youth Religious Education
1. In-person Children’s and Youth Religious Education will be held at the same time as the worship service, 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM. Director of Religious Education Dolores Miller has determined the space requirements for each classroom used on Sunday morning. When/if those maximums are exceeded, we will use the gym as an overflow room.

2. Parents/guardians will need to register their children/Youth for the 2021-2022 church year prior to attending in-person Religious Education. Registration is available online and on site.

3. The only exception to this will be Jr. High OWL which will meet from 10 AM to Noon.

4. A Multi-age Zoom Chapel Service will be offered every Sunday from 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM.

5. Each room of children/Youth will require at least 2 adults every Sunday to operate within our safety guidelines.

6. Only volunteers who have been vaccinated will be allowed to work with children in Religious Education.

Q: Will I need to show proof of vaccination to come to the church?
A: It would be unwieldy and complicated for us to require and monitor proof of vaccination. However, we are strongly encouraging that everyone who is able to be vaccinated, do so. It is one of the best ways to protect ourselves, our church, and our wider community from the spread of this disease. If you are concerned about receiving the vaccine or are unsure how to do so, please reach out to Rev. Rolenz, Rev. Green or Rev. Keithan.

Q: What are YOUR Questions?
A: We are sure that you will have many questions about re-opening and we’d like to hear those questions. Please email them to or We may not be able to answer you personally but expect to include some of those questions in an updated FAQ.

We can take pride in the fact that All Souls has remained strong throughout this pandemic. We are excited about the possibility of re-gathering in person this Fall, but we are also committed to ensuring the safety of all persons. Our approach is one of caution and gradual expansion of services until we can resume in person and on-line services fully.

Although we won’t (yet) be hugging, we can’t wait to see your (masked) faces! Until then, please stay safe and well.

With love and gratitude from your All Souls Staff

Current as of June 2021

Your All Souls staff is excited to welcome you back to the building this fall! We still don’t know a lot, but some things we do. This brief list of questions and answers is to give you—the Beloved Community of All Souls—our initial thoughts and plans as we move towards re-entry.

Q: When can we return to in-person Sunday services and religious education (RE)?

A: We are cautiously optimistic about gathering in-person for Sunday morning worship and religious education beginning on Sunday, September 12, 2021, as long as Covid cases remain low over the summer, with no new variant strains or spike in infection rates. As of this writing, we are considering hosting one worship service and concurrent RE classes at 10:30 AM. We hope to offer these both in-person and virtually for those who may choose not to physically come to the church building. We will make a final decision about worship and RE in late summer and will let you know.

Q: What metrics are you using to determine this re-opening plan?

A: Many UU churches are using the same site, Covid Act Now, to monitor the rate of infection and vaccinations. In June 2021, Washington DC’s risk level is medium. Covid risk is determined by the number of daily new cases, the infection rate, and positive test rate. This metric also involves ICU capacity used, the percentage of persons vaccinated, and vulnerability. We hope that by the time we re-open, the risk level will be low (which means an area is on track to contain Covid for 30 days in a row), but our current plan is based on the current risk level for Washington DC and surrounding areas.

Q: Will we be able to continue accessing the church’s services and offerings online?

A: Yes, we are hard at work finding ways to offer hybrid, or multi-platform (in person plus online), Sunday services so that, even when we can come back together in person on Sundays, those who are far away or otherwise not ready to gather in person will continue to have ways to connect online. Over the summer, your worship team and staff will ensure that when we are ready to host dual-platform, in-person services they will continue to meet All Souls’ high standards for excellence.

Q: When will we know what COVID-19 safety precautions the church will require?

A: During the past four months, the world has changed with regards to vaccinations, masking, and distancing. Four months from now, on Homecoming Sunday, we hope the world will have continued to change for the better. It would be premature to make specific decisions now, but we will inform you by early to mid-August of what precautions the church will require. These precautions will be based on science and on the CDC and Mayor’s public health guidance.

Q: How has the church prepared the building for safe re-entry?

A: Our facilities manager and executive director have assessed each room in the church, with an eye towards proper ventilation and air filtration. The new HVAC system above the sanctuary provides proper ventilation. Ventilation and air filtration in all other rooms in the building, including meeting rooms, classrooms, and the gym do not pose a risk. However, out of an abundance of caution, air purifiers will be installed in all meeting spaces, classrooms, and the gym.

Q: When can my group start meeting in the building?

A: If the criteria described above is met, we will re-open the building after our Homecoming Sunday. However, our approach to re-entry is to start small, as we, your staff, discern the amount of work required to maintain and sustain a fully used building again.

Q: When will staff be back in the building?

A: Some of our staff members are taking much needed sabbatical and study leave time during June, July, and part of August. We will begin a “soft” reopening for our staff in August. Our facilities staff have always been in the building and will continue to make the church ready for re-opening in September.

Q: Will I need to show proof of vaccination to come to the church?

A: The Mayor’s public health guidance in DC does not recommend this, and we do not anticipate requiring congregants to show proof of vaccination to attend services. It would be unwieldy and complicated for us to require and monitor proof of vaccination. However, we are strongly encouraging that everyone who can be vaccinated, do so. It is one of the best ways to protect ourselves, our church, and our wider community from the spread of this disease. If you are concerned about receiving the vaccine or are unsure how to do so, please reach out to Rev. Rolenz, Rev. Green, or Rev. Keithan.

Q: Will I have to wear a mask to church? In RE? For meetings?

A: As of this writing, we will continue to ask all persons who are meeting indoors to wear a mask. This is a proven method to avoid catching or spreading the virus. However, if by September we are at the low risk level, we may be able to gather mask-less. We will update these guidelines in August as we get closer to re-entry.

Q: What about children?

A: Currently, children 12 and over may be vaccinated. By the fall, younger children may also be able to be vaccinated. As of this writing (June 2021) we plan to re-open for RE beginning September 12 if we are able to do so in compliance with public health guidance; but, again, we will send out clear communications about RE-specific plans to all RE parents/children/caregivers by early to mid-August.

Q: What about in-person meetings and small groups?

A: We are committed to maintaining connections with all who wish to participate at All Souls – which includes those who, for whatever reason, may not participate in-person. Learning how to hold both in-person and virtual meetings, small groups, committees, and other offerings are trickier! Over the summer, we will be working on ways to encourage continued online and/or multi-platform connection.

What are YOUR questions?

We are sure that you will have many questions about re-opening and we’d like to hear those questions. Please email them to Rev. Kathleen Rolenz ( or Traci Hughes-Trotter ( We may not be able to answer you personally but expect to include some of those questions in an updated list of frequently asked questions.

We can take pride in the fact that All Souls has remained strong throughout this pandemic. We are excited about the possibility of re-gathering in person this fall, but we are also committed to ensuring the safety of all persons. So our approach is one of caution and gradual expansion of services until we can resume in person and online services fully.