by Rev. Peter Connolly

Request for Use of Sanctuary & Parish Hall by Seventh-Day Adventist Haitian Refugees

As most folks reading this know, a fairly large group of refugees from Haiti (178 persons) have been lodged at the Quality Inn in Middleboro for the past several months.  In keeping with our desire to provide ministry to the larger community, especially those in the most need, we have been searching for ways to help.  On March 31, a group of four ministers representing the Southern New England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, whose members are among the Middleboro Haitian refugees, approached me with a request to use our facilities for their weekly Saturday worship services and social time.  Our Social Justice Team expressed warm support of the idea, providing certain concerns are satisfactorily addressed.

As the SJT and Parish Committee consider this request, they would like to see these items addressed:

(1) Establish that our UU principles include respect for the inherent dignity of all persons including members of the LGBT+ community.

(2) Ensure that the church has in place what we consider to be sufficient liability coverage for accidents and/or incidents that occur on the property during its use by the group.

(3) Make it clear that any agreement between UU Middleboro & the refugees be for a limited period of time and that a continuation of the arrangement is contingent upon a successful review of the initial experience.

(4) Any use of church facilities by the SDA group will need to accommodate prioritized church-sponsored and/or church-approved activities.  This would include activities on the church grounds.  We would share our monthly calendar of events in advance.

(5) The use of the facilities by the SDA group should not preclude use by others in the Haitian refugee community.  Any agreement should include enough flexibility for this to occur.

(6) The minister and other church representative(s) will meet with the SDA pastor to go over our expectations and concerns and those of the SDA group and will schedule regular check-in meetings once any arrangement has been approved.

(7) Several members of UU Middleboro will need to be present at the start of the service, throughout the time the parish hall is in use, and at the time SDA members exit the building until a predictable routine has been established.  At that time, we will assess and modify policy as seems appropriate.

(8) The group has not asked to use cooking facilities.  Still, UU church members will ensure that the SDA group is familiarized with all aspects of kitchen use, including use of the sanitizer.  Parameters for use of the cooking facilities, if any, will have to be established.  The group will ensure that the facility is left in good order and cleanliness.

(9) Expectations for the use of the church’s lighting and sound system will have to be established.  If these options are to be utilized, the group will need to be well-trained or UU church volunteers will have to provide the services.

(10) Both parties will agree to established terms through a contracted agreement.

To be clear: if this group is granted access to the facilities, our church members will have to “step up,” to provide the support and supervision that will ensure a successful experience for all.

If you are a member with questions, please address them to me or a member of the Parish Committee.  We will need a strong commitment to see this project through.

Springtime blessings and I look forward to seeing you at church,

Rev. Peter