January 27, 2022
Dear Follen Members and Friends,
Happy New Year!
We hope you and your loved ones had a wonderful holiday season and that the new year is treating you well despite all our challenges. While the Omicron variant and this weekend’s Nor’easter have sent us back to Zoom this Sunday, we look forward to gathering in person soon. This letter is a combined December/January update from Follen’s Coordinating Team.
On January 24, Parish Board and Program Council held our annual joint meeting to hear important and extremely positive news about the work of the Music Program Steering Committee and the state of Follen’s financial health.
Last fall, the Music Program Steering Committee (MPSC) (David Jacobson, Ching Lai, Maureen Markelz, and Jen Vandiver) was charged by Parish Board with the development of a clarified congregational vision for Follen’s Music Program. Since then this energetic and thoughtful group has developed and coordinated 14 facilitated small group listening sessions and a congregation-wide music survey with 185 responses. You can see the survey results here. Based on its review of this detailed, community-wide input, the Committee has prepared a Follen Music Program Guidance Document which includes a proposed Vision, Mission, Core Values Statement and governance proposal for Follen’s Music Program. The Coordinating Team is reviewing the proposed Guidance Document, and will then forward to Parish Board for consideration. The Music Program Steering Committee and Coordinating Team are planning a congregation-wide presentation. Stay tuned for more information!!
Maggie Pax, Chair of the Financial and Human Resources Action Team (FHRAT), and Cas Groblewski, Follen’s Treasurer, provided an update on the current state of Follen’s Finances. Maggie shared the headline up front: Follen’s finances are in good shape. So far in this budget year (July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022) revenues are running above budget year-to-date, largely because many pledges for the year were received in December, and our fundraisers have done well so far (with another banner Christmas tree year). And expenses are running 20% below budget, largely due to the music program spending less than budgeted. Maggie and Cas cautioned that we are in a transition year, working towards a “normal” rate of spending as we build the music program, and increase in-person programming and rentals of our beautiful new building. And this year’s Stewardship campaign is off to a good start, with the annual Fellowship Party on Saturday February 5 from 4-5 pm on Zoom. We look forward to seeing you there.
This winter and spring the Follen Responds to Racism (FRR) team is helping us move deeper into our commitment as an anti-racist congregation. We will vote at our May 25 Annual Meeting on whether to adopt the 8th UU Principle, which reads: We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions. Follen’s 8th Principle working group is meeting with Action Teams and will host information/discussion sessions this spring,
And FRR invites us all to participate in “Claiming our Spiritual Leadership” (COSL), a facilitated on-line small-group course. Together with other Follenites we can explore how our own and others’ inherent (perhaps latent) gifts can help create, sustain, and restore Beloved Community. See this week’s newsletter and go to this link for more information.
Program Council’s next meeting is Monday, February 14 at 7:30pm. And Parish Board meets on Monday, February 28 at 7:30pm. All Follen Members and Friends are welcome to join either meeting. Please reach out to Sophie Evett at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lisa Snellings at email@example.com for Zoom links. Please do not hesitate to be in touch anytime with questions or concerns.
Yours in faith,
Sophie Evett, President of Program Council
Nick Hart, Vice President of Program Council
Lisa Snellings, Chair of Parish Board
Trapper Markelz, Vice Chair of Parish Board