Fall 2023 Letter from Coordinating Team

November 2023

Dear Follen Community,

The fall season at Follen has been joyous and eventful with high levels of attendance at Sunday services, a successful East Village Fair and hosting the annual Lexington Interfaith Community Association (LICA) Thanksgiving service.  We are looking forward to a full holiday season with many opportunities to build community such as craft fairs, Christmas tree sales, cocoa and caroling or pick up choir. Can’t wait to see you at one of these fun events.

We would like to share updates from the fall meetings of the Program Council (“PC” – the operational governing board of the church) and Parish Board (“PB” – responsible for church policy and financial oversight).

Follen has entered into a new memorandum of agreement with the International Institute of New England (IINE) and welcomed a new family from Afghanistan into the Marshman Center on November 1. IINE also held an informative training session, attended by over 20 Follen members, which provided guidance on refugee resettlement.

The Long Term Planning Team (Julianna Stockton, chair, Brian Cali, Kyle Johnson, Jane Spickett, Margot Tracy and Jose Trevejo) updated both governing groups on their discernment process and progress to date. The team is completing  the needs assessment stage, and themes are beginning to emerge. The primary question at this point is how to articulate the mission and purpose of Follen as a faith community.

Stephen Ervin, head of stewardship this year, brought the draft of an imaginative, work-in-progress visual metaphor and text to PC and PB for input.  All agree that the church is in a good place, with needs and hopes focusing on building upon Follen’s strong foundation. Stephen noted that the need for stewards is acute, and efforts are underway to recruit for this task. The Leadership Stewardship Kickoff Preview Event will be January 6th, and the Fellowship Dinner will be on February 10th.

At Program Council and at Parish Board, Rev. Claire offers a minister’s report. This October and November, she focused her reports on how she oversees staff supervision at Follen, with the support of the Human Resources team. There are many careful processes to offer feedback and accountability for our staff, including: weekly staff meetings, regularly scheduled one-on-ones with supervisors, and annual evaluations. Follen Church strives to be a good employer, and Rev. Claire uses best practices from church and business consultants to craft standardized job descriptions and expectations. We have a great staff and all these processes help us treat them in a fair and equitable manner!

At the Parish Board meeting on Monday, Nov. 20th, Trapper Markelz who is leading FHRAT this year offered a comprehensive and helpful overview of Follen’s budget for the coming year.  Trapper reminded us that Follen’s financial health is strong and that our membership has never been higher. He also raised a few areas of concern for the Board to consider. Per his report, the Board would certainly agree on the importance of increasing Follen’s number of pledges and overall revenue if possible.

Wishing everyone a relaxing and joyous Thanksgiving holiday.

Yours in Faith,

Coordinating Team: Jen Vandiver, Melissa Howe, Beth Bernstein, Anne Kelly, and Rev Claire Feingold Thoryn