Follen Staff Perspectives on Black Lives Matter

At Follen’s Annual Meeting on May 24, The group Follen Responds to Racism will offer a resolution, “Advancing Follen Church as an Antiracist Congregation.” The resolution affirms that Follen will commit work proactively, internally and in the wider world, to support racial justice and the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement, to include hanging a banner.

For more information see Resolution: Follen Will Become an Intentionally Antiracist Congregation

What do Follen’s staff members think about the resolution and the banner?

After last Thursday’s panel discussion, a congregational leader said, “We’ve heard from the group Follen Responds to Racism, we’ve heard from Bernie Harleston and Lex Johnson, but what does the Follen staff think about this resolution?”

Rev. Claire has preached in favor of the resolution several times; she will share a statement of support soon.

Music Director Tyler Turner writes:

“I believe that all Unitarian Universalists are called to witness for racial justice. While a congregational affirmation and banner cannot solve the myriad of historical issues associated with white supremacy, it –– at the very least –– tells our community we are listening, we are trying, and that we care. Joining with congregations across the country, I believe Follen should approve this resolution, including the action of hanging a “Black Lives Matter” banner –– perhaps amongst others –– prominently on our grounds.”

Director of Community Engagement Rev. Susanne Intriligator writes:

“I’ve been meeting with the Follen Responds to Racism group for a year now, and I am so proud of the work we have done together. These are not easy conversations. We can struggle to hear every voice, to hold our differences with compassion and yet still move forward, still arrive at a shared statement of conscience. Not easy conversations —  but necessary, if we are to live out our faith in this world.

Taking a stand will always involves taking a risk, feeling conflict, risking a move before you can know all the implications, making a leap of faith. Our founders knew that. The abolitionists who built these walls felt that their faith called them to take a risk, to make a stand and pave a new way into the future. Thank God they did. As a minister and as a member of Follen, I stand with FRR in recommending this resolution.”

Interim Director of Religious Eduction Deb Weiner writes:

“I very much support the thought of Follen Church demonstrating its commitment to anti-racism, anti-oppression and multiculturalism – toward a goal of creating a beloved community of equity.  It will take years for this to happen.  Passing this proposed resolution is a first step, not a last.  I hope that Follen’s members and friends will view this challenge, and struggle, as important enough to want to engage in it; to be active participants on a journey which will, I pray, guide us as individuals and this faith community toward wholeness, one day.”

Read Interim DRE Deb Weiner’s blog post on the issue, In the Interim: Intention and Reality

Church Administrator Sarah Garner writes:

“As a longtime observer of how Follen operates, I have always had great respect for the fair, inclusive, and thoughtful process that is used to make important decisions. Bringing the “Resolution Advancing Follen Church as an Anti-Racist Congregation” before Annual Meeting this year has been an example of Follen process at its best. I am not a Follen member, so I don’t have a vote at meetings of the membership. But if the required majority of members approve the resolution — all seven items — I will be pleased, I will applaud, and I will feel even more fortunate than usual that Follen is my workplace.”