March Letter from Coordinating Team

March 30, 2023

Greetings from the Follen Coordinating Team.  

We are writing to share updates from meetings of the Program Council (“PC” – the operational governing board of the church) on February 13 and March 13, and Parish Board (“PB” – responsible for church policy and financial oversight) on March 27.

Parish Board has been working on a visioning/long term planning process for the church.  The time feels right for us to explore together some “big” questions. Questions like: what matters to us and what is our purpose as a religious community, how do we live into our purpose, and what can we imagine next? We have been inspired by Holy Conversations: Strategic Planning as a Spiritual Practice for Congregations. We have tried some “appreciative inquiry” exercises at PC and PB meetings as one way for us to begin to creatively “discern” what our big questions are, and how we might answer them. Our next step is to form a team of creative, thoughtful, patient and generous Follenites to lead us in a church-wide conversation next year. If you know someone who would enjoy this role, or if you want to learn more, please reach out to Lisa Snellings or Anne Kelly, or email  

We are continuing to work closely with Follen’s Family Support Team and the International Institute of New England (IINE) – Follen’s expert partner providing resettlement support services for the Afghan family living in the Marshman Center – to support the family’s next steps in resettlement, including a move to long term housing on July 1. In a February 11 email to the congregation, we shared information about the PC’s January 30 decision not to extend the family’s stay beyond July 1, and to maintain our June 2022 agreements to provide temporary transitional housing to the family. Because of understandable concern for the family, with support from the Covenant of Right Relations Team, Nick and Jen lead a question and answer session on March 12 open to all members and friends.  More information, including a detailed Question and Answer document, was available before and at the meeting.  And at both the February 13 and March 13 meetings, PC members declined to reconsider their January 30 decision.  As Reverend Claire shared in her recent membership Sunday sermon, at the March 12 meeting there were “a lot of differences of opinions in the room. One longtime member stood up and said she was moved by the way we were making space for difference of opinions and that made her remember once again why she loved Follen.” We will meet our commitment to support the family to become self-sufficient as soon as possible, critical to successful resettlement. SJAT and FHRAT recently approved an additional Share the Plate for the family on our Music Sunday, April 2. 

At the March 13 PC meeting, Finance and Human Resources Action Team (FHRAT) Chair Maggie Pax provided an update on Follen’s budget process for FY24 (July 1, 2023-June 30, 2024). FHRAT will review a revised budget on April 3, for Program Council consideration on April 10, and a membership vote at the May 25 Follen annual meeting to be held at Follen from 7-9 pm.  

In other news, the March 25 Follen Auction was a great success and brought in over $25,000 to help support this amazing community. And so much to look forward to as people enjoy their winnings! A big thanks to the Auction Team, and  all the generous donors for their time, talents, and treasure, and our generous bidders!! 

And we are all looking forward to celebrating Reverend Claire’s 10th year of ministry at Follen on Saturday, May 6 in the Community Center from  3-5pm. Mark your calendars and keep an eye on the newsletter for more information soon.  

The next Program Council meeting is Monday, April 10 at 7:30 pm. And the next Parish Board Meeting is Monday, April 24 at 7:30 pm. Both meetings are in the Anne Smith Room and all are welcome to attend. Feel free to email Nick Hart at or Lisa Snellings at with questions. 

If you want to know more about what is happening at Follen or why, you are encouraged to reach out to any of us or Reverend Claire for a conversation. Follen members and friends are welcome to attend monthly Action Team, Program Council and Parish Board meetings. Check the calendar at for upcoming meeting dates. 

Yours in Faith,

Follen Coordinating Team

Nick Hart, Program Council President
Jen Vandiver, Program Council Vice President
Lisa Snellings, Parish Board Chair
Anne Kelly, Parish Board Vice Chair
Reverend Claire Feingold Thoryn