March Letter from Coordinating Team

March 31, 2021

Dear Follen Members and Friends,

Happy Spring!

We hope you are enjoying the longer days and stronger sunshine. This shift towards warmer weather feels magnified by the transition we are making with the pandemic. With more people, including many Follen members, vaccinated and schools reopening, there is a feeling of energy and possibility coming in. May we take it slowly, just like Mother Nature, and appreciate each new layer of the unfolding.

This past month the leadership teams at Follen have continued to engage in the business of the church.

In response to a rental request for the lower-level Dickens room, the Finance and Human Resources Action Team (FHRAT) has created a rental committee to evaluate and establish rates and policies for rentals going forward.  The permanent members of the committee at this time are Sharon Cerny, Jackie Hawkinson and Linda Hein, with temporary members Howie Bernstein and Mark Metzger related to this rental engagement, and Cas Groblewski consulting as necessary.

Every five years, Parish Board is charged with reviewing and updating Follen’s Safety Policy, a task that felt especially important during these times of increased vulnerability due to the pandemic and political polarization. Three board members, Jim Fesler, Anne Kelly and Harvy Simkovits, led a process for reviewing and revising the policy with input from relevant stakeholders, and Parish Board unanimously voted to approve all recommended updates. You can find the updated policy here. Many thanks to Follen’s Safety Committee (Beryl Aschenberg, Howie Bernstein, Tom Blumenthal, Sophie Evett, Rev. Claire Feingold-Thoryn) for your insights as well as Jim, Anne and Harvy for your excellent work!

Finally, Program Council and Parish Board continue to move forward with our long-term commitment to Anti-Racism in several ways. Parish Board is engaging with portions of the UUA’s Report, Widening the Circle of Concern, beginning with chapters related to governance and board-related responsibilities. Both governing bodies also dedicate a portion of every meeting to raising awareness of White supremacy culture and analyzing our norms. Finally, many lay leaders from both Program Council and Parish Board will take the UUA’s course, “Knotty Conversations on Dismantling White Supremacy” recommended by Follen Responds to Racism.

The next Program Council meeting is Monday, April 5 at 7:30pm and the next Parish Board meeting is Monday, April 12 at 7:30pm. All Follen Members and Friends are welcome to join either meeting. Please reach out to Howie Bernstein at or Lex Johnson at for zoom links. Please do not hesitate to be in touch anytime with questions or concerns.

Yours in faith,

Howie Bernstein, President of Program Council
Sophie Evett, Vice-President of Program Council
Lex Johnson, Chair of Parish Board
Trapper Markelz, Vice-Chair of Parish Board