October Letter from the Parish Board

October 29, 2020

Dear Follen Members and Friends,

We hope you and your loved ones are all well during these intense times. We miss seeing you in our beautiful sanctuary on Sunday mornings. We miss sitting beside you in the pews and feeling the warmth of our community. We miss so many things – singing with you, delighting in the children and chatting during coffee hour. 

And yet, we are grateful for the many ways, big and small, we stay connected during this time of virtual church. In addition to online worship, covenant groups, committee work and more: 

  • Last month, the Follen community co-created a powerful response to hate. Thank you for your nonviolent solidarity in person and online for our Worshipful Witness for Justice. Your presence was deeply meaningful and sent a message of hope to the wider community at a difficult time. Special thanks to Reverend Claire and Lisa Snellings, one of the co-chairs of Follen Responds to Racism, for their leadership in crafting Follen’s response. And special thanks to Kurt Pfrommer, Isaiah Johnson, Sydney Hart and Claudia Hart for gracing us with their beautiful singing.
  • The Follen community also came together for our annual East Village Fair. Thanks to the creativity and goodwill of our community, we exceeded our fundraising goal and, more importantly, kept a cherished tradition alive for its 181st year! Special thanks to our fearless East Village Fair Chairs – Leslie Coney, Duke Bitsko and Megan Lancaster. 
  • As you read this letter, Follen’s Lay Ministers are reaching out to every single member of the Follen community by telephone or email. They did this labor of love once before when we closed our church building in March and are reaching out again now to make sure we know how everyone is doing. Thank you, thank you, Follen’s Lay Ministers! 
  • Follen Members and Friends have also been showing up in support of UU The Vote. Thanks again to Lisa Snellings for her leadership on this effort and to all those who have given their time and energy toward the upcoming election.

In other news:

  • We are sending out a congregational survey this week via email. Please respond so that we can know how best to support and serve our community during these unusual times. We also hosted our first listening session of the church year on October 25 and will organize another in early December.
  • In addition to approving contracts and policy updates, Parish Board is leading an initiative to help our community embody our Covenant of Right Relations. We are forming a temporary working group to complete this project and you can read their charter here.
  • Program Council is working on issues related to the day-to-day business of the church including adjusting the budget allocations related to our music program and office equipment, considering rental agreements and space usage and reviewing policies that we implement.  We are also starting on the more challenging work of incorporating the results of the “Widening The Circle of Concern”, the recommendations for congregations, and understanding how we, the Program Council and Action Teams, in their business of operating the church, can change for the better.  Also, good news, the Follen Calendar is up and running and in the process of being updated with current information.  We’re also in the process of trying to figure out how to make the agenda, minutes and other meeting documents more accessible to our community.

The next Program Council meeting is Monday, Nov 2 at 7:30pm and the next Parish Board meeting is Monday, Nov 9 at 7:30pm. All Follen Members and Friends are welcome to join either meeting. Please reach out to Howie Bernstein at president@follen.org or Lex Johnson at parishboardchair@follen.org for zoom links. 

Do not hesitate to be in touch anytime with questions or concerns. And, please know that, as we move forward during these uncertain times, the Follen community is with you. 

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