Our worship theme this month is “Calling.” Although I’m a proud atheist, I have certainly felt called to service at Follen, as I think we really are only as strong as the willingness of our members to serve.
Despite that, I am always more than a little shocked whenever someone at Follen asks me to serve in any way, whether it is in hiring a minister, crafting a vision statement, making food for an event or being President of Program Council. It’s an honor to be asked, and so I have chosen to refer to it as a calling. I come to Follen because of the pervasive tolerance (and if you’ve spent any time with me, you know my being called to serve is living proof of that tolerance).
Program Council is a group of Follen members — representatives from all our Action Teams — who meet to help coordinate operations of the church. (Staff handles most of the day-to-day, and we act in support of our fine staff).
We meet once a month, where we light a chalice, share news and information, and vote on various action items that require our approval. Learn more about how we work at Follen’s Program Council (where you can also read the latest version of Harriet Peterson’s excellent minutes).
Here’s a sampling of what Program Council discussed in September 2016:
Follen had a great summer, as you may know. Our summer services attracted an average of around 80 souls per service. They were full services, with sermons by ministers and other honored guests, music from our accompanist Shaylor Lindsay, and all of the fellowship that Follen is known for. I expect we’ll have them again next summer, and I am glad. I went to a few of them and they were a delight. Our Worship and Music Action Team worked very hard on this, and the success of the summer services is owed to them.
We have had several staff transitions over last year and this year. Susanne Intriligator is still new, but she has traction with our members and the tasks at hand to grow our membership and to help people to stay connected with our community.
Deb Weiner is learning about and organizing and formalizing processes for our growing Religious Education program (70 kids in FUUY! Nearly 20 in the Coming of Age Program!). As she charts this course I know we will all seek ways to support her in implementing lasting changes to the program we already love that we can retain in the years to come.
Tyler Turner started in August doing music for our summer program and getting to know us through his informal music learning before services. He is learning the ins and outs of the Stoneham organ, the musicality and passion of the Senior Choir, and more names of the members of our Youth and Junior Choirs than most teachers have to learn at the start of the year — at the same times that he learns what an enthusiastic handful they can be! His enthusiasm is infectious.
The East Village Fair
This tremendous annual Follen event is coming up this Saturday. Our volunteers who pitch in make it fun, so if you have not signed up, please feel free to do so or even show on the day of and ask how you might lend a hand. The three chairs (Bob Halliday, Paul Rubin, and David Armstrong) have been orchestrating this massive effort, and to them we all owe thanks. We forge important bonds with each other, as well as our neighbors and community, via the fair. See you there!
Digital Task Force
Our “Dream Big” Capital Campaign Exploratory Committee has worked through the summer collating all the suggestions and ideas from members and friends. One theme that arose was a desire to explore how digital technologies could enhance our church life, from more charging stations in our buildings, to more digital screens, to possible live-streaming for our worship services. PC vice-president Simon Horsburgh is gathering a task force to investigate.
Capital Campaign Exploratory Committee
As you may know, the CCEC (also known as the Dream Big Committee) is in full swing. Last spring, the committee asked for your suggestions about how to make Follen better. They received 135 responses. They spent the summer working with those suggestions, identifying common ideas and issues, and trying to turn dreams into reality. They have come up with a plan that they think will make Follen an even better place and take it through its next phase of growth. Now they’re looking for your input again to make sure they’re headed in the right direction. Please be sure to fill in their two-minute Survey Monkey questionnaire by this coming Sunday. Let’s keep Follen moving ahead!
Follen is a special community, and it’s up to us to keep it strong and growing. If you’ve got ideas, suggestions, or concerns, feel free to share them with me at Coffee Hour, or email me at your convenience.
Our 2016-17 year is off to a strong start!
Yours in service,
Program Council Presient