By Eric Sandhusen
A new program year begins! It was so much fun to welcome visitors, friends, and members to our Welcome Back Gathering last Sunday as we Celebrated Education! and the many teachers in our Society and our communities. It was just the kind of heartfelt event that reminds me of the power of community to banish loneliness and isolation.
In distant years past, the Bergen Ethical Society would go on hiatus for the summer, offering no platforms or activities until autumn’s return. Not so this year, as the meetinghouse remained a hub of activity, including weekly Gatherings, two (packed) Open Mic nights (four if you count the Resistance Café), marching in Teaneck’s July 4th parade, promoting awareness of the need to preserve natural waterways, a seven-week jobs and skills program for youth, participating in a stirring 60th anniversary commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, and an American Ethical Union Assembly in which the Bergen Society took the lead in reconnecting the AEU to its various member societies around the country. Wow! All that, as well as the continuing work of our various committees to get us ready for the new season.
More art, community-building, and intergenerational fun
About that committee work: As full and fun as the summer was, the upcoming year promises even more, as we shift to bring more music, art, and poetry into our Sunday experience, increase community-building and connection, and support personal growth and intergenerational activities. No worries, though, we will not lose the essential parts of our Society: thought-provoking presentations on timely topics, engaging social action, and of course, fantastic festivals and potlucks.
Continuing to build upon the advances made in the past year, I’ll admit, is causing some stress. More is being asked of our committed core of people as we level up, and there will be some lag while we work to build our membership. Still, there are good signs, as a new generation of Sunday School families provide leadership, which will be seen in a greatly expanded Fall Festival that will include food trucks, bounce houses, and tons of family features.
Adapting to the changing world
The Bergen Ethical Society will always be in some type of transition, as we move through life’s stages and adapt to the changing world. We’re coming through a significant and perilous time, and while we’re doing it well, I’ve learned to not take anything for granted. Still, it feels to me that we are gaining traction (if not yet a horde of new members) and are ready to build upon the new direction and energy that Leader Curt Collier has brought to us (with unprecedented amounts of grant funding, community outreach, and visibility).
If you’re looking for a great opportunity to learn, grow, serve, laugh, (cry), sing, think, act, and just generally bring out your best self by bringing out the best in others–jump in!
P.S. Our very comfortable and beautiful new chairs are due for delivery in October! We will be offering opportunities to support this welcome upgrade to our meetinghouse with a brass plaque to honor your gift, or as a tribute to friends, family, or others who have made a positive impact in our Society.
P.P.S. I’ve received many positive comments on the speech that I gave at the MLK commemoration on Aug. 27. While I am grateful, it should be known that much of my speech was based on the excellent platform address given this summer by Orion Hopper on “The Case for Reparations.” If you haven’t seen his address, I encourage you to watch it on our YouTube channel, as it is as clear and compelling in its conclusion as can be imagined. Many thanks for your work on this, Orion.
Eric Sandhusen is president of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County.