By Susan Lesh
Our Task Force has been very busy. As previously mentioned, there was an initiative developed by the joint Board and Program Council retreat, i.e. finding out more from you, our members, about your experiences here at Bergen Ethical and your thoughts about moving into the future. We created an online survey that was available during April to start the process.
First, I’d like to thank our devoted members of the Task Force, who met weekly from mid-January through the end of March. They are: Sarah Glisky, Lisa Hirschman, Sarah Jack, Rolando Perez, Lisa Schwartz, and Andrew Tuliszewski.
We are currently culling through the data that we received to identify three to five topics to be explored in the small-group discussions to be held in members’ homes. You will receive an invitation to a discussion group soon. These discussions will take place in late June, through the summer, and in early Fall.
Here are some of the highlights from the data:
We had 70 respondents (thank you to all who responded!). Primarily, most people expect intellectual stimulation here and view Bergen Ethical as a place to connect for community and support as well as to make friends. Everyone who responded knew that Bergen Ethical was part of a larger, national organization, the American Ethical Union (AEU), but only half of the respondents feel that membership in the national organ-ization is important. About three-quarters of respondents view ECS as their religion.
We asked what should be required of members and most felt that annual dues should be required. About half of respondents felt that volunteering on Sunday should be required and several respondents felt there should be no requirements. We forced people to make a decision about three main areas for Bergen Ethical to focus on, in order to impact the outside world. Most agreed that Social Action was an important issue, although votes were spread among racial justice, economic equality, advocacy for non-violence and immigrant justice. Many also felt that Ethical Education is an important area for us.
We are sifting through the information about perceptions of our weekly meetings and meeting space, as well as perceptions of diversity of our members. Thank you again to everyone who responded and we look forward to participating in the next step.
Susan Lesh is president of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County.