By Susan Lesh
We, the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County, are part of a larger national organization called the American Ethical Union (AEU); we have member societies in 15 states. Not surprisingly, most of the Societies are in the New York area. We started with the New York Society for Ethical Culture being founded in 1876. You can visit the “mother meeting house,” with its beautiful 19th Century auditorium, at 64th Street and Central Park West.
Within a couple of years, there were new Societies in Chicago, Philadelphia and St. Louis. In the early 1900s, two more New York Societies were formed, in Brooklyn and Westchester. In the 1940s, Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Essex County, NJ, formed Societies along with a new New York Society in Riverdale-Yonkers. The 1950s saw the founding of Northern Westchester, Long Island and Queens in New York as well as Boston; our own Society was founded in 1953.
No new Societies were formed until the 1980s, when Northern Virginia was founded along with the Society of the Triangle in North Carolina. The Ethical Society of Austin, Texas ,was founded in 1994. After 2000, Asheville, NC, was founded. The Mid-Rivers Society began as a satellite of the St. Louis Society; it incorporated as a separate Society in 2010. Silicon Valley in California was also founded in 2010.
Our newest member Society is in Lewisburg, PA, the Susquehanna Valley Society. We currently have several new groups exploring the ethical humanism community. They are in Albuquerque, Atlanta, Georgia, Los Angeles and Tampa. We are going to have our AEU Assembly in Tampa this June and hope to fan the flames of interest in that area. Almost every Society has a Web site and many of them also have Facebook pages.
Consider checking out what our extended Ethical community is doing, and if you happen to find yourself traveling near one of our member Societies, stop in and say hello. You can find links to the other Societies on the AEU Web site, along with a myriad of pointers to information of all sorts.
Susan Lesh is president of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County.