When I saw the New York Times piece “How Loneliness is Damaging our Health,” shared by Lynn Holbein via the FUUSN general listserv on April 20, I clicked through to the article. Over the past couple of years, loneliness, already an epidemic in the United States (as the article details), has become pertinent for all of us, even if loneliness has remained a threat, rather than a reality. And for so many people, loneliness was unavoidable as we all distanced to stop the spread of covid.
According to the New York Times piece, “As some pandemic restrictions now finally lift, and New York returns to some semblance of normal, one unknown is the lasting effects of two years of prolonged isolation and the loneliness that came with it. Some people cut off nearly all physical interactions, others were more social, but few got through the various lockdowns and spikes without some sense of loss for the human connections they were missing.”
This is unsettling, and warrants broader conversation in our culture. But for our purposes, it speaks to the importance of places like FUUSN. If you are reading this, you are at least somewhat connected to a deep and evolving community as it actively tends itself and its future. As the annual budget drive winds down, it’s clear that you value FUUSN enough to support the congregation financially. Of course, financial support is just one kind of stewardship. Right now, you’re also stewarding FUUSN in a myriad of other ways. It’s in the care you’ve brought to the interim minister and DLRE searches. Good stewardship also looks like every covid-related decision that FUUSN’s leaders have made, and in each adjustment you’ve made to stay connected, whether in person or via Zoom.
I suspect that the desire to be good stewards also prompted some 20 FUUSN leaders (board and operations council members and lay leaders) to attend a workshop on trauma-informed leadership, led by Rev. Elizabeth Stevens, who traveled to FUUSN to host the April 16 event. The day brought awareness to how the challenges of the pandemic years can affect us individually and as congregations, and how we might navigate these responses together. If you weren’t there, I encourage you to ask a lay minister, board member or operations council member about the experience. You could also check out this audio conversation about trauma featuring the Rev. Elizabeth Stevens, or this 9.5-minute video on trauma response and covid featuring the Rev. Sunshine Wolfe
Fundamentally, being a good steward of a community you love means showing up for it. How you connect might change over time, as will the amount of time and/or money you have to invest in it. But whatever your connection looks like, if FUUSN still feels like home to you, I encourage you to maintain and, where necessary, adapt your involvement. As the New York Times article makes clear, it’s good for you, for your health—and for your fellow UUs to have you here.
-Heather (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org)
More Membership Notes:
• A Successful FUUSN Tour! Laurel Farnsworth and Gayle Smalley provided a tour of FUUSN on Saturday morning, April 23, and about a dozen FUUSNites showed up. It was informative, casual, and a great way to be together in the building again. Thank you to Laurel and Gayle for giving your time, care, and knowledge to the endeavor!
• Greeters still sought!
The member services committee is creating teams of Sunday morning greeters. This is an easy and fun activity, especially if you enjoy seeing people on Sunday mornings. There’s more information here (scroll down to “Our Daffodils are Blooming”). Interested? Contact Jeannie Chaisson at email@example.com.
• New Member Services Committee Teams! FUUSN’s member services committee is going through a bit of a transformation right now, and we need you–see if you think it’s a good fit:
We’re dividing into four teams: visioning, Sunday morning through first year, lifespan membership and programming, and communications. These teams will meet once a month for less than an hour. The four teams will meet together for about an hour and a half each quarter to touch base and swap notes. We particularly need folks for the visioning (to discern and articulate FUUSN’s membership vision) and communications (website, Realm, listservs, outreach/publicity, etc.) teams.
Ideally, the teams will include people from a variety of backgrounds, and at a variety of life stages. This committee will play a key role in creating connections within FUUSN and beyond during a critical time within the congregation and in public life.
And we will have fun along the way as we plan fun activities and strategize! Questions? Interest? Please email Membership Coordinator Heather Beasley Doyle (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com)