Membership Notes

A New Church Year: Are you like Marcel the Shell?
[Spoiler alert: this movie discusses the plot of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On]

Have you seen the movie Marcel the Shell with Shoes On? It’s the documentary-style tale of a shell (yes, a shell) named Marcel who lives with his grandmother, Nana Connie, in an Airbnb for humans (Marcel and Nana Connie are tiny shells. Watch the trailer here to get a sense of things.)

The movie is cute, poignant, funny, and deeply resonant. Early on, Marcel says that “it’s pretty much common knowledge that it takes at least 20 shells to have a community.” His community, though, has inexplicably disappeared, leaving the little shell with only his Nana. As they fend for themselves, they feel the loss while adapting. They find new ways of doing everything without their family, and they survive on their own.

By now, all of us humans have lived some version of Marcel’s loss and isolation, certainly over the past two and a half years, if not at other points in our lives. And (thankfully) we’ve reached a point where we’re reconnecting with those beyond our households–family, friends, communities. We’re figuring out how to re-adapt, this time to being together again.

FUUSN is re-adapting as much as any community, and perhaps more than some. We have a new interim minister, Rev. Parisa Parsa, and a new DRE, Devin Shmueli. A new church year is also about to begin, with fresh opportunities.

FUUSN’s member services committee has been in touch this summer. The committee will meet for a retreat with Parisa and Devin on Sunday, September 18 to think about how to nurture a congregation that is vibrant, relevant, and living its communal values. We’re thinking specifically about Sunday mornings (you can now sign up to be a greeter or to help at the welcome table one Sunday per month–see details elsewhere in this newsletter), helping newcomers feel at home, activities for this year, how best to communicate as a congregation, and developing a membership vision to guide our work as we move ahead.

While we’re (hopefully) past the nothing-ness of the early pandemic days, we don’t fully know what the short-term new normal will look like. It almost certainly won’t be a reprisal of the years leading up to March 2020. During this transitional time, I suspect that many of us will experience what Marcel the shell does: As much as he longed to be reunited with his community, when he finally is, Marcel seeks solitude at times in a way that is new for him.

We’ll have to discover together just what adjustments all of you at FUUSN will crave, and how we accommodate people’s new feelings and changed congregational dynamics. As we do, I hope that we’ll be in authentic conversation about what works, what doesn’t, and what ideas we have for being together in this strange time. It can feel a little unsettling, but I hope we can all embrace Nana Connie’s advice to her grandson: “Let’s forget about being afraid. Just take the adventure.”

Looking forward to seeing you at ingathering Sunday, and in the weeks ahead!

-Heather (