|Dear Members and Friends of St. John’s UU Church,|
At Rev. Mitra’s invitation, I am writing to update the congregation on how my role has changed during the pandemic.
As many of you know, I was hired to serve as Co-Director of Religious Life along with Ashleigh Rhodes. While I co-led Children’s Chapel with her, Ashleigh led the work of meeting with parents and planning family-friendly events and programs. I focused on supporting existing adult programs and collaborating with others to create new programs. Ashleigh and I worked together under Rev. Mitra’s leadership to envision and implement new intergenerational worship and programs. My early endeavors included realizing Rev. Mira’s vision of a publication space to share congregants’ creative work; thus we birthed The Seasonal Journal.
Then our beloved building shut-down. Rev. Mitra decided that without being able to connect in church, we needed to reach out more often with a 2nd weekly newsletter. In addition, we needed to add entirely new information: YouTube and Zoom link to programs and Sunday Services. For a number of reasons, it made sense for me to take on the responsibility of assembling and disseminating the newsletter twice a week using our MailChimp account. The special Saturday letter comes to you courtesy of Claire Wagner, who also posts videos on our YouTube channel.
As we moved programs online, I held practice sessions for folks to familiarize themselves with new technology. I also served as tech support for a number of programs others hosted. I hosted our original coffee hours when services were recorded. Now I sometimes facilitate the placing of stones for joys and concerns after our live-streamed service. During the summer I also led Mondays with Marie for families with young children. Along with support from members of the Religious Life Team, I create kits with materials for at-home activities for families with children.
We are planning for ALL families to receive a special package before the winter holidays.
Building on the relationships formed when I served as St. John’s Coordinator for Citywide OWL, I currently co-facilitate a UUA program Parents & Caregivers as Sexuality Educators with Meredith Plummer of First Church and Rev. Leslie Woodward of Heritage. Other collaborative projects include the Partner Chuch Cookbook, supporting Nancy Greenlee and Mary Darner.
I also am coordinating the launch of Chalice Groups by recruiting facilitators, creating a registration form, analyzing the data, setting up groups, and providing ongoing support.
Some recent podcasts inspired a new program: Sacred Space, Ritual Practices, and Collective Effervescence. We are also are working on programs related to end-of-life planning.
Unfortunately, some ideas for supporting parents in their new roles as teachers at home have not yet borne fruit. There are a few small things you can do to help me be more effective. I understand that for many of you my personal email pops up when you write to me because we corresponded before I had a church address. Please click on my name in your contacts list and update the email to email@example.com When you submit an item for publication in the E-news, please write “E-news” in the subject line. If you are sharing an image please attach it as a separate item. With all the changes and uncertainty, I understand that we need to share specifics about due dates, etc. That is on my to-do list along with writing new content for our website.
Please know my heart is filled with gratitude for your patience and support during my recent time away.
I look forward to working toward building a better beloved community among us.
A note of appreciation about Marie:
If the Spirit Team had an Energizer Bunny award, it would go to Marie Inanli. Yes, she’s staff but she’s been nominated more than once by congregants for the many ways she is bringing us together during the Covid isolation. An organization cog, she’s behind the E-news, the Seasonal Journal, virtual coffee hours, new programming and so much more. Her engaging personality, optimistic outlook, and delicate finesse certainly exceed her job description and we are grateful.
— St. John’s Spirit Team