The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture counts 2011-2012 as another year of community, connection, hard work, and celebration. Through the care and stewardship of our Leader in Training, Catherine Bordeau, the trustees, and our passionate and dedicated community, we added eight new members to our roster, welcomed new staff members Alva Rogers and Ben Halberstam as our children’s Upper Assembly teacher and communications coordinator, respectively. We also began a process of strategic restructuring intended to clarify our priorities and to make it easier for new members to plug into the work they’re most passionate about. In addition to her substantial work as our leader and interim Ethical Education Director this year, Catherine continues to work on her AEU Leader Training modules.
Here are some highlights of the past year:
We are proud to announce that Abby Scher was nominated for the Anna Garlin Spencer Award. Her nomination was endorsed by the AEU and she will attend the AEU Assembly to accept her award in person. We are so grateful for the years of service that Abby gave and continues to give to our community.
The Ethical Action Committee (EA) began a new program of collaboration with several other faith groups in our Park Slope neighborhood under the umbrella name Interfaith Social Justice Network. The congregations have come together on issues of food justice, educational inequality, and domestic worker rights in our city. EA’s monthly platforms, such as October’s domestic workers platform or May’s platform on Stop & Frisk, continue to bring social justice issues into the BSEC community. The Peace Site Award platform this year honors the work of the National Lawyers Guild, especially as it relates to the Occupy movement. EA sponsored a fundraiser in October to support the NEGES Foundation in Haiti and will co-sponsor a benefit for the Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE). Also this year, long time EA co-chair Abby Scher transitioned out of her position and welcomed in Rosemarie Hester into the job.
This year the Membership Committee had successful newcomers suppers and contributed their experience and thoughts to our new Welcome Guide that Catherine wrote. The committee also instituted new sign-up sheets that have proved helpful in securing volunteer greeters and potluck-contributors. In March, to mark the 105th anniversary of our founding, BSEC had our 2nd annual birthday party. In May, the MC hosted a new members appreciation picnic and variety talent show in the garden.
The Children’s Sunday Assembly (CSA) went through another major transition this year. Under Catherine Bordeau as interim CSA director we started a preschool class that became the fastest growing of our three classes. About 18 children took part in a sleepover in BSEC’s building in December and had fun interacting with the members who came to cook them pancakes in the morning. The children took part in the Winter Solstice platform, a Wampanoag Thanksgiving celebration, and the Mystery Pals society-wide intergenerational pen pal program. The Coming of Age group had a spring weekend backpacking trip and a completely revamped program. In the coming year, we hope to deepen parent, member, and staff involvement in the direction of the CSA and to implement some of the recommendations made by Catherine for how the CSA can grow and flourish.
The Sunday Committee, which organizes platforms and colloquies, brought us another dynamic year of speakers and events. From Catherine’s intergenerational celebrations to the BSEC Writers Group platforms to member Dan Lane’s “Member Passion” platform, all members were invited to be part of creating the Sunday experience. Dan also helped to coordinate music for platforms this year, enlivening our spirits as we enrich our minds and hearts. Diane Kirchner and Greg Tewksbury trained members interested in presiding on Sundays and will, along with Catherine, continue to nurture these new trainees. Dedicated co-chair Abby Scher will step back from her position starting this fall.
And finally, BSEC honors our members who passed away this year: Lydia Last and Edith Calabro. Let us arise and take up the work they have left unfinished.