This is going to be a somewhat unorthodox opening letter from the new Board President of NoVES, but in many ways, it's actually perfect.
I, Melissa Sinclair, have been a member of NoVES for 17 years and being a member has been "home" for my family since moving to Northern Virginia. And it is my honor to take my turn as Board President of NoVES for this programming year.
My partner and I found this Society while looking for a community for our children to grow up in, but more importantly, for a place for us to build a community. We were ready to form lasting/caring friendships with life-minded people.
We knew of the Ethical Society from years before when we were looking to find someone to perform our wedding. We were intriqued by the notion of an Ethical Society.
Once we found NoVES, we became members in all sense of the word, as you do when you join a small organization. We taught Sunday School, we served on the board, we ran the auction, we helped with Sunday morning set-up, etc. We enjoyed the Halloween parties and the concerts and we loved that we could work together in community to go to protests, marches, and other events to help this world be a better place.
We welcomed our second child while at the society and we watched our oldest go through the the entire Sunday School program, and most importantly, we got to know all members. They have become our friends.
We have watched the society change over the years, but what I have noticed and loved most of all is seeing the beauty of this community supporting each other.
Most recently I have watched the community survive the pandemic through adapting to the times without losing the close connections. Members have helped each other through broken bones, recovering from COVID, moving, and so much more.
Two weeks ago several of our youth, including my youngest, went to the Quest camp. I was one of the two volunteer parent drivers. It was so wonderful to spend those hours with those kids who I have had the pleasure to see grow.
My teen got ill on the ride home from that trip. It turns out it was a 2 week-long virus (not COVID) he caught while at camp. He's still recovering as are my partner and I, but you know what I realized while we were under the weather? I realized that if I needed anything - someone in this society or other Ethical Societies would help us. We weren’t truly alone. We had community. The importance of that cannot be under estimated or under stated.
I have a lot of hopes for this upcoming programming year and I will detail that in a more orthodox President's blog post will follow next week once my family has completely recovered from this awful virus. But I wanted to send something for my inaugural blog post because we have something special at NoVES and we need to celebrate it, nourish it, and expand it.
NoVES Board President
NoVES is pleased to become an affiliate of the American Humanist Association. This will connect us with other Humanist groups in the local area who share our values.
The AHA uses extensive local and national media contacts, for lobbying and coalition efforts on Capitol Hill, and the efforts of grassroots activists, this affiliation will ensure that the humanist point of view is represented—the idea that you can be good without a belief in a god
Posted by Iris Woodard
Proposed by the Northern Virginia Ethical Society, amended and passed by the 105th AEU Assembly in August 2020
Whereas the American Ethical Union and the Humanist Association were founded on the principles of the dignity and worth of each person, reverence for life, and freedom of belief among others.
A resolution was passed by the AEU in 2003 in support of decriminalization of the furnishing of a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs by a physician to an adult patient with full decision-making capacity.
Whereas nine states and the District of Columbia support Death with Dignity by allowing terminally ill patients to have control over their end of life. These states include Oregon (26 years), Montana (10 years); Washington (11 years), Vermont (7 years), California and Colorado (4 years), Washington DC (2 years) and New Jersey, Hawaii, and Maine (1 year).
Whereas the currently accepted definition of terminal illness is generally that the person is afflicted with an illness, condition, or disease that has no cure and will imminently lead to death.
Therefore Be it Resolved that The American Ethical Union urges its member societies and affiliates and their members to take action in support of Death with Dignity legislation in each state when appropriate. Such legislation would allow terminally ill, mentally competent adult state residents legally to obtain a prescription for medications to end their life peacefully, in a dignified way, at the place and time of their choosing. Such legislation would permit qualified terminally ill patients to choose to end needless suffering by advancing the time of their approaching death. It would also provide peace of mind for many residents in having access to the option of aid in dying, even if they do not exercise that option. Such legislation should include protection for physicians who supply such prescriptions.
Recommended actions, both for individuals and for member Societies and affiliated organizations, include contacting elected representatives in their state legislatures asking that they support such legislation; joining an action network, such as Compassion and Choices; and signing a pledge to support such legislation.
Recently there have been attacks on School Boards in two of our local counties. I refer you to local news articles for details of these events. But I do not understand why civility and respect have deserted our society. I am sure there are multiple factors, but I am profoundly saddened by these events. I wish to make this statement as President of our Board of Directors
NoVa Ethical Society honors the worth and dignity of each person. People should be treated with respect and dignity no matter what their race, religion, or sexual orientation. We find these types of attacks despicable and offensive. We call upon people of all faiths and beliefs to stand in solidarity with our School Board members who have done a great job during a most challenging school year. Every human has meaning and worth. Please act so as to bring out the best in everyone.
In January the Board of Directors voted to support legislation to grant the status of statehood to the City of Washington DC. Below is the letter submitted to Legislators. NOVES will be listed as a supporter of this legislation.
House Committee on Oversight and Reform
Representative Carolyn Maloney - Chair,
Representative James Comer - Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Homeland Security - Senator Thomas Carper
Dear Chairman Maloney, Ranking Member Comer, and Senator Carper,
As you hear testimony and consider H.R. 51, and S.R 51 the Washington, DC Admissions Act, we urge you to uphold the founding principles of our democracy and our deeply held values and support full and equal representation for the people of Washington, DC. The more than 700,000 residents of the District deserve the fundamental right to self rule.
After the events of the week of January 6, 2021, it is clearly apparent that Washington DC needs the ability to manage itself and provide adequate protection for its residents. Because the National Government is located within the city, there are many activities that have impact on the streets and residents of Washington DC. The Mayor needs to be able to independently plan security and call up additional forces, without having to wait for permission from the Federal Government.
This is not simply a matter of extending representation to the residents of Washington, DC, more than half of whom are people of color. States are the fundamental basis for our system of government and to deny a population the ability to form a state denies them the ability to fully participate in self-governance. Any solution short of statehood would simply continue the two-tiered system of citizenship present in our democracy today,.
The NoVA Ethical Society (NOVES) is a Humanist religious organization that meets in Vienna, Virginia. We are affiliated with the Washington Ethical Society through our joint membership in the American Ethical Union. NOVES has members who reside in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC. Our religious belief is in the value and worth of each human being. We strongly support changes that would provide equality and fairness under the law to every resident of this country.
Originally posted on AEU website Jan 7, 2021
Yesterday, we watched in shock and horror as a violent mob attacked the US Capitol, forcing their way inside and occupying areas of the building for hours in an attempt to disrupt the certification of electoral votes submitted by the states. By the end of the day, 4 people were dead, 52 members of the seditious mob were arrested, and 14 police officers were injured. It took the assistance of many additional federal law enforcement personnel and the National Guard to remove the attackers from the Capitol and clear the way for the Joint Congress to resume its work.
Fortunately, the Joint Congress was resolute and refused to let the interruption derail our democracy, working through the night to certify the electoral vote counts for all of the states. However, this episode was an attack on democracy itself, instigated by a sitting president whose actions have severely undermined respect for and trust in the very system that put him in office.
Mr. Trump has shown only contempt for the democratic process and is a danger to our country. People who are in a position to remove Mr. Trump from office ought to proceed in haste as this president has repeatedly shown readiness to incite violence and mayhem, and also continues to demonstrate an obsession with the electoral results to the seeming exclusion of other national concerns. Our democratic system of government must be protected from his influence.
As Ethical Humanists, we are called upon to repudiate the anti-democratic tendencies that have gained an unwelcome foothold in public life. Our country will need us to elicit the best from one another and ourselves in the months and years to come.
The Board met via zoom on Saturday April 18. Several important decisions were made
All future events presented on Zoom will also be listed on the NoVES web page. If you do not get an email with information about how to access the call, you can find it there. We are trying to keep call details somewhat private to avoid “Zoom Bombing” www.noves.org/calendar
The Society will remain closed through June. We are having weekly zoom platforms and all are invited to attend. As a side note: the Spring Festival was great on Sunday with puppet shows, great music, an entertaining children’s story and time to connect with each other.
The General Membership Meeting date has been moved to June 7 - the first Sunday in June. It will be a zoom meeting so watch for details. We will be voting on Board members, a continuing resolution to maintain our current budget through the summer, and some gender friendly language changes for the Bylaws.
If you are interested in running for the Board or wish to submit a nomination, please send an email to Bonni VanBlarcom (firstname.lastname@example.org ) . We ask that if you are nominating someone, please speak to them first and be sure they are willing to serve.
Anyone who has experienced financial impact because of the social distancing guidelines should let our treasurer, Heather Macdonald, know. We are flexible about pledge payments if we know about your circumstances. Heather continues to check the post office box for mailed pledge payments.
Everyone stay healthy but stay in touch, This community is strong together. See you soon, Iris
On behalf of the Board, I hope everyone is staying healthy and sane (?). I am personally finding it harder to maintain this social isolation. I am bored with movies and fed up with zoom calls. But I persist knowing this will pass eventually. As of today, I am unaware of any of our members being sick with Coronavirus or any other issue. If something happens, please let me know. I have been grocery shopping for some folks in senior living facilities and would be happy to help in other ways. The Caring Committee remains alert and ready to assist. If you need groceries, a ride to the doctor, or refills of medication please call.
It looks as if the social restrictions will remain in place at least until June. The Board is meeting on Saturday April 18 (via Zoom) to make arrangements to hold our annual membership meeting and Board elections without meeting face to face. We will share that plan with you as soon as possible, We now have our own Zoom subscription with unlimited time and participants allowed. If you have ideas for a zoom activity please reach out to Iris Woodard, or Randy Best. We will facilitate anything that helps us stay in touch with each other - story reading, book discussions, movie discussions, social time among friends, etc.
Here is an interesting article from the Washington Post. If you have a subscription you can read about how humanist groups are participating in Congress’s first caucus for nonreligious belief seeking a larger role in promoting science. https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2020/04/09/congress-freethought-caucus-science/
The following letter will be available for people to sign on March 8:
We are writing to you as members of the Northern Virginia Ethical Society. NoVES is a humanistic religious community affiliated with the American Ethical Union. NoVeS meets in Vienna, Virginia. Our prime life principle is to act so as to bring out the best in ourselves and in others. Ethical behavior is central to that principle and our beliefs.
We wish to express support for the Vindman Family. It takes a true hero to have the courage to speak truth in the face of possible negative consequences. We wish to thank both Vindman brothers for their military service to an adopted country. They epitomize the traits that we expect of our military. Thank Alex especially for his courageous public actions and testimony.
Our community stands in solidarity with all who show courage and live ethically in the world. Thank you to the religious family that supports you.
The Board met on Sat Sept 28, 2019. There was a lot to discuss. We had an update on pledges from Hank Gassner. There are still 14 people who have not submitted a pledge for the program year 2019 - 2020.
We have a number of restricted funds in our budget. One is called the Tribute Fund - money that people have donated in honor of or in memory of a life event. For example, a donation in memory of a friend who passed, or the christening of a grandchild. The Board uses this money for special expenses, such as money for the Sound Team to purchase a new tablet so that we can continue our Facebook live-stream of platforms, or the printing costs of the song books that were prepared this summer. This fund is important in making money available for unusual purchases. Donations are always welcome.
We had a long discussion about a Membership Committee. We see two areas that both need focus. The first area of focus is Publicity to let people know about all our activities and events. We hope to attract people who might be interested in joining our group. The second area of focus is integration or assimilation. We want to welcome visitors and make sure they connect with others who share similar interests. Brad May and Jim Perdue are co-chairs of this committee and are looking for people who might be interested in being Ambassadors - greeting and chaperoning visitors. Please speak to one of them if you think you might like this job.
Melissa Sinclair has generously volunteered to be the point of contact for all calendar and publicity coordination. We publish events on different platforms (Facebook, MeetUp, posters in libraries, NoVES web calendar) depending on what they are and whether our group is the sponsor or a participant. If you have an event that you think might be of interest to our group, please reach out to Melissa.
Lastly, the Board is working on updating the Membership List. Once completed, we will post on our website so that you can print a hard copy if you wish. Stay tuned.
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