Northern Virginia Ethical Society (NoVES)

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  • Monday, April 20, 2020 11:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Board met via zoom on Saturday April 18. Several important decisions were made

    1. 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 

    2. 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. 

    3. 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.

    4. If you are interested in running for the Board or wish to submit a nomination, please send an email to Bonni VanBlarcom (bonninoves@yahoo.com ) .  We ask that if you are nominating someone, please speak to them first and be sure they are willing to serve. 

    5. 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. 

    6.  Everyone stay healthy but stay in touch, This community is strong together.   See you soon, Iris


  • Wednesday, April 15, 2020 10:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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/


    Finances:  Our community will continue to have financial commitments even though we are not meeting in person.  We will continue the salary of our paid staff, and have other payments due, though we will suspend our charity contributions until in person meetings resume. Your pledge payments can be sent to  Northern Virginia Ethical Society, P.O. Box 984, Vienna, VA 22183.  Someone will be checking the post office weekly. Please note:  Though you can find your pledge balance on the website, please do NOT use this method for submitting payments.  The Wild Apricot platform does not accept partial payments, so you will be charged your entire balance. 


  • Friday, March 06, 2020 4:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The following letter will be available for people to sign on March 8:

    Hello,

    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. 

  • Sunday, September 29, 2019 6:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

           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.



  • Thursday, September 12, 2019 12:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Members of NOVES visited a representative from Senator Kaine today. Iris Woodard and Eugenia Burkes had a very productive talk with Urooj Mughal, Kaine's Regional Director. We explained who NOVES is, and how we are a Secular Humanist Organization that believes in the worth and dignity of every single human being. We talked about how this approach leads us to a strong position on preserving voter rights, in as many ways as possible. 

    We asked how citizens can help Senator Kaine ensure that America is led back to a position of compassion and ethics. She suggested that we become activists in as many ways as possible. Canvas voters, demonstrate with issues, and make donations to the candidates who represent our values.  

    Remember that Virginia votes every year, and 2019 is a particularly important election. All the local representatives, from state government to school board to Commonwealth Attorney are on the slate this fall. You can vote either by absentee if you meet one of the 20 qualifications, or in person on Nov 5. 

    Please tell us how you are living your ethical values each day. 

  • Sunday, February 17, 2019 8:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Brad, Randy, Vanessa and kids, and I met this morning at Green Hedges School before platform for meditation.  We found comfortable seating, turned off the fluorescent lights, and let the natural light come in as we prepared for a 25 min guided meditation.  “Just as I wish to, may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you live with ease and happiness” was one of the mantras we  were instructed to extend to someone we love, someone we like, someone neutral, and to all living beings.  Sooner than I expected, our meditation was over and I found myself (lol) calmer and better equipped for the day.   

    We plan to continue the meditations every Sunday before platform from 10:15- 10:45 am Classroom #9.  We invite all members, guests, and friends to join!




  • Monday, January 07, 2019 8:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From Iris Woodard on behalf of the Ethical Action Committee. 

    The Virginia General Assembly begins its annual meetings this week. Last Saturday, I attended a session at the Fairfax County Government Center.  All the representatives from Fairfax County listened to citizen presentations about issues of interest. There was lots of the usual topics, such as teacher pay, minimum wages, gun control, funding for ESL and special needs classes.  Representatives from ARC made impassioned pleas for increased funding for Priority 1 Housing Waivers. One young lady has been on the waiting list for 13 years. Other issues included Immigrant rights, stop Fairfax County Jails from reporting arrests to ICE, free community college for all state residents and many more.

    You can access the full list of bills pending at this site:                                   https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604

    The group OneVirginia2021 presented a plan for a judicial panel to draw voting lines to correct the current gerrymandered map.

    Read about this initiative here: https://www.onevirginia2021.org/

    The group VARatifyERA is advocating that Virginia should be the 38th state to ratify an amendment to the US Constitution mandating equal rights under the law. Read about this initiative here: https://varatifyera.org/

    As Mechelle Hankerson reports today, an apparent major early issue will be tax conformity and a larger debate about tax policy. Battle lines between Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who has a suite of budget increases that count in part on collecting more tax revenue as a result of federal tax reform, and Republicans in the General Assembly, who are pushing tax changes to allow Virginians to keep much of that money, appear to be drawn. 

    These and many other issues are very important to our daily life. It is imperative that each of us take the time to express our opinion about these and many other issues. I will be bringing the postcards to Platform meetings each week. It is up to each of you to identify your representative and communicate to them how you feel about issues = either by phone or in writing. 

    I ENCOURAGE YOU TO COMMUNICATE ABOUT ONE ISSUE EACH WEEK FOR THE 10 WEEKS OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. No citizen can afford to be silent. 


  • Sunday, May 20, 2018 12:00 PM | Deleted user

    I now wish to address all members of our Society, whether they are here or not. This address is also appearing on our website as we speak. I have been authorized to deliver this on behalf of the majority of the Board whom I represent today along with the membership who voted us to act as your duly appointed representatives.

    Whatever the outcome of this vote which begins when I finish, I would ask you to remember this. All of you support NoVES in one way or the other. Many of you also volunteer your precious hours for NoVES. Your Board too is comprised of unpaid members who are enormously dedicated to seeing our Society grow as well as remain and flourish as a place for young and old to support each other in ethical thought and action. We have spent hours over the last year to come to this point where we offer a budget and vision for the next and coming years.

    We know that not everyone here agrees with this budget and the vision which goes along with it. We know that some of you say we need more time to discuss a vision, maybe another year, maybe more. Some even say we do not need a new vision, as we already have one.

    To all those of you who hold these contrary views to this budget, we who propose this budget say this; we respect your views; we are glad you voice them. We want you and others to be engaged as deeply as possible in the affairs of our Society. We bear no grudge or ill will to anyone.

    We do not take our work lightly. To the contrary, those who submit to you this budget gave up many hours of our precious time over many months, away from our family, professional, and personal lives, to prepare and deliver this budget proposal and vision. We can assure you it was done in good faith. Like everything else, we know it is less than perfect, but we can confidently say that your Board has worked no less hard at this than any Board in the past. Nor do we expect that any future Board can look back and say we presented this budget lightly and with little consideration of the consequences. In fact, we believe this budget will open the path to an even more vigorous and dynamic society. And we are prepared to execute it for results we believe in, if it is approved.

    NoVES is and will always be a place with different views and also views which sometimes are in conflict. We have many issues where feelings differ. They include the role and commitments we expect of a leader, the type of membership we wish to attract and retain, whether and how fast we should grow, and where we should invest our precious volunteer time and our limited funds across many different interests. We must periodically check our beliefs as a Board against what all of our members say, each of who comes to NoVES at some point in their lives, stays for whatever time, and at some point departs. We are a society which will always grow in different ways.

    I would also urge everyone to try to view the recent difficult conversations we have had both within the Board and within NoVES in a positive light. NoVES like every Ethical Society will always face open-ended questions about our nature as a humanist organization, the roles and expectation we have of any Leader, and the budget priorities we pursue. We need to continue to listen to and tolerate diverse views. Which is why I have also reached out to the AEU to help NoVES in a continuing conversation once an incoming Board is in place. I believe with the mediation of the AEU that NoVES can continue an open, respectful conversation which simply cannot end with this membership meeting because these are issues which will remain with us, whatever the outcome of today’s meeting. I hope the incoming Board and all our members will welcome such an effort to encourage open and respectful thinking about important questions we all wrestle with, and not just at the Board. This mediation can only work if a wide diversity of views are represented. It can only be done if members step forward to do that. And it cannot be led by the Board, by a Leader, or any select group of members all adhering to the same views. That would defeat its purpose.

    And so, it is once again time to test the beliefs of your Board against the will of our membership. This is why we are here today. We must allow all members to have duly noticed opportunity to exercise their views through vote, whether or not they actually choose to do so. And we can never limit that future choice to only those who do come here today to vote, even if it seems inconvenient to some to hold a new membership meeting if our budget is not passed. Members must have the opportunity to vote for the budget they want and for the Board they believe will execute it with heart and mind. If we do otherwise, we compromise a sacred principle of due representation which governs not only us, but so many other institutions which are built on the vision that everyone has the right to voice and vote.

    Therefore, if you as a membership majority choose not to vote in favor of this proposed budget, we must also give you the opportunity to have a new Board which can propose an alternative which can then be duly noticed to all members. If such is the case, those of us on your current Board who have supported this proposed budget, will yield our place once we have completed any transitional matters.

    Our resignation from the Board would not be based on any desire to disrupt or subvert. It is instead a good faith desire to ensure there can be continuity as well as change. The continuity will come from the current majority remaining for a very short while (perhaps 48 to 72 hours) to allow for a smooth transition. The change will come from the newly constituted and/or elected Board to pursue and notice a new budget to the membership and to then execute it, if approved.

    Our majority remains committed to executing our proposed budget and vision, should it be agreed by our membership. We have every confidence we have the opportunity to do so and to make NoVES an even more dynamic place. However, we will only do so if a decided majority of the membership also shares this vision by endorsing our budget.

    We say all this not to be divisive, but to be inclusive. We want each and every member of our society, whether they are here or not, whether they come to platforms or not, whether they support this Board or not, each and all of them must receive due notice about exactly what their Board proposes to do with their contributions. And they must have the opportunity to vote for their Board whom they believe can not only propose, but also carry the budget through execution. Only by doing all of this can not only the By-Laws of this Society be faithfully executed, but the will of our membership be conducted without fear of a majority vote or favor to simply minority interests. Anything less will subvert what we are as a society; legally, operationally, and also ethically.

    Thank you for this opportunity to speak and for serving on your Board. We now commend this vote to you.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Wednesday, May 02, 2018 11:39 AM | Deleted user

    I hesitated to start this blog post with the almost banal truism that NoVES is immersed in a social environment of change as never before. Yet there is no doubt all of us face unparalleled times. At national and local levels, we see leadership and elites being questioned as never before, wisely and unwisely. Rules and norms are being flouted at a rate which would probably stun the author of the phrase "defining deviancy down" Senator Pat Moynihan, the great politician-intellectual, who warned us about such dangers. On a positive note, women, youth, and minorities are finding voice in politics and leadership at an unprecedented rate.

    As an Ethical Society, NoVES cannot look inward and ignore such changes. However, this does not necessarily mean we need to change in every way with the environment around us. There is no doubt we should resist the trend of lowering the bar on our ethical, moral, and legal standards. NoVES should instead model standards of conduct and governance which foster engagement and transparency to the maximum extent sought by our norms and permissible by our rules.

    Nor should we remain complacent as to who we are becoming as a Society. As we seek to grow as a Society, we should seek, expect and welcome more millennials, women, and minorities to join our ranks and for them to assume positions of leadership in our community, including our various committees and the Board. We are blessed to find ourselves in a geographic situation where we share one of the most dynamic, diverse, and thoughtful loci of socio-economic change in the country, arguably even in the world. This should be a huge reservoir to draw upon as we seek not only growth in line with our values, but also greater collaboration and networking with others who are also committed to seeing more equitable, broad-based, and sustainable prosperity in our global society.

    Finally, reasoned argumentation should always have a place of pride in our discourse. At NoVES, we have attempted in a modest way to respond to change by developing a new 2018-20 Vision which we have engaged at the Board, shared with our committees, and also with our Society. This is a living document which broadly frames key directions which we seek to pursue as we move forward in coming years towards becoming an even more vibrant focal point of humanist thought and action. As NoVES President, who has been proud to be part of these efforts, I hope more and more of our members will engage further in the Society and take advantage of numerous opportunities through which we can all contribute to our activities both within and outside our Society and which place us in line with the values we seek.

    I know that some ask, and quite legitimately, details of how each and every aspect of our change will unfold. We should indeed plan and discuss such questions as much as we can. At the same time, change can only come about if we invite it as a mindset, but without abandoning our key values of treating all with dignity and respect.

    Change is especially not easy when it seeks to change traditional ways of behaving and in conducting the affairs of any institution. Yet, compelling change cannot be avoided in turbulent times. If we stand on our principles, I think NoVES too can be guided by the wise words of Reverend Martin Luther King: "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

    Best,

    Jeffrey

  • Monday, April 02, 2018 4:53 PM | Deleted user

    If it is not already obvious, it bears reminding how blessed NoVES is to be centrally located in the growing and diverse metropolitan area of Washington, DC. Not only are we adjacent to the seat of our country’s federal government, but the progressive and cosmopolitan milieu of our community affords multiple opportunities to benefit from synergies with many other individuals and groups.

    This realization was concretized for me recently when Cherie, the boys, and I joined several other NoVES families and members at the ‘March for Our Lives’ event alongside groups of secular youth and other Ethical Societies. It was a remarkable demonstration of NoVES’s connection in time and in space with the larger world beyond our congregation.

    Clearly this will not be our only such opportunity for such engagements. The rest of 2018 promises to be one where we continue to join diverse voices to translate our Ethical Culture concerns and values into action. Marches & rallies are just one such way to interact. Since earlier this year, we have been utilizing a multiplicity of web and social media channels to track, support, comment upon, and originate civic action through cyberspace to complement what we have been actively doing in meeting with elected officials and through rallies and campaigns.

    We are also seeking to enrich our outreach with other Meetup groups having similar interests. Moving forward, some of our adult enrichment and other activities have the prospect of becoming leveraged with the energy and co-branding with fellow humanist, secular, and other groups. Additional opportunities could include community service projects with these same groups in our area.

    I look forward to this aspect of our 2018-2020 Vision being turned into the reality of a closer and richer set of relationships with other groups across a range of activities. We are looking forward to various committees taking the lead in defining such new programs as we seek out and find ways to adapt and stretch our budget resources and to provide our membership with additional opportunities for interacting with fellow members as well as with individuals with like-minded interests outside of NoVES.

    All of this necessarily requires a greater commitment as well as a more efficient organization and utilization of our membership volunteer capacity. The board is united in its commitment to our Vision and the administrative efforts required to achieve it and I am confident the increased synergies with other individuals and organizations will yield an overall increase in our membership volunteer capacity. I continue to encourage our membership to actively engage the collective efforts of our Society, to seek out that which energizes you, and to work to create a community that helps us grow as individuals, challenges us to question, encourages us to accept others, educates us on a wide variety of topics, propels us to social action, and supports each of us in creating the kind of world we want for ourselves and our children.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

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