What should our response be, Disaster Relief, Healthy Congregations and more...
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What should our response be, Disaster Relief, Healthy Congregations, and more...


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PWR Newsletter


What should our response be?

Dear Pacific Western Congregational Leaders,

I write these words a few days before the November election knowing you will likely read them a few days after the election.

This fall, other PWR staff members and I have noticed an increased level of anxiety in many of our congregations. People seem to be more reactive to each other, becoming very upset over small matters that in other times they might shrug off. They seem to be more reactive to decisions by congregational leaders, both religious professionals and lay leaders, with which they disagree.

I can’t help but think that this might have something to do with our national political climate.

Social science suggests that when people don’t feel they have enough control in one area of their life, such as state or national politics, they may act out in either positive or negative ways in areas of their life where they have more control, such as the congregation where they belong.

I don’t know how the election will have turned out by the time you read these words.

My highest hope is that individuals who share many of our liberal religious values will be elected at all levels of government (and that this will also reduce the anxiety that many people in our congregations are feeling.) My more realistic self tells me that the results will be a mixed bag at best.

As leaders in a liberal religious tradition, what should our response be? I want to suggest for your consideration that it should be about the same no matter what the results are.

If the individuals we prefer are elected, our task is not to throw up our hands in joy, say, "Thank goodness for that," and then return to the quotidian rhythms of our everyday lives. Our task is to continue the hard, slow, onerous work of creating a more compassionate, just, and sustainable world for us all, because elected leaders, no matter what party, rarely make courageous decisions without ordinary people continuing to pressure them to do so. Most Unitarian Universalists don’t believe in a single savior from 2,000 years ago and we shouldn’t expect any one person to save us now.

If the individuals we prefer are not elected, our task is not to bury our heads in our hands in despair (or at least not for long.) Our task is the same, to continue the work of creating a more compassionate, just, and sustainable world for us all.

As important as national politics are these days, I’ll also note that I suspect that we as Unitarian Universalists sometimes become too focused on national politics, forgetting that Unitarian Universalist congregations usually have the most power to make a difference at the local level.

Most of all, though, no matter what the election results are, my hope is we will be tender and patient with one another, slow to judge and quick to forgive and reconcile.

Our congregations can’t help but sometimes reflect the pain of the wider world within their walls, but may they be places where that pain is held gently, where it is transformed and not just transmitted, where bitterness and despair are slowly transformed into trust, hope, courage, commitment, patience, and perseverance.

Rev. Dr. James Kubal-Komoto
Pacific Western Regional Lead

November 8, 2018
In this Issue
  • What should our response be?
  • District and UU News
  • Disaster Relief Fund Update
  • Healthy Congregations Team
  • Job Postings
  • Youth News
PWR Quick Links
PWR Field Staff

PWR and UUA News


APF Changes

Every year UU congregations are asked to contribute a specific sum of money to the Unitarian Universalist Association Annual Program Fund. The APF makes up the single largest source of funding for the work of the UUA. In turn, these funds are used to provide resources, programming, and support to all congregations across the Association.

Our Pacific Western Region congregations are in the midst of a transitional year, having moved from separate district and APF contributions to a unified ask covering both. In July of 2019, after our transitional year has ended, the UUA will be rolling out the New APF in our region.

The UUA Congregational Giving Office recently distributed a detailed information booklet about the New APF to our congregational leaders. Here are a few resources if you still have questions after reading the materials:

Justice and Spirit: Unitarian Universalist Online Book Club

Skinner House Books and Beacon Press offer an online book each month on the GoodReads website. They describe the book club this way: "Life never stops sending new spiritual challenges our way. How do we, as individuals and communities, search for truth and meaning, strive for justice and action, navigate our spiritual journeys, and live out our values? Justice and Spirit: The UU Book Club is a place where all who are interested in spirituality, religion, and social justice, whether UU or not, can discuss books that relate to these crucial questions. We hope to foster deep, meaningful conversations and a welcoming and loving environment. All are welcome."

November’s read is The Call to Care: Essays by Unitarian Universalist Chaplains, edited by Karen Hutt. For the first time, Unitarian Universalist chaplains come together to share why they care, who they care for, and how they care. In heartfelt and thoughtful essays, they provide a close-up view of their day-to-day ministry in hospitals, prisons, the military, and rehabilitation centers. With the increasing secularization of our culture, and the growing numbers of religious seekers, Unitarian Universalist chaplains today play ever-more important roles in these institutions. These writers open a window into the caring arts as they share their stories about companioning people in crisis who are on a journey to find meaning and purpose in difficult times.

The Charles White Memorial Seminary Scholarship 2019

The White Memorial Scholarship is a one-time annual scholarship of at least $1000 available to help support Unitarian Universalist Ministerial students, with preference given to those who have a connection to the Pacific Southwest District. Any seminary student with connections to the PSWD is encouraged to apply online.

More information can be found on PSWD’s White Memorial Scholarship page. Applications for the 2019 scholarship are due by Feb 15, 2019 and can be submitted online.

The winner of the 2019 scholarship will be announced at the PSWD business meeting at District Assembly in Long Beach at the end of April, and be given the funds to use to defray costs of their schooling. Applications are now open!

If you have any questions regarding the scholarship or the application, please contact

UUCSJ - Border Witness for Religious Professionals

The UU College of Social Justice is leading a Border Witness for Religious Professionals trip from February 11th through the 16th. The registration deadline is December 10th and they have generous financial aid and travel stipends available (the financial aid is available to everyone, but the travel stipends are meant specifically to help seminarians and religious educators).

Learn more at

CLF Prison Ministry Holiday Cards

The Church of the Larger Fellowship will be sending almost 900 holiday cards to CLF members experiencing incarceration. Could you help? Invite your social action committee or youth to write messages of hope. If interested, it’s important to read this detailed list of Do’s and Don’ts. CLF staff and volunteers will address all envelopes, bringing a bit of cheer to our incarcerated UU members, many of whom are lonely and without support.

Questions? Reach out to Beth Murray at

Rev. Jan Christian

"We are braver…" - UUA Disaster Relief Fund Update

It has been a little over a year since the UUA Disaster Relief Fund became available to all of our organizations and a number of recipients have been in the Pacific Western Region --- most of whom were impacted by fires.

Some money has been spent on damaged church spaces, but more money has been given to members to meet emergency needs and to community members, especially those underserved or ineligible for other assistance.

We have had members caring for family members who lost their homes and all their possessions. We have had members with lost wages trying to cope with unexpected expenses. We’ve had young families evacuating and trying to cover childcare expenses while schools have been closed. Your donations were there to help.

In the Carbondale, Colorado area, some funding went to an organization that reached out to the Spanish speaking areas in the community to ensure they knew of evacuation orders and then to assess the damage and needs following the fires. In Santa Paula, California, money was used to assist farm workers who lost their housing and possessions.

Recipients have often built on the generosity by holding their own fundraisers. They have told us how good it has felt to be able to respond immediately and to be seen by community organizations as responsive and generous.

In Amado, Arizona, the Rev. Matthew Crary wrote, "As the Universe would have it, Dr. Amy McCoy, water scientist, was in our pulpit a week after the Amado flood. Intimately understanding crisis - and hearing that we were to receive Disaster Relief Funds - she named the truth of our connection with the UUA and our local community, ‘Relationships of gratitude are relationships of reciprocation.’"

We heard from our Carbondale congregation that "we are braver because we know we can count on the love of our Unitarian Universalist relatives."

The process for applying, as one applicant put it, is "clear and straightforward and fast."

And here is the fast way to donate.

Chris George - PWR Healthy Congregations Team

Calm in the Face of Confusion

As we step into another church year, it has been good for me to think back to what I’ve learned during my service on the Board and as Board President in two congregations. Maybe my learning can provide some ideas for other church leaders to consider. Many times your term in office will be filled with wonderfully committed congregants all pulling in the same direction toward a shared goal that is widely supported. But, then there are those other times… What then? How do you move through those "other times" with style and grace? What does it look like to demonstrate how we live our covenant and how we walk our UU values in those "other times"? Here are a few thoughts from one who has weathered some storms.

Remember, it’s not ALL about you – When you step into a leadership role in your congregation (be it Board position, chair of a committee, or running the auction) you become a symbol of leadership. People will address the role you are in; forgetting that just a few months ago you were both sitting in the same pew, or attending the same meeting as congregants. They will speak to you as Board member or committee chair and bring with them their past experience with leaders at work and leaders at church. If their past experiences have been good and satisfying, they will approach you with confidence and hope. If not, they may approach you with anger or fear that you are getting ready to allow something, or do something, harmful to them personally or to your shared congregation. Please do not take it personally.

And yet, sometimes it IS about you – So you want to remain open to that possibility. You may receive feedback about something you are doing (for instance, the way you are managing the meeting, or the way you contribute to discussions during the meeting). Be open to the possibility that you might be doing something that is not as effective as you want it to be. It can be very helpful to ask the person offering the input for specific examples of what they are seeing. Ask if they can offer specific suggestions about what you could do differently. After thanking them for taking the time to offer their input, allow yourself time to process the feedback. This may be an opportunity for you to try new behaviors, to practice new approaches in a supportive environment. Hopefully, this term of church leadership will be a time of learning and growth for you. So, try to stay open to the possibilities when they arise.

Read the remainder of Calm in the Face of Confusion on the PWR blog.

PWR Job Postings

Looking for job postings in ministry? Visit the UUA's Ministry Opportunities page.


Mountain Desert News


MDD Fall Chalice Lighters 2018-2019 Call: Get the Lead Out at the Namaqua UU Congregation

The last of the three calls for 2018 is to assist the Namaqua Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Loveland, Colorado with a building project. The Church Treasurer in the application writes: "After meeting in seven different rentals (nomads!) over the course of 15 years, we are proud to have purchased our first home. We knew our building would need painting within five years - but upon deeper investigation we find that:

  1. Lead paint was used sometime in its 100-year history (built in 1915) and not previously addressed and;
  2. There is a need for siding repairs and the sooner the better.

Painting and siding repairs require considerable lead abatement and the need is more expensive and more urgent than we anticipated.

Our Chalice Lighter ask is for all or part of the $9,000 for painting lead abatement and siding repair. The official estimate for all the work came in at $13,750! The church had anticipated and budgeted $4500 for painting before the lead paint was discovered. The bid is from a local firm in whom the Church Board appointed liaison has confidence and has expertise to make sure we take good care of this historic church. We also have in-congregation expertise with historical buildings."

Your gifts will be accepted towards this call through December 3, 2018. To make your payment online, please use the donation link. If mailed, please send your check, payable to MDD Chalice Lighters to: MDD Chalice Lighters, 7511 Greenwood Avenue North, #414, Seattle, WA 98103-4627. Please include the MDD-CL designation on both your check and payment envelope.


Pacific Northwest News


PNWD Fall Chalice Lighters 2018-2019 Call: Help put a new roof on the UUCCWC parish house!

Members of the flourishing Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Washington County (UUCCWC) in Hillsboro, Oregon had a plan to make needed improvements to their historic 1910 sanctuary and raised funds to do so. But those funds were diverted to cover flood damage and replace a failed sewer line. Now the roof on their multipurpose parish building is leaking. Typical of their positive approach to problems, they asked us to summon your help with the urgent task of replacing the roof while they raise capital to get the sanctuary improvements back on track. With your help, they can get it all done!

Your gifts will be accepted towards this call through November 19. To make your donation online, please use the donation link. If mailed, please send your check, payable to PNWD Chalice Lighters to: PNWD Chalice Lighters, 7511 Greenwood Avenue North, #414, Seattle, WA 98103-4627. Please include the PNWD-CL designation on both your check and payment envelope.

Questions may be directed to Thank you for your generosity!


Pacific Southwest News


PSWD 2019 District Assembly

Save the weekend of April 26-28, 2019, for the next Pacific Southwest District Assembly at the UU Church of Long Beach, California! Our theme will be, "From the Ground Up: The Power of Our PSWD Communities."

The congregation is the foundation of our Unitarian Universalist faith. Everything we do as an expression of our faith is grounded in the local communities from which we all take comfort and strength. Some of our greatest joys sprout from the spiritual communities and the congregations of the Pacific Southwest District – both large and small. How does the theme apply to your congregation or your life?


PWR Youth News


Upcoming Youth Events

Almost Everything

Anne Lamott, Riverhead Books, 2018

In this profound and funny book, Lamott calls for each of us to rediscover the nuggets of hope and wisdom that are buried within us.

A Treasury of African American Christmas Stories

Bettye Collier-Thomas, Beacon Press, 2018

Christmas stories written by African-American journalists, activists, and writers from the late 19th century to the modern civil rights movement.