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Pacific Western Region
Newsletter June 2024
Introducing PWR's New Lead: Rev. Sunshine Jeremiah Wolfe!
by Rev. Carlton E. Smith, PWR Lead

I’m delighted to share that Jessica York, our UUA’s Director of Congregational Life, recently announced to UUA staff that Rev. Sunshine Jeremiah Wolfe (they/them) would be the new Lead for the Pacific Western Region.

I have known Rev. Sunshine for many years as a ministerial and Congregational Life staff colleague with great personal integrity, tremendous leadership skills, and an abiding dedication to our faith. I don’t know a more qualified person to take on responsibility for guiding PWR staff and congregations going forward.

Rev. Sunshine will begin as Lead July 1, 2024.

Below is a condensed version of an asynchronous interview I did with Rev. Sunshine. The full length version can be found on the PWR website.

You are no stranger to Unitarian Universalism in this part of the country. What have your experiences been in the West, and what draws you back this way?
I am looking forward to returning to the western part of the U.S., where I lived for 11 years, and the unique brand of Unitarian Universalism there.  I found my call to ministry while serving as Spiritual Development Director at the UU Church of Tucson, AZ. I went to seminary at Starr King School for the Ministry living in Berkeley and Oakland, California, graduating in 2010.

What do you most want UUs in the Pacific Western Region to know about you? How can they participate in your success as Lead?
I want the region to know that I have been committed to Unitarian Universalism since 1995.  I have lived in 10 states across the country and served our congregations in every one of those places.  I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the variety of cultures, styles, and needs of those communities.  As such, I cannot wait to get to know the variety of communities in the Pacific Western Region.  

Mostly, I just need your presence, patience, and sense of wonder.  The rest we’ll figure out together.

You’ve been a member of the Congregational Life Staff Team for the Central East Region for over five years. Tell us a lesson or two you learned in the East that you bring to West.
Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned from the Central East Region staff team and the congregations here is this: pacing matters-especially at church.  There are very few things so urgent that they need to happen right away- particularly where people are involved.  

I know you deeply value your indigenous heritage from your mother’s side of the family. How do you imagine that will inform your being Regional Lead?
My mother taught me early and often to love justice and to do our best to resist, in her words, "the powers that be."

I think all my identities give me a unique perspective into this work as a non-binary, transgender, eastern Cherokee, Seminole, white, neurodivergent, disabled human, from a poor family, there are a lot of things to consider.  That said, the lessons my mother passed on to me are central to how I think about the world and how I lead.

While ministry and denominational leadership are serious matters, I know that you enjoy whimsy as well. What are some of your favorite ways to unwind and be amused?
I do a few things to keep joy abundant including collecting rubber ducks, playing board games, singing, maintaining a sticker ministry, and having fun in meetings.  I’ve been known to drop a joke in some meeting minutes for fun.  If you meet me in person, ask for the stickers so you can have one!

Is there anything else you would like to share?
The world can break our hearts and it can heal them.  One of my teachers at Starr King, Patti Lawrence, would often start difficult conversations with what she knew.  This is what I know.

  • We inherited the work of generations and to generations will give them.  How we pass the work on matters.
  • In a world that too frequently says there is only one acceptable way to think or believe, Unitarian Universalist values are both subversive and salvific.
  • We are imperfect and whole beings who messily engage in religious life.
  • We are here to be in accountable relationship as understood in restorative justice work and covenant.  Or, put in the words of Maya Angelou, "I did then what I knew how to do.  Now that I know better, I do better."

Thank you, Rev. Sunshine! Here’s to a fun and fruitful time for you and the Pacific Western Region!

In this Issue
Introducing PWR's New Lead
Thank you Rev. Sarah Schurr
PWR & UUA News
Youth & Emerging Ad
ult News
Mountain Desert News
Camp News

InSpirit Update


PWR Links
Calendar and Events
Staff Contacts
News
Job Postings
Youth Ministries

RE Trainings


PWR Lead
Carlton Elliott Smith

PWR Program Staff
Summer Albayati
Thank You Rev. Sarah Schurr!
by Rev. Carlton E. Smith, PWR Lead

As Rev. Sarah captured in the blog last month, our 2024 Pacific Western Regional Assembly will echo in our memories well into the future — the beautiful spring snow; the historic conversation between two visionary and inspiring denominational leaders, and; the opportunities to connect, learn, and grow together all made for a meaningful, power-packed event.

In truth, Rev. Sarah was behind the scenes through it all as the Project Manager for PWR’s Regional Assembly. When I asked members of the PWR Team who would be willing to be my close partner in coordinating the many details that would go into the making the weekend a success, it was Rev. Sarah who eagerly made the commitment, to all of our benefit. From scheduling the workshop leaders to meeting with our UUA’s event planning team and local volunteers; from greeting onsite participants to shopping for groceries to make sure everyone had something they could eat Saturday; from creating promotional copy to helping me address various challenges as they arose, there’s virtually no aspect of PWR’s 2024 Regional Assembly that wasn’t made better by Rev. Sarah’s dedication to our congregations, our people, and our Unitarian Universalist values.

You are appreciated, Rev. Sarah Schurr!

PWR & UUA NEWS
A New Embracing Neurodiversity Offering
Join us in celebrating the UUA/UUMA Neurodiversity Skill Up series! The series bundle, as well as individual Skill Ups, are available for purchase on the UUMA site.

Please visit the Embracing Neurodiversity: Pathways to Understanding page on LeaderLab to learn more from the team who put together the Skill Up series in a new, free recording. While we are closing this project and celebrating the many contributors and learnings, know this work is never done. We encourage you to carry forth the work, rooted deeply in our UU values, of creating safe, inclusive, and accessible spaces for the full, beautiful, and complicated spectrum of neurotypes among us.

UU Climate Justice Revival Info Sessions
June 6 at 2 pm PT / 5pm ET  and June 13 at 2 pm ET / 5 pm ET
Are you excited for the first-ever UU Climate Justice Revival... but... still have so many questions? Is it on Zoom or in person? Can kids participate? Is it a regional or national event? When we do new and different things, questions are expected! Come to the UU Climate Justice Revival Info Session and get all your questions answered! Register Here
Taproot: A National BIPOC Space
The work of spiritual community is complicated in the 21st century. The need for faithful leadership that is grounded and resilient is imperative. This is all the more true for leaders within our communities and congregations who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC). All too aware of this need, Congregational Life is excited to explore and co-create a network with congregational leaders that support them in this time in emergent ways through Taproot: A National BIPOC Space. BIPoC Leaders rooted in the Unitarian Universalist congregations are invited to take part in this monthly, virtual gathering. Second Thursday of the month. The next gathering of the year will be Thursday, June 13th at 8p ET/7p CT/6p MT/5p PT. Details and registration.
UUA Virtual Hymnal: Exciting Updates!
For over a year, your UUA Virtual Hymnal Task Force has steadily worked towards its mission of building a living collection of song resources through an accessible, equitable, online platform grounded in UU values. This virtual hymnal will help Unitarian Universalism live into our prophetic calling as a joyful, liberatory, and anti-oppressive faith. Now we've got exciting news to share!

You're invited to attend upcoming Zoom gatherings for a sneak peek of the virtual hymnal prototype! Join Camille Hatton, the virtual hymnal consulting manager, and Rev. Erika Hewitt, UUA Minister of Worship Arts, as they reveal the working model, explain its testing phase, and present financial details that are emerging. Each gathering will also include a poll of your most cherished public domain hymns, which will populate the Beta version of the virtual hymnal.

Pre Registration is required for these Zoom presentations. For dates and times and to register, please visit UUA.org/virtual-hymnal -- where you can also learn more about the Virtual Hymnal Task Force and the Zoom Q&A sessions that were held in January.
LREDA Professional Day: Accessibility is Love
Tues June 18th, 2024
9 am to 3 pm PT / 10 am to 4 pm MT / 11 am to 5 pm CT / 12 pm to 6 pm ET
Join the Liberal Religious Educators’ Association for our Professional Day 2024 as we proudly proclaim that Accessibility is Love. This online gathering will offer us a chance to engage with some of the heart of Disability Theology, to share questions and expertise, and to spend some time focused on the areas of accessibility that matter to us most. Blend in some worship time, nice big breaks, and maybe even a chance to show off your amazing spaces, for an enriching professional development experience for new and seasoned religious professionals alike. Find out more here at the LREDA website.
PWR Job Postings
Job openings in PWR congregations are now included on the UUA Jobs Board. Don't worry — even though the URL says "ministrysearch", you'll find all positions posted here. If your congregation has an opening you’d like listed, please complete the online submission form and we'll get it posted for you.
SIDE WITH LOVE EVENTS
Green Sanctuary 2030 Orientation
June 5 at 4pm PT / 7pm ET
Get to know the new Green Sanctuary! Join the monthly orientation session to get a better understanding of the program and learn how your congregation can engage in ongoing climate action. Green Sanctuary 2030: Mobilizing for Climate Justice can transform your congregation through climate justice! Orientation meetings are held on the first Wednesday of the month at 4PT - 5MT - 6CT - 7ET. Register Here
Side With Love Monthly Mixer
UPLIFT Transgender/Nonbinary+ Pastoral Small Group
May 10 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET
What is pastoral care, exactly? Pastoral care is support with navigating life—big and small things, joys and hardships and all those mixed together. It’s not therapy, but a way for us to be in community together, supporting each other. This is a space to share the hard stuff and to hold the hard stuff that others are navigating in their lives.  It's a supportive, judgment-free place to connect with other trans/nonbinary+ people. This year, the pastoral space is for adults only. If you’re a child or a youth and you’d like to have a space to talk about the hard stuff, let us know by registering for the pastoral space and putting a note in the registration form comments. Register Here.
UPLIFT Transgender/Nonbinary+ Pastoral Small Group
UPLIFT Transgender/Nonbinary+ Pastoral Small Group
May 10 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET
What is pastoral care, exactly? Pastoral care is support with navigating life—big and small things, joys and hardships and all those mixed together. It’s not therapy, but a way for us to be in community together, supporting each other. This is a space to share the hard stuff and to hold the hard stuff that others are navigating in their lives.  It's a supportive, judgment-free place to connect with other trans/nonbinary+ people. This year, the pastoral space is for adults only. If you’re a child or a youth and you’d like to have a space to talk about the hard stuff, let us know by registering for the pastoral space and putting a note in the registration form comments. Register Here.
UPLIFT Transgender/Nonbinary+ Monthly Gathering
June 25 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET
Join the UPLIFT monthly gatherings for trans, nonbinary, and other not-entirely-or-at-all-cis UUs and friends of UUism. Join us to connect with other trans/nonbinary+ UUs and co-create support and community across our faith. All you need to bring is yourself (and other trans/nonbinary friends, if you’d like)! These gatherings are a cozy community space where we connect with each other with games and breakout groups, share ideas and stories on all kinds of topics, listen to music and poetry (often by trans/nonbinary+ creators), and much more! This is a drop-in space, where folks can come and go as works best for them, and where people can join us at any time. Register Here
Faithful Grounding
September 28-29, 2024
UUs are coming together to inspire, reawaken, and transform our churches through climate justice. Bring your justice teams, problem solvers, and dreamers. The planning team will provide everything needed: facilitation toolkits, training, music, projects, coordinated justice action, and more. No matter your congregation’s size or resources, you can join and together we will enter a new era of climate action. Let's go—appoint two volunteer facilitators who will be trained to participate. Register Here
YOUTH & EMERGING ADULT NEWS
Invitation for Synergy (Bridging) After-Party
On Thursday, June 20th, after the broadcast of the Synergy service for GA attendees, Lifespan Faith Engagement is hosting an online party for bridgers and their supporters. During this gathering we’ll view an abridged version of the Synergy service and members of the National Emerging Adult Taskforce (NEAT) and Young Adult Revival Network (YARN) will celebrate and welcome the bridgers into the YA community.  

Please RSVP or share this link with UU youth and young adults to join the after party June 20, 8 pm ET
Save the Dates - 2024 Camps
Invitations
Emerging Adult Database
If you or another emerging adult UU (18-24) are interested, please sign up and join our community. Our Pacific Western Region 2023-24 EA Database signup can be found here.
MOUNTAIN DESERT NEWS
Grant Funding Available for MDD Congregations
The Midwest Unitarian Universalist Conference has endowed funds, established in the early 1900s, to offer financial support to elderly Unitarian Universalists, both lay persons and retired ministers and their partners in the UUA MidAmerica Region and Mountain Desert District of the Pacific Western Region. Funds have been used to assist in the purchase of hearing aids, mobility devices, and medical expenses. More than $3,000,000 has been distributed since the Conference was formed.

In 2018, the Midwest Unitarian Universalist Conference also established a Munroe Husbands Grant fund to assist Lay-led congregations in the MidAmerica Region and Mountain Desert District of the Pacific Western Region. These funds have been used for leadership development, procurement of technical equipment needed for multi-platform meetings and services, attendance at conferences and General Assembly, and religious education program development. Since its inception, more than $21,000 has been distributed in support of Lay-led congregations.

For more information visit our website.

CAMP NEWS
Camp de Benneville Pines
For those folks who seek other adventures, there are always plenty of choices for great things to do at Camp de Benneville Pines. Check out our events calendar for the 2024-2025 programming year.

Want to be the first to know about registration dates and more? Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list.

InSpirit UU Book and Gift Shop

Now Available for Order

Love at the Center: Unitarian Universalist Theologies. Available as an e-book now!

Unitarian Universalists as a progressive religious community hold a humbling expectation to periodically re-evaluate the freely chosen covenant that holds us together. While this work impacts the bylaws that define our governance structures, it also gives life to the values we express in common cause. We do this work to live into the Unitarian Universalism of the future.

In response to the Article II Study Commission and the more than 10,000 Unitarian Universalists who answered complex questions about the values that guide their faithful living, it is clear that the value most describe as central to their faith, to their living, and to the mission of their congregations is love itself. We are a people guided by, and centered in, our engagement with all that love requires.

Our pressing task now is to ask ourselves and each other
how this understanding calls us forward, individually and collectively. We may agree that love is central, but what
does that mean to us and what does it require of us? It is in that spirit that we asked more than two dozen leaders in our movement the question of what it means to put
love at the center of our faith.

In these pages, you’ll find personal testimony to love’s
power, reminders of the centrality of love throughout the long histories of Universalism and Unitarianism, and theologies of love drawn from many different expressions of Unitarian Universalism—from the natural world to the justice rally, to a loved one’s deathbed, to the quiet moment before a worship service begins. May Love at the Center serve as an invitation to deepen your own understanding and practices of love.

Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt is the tenth president of the
Unitarian Universalist Association. She was elected in June 2023. Rev. Dr. Betancourt’s twenty-year ministry has included serving as a parish minister, seminary professor, scholar and environmental ethicist, and public theologian.
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Pacific Western Region - UUA
P.O. Box 567
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