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"Flowers and Rain, Transitions and Change", PWR & UUA News, and more!
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Pacific Western Region
Newsletter May 2023
Flowers and Rain, Transitions and Change
By Dr. Melissa James
Pacific Western Region Congregational Life Staff

It’s been a particularly rainy winter in Southern California. As the showers and storms subsided, spring started to claim its stake in our region. Hills that usually wear brown as their badge of resiliency are donning greens and yellows and purples they rarely get to show off. Thinking back to a year ago the difference is stark. There’s such splendor in this change. The flowers burst with colors of hope and possibilities. While I know droughts and fires lurk nearby, I hold onto the dialectic of beauty and temporality. The land around me is shifting from one season to the next. Spring has a particular rhythm that embodies this transition.

The season of transition isn’t limited to the hills. This is a time blooming with transition across our UUA’s Pacific Western Region. Congregations are saying their farewells to ministers and other religious professionals. Some of you have been moving through the hills and valleys of discerning what ministerial support is right and available for your congregation or fellowship. Many, many lay leaders are taking on the task of tending to their community in intentional or unintentional intervals as lay-led congregations. Many are on a schedule where board changes have already happened or will happen soon. Whether a congregation or fellowship has been historically lay-led or minister-led, we continue to transition to the “What now?” of this phase of the pandemic. To quote the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, “The only constant is change.”

Whenever we face transition, it can be both a time of great anxiety and of great hope. We wait in wonder of how the shift in season will transform the terrain around us. Likewise, in our congregations, we wonder how shifts in the congregational year will transform us. As in the hills, flowers and rains who are woven together in an ever-changing ecosystem. We, too, are deeply interconnected through Unitarian Universalism. Whatever transition surrounds you, know you are not alone. Your regional staff is here to accompany and support you. We are here to help you connect to others facing similar blooms and challenges. You have companions and friends while traversing the challenges and struggles before you and in celebrating the flowers that bloom around you in our ever-changing world.

Some Online Resources for UU Congregations in Times of Transition
Ministerial Transitions
Congregational Board Member Training
Essentials for Lay-Led Congregations
Mental, Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Self-Care Workshop

Dr. Melissa James is a member of the Pacific Western Region Team of our UUA’s Congregational Life Staff Group. She earned her Master's of Arts from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago (LSTC) with a focus on faith and justice. Melissa holds a Ph.D. in Ethics and Social Theory from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. As a Religious Educator, she’s been on staff at both the First Unitarian Church of Oakland and the First UU Church of San Diego. On the PWR Team, Dr. James’ areas of focus include program development and congregational stewardship.
In this Issue
Flowers and Rain, Transitions and Change
PWR & UUA News
Youth & Emerging Adult News

Mountain Desert News

InSpirit Update

PWR Links
Calendar and Events
Staff Contacts
Job Postings
Youth Ministries

RE Trainings

PWR Lead
Carlton Elliott Smith

PWR Program Staff
Summer Albayati
The Possibilities of Part-Time Ministry
If your congregation currently has or is thinking about part-time ministry, this event is for you! If you’re a minister currently serving or planning to serve as a part-time minister, this event is for you! If you’re just curious about what part-time ministry is all about, this event is for you!

Join us for the “The Possibilities of Part-Time Ministry,” a virtual one-day event on Saturday, May 13, 2023, from 12 to 5pm ET/9am to 2pm PT. Our featured theme speaker will be G. Jeffrey MacDonald, author of Part-Time is Plenty, Thriving Without Full-Time Clergy.

In addition to Jeff MacDonald’s theme presentation, there will be multiple one-hour workshops on all aspects of part-time ministry. If you can’t be there on May 13, a recording of the event will be available to everyone who registers. You’ll also receive a promo code for a 40% discount on MacDonald’s book Part-Time is Plenty, so register now.
Register Now for General Assembly!
The theme for General Assembly 2023 is "Faithfully Becoming." We are at a threshold moment for our faith and will choose the next path in our journey. We will consider new articulations of Article II (including our Principles and Purpose) and elect a new President to lead our Association. These are decisions that will shape who we are and how we respond to and grow through these times. These changes offer us possibilities for becoming more connected, courageous, inclusive, generous, and continuing our ongoing journey of becoming Beloved Community.

Registration is now open!
Register early to secure the lowest rates. Volunteer opportunities and financial support are available.

GA Housing Reservation System is Now Open!
Reserve your housing today! To book your room today, visit the GA Housing Reservation System. Any reservations canceled after May 22 will be subject to a $50 cancelation fee. The housing reservation system will close for new reservations on May 23. Learn more about General Assembly housing options here.
Presidential Forums Continue
The series of presidential candidate forums contiues, to allow delegates and members to learn more about Rev. Dr. Betancourt. Planned in concert with the Election Campaign Practices Committee with support from UUA staff, each forum will offer both on-site and virtual participation. There will also be an additional forum during General Assembly in June.

All Unitarian Universalists are welcomed and encouraged to engage with the presidential candidate forums and the process as a whole, to ensure our next UUA President may establish the foundation for their leadership with broad participation.
Central East Region 2023 Security Update Training
Saturday, June 03, 2023, 12:00-3:00 PM ET

Many of our congregations have experienced security threats in recent months from protests to destruction of property to disruption in events. This program will offer a presentation on the core needs in safety and security: prevention, response, and after-care. We will have brief worship, workshops, and time to speak with other congregations about the work they are doing and/or questions they are reflecting on.
All members of UU congregations and communities are welcome to attend- particularly members of staff, boards, religious education committees, and safety teams. Register here!
Teacher Development Renaissance Module
The Teacher Development Renaissance module is an online learning experience comprised of five two-hour webinars with reading and other assignments for each session.

Dates and Timing:

July 18, 2023: 12pm ET - 2pm ET
Session 1: Teaching and Learning — What Shapes Us?

July 25, 2023: 12pm ET - 2pm ET
Session 2: Teachers as Learners and Seekers

August 1, 2023: 12pm ET - 2pm ET
Session 3: Supporting Learners and Seekers

August 8, 2023: 12pm ET - 2pm ET
Session 4: Toolkits for Teachers

August 15, 2023: 12pm ET - 2:30pm ET
(please note this last session would be 2.5 hours long)

Registration Fee: $250.00 for all 5 sessions.

Registration will close at Midnight (Eastern) or 11:00 PM (Central) on July 14th 2023 or if the webinar reaches its registration capacity. We will send an email with the Zoom number on the day of EACH event.
Please register here for this event.
How to Participate in the Article II Conversations
Wondering how you and your congregation can contribute to the Article II conversation on the revision of our Principles and Purposes?

  1. Read the Article II Commission Report (pdf) or watch the video of their presentation (YouTube)!
  2. Watch the Article II Commission space! You can now suggest amendments ideas here. This months, discussion groups will be organized to craft the amendments. Check the webpage for more information and details!
  3. Commit to attend General Assembly! It might be fun for your delegates to attend this year’s General Assembly in Pittsburgh in person, but your delegates can also attend the business only online GA meetings for no cost. There really is no excuse for not representing your congregation at General Assembly this year. Register here!
  4. Plan a good process and select your delegates! How can your delegates represent the overall perspective of the congregation? Members should feel confident that your community’s chosen delegates have sufficient guidance to represent your whole congregation. How to do this? Our nominated candidate for UUA President, Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt, suggests some good processes here. Long story short, plan for intentional conversation and broad outreach!

    The Article II Commission is looking forward to continued engagement with Unitarian Universalists about this important shift in our theology. Your voice matters!

    Article II Updates from Lifespan Faith Engagement
    The Lifespan Engagement Office of the UUA has invited religious professionals in congregations already discussing the Article II Study Report to share their creative ideas and resources, and we are putting all that content together in a public online document that is growing daily. Our goal is to support congregational engagement and shared learning about this proposal. This process itself is faith formation! Every UU community is a little different from the next, so the tools you’ll need to faithfully consider the issue are not one-size-fits-all.

    As you consider the Article II proposal in your community, check out the stories, sermons, lesson plans, lectio divina guides, activities, discussion slides and more on the Article II Resource Hub. Consider leaving a note there about a resource if you have feedback to share on how it went – or how you adapted content for your congregation.

    What's the next step? The process for amendments begins in April, and is detailed on the Article II page here. In June of 2023, there will be a delegate vote requiring a simple majority to move Article II forward. If so, the final vote will be in June 2024, requiring a two-thirds vote to adopt the revision.
    UUA Legacy Giving Webinar for Congregations
    Saturday, May 6, 2023 | 1 pm - 3 pm ET / 10 am - 12 pm PT
    The UUA’s Legacy Gifts Office offers a number of services, including an online workshop to assist congregations in creating legacy giving programs. The webinar on Saturday, May 6, 2023 covers the basics of legacy giving and how to set up a legacy giving program in your congregation. We aim to equip congregations with the knowledge they need to start a legacy program. To register for the webinar, email us at or call (617) 948-6509.
    Updates from Faithify
    Faithify is a direct funding platform for Unitarian Universalist ministry projects. This includes everything from youth work to justice, service, buildings, staff positions, and emerging ministries. Faithify is full of campaigns funding projects through the direct support of others. Visit the website for a full list of current projects, and view some of the latest projects below to donate:
    Seeking Disabled Contributors, Authors, and Storytellers
    We invite you to contribute your story of lived experience of disability in a UU congregation.

    Nothing about Us without Us! That is the rallying cry of the Disability Rights Movement and one we intend to honor.

    We are working with Skinner House to publish a book on the lived experience of disability in congregations. We are seeking authors, named or anonymous, who would be willing to share their authentic story. If chosen, these candidates will receive an honorarium. We want the book to have a strong intersectional framework, so we are looking for stories in which authors bring their whole selves. We welcome you to reflect on how your other identities are part of your experience as a disabled person in a UU community. This book is meant to give insight into how disabled people worship and experience life in their congregations; how disability impacts a person’s faith, spiritual identity, and showing up with your authentic self. It will show the gifts that disabled people can bring to their congregations. It is also a book on moving from the Disability Rights Movement to the Disability Justice Movement. Please let us know if you would be able to write your story or be interviewed.

    We hope that this message is viewed far and wide and realize that we may need additional permissions. If you are under 18, or sharing with someone under 18, we welcome your story! AND we ask that you let us know, so we may obtain the proper permissions. To view or share this message online, visit our website. A rough draft of your submission is due on May 15, 2023.

    Please send your submission to
    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.
    UU Camps for Middle and High Schooler Campers
    In the beauty of the great outdoors, youth build community and deepen their connection to Unitarian Universalism through worship, workshops, justice work and plenty of good ol’ fashioned camp fun.

    PWR Camps are open to all middle and high school youth (current 5th graders through class of 2023) with age specific cabins and programming. Reserve their spot now with a deposit you can afford (sliding scale) and customize your payment plan to fit your budget.

    QUUest Camp: Week-long, residential camp in the mountains. July 9-14, 2023 Casper, Wyoming

    Camp Blue Boat: Week-long, residential camp in the Pacific Northwest. July 16-21, 2023 Ellensburg, WA
    Young UU Project
    Have you heard of YUUP yet? The Young UU Project began in 2020 as a way for young UUs to keep in touch with each other and their faith during the pandemic, and is held by Lifespan Faith Engagement. The purpose of YUUP is to be a national community care network and multi-directional communication channel that centers BIPOC, trans/non-binary and neurodivergent youth and offers a transition zone for young people moving into emerging adulthood. 

    Anyone (youth, caregivers, religious professionals, lay leaders, everyone!) can tap into the social ministry of YUUP by following them on Instagram @yuup.uua and signing up for the YUUP newsletter. YUUP also has a community sphere just for youth, those who bridged in 2022 and support adults. These “Third Monday Meetups” are where youth swap ideas they can take home to their local communities. In August they swapped Favorite Check In Questions. In September they swapped favorite youth group games, which will soon be released on Instagram and in the newsletter.

    Adult readers - We need your help connecting youth to this community! Please point them to UUA.ORG/YUUP to connect at whatever their capacity is.
    Young Adult Revival Network Worship
    UU young adults and friends from around the world are invited to attend our monthly worship service, held on the third Sunday of each month. Each month our Worship Team puts together a fabulous, faithful, spiritual program that reflects our faith and the fact that we are young adults. From our song choice, to the content of our reflections, this isn’t your traditional UU worship experience. So join us, and discover a different way to embody our faith. This is an intergenerational event, all people ages 18 and older are welcome to attend. Register here.  
    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 2022 EA Database signup can be found here.

    Small Groups
    We have an annual, monthly gathering for EA (18-24) Small Groups.  It’s a mix of fun, ministry, and faith. Email if you’d like more information. It's a great way to stay connected to UUism if you don't have the time or inclination to attend church on Sunday!

    Pastoral Care
    Are you an 18-24 year old in need of Pastoral Care?  We have a network of chaplains specifically for you! Simply email or by phone: 204-900-0150. Rev. Marcia Stanard and others are here to listen and be of support.

    MDD Final District-Only Chalice Lighter Grants
    Thanks to all the UU congregations and communities who send in applications for Chalice Lighter grants! We had so much interest, and so many great projects, that the Mountain Desert District Board decided to more than double the funds. We ended up fulfilling grants from 12 congregations/communities totaling almost $63,000 to help advance worthwhile, important work to keep the flame of Unitarian Universalism burning. See our website for a summary of the grants.

    It felt right to use some of the equity the District had build up over the years, and to have some that will still be available after the merger. Roughly $100,000 will remain to meet the exciting challenges of the combined Pacific Western Region entity. Representatives from the MDD board are working diligently with representatives from the other three districts to make the combined entity a reality. We’ll be looking to fill board and other volunteer seats with qualified candidates – could you be one?

    For smaller congregations/communities who still have funding needs, Midwest Unitarian Universalist Conference and Foundation Munroe-Husbands Grant is available for Lay Led or fellowships/churches with less than a full-time minister. Judy Bentley, our MUUC Representative ( has more information and will help with applications; she says there is usually $10K annually in this fund.
    InSpirit UU Book and Gift Shop
    Authentic Selves: Celebrating Trans and Nonbinary People and Their Families
    Groundbreaking in its depictions of joy and community, Authentic Selves celebrates trans and nonbinary people and their families in stunning photographs and their own words. Foreword by transgender activist Jazz Jennings and her mom and fellow activist, Jeanette Jennings. Developed in collaboration with PFLAG National and Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.

    So often trans and nonbinary people’s stories are told only through the lens of their struggles and challenges, including their political battles for legal rights, but trans and nonbinary people live rich and fulfilling lives full of joy and community too. Authentic Selves is a sweeping compilation of life stories and portraits of trans and nonbinary people, as well as their partners, parents, children, siblings, and chosen family members.

    The compelling stories in Authentic Selves provide a glimpse into the real lives, both the challenges and the triumphs, of these remarkable people and their families—people like Senator Sarah McBride, disability justice advocate Parker Glick, drag entertainer TAYLOR ALXNDR, September 11th first responder Jozeppi Angelo Morelli, model Lana Patel, youth activist Elliott Bertrand, and so many others—all of whom are working to create a more just, diverse, and compassionate world. Order now!