The first PWR Newsletter - Webinars, Events, Youth Revival and more...

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PWR Newsletter

Being Responsive to You

Dear Unitarian Universalists of the Pacific Western Region,

Let me introduce myself to you again as your new Regional Lead. My name is James Kubal-Komoto. After serving as minister of a congregation in Seattle's south suburbs for 16 years, I became your new Regional Lead on July 1st. I still live in the Seattle suburbs with my family where I work from a home office when not traveling.

I lead a team of eight UUA staff members in providing services to the 188 congregations made up of more than 30,000 Unitarian Universalists in the 13 states in the Pacific Western Region. In addition to these eight staff members, your region is supported by a dedicated administrative team.

My goal as regional lead is to provide the congregations of our region with services that are responsive to their stated needs, relevant, high-quality, accessible, and clearly communicated in a timely manner.

This newsletter, our first as a region, is a step toward meeting that goal. Our plan is to send this newsletter on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month and use it to inform congregational leaders of upcoming events in the region, useful news, and other practical resources available to you through the region as well as through the UUA.

I hope you'll read through it to learn about upcoming in-person events in your area, a series of webinars available to you no matter where you live, the dates of the district assemblies this winter and spring (put them on your calendars now!), and the very successful Youth Revival that was held in September.

If there are other leaders within your congregation who you suspect haven't gotten this newsletter, please forward it to them using the "Share this email with a friend" link on the bottom of the newsletter.

Finally, if you have questions, concerns, comments, or even constructive criticisms about regional services, please feel free to contact me. You can call me at (253) 336-6561 or email me at I'm also happy to talk by Skype or Zoom if you use those technologies.


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

In this Issue
  • Letter from James
  • Events & Training
  • Webinars
  • Staff Profile
  • Resources
  • Youth Revival
  • Youth Events
  • UU News
PWR Quick Links
PWR Field Staff

Note: This is the first edition of the new Pacific Western Region Newsletter. You were previously signed up to receive individual updates for everything we added to the PWR section of the UUA website, but we got lots of feedback that that system wasn't working for you (it wasn't really working for us either). Being the first issue, we're still working on the kinds of content to include and would love to hear from you with your thoughts.
Contact us at and let us know what you'd like to see more of.

Events & Training

Interdependence Day

Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016 9:30-3:30pm
Santa Rosa, CA
Rev. Deborah Holder and Rev. Jan Christian

Clergy and Lay Leaders are invited to a day of deep connection, celebration and learning. Our day will begin with a worship service with a full band and end with a blessing of the leaders.

Interdependence Day details

Southern California Staff Development Days for Religious Professionals

Rev. Deborah Holder and Rev. Jan Christian

Whether your staff team is brand new or have been together for a while, this interactive day will connect both role cohorts and staff teams around common blessings and challenges and boost your ability to work as a team with a covenantal network of support. Bring the entire staff team to get the most out of the day!

  • San Diego County
    Nov. 5, 2016 - Chalice UU Congregation
  • Santa Barbara County
    Feb. 4, 2017 - Live Oak UU Congregation
  • Los Angeles County
    Feb. 9, 2017 - Throop UU Church
Staff Development Days details

Save the Date


Webinars offer a convenient way to engage in online collaborative learning. Participating as a learning community in your congregation gives your team a starting point to gain insight, discuss with religious leaders, and focus your congregation on what matters. Webinars are just $20 per connection and can be watched by one person at home or with a group from your church.

Register for PWR Webinars
Facebook is Not Your Congregation's Newsletter or Bulletin Board

Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh
Thursday, October 27, 2016 - 7:00-8:00 p.m. PT

Facebook is relatively new technology. But the principles behind it are even older than print newsletters and cork bulletin boards. Facebook is about relationship, self-expression, and storytelling: things at which congregations are amazing. However, we often approach our congregational Facebook pages as announcement vehicles, and they don't work. It's not because we aren't paying to boost the posts, it's because we need to shift our paradigm. Learn how your congregation can use Facebook pages for public ministry, storytelling, outreach, and grassroots-generated publicity.

Register for Facebook is Not Your Congregation's Newsletter or Bulletin Board

Ways to Improve Congregational Giving (Some Tried and True and Some Very New)

Rev. Jan Christian and Kay Crider
Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - 6:30-7:45 p.m. PT

Some of the techniques we'll explore: Tying the congregational budget to our values and how they intersect with our pledges and gifts, creating opportunities for open discussions about money, broadening the ways and opportunities to give, creating the next generation of generous Unitarian Universalists, building a stewardship ministry team, mentoring and more.

Register for Ways to Improve Congregational Giving

Helping Your Congregation De-Stress for the Holidays

Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh and Katie Covey
Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 7:00-8:00 p.m. PT

Simple ideas for worship and program leaders to make the winter holidays meaningful and less stressful, including a "No-Rehearsal Christmas Eve" program, a multigenerational program of "Make Your Own Gifts" and an "Unplug the Xmas Machine" Family Workshop.

Register for Helping Your Congregation De-Stress for the Holidays

More Upcoming PWR Webinars
Learn more and register for PWR Webinars

UUA Office of Faith Development Webinars

Join UUA staff and guests for one-hour webinars on faith development topics requested by religious professionals and lay leaders. Webinars are recorded and archived.

  • October 24 & 25 - How Can Religious Educators Engage in Social Justice and Standing on the Side of Love with Caitlin Breedlove and Nora Rasman
  • November 15 & 16 - Spirituality and Aging with Gail Forsyth-Vail & Karin Peterson
  • December 13 & 14 - Faith-sensitive Our Whole Lives (OWL) for the Larger Community with Melanie Davis and Amy Johnson
Register for Faith Development Webinars


PWR Congregational Life Profile

Rev. Sarah Movius Schurr

The Rev. Sarah Movius Schurr began as Congregational Life Staff for the Pacific Western Region in July of 2016. Prior to working for the UUA, Sarah was a parish minister specializing in congregations who were new to ministry, most recently West Hills UU Fellowship in Portland, Oregon. She worked for the Pacific Northwest District as their first Developmental Outreach Minister, bringing professional ministry to small congregations in Alaska. Sarah has served as a transitions coach for many years and currently works closely with ministerial transitions for the PWR.

Ordained in 2008, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis Sarah began her work as a faith leader many years before ordination, serving as a district board member, congregational consultant, and new congregation organizer for the Wy'east UU Congregation. Sarah had a successful Social Work career that spanned over 20 years and has experience in organizational development and systems theory.

Sarah is primary contact for 36 of our PWR congregations in California, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. She is also the lead PWR Congregational Life staff person for ministerial transitions throughout the region.


The First Call You Should Make

Congregations in the Pacific Western Region all have a Congregational Life Primary Contact. Congregations seeking support or with questions to ask, are encouraged to always start by contacting their primary contact, who can assist either directly or by helping with a referral to another resource or colleague.

Find Your Congregation's Primary Contact

PWR Mailing Address Update

The PWR recently moved its mailing address! We invite congregations and leaders to update their contact information as follows:
Pacific Western Region - UUA
P.O. Box 567
Brighton, CO 80601

Resources for Congregations

Common Read Discussion Guide Available

The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement, by Rev. Dr. William Barber II with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (Beacon Press), is the 2016-2017 Common Read. The book offers inspiring stories and practical guidance for engaging with justice movements in our time. Purchase the paperback version at inSpirit: UU Book and Gift Shop; bulk discounts are available. An audio version will be available Oct. 25. The UU discussion guide for the book is also available for download, offering plans for a single session or in-depth three-session discussion. Download the guide and "put yourself on the map" by adding your congregation or group's plans to engage with the Common Read on our website.

Changes Coming to Overtime Law

Did you know that the minimum salary level required for employees to be exempt from overtime pay is increasing to $913/week on Dec. 1, potentially making some of your church staff newly overtime-eligible? Are you aware of recordkeeping requirements for exempt and non-exempt staff? What is the "job duties test" and when does the "ministerial exception" apply? And what about state law? Yes, the Fair Labor Standards Act is a little complicated, so the UUA Office of Church Staff Finances has developed resources to help you understand the law, assess your compliance, and make needed adjustments. The Fair Labor Standards Act and our religious principles share the goal of justice for workers. Be a faithful employer: faithful to the law and to UU values!

We Are Unitarian Universalists Video

We are Unitarian Universalists, people of many backgrounds who have different beliefs, but shared values. Together, we offer a guided path towards a better you and a better world. Get to know us in this short animated video. Learn more about how to the use the video on the UUA website.


Youth News

Youth Ministry Revival

The Youth Ministry Revival, held Sept 23rd to 25th in Portland, was a phenomenal success! The event welcomed 120 souls representing approximately 35 congregational teams from across the Pacific Western Region, including all four districts. All came eager to explore the event's theme of "Engaging Spiritual Practice."

The weekend program wove together music and movement, learning and liturgy, in large and small group contexts, as the teams examined the myriad ways that Unitarian Universalists can go deeper spiritually and learn tools for navigating the trials and tribulations of life.

Through workshops and worship, in silence and in song, these folk dug deep into the concept and practice of spiritual exercise. Teams were charged with not only bringing these tools back to their youth programs, but also to their wider congregation.

The overwhelming feedback by our teams was one of gratitude and joy for the experience with marked conversation around renewed vitality in religious ritual and in accessing the holy in each moment. One youth described it this way, "Mind, blown! The Youth Ministry Revival exceeded my expectations; I have been going through my daily routine for the last 2 hours-taking a shower, chores, walking my dog, homework-and it's all felt so different. I feel like my whole world became more spiritual."

Blessed be, indeed. May we all allow ourselves to find transformation as we engage in the sacred in each moment. Onward and upward!

Eric Bliss
PWR Youth Ministry Specialist



"I wanted to take a moment and thank you for setting up the Revival... Y'all brought spirituality to the forefront in me and how important it opened my eyes to how it most likely is for my youth. I feel more in depth with my UU practices and beliefs... I can't wait to do more with my church. So thank you again." - Megan Altorfer

Upcoming Youth Ministries Events
News and Updates

UUA Board approves $5.3 million for Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism

On Friday, October 14, the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees agreed to provide $300,000 immediately to fund operating expenses of Black Lives of UU and committed to guarantee another $5 million in long-term funding for BLUU's efforts to support black UUs and expand the role and visibility of black UUs within the faith.