Letter from James, Touchstones for Transforming Relationships and more...


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PWR Newsletter


Dear Pacific Western Region Congregational Leaders,

In response to last week's election, Unitarian Universalist congregations across the nation ministered to the shock, confusion, sadness, anger, uncertainty, anxiety, and even despair that many Unitarian Universalists were experiencing.

Our congregations did this not out of political partisanship, but out of faithfulness to our shared values that have seemed to be under attack in recent months.

The high attendance numbers that many of our congregations experienced on Sunday, higher than any since September 11, 2001, for many congregations, prove to me that our country and our world are more in need than ever of both the comfort and the challenge that Unitarian Universalism offers.

I want to say how proud I am of all the ministers, musicians, directors of religious education, youth advisors, other church staff as well as lay leaders who provided leadership during one of the most trying weeks in recent memory.

However, I expect that the coming days will offer their own special challenges as well, so let me offer some gentle counsel.

Many of our congregations will likely continue to experience a high number of visitors in the coming months. However, at least some of our congregations struggle to connect those who walk through our doors to a place of belonging within the congregation. Too many of our congregations occasionally resemble a vacuum cleaner without a bag. So it will be important for our congregations to develop good systems of helping those who seek a progressive religious home to find their place in one.

It will be tempting in some of our congregations for individuals to channel their frustration and perceived powerlessness with our national politics into fake fights over trivial issues within our congregations. So it will be important for congregational leaders to make sure they have good systems in place to promote healthy communication and to deal with conflict constructively.

Even more importantly, it will be important for congregational leaders to find ways to help our members connect their real and admiral desire to make the world more compassionate and just with specific opportunities to do so, whether through involvement with community organizing, our statewide legislative advocacy networks, Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism, or other means.

The past week was a wearying one for many religious professionals, so for those of you who serve in professional religious leadership, it will be important for you, now and in the future, to engage in those practices that help you stay grounded and renew your spirit, including regular spiritual practices, a weekly Sabbath, and gathering with colleagues.

Your Pacific Western Regional Staff is here to help with whatever challenges you may be facing. Don't hesitate to reach out to us in the coming days.

James Kubal-Komoto
Pacific Western Regional Lead

In this Issue
  • Letter from James
  • Webinars
  • Events & Training
  • Touchstones for Transforming Relationships
  • Staff Profile
  • UU News
  • Youth Ministries
PWR Quick Links
PWR Field Staff

We regret the error in the last newsletter indicating that Standing Rock was in South Dakota, rather than the correct North Dakota. Also, that in our listing of PWR clergy who responded to the call to Standing Rock, we omitted Ruth Rinehart and Sue Redfern-Campbell, both from the Mountain Desert District.

Events, Training and Webinars



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
Creating Successful Teams for Accessibility & Inclusion Ministry

Michelle Avery Ferguson, Coordinator of the Accessibility & Inclusion Ministry Certification Program, and Rev. Tandi Rogers - a collaboration between EqUUal Access and the UUA.
Nov. 30, 2016 - 7-8pm PT

Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry (AIM) focuses on welcoming, embracing, integrating, and supporting people with disabilities and their families in our congregations. Its sacred challenge for congregations is recognizing the humanity and gifts of all people. This program extends the efforts described in the document Accessibility Guidelines for Unitarian Universalist Congregations (PDF) by creating a certification program whereby congregations can be formally recognized for their commitment and progress. This webinar will give an overview of the program and tips on how to create successful teams for a positive whole-congregation experience.

Register for Creating Successful Teams for Accessibility & Inclusion Ministry

Untangling Triangles

Rev. Carol McKinley & Rev. Dr. James Kubal-Komoto
Dec. 1, 2016 - 7-8pm PT

Have you ever experienced a situation in which two people vent with each other regarding a third person but don't address their concerns directly with the third person? In this webinar, you will learn what a triangulated communication is, you will learn how triangulated communication increases unhealthy conflict in congregations, and you will learn how to avoid and untangle triangulated conversations.

Register for Untangling Triangles

From Visitor to a Full Spectrum of Member Engagement

Lori Emison Clair, Consultant to the UU Association of Membership Professionals, and Rev. Tandi Rogers
Dec. 6, 2016 - 7-8pm PT

Faith traditions are all in a time of transition and the UU faith is no exception. As we struggle to consider what our faith will look like in the world of congregations and beyond, let us come together to consider some new perspectives on the traditional ideas of membership. In this webinar, we will expand upon the idea of a faith tradition that looks beyond the goal of increasing membership to a considering together what a full Spectrum of Engagement in our UU Faith might look like. This spectrum was first presented at GA 2015 by Carey McDonald, Marie Blohowiak and Lori Emison Clair.

Register for From Visitor to a Full Spectrum of Member Engagement

More PWR Webinars
Learn more and register for PWR Webinars

Webinar Archive

Did you know that video recordings of the PWR webinars are made available (whenever possible) within a week of them happening? Recent webinars, like Ways to Improve Congregational Giving (Some Tried and True and Some Very New) and Stewardship Transitions for Small Congregations, both led by Rev. Jan Christian and Kay Crider, as well as October's Facebook is Not Your Congregation's Newsletter or Bulletin Board with Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh are now available. You can also find webinars going as far back as 2013 on all kinds of subjects related to congregational life and leadership.

Explore the PWR Webinar Archive

Events and Trainings

Religious Education Trainings
Learn more about RE Trainings

Southern California Staff Development Days for Religious Professionals

Whether your staff team is brand new or has 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!

  • Santa Barbara County
    Feb. 4, 2017 - Live Oak UU Congregation
    Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong and Rev. Jan Christian
  • Los Angeles County
    Feb. 9, 2017 - Throop UU Church
    Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong and Eric Bliss
Staff Development Days details

Save the Date


Rev. Jan Christian, Congregational Life Staff

Touchstones for Transforming Relationships (just in time for the holidays)

Looking for ways to deepen your congregation's shared life or a way to build connection with a loved one or neighbor? Or maybe just some tips to survive family holiday gatherings? Here are some ideas adapted from the work of the Center for Courage and Renewal, which is based on the work of writer and activist Parker Palmer.

Practice a holy or glad curiosity.

A therapist once gave someone I know this advice about navigating difficult family dynamics during the holidays: Pretend you are a sociologist trying to understand the habits of a new group.

We both laughed at the wisdom of approaching difficult situations from the spirit of curiosity. Since then, I have come to see curiosity as a wonderful spiritual practice, which we can display in many ways:

Choose right-relationship over being right. We can consider the ways in which our need to be right is keeping us from forming the kinds of relationships we want.

Listen to understand rather than to form a response.

Ask openhearted questions aimed at increasing our understanding and honoring the inner wisdom of the other person.

  • Avoid advice posturing as a question, such as "Have you ever considered seeing a therapist?"
  • Avoid questions that we think have a right or wrong answer.
  • Ask open-ended questions more than questions that can be answered yes or no. For example, "What were your favorite parts of the day?" works better than "Did you have a good day?"

When the going gets rough, turn to wonder. If we feel judgmental or defensive, we can ask ourselves, "I wonder what brought her to this belief?" "I wonder what he is feeling right now?" "I wonder what my reaction teaches me about myself." We can set aside judgment to listen to others --- and to ourselves --- more deeply.

Move beyond a focus on beliefs to exploring experiences and values. I once asked a group of interfaith clergy about their beliefs about God and was humbled when none spoke of their beliefs but each of them spoke of their experience of God. When faced with beliefs that challenge us, we can ask about the values that inform that belief or arise out of that belief or the experiences that led to that belief or how that belief sustains them.

Best wishes for a wonder-filled holiday season!

PWR Congregational Life Profile

Rev. Tandi Rogers

Rev. Tandi Rogers writes, preaches, and speaks widely about growth and religious innovation, and teaches Religious Education for a Changing World at Meadville-Lombard Theological School. She is a regular contributor to the Growing Unitarian Universalism blog. Two of her meditations appear in Becoming: A Spiritual Guide for Navigating Adulthood and Restored to Sanity: Essays on the Twelve Steps by Unitarian Universalists.

Tandi is especially passionate about congregational polity in the 21st century, covenant, faith formation and multigenerational communities. She is known for her creative reframing and sparky questions and love of collaboration. She is both ordained to the UU ministry and a Credentialed Religious Educator, master level.

Tandi has been serving the UUA in many roles since 2002. Before joining the Pacific Western Region she served the UUA as Pacific Northwest District's Program Specialist (2002-2011), Interim Director of the Youth & Young Adult Office (2010-2011), Growth Strategist (2011-2014), and Innovation & Network Specialist (2014-2016).

Tandi is married to Rev. Sue Phillips and has three children (ages 8, 20, and 22.) She lives in Tacoma, WA and Boston, MA.


The First Call You Should Make

Congregations in the Pacific Western Region and throughout the UUA 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


News and Updates

Alaskan Congregation Offers Support to Local Transgender Community

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fairbanks has found an innovative way to create meaningful change for their transgender friends and neighbors.

From their release: "Many transgender people do not have identification that includes their correct gender marker. This exposes them to discrimination and possible harm every time they must use their ID. Current federal policy allows transgender people to get a corrected U.S. passport if they have a letter from their healthcare provider. For many transgender people, this is the only form of corrected ID they are eligible for. Having a corrected passport is especially important in states with very restrictive policies for changing gender markers on state documents."

They note that federal policies may change with the new administration, so are helping transgender people apply for passports for the next two months. In one week, their small congregation raised $2,500 to support passport application fees. They're now hosting work parties to assist interested applicants in filling out their paperwork.

If you would like to join them in this effort, resources are available on their website,

TRUUsT Responds to Tuesday's Election

TRUUsT (Transgender Religious Professional Unitarian Universalists Together) gathered many of the responses of their members to the outcome of Tuesday's election. Explore these comments and reflections in their roundup article featuring Rev. Sean Parker Dennison, Zr. Alex Kapitan, Rev. Anya Johnston, Evin Carvill-Ziemer and others.

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



Youth News

Throwing a Revival of Your Very Own!

Eric Bliss, Youth Ministry Specialist for the PWR, invites congregations interested in learning more about the recent Youth Ministry Revival: Engaging Spiritual Practice to a one-hour conversation. The conversation will include input from numerous participants and organizers, both youth and adults, reflecting on the significant impact of the event on their own spiritual formation and that of their congregations.

Visit this Doodle Poll to indicate when you would be available.

The goal of the Youth Ministry Revival in late Septempber in Portland, OR was to take teams of youth and adults and to present them with tools, skills, and experience to better engage with spiritual practice, and to bring this learning back to their congregations.

Bring your queries and questions to this virtual gathering and we'll talk about how this weekend-long community of youth and adults, from 40 congregations across PWR, planted seeds to transform our Unitarian Universalist movement!

Tools for creating your own Revival, in both your children and adult communities, will also be shared!


Upcoming Youth Ministries Events

Humanist Voices in Unitarian Universalism

Edited by Kendyl L.R. Gibbons and William R. Murry, Beacon Press

Pre-order for Dec. 19 release.

In this highly anticipated collection, Unitarian Universalist Humanists present their faith perspectives in 23 engaging and thought-provoking essays. The contributors, both lay and ordained, demonstrate why Humanism has been one of the bedrock theologies of Unitarian Universalism for the last hundred years. They reflect on what it means to be a religious Humanist today and how they see the movement evolving in the twenty-first century. They explore Humanist history, beliefs, approach to life, social justice, community, and religious education.

Standing on the Side of Love Clothes and Gifts

This is an anxious time in American society, as the Presidential Election makes clear. Show your LOVE as an individual and as a congregation with Standing on the Side of Love gear. Whether you wear it to the grocery store, to a vigil, or to a rally on the streets, these yellow hearts show your commitment to a movement for greater justice, equity, and compassion. Now more than ever it's time to show up and live out our seven Principles. At InSpirit, the UUA Bookstore, you can find shirts, stoles, aprons, cards, bumper stickers and much more that will help you wear your Unitarian Universalism every day.


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