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"Regional Assembly,  PWR & UUA News, and more!
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Pacific Western Region
Newsletter February 2024
A Season of Change and Opportunity
By Rev. Carlton E. Smith, PWR Regional Lead

When I joined the Pacific Western Region team in the late spring of 2020, three to five years seemed like a long time. Three to five years — As the Region’s Developmental Lead, that was the timeframe in which I was to do my work, particularly around supporting the Districts of the Region as they discerned how they wanted to engage with our UUA’s regionalization process going forward. That was within the first few months of the pandemic, while I was still living in my home-state of Mississippi, getting to know the PWR staff, District Boards, and congregations from hundreds and hundreds of miles away.

Fast forward to the winter of 2024, and things have changed quite a bit. Each of the four districts of PWR has either dissolved (Pacific Northwest District) or is in the process of merging to form a legally unified Pacific Western Region (Mountain Desert, Pacific Southwest, and Pacific Central Districts). I’ve now lived for several months in each of those historic districts, with the exception of Pacific Southwest, where I took up residence a few weeks ago and where I will be through the end of June. New staff members joined the PWR team over that time, and some have departed from it. Once the districts voted to dissolve or merge, the essential volunteer work of the region shifted to the Transitions Team, which has worked diligently to fulfill its commitment to a region in which UUA/PWR staff are in trusted shared ministry with volunteer leaders from the Region’s congregations and covenanting communities.

This is also the time of year when religious professionals — and particularly ministers and religious educators — begin to consider their next career moves. As I write, I know there are religious professionals who are reading congregational packets and search teams reading ministerial packets. As new possibilities are being entertained, it’s important for those professionals to also know of the opportunities that are available on UUA staff, including within the Pacific Western Region.

Toward that end, I announce my intention to resign from my position as Lead for the Pacific Western Region effective the end the business day, July 1, 2024. My desire beyond UUA employment is to recalibrate as my 60th birthday approaches this fall, focus on my entrepreneurial pursuits, and take some time for rest and relaxation at the end of four exhilarating and intense years.

In this edition of the newsletter, you will also see Rev. Sarah Schurr’s announcement of her retirement after several years of faithful service to the region as Program Staff, also effective at the same time as my resignation, though our choices are unrelated.

Meanwhile, we have much work to do! The Pacific Western Regional Assembly is rapidly approaching, and your PWR staff, Transitions Team, and our partners are busily preparing for that. There will be hiring processes for the Regional Lead position (currently Carlton), the Program Staff position (currently Sarah), and the Regional Administrator position (formerly Rhiannon Smith, who completed her tenure in December). Look for those position announcements at this link over the next few weeks and share with people who might be interested in applying. The first of these vacancies to be filled will be for the Regional Administrator, hopefully in time for Regional Assembly (April 19-20).

Time brings about change and opportunity. I am grateful for the opportunity to have served as Developmental Lead for the Pacific Western Region, and for the changes that allow new leadership to come forth as some leaders depart.
In faith,

PS: Special thanks and gratitude to PWR’s own Dr. Melissa James and to Central East Region’s Beth Casebolt who are editing and formatting the PWR Newsletter in this transitional time between PWR Administrators. We appreciate you both!

In this Issue
A Season of Change and Opportunity
Saying Good-bye
Regional Assembly
PWR & UUA News
Youth & Emerging Ad
ult News
Mountain Desert News
Pacific Southwest 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
Saying Good-bye
By Rev. Sarah Schurr, PWR Program Staff

My life as a UU leader began as a lay person in my 20’s.  I grew from a committee chair, to new congregation organizer, to district board officer.  I was trained and active as a volunteer congregational consultant while still in divinity school.  My first job after ordination was as a district outreach minister. As a parish minister, I served congregations in times of great change.  All these paths led me to my career as Congregational Life staff at the UUA.  I have been very proud to serve our faith in this role since 2016.   It has been a tremendous honor.

Now I feel it is my time to retire from the UUA and full-time ministry.  I will conclude my service at the end of June.  I want to make room for the next generation of leaders, of whom there are so many.   And I look forward to the chance to travel and play with grandchildren more than I can now.   I plan to do volunteer work. I have skills that can be useful in building a better world.  This kind of retirement is a privilege, and I am grateful for the opportunity.

I will be on the job for several months yet.  Planning for Regional Assembly, as well as continuing my work with primary contacts, will allow me to do the work I love a bit longer.  And know that it has been, and continues to be, an honor to serve our wonderful UU faith in this way.

PWR Regional Assembly: Registration Now Open!
Mark your calendars for April 19-20, 2024!
Elevate your Unitarian Universalist experience by immersing yourself in the 2024 Pacific Western Regional Assembly. This is more about more than geography; it's a community of individuals like you, representing local UU congregations and communities. Your active involvement is not just valued – it's indispensable. Whether you choose to participate virtually or in-person at the inspiring First Universalist Church in Denver, this gathering promises an enriching and enjoyable experience, fostering connections among individuals and congregations.

Join the excitement as we come together with the MidAmerica Region of the UUA for shared programming, strengthening ties across our regions. Friday evening kicks off with a compelling keynote conversation between our UUA president, Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt, and the new President and General Minister of the United Church of Christ, Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson – both remarkable women of color dedicated to justice work.

Saturday unfolds with workshops, conversational gatherings, a special luncheon, and a pivotal Transitions Update. While the official Regional Assembly concludes on Saturday afternoon, those extending their stay can savor dinner connections in Denver on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning, local UU congregations open their doors for special Earth Day worship, creating a family-friendly environment. Many RA events are suitable for all ages and child care will be provided as well.

Registration for Regional Assembly is open! Be part of the intricate web of connections! Whether you aspire to be a discussion leader, a workshop facilitator, or contribute in various other roles, your involvement is welcomed. Reach out to Rev. Sarah Schurr at to offer your time and skills, and/or if you have questions you would like for us to pose to Rev. Dr. Sofía and Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia.

Treasurers' Roundtable
Coming in February – UUA Legacy Giving Webinar
Saturday, February 10, 2024 1:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. ET / 10:00 a.m. 12:00 p.m. PT

The UUA’s Legacy Gifts Office offers a number of services, including an online workshop to assist congregations and other UU organizations in creating legacy giving programs. The webinar on Saturday, February 10, 2024 covers the basics of legacy giving and aims to equip legacy giving committees with the knowledge they need to start or refresh their program. To register for the webinar or to reach out with a question about legacy giving, email us at or call (617) 948-6509.

Canvass Clean Up Webinar
Join us at the Canvass Clean Up Webinar – Thursday March 14 and Thursday April 25, 2024, 7:30pm – 9:00pm EST. The hardest part of the canvass is often the last ¼ of the pledges. Join other Unitarian Universalists from around the country attempting to finish the pledge drive with positive results. This is a two-part webinar where participants will have the opportunity to share ideas, commiserate, and celebrate as we make our way towards the finish line. Learn more and register.
February is Benefits Tune-up Month: Show Your Staff the Love
Jan Gartner, UUA Compensation and Staffing Practices Manager
An important way to demonstrate care for your staff is to have good protocol in place for benefits administration. Every year, we update our Benefits Tune-up Workbook, one of the most popular resources offered by the UUA Office of Church Staff Finances. It helps congregational leaders understand our benefit plan rules – necessary documents, eligibility criteria, enrollment windows, and more. This year, to complement the Workbook, we’re creating a Benefits Tune-up one-pager for congregational staff, enabling them to double-check that their own benefits are being offered in compliance with the rules and requirements of our plans. An important way to demonstrate care for your staff is to have good protocol in place for benefits administration.
From the Office of Staff Church Finances: Resources and Reminders
Annual Documents and Certification
Welcome to 2024! It's time to complete your W-2 forms (see article below) as well as the UUA's Certification of Membership process. The annual certification is used to report congregations' membership numbers, key leaders, financial statistics, and more.

The Office of Church Staff Finances makes use of certification data
in a wide variety of ways. Thank you for attending to this process!

Of course, you should let us know about changes to your staff and lay leadership all year long. For staff, this includes salary and hours changes, new home addresses, terminations, and retirements. Keep these links handy!

Property Insurance Challenges
We've heard from a number of you about problems with your property insurance. Rates are going up, carriers are leaving states, and certain categories of insureds are being terminated (for instance if your building is in a hurricane or wildfire zone). And it doesn’t take much to get your policy terminated. Even one missed or late payment can cause your insurance to be reviewed for termination by your insurance company.

We can’t make these problems go away, but we can offer some suggestions. Read Property Insurance Challenges in LeaderLab.

Our Monthly Publication
Are you a leader whose responsibilities support staff (board, finance, personnel)? A supervisor of staff? A staff member eager to stay in the loop about employment-related information? Sign up for Compensation and Staffing News for monthly tips and resources on compensation, benefits, and personnel matters.
Save the Date: Building Beloved Community
Join us Saturday, April 27, 2024, at the Beyond the Binary: building beloved community event. “A place to find community with transgender, nonbinary folx and our allies. A conference for us to gather, learn, and grow.” In-person and online! Registration will open in February 2024.  
Mosaic Skill-up Learning and Practice Communities
Ready to go deeper in your Anti-racism/Anti-Oppression/Multicultural transformation work in your congregation or organization? Are you eager to connect with others doing transformation work in their congregations?

Mosaic Skill-up Learning and Practice Communities are facilitated small group experiences helping leaders develop the skills and accountability they need to engage in effective AR/AO/MC transformation work in their context. 3-month skill-up groups help you form meaningful connections, receive support and feedback as you implement your learnings, and tend to your own spiritual well being. Register for spring Mosaic Skill Up Groups today.
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, February 8th at 8p ET/7p CT/6p MT/5p PT. Details and registration.
Rooting in Love, Connecting in Community
Tuesday, February 6, 9-10:30 PT
Religious Education Professionals (REPs) are warmly welcomed into this quarterly collegial gathering hosted by your UUA’s Faith Development Co-Lab. At REP Meet-Ups our focus is always on building relationships, caring for ourselves and one another, and dreaming about possibilities.

On February 6, we’ll pause to notice where we are at this point in the congregational year. We’ll have time to go deeper within, find our sources of power and connect with the love at the center. We’ll reflect on where love is needed in the communities we serve and imagine ways we might nurture love where it’s most needed in this season. There will be spacious opportunities for personal reflection, spiritual practice and connection in small groups. No preparation is needed. You are welcome just as you are.
Faith Development Co-Lab is a joint working group of the UUA’s Lifespan Faith Engagement and Congregational Life offices.
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.
30 Days of Love 2024
In case you missed it, all the offerings for Weeks 1–3 of 30 Days of Love are now available on the Side With Love website:
  • View the resources for Week 1 (January 15-21, on Safety :: Decriminalization): a blessing by Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen, a body practice by Jess Hunt, a Time for All Ages by Mylo Way, a grounding practice by Lora Powell-Haney, and a prayer by Rev. Cecilia Kingman
  • View the resources for Week 2 (January 22-28, on Re-Imagining :: Climate Justice): a blessing by Rev. Nancy McDonald, a body practice by Antoinette Scully, a Time for All Ages by JeKaren Olaoya, a grounding practice by Kristina Church, and a prayer by Rev. Kelly Dignan
  • View the resources for Week 3 (January 29-Febraury 4, on Possibility :: Bodily Autonomy): a blessing by Kaden Colton, a body practice by Rev. Catharine Clarenbach, a Time for All Ages by Rev. Hannah Villnave, a grounding exercise by Canedy, and a prayer by Rev. Mykal Slack
Green Sanctuary 2030 Orientation
Green Sanctuary 2030 Orientation
February 7 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! Register to join us.
Green Sanctuary 2030 Community Meeting
Renewing Environmental Justice Commitments with GS 2030
February 21 at 4pm PT / 7pm ET
The Green Sanctuary 2030 process provides congregations with an accessible and impactful framework to advance climate and environmental justice. Learn from the recently recognized Green Sanctuary 2030 Congregation, the UU Fellowship of Raleigh, NC, about the ways their congregation renewed their environmental justice commitments through the GS2030 process. Register to join us.
Faithful Grounding
Faithful Grounding
February 22 at 4:30pm PT / 7:30pm ET
Join our Side with Love Fun & Spiritual Nourishment Squad for an hour of spiritual sustenance and grounding with others organizing on the side of love. Come drink in the music, meditation, play, and prayer. We end with a Connection Cafe for those who wish to talk together. Show up as you are, whatever is in your heart, and with your camera on or off as you need. Register to join us.
Inflation Reduction Act Peer Learning Circle
February 28 at 1pm PT / 4pm ET
We’ve all heard about the funding available for congregations to advance clean energy through Inflation Reduction Act Funding, but…really…don’t we all still have questions about how it works?! If this sounds like you, we invite you to join the Inflation Reduction Act Peer Learning Circle to learn with other UUs figuring out how to put these opportunities into action in our communities. Get up to speed by reading this short primer on the opportunities available for congregations, then bring your questions and good ideas to the PLC! Register to join us.
New Resources for Emerging Adults!
Congregations! Ever wondered what the best practices are for ministering with / for your recently bridged emerging adults? This support letter (google doc) has a myriad of tips, tricks, and resources for doing just that!
New Emerging Adult Web Content
The UUA has new web content specifically for emerging adults and / or for congregations seeking to better support their 18-24 year olds. There's information about pastoral care, worship, and about the National Emerging Adult Taskforce (NEAT). Check it out at the UUA website.
Save the Dates - 2024 Camps
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.
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.

Updates from 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 2023-2024 programming year.

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

Save the Date: PSW Service Area Assembly
InSpirit UU Book and Gift Shop

InSpirit Holiday Gift Guide

What will it take for diverse leadership within Unitarian Universalism to truly thrive and contribute to a radiant and inclusive future? In Seeds of a New Way, editors Manish Mishra-Marzetti and Nancy McDonald Ladd and contributors explore how to foster and nourish diverse and authentic leadership within congregations.

Building on the foundations of the groundbreaking Centering: Navigating Race, Authenticity, and Power in Ministry, this collection offers a glimpse into the forming edge of the shared journey happening right now to make diverse leadership, both lay and ordained, more survivable and vibrant. Rather than presenting one definitive pathway or roadmap, Seeds of a New Way recognizes that the specific context and relationships within any given setting will shape the journey and so brings together a diverse array of perspectives, experiences, and strategies to illustrate a range of considerations and possibilities.

As congregations strive to live into the potential and joy of Beloved Community, these essays will inspire them to seed and nourish a new way.

Rev. Manish Mishra-Marzetti serves as senior minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has served extensively in denominational leadership, including as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the Unitarian Universalist Association, as well as president of Diverse Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM). He is co-editor of Justice on Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class, and the Environment and Conversations with the Sacred: A Collection of Prayers.

Nancy McDonald Ladd serves as senior minister of the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland. She is a national leader in broad-based ommunity organizing and has served on the adjunct faculty at Meadville Lombard Theological School. She is the author of After the Good News: Progressive Faith Beyond Optimism.

Available to pre-order!

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Pacific Western Region - UUA
P.O. Box 567
Brighton, CO 80601
United States