Not the Hotel California, Webinars, Youth Events, UULI and more...


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PWR Newsletter


We're Not the Hotel California

'Relax' said the night man,
'We are programmed to receive.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave!'
—The Eagles, "Hotel California"

It's hard when people that we really like stop participating in our congregation. Perhaps they've gotten burned out, and they need to back away for a while. Perhaps their theology and values have evolved and they need something different. Perhaps they don't like the way that our congregation has changed. There are so many reasons people leave.

Though this happens all the time, I'm noticing something that seems new. In this time of high cultural fear and anxiety, and at this time when many of our congregations have anxiety about sustaining our programs and buildings, staffing and budgets, I'm noticing us getting really worried about people leaving.

Part of that worry is healthy and good: we really liked these folks who left, and we're sad they've moved on. But part of that worry hurts us. How does it hurt us? In two ways.

One way it hurts us is it subverts our affirmation of the "free and responsible search for truth and meaning." We're not the Hotel California, for goodness sake. People can leave and it can be OK.

The second way it hurts is that it subverts our mission. Anxiety about "people leaving" can cause leaders of a congregation to become more anxious about keeping people happy. "Jenny's not coming because she thinks we're doing too much social justice and not enough spirituality." "William stopped coming because the minister said 'God.'" "Terry dropped out feeling mad because we stopped hosting the community theater company." And when our leaders get hooked by fear of Jenny and William and Terry resigning and taking their pledges with them, we can easily get sidetracked from our mission. We start asking, "How can we make them happy again?" instead of asking the question most fundamental to our purpose, "How are we living our mission?" Especially in smaller congregations, where the impact of one unhappy member can be large, it's easy to let our de facto mission become "making everybody happy."

A healthy congregation is like a living organism, a collection of cells. New cells are coming into it, old cells are going out of it. The organism has a purpose, a mission. If we're focused on that mission, then we must accept that not everyone will stick around forever, and not everyone will be happy. Some of the old cells that used to energize the congregation are going to disconnect and drop off. It's part of the life cycle of a congregation; it's part of the life cycle of a living, changing human being. And when we accept that, we can look to the work of cultivating new cells. With joy and creativity and curiosity, we can connect with the new folks whose lives would be enhanced by joining with us in living our mission.

Who are we called to be as congregations? How are we living our life-affirming faith in this hurting, threatened world? Let us focus on that to carry us into the future.

Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh
Congregational Life Staff, Pacific Western Region

October 5, 2017
In this Issue
  • Not the Hotel California
  • PWR Webinars
  • UU Leadership Institute
  • Board Development Days
  • Events
  • District and UU News
  • Job Postings
  • Youth News
PWR Quick Links
PWR Field Staff

Updates to Staff, Presidents or Treasurer?

Do you have new staff members (administrators, directors of religious education or ministers) in your congregation? How about a new board president or treasurer? Please send their names, emails and phone numbers along to the Pacific Western Region at so we can keep your congregation's file current and reach out to the right people at the right time. Thank you!


Events, Training and Webinars


PWR Webinars

Webinars offer a convenient way to engage in online collaborative learning across the Pacific Western Region (PWR). 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's learning community on what matters.

This year, the PWR staff provide a variety of exciting offerings with individual webinars at $20 per connection. A connection is one link that is viewed by as many as desired from one place, such as your congregation.

View the PWR Webinar Archive 

Questions about PWR Webinars: Contact PWR Congregational Life Staff, Jonipher Kwong at

The Death of Sunday School: Trends and Changes in Religious Education

Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh - October 20, 11am - noon

Join us to explore UU religious educator Kimberley Sweeney's provocative paper The Death of Sunday School and the Future of Faith Formation. In what ways might we bring the best aspects the Sunday School model forward into something new that meets the needs of today's children, youth, and families? How can we as leaders in religious education nurture more multigenerational, "all-congregation" faith experiences? What ought we stop doing, and start doing, to make Unitarian Universalism come alive in young hearts and minds?

Register for The Death of Sunday School: Trends and Changes in Religious Education

Reaching Out to Retirees

Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh - November 9, 7-8 pm

As Baby Boomers reach retirement age, it's time to take a fresh look at the spiritual and social needs of retirees. How can our congregations best reach people and build meaningful relationships with them in this transitional and tender time of life?

Register for Reaching Out to Retirees

Excellent Worship for Small Congregations

Rev. Sarah Schurr - November 13, 5-6 pm

Small congregations with little or no professional ministry help, can still have good worship services. This webinar gives you some tips.

Register for Excellent Worship for Small Congregations

Mental Health Information for Ministers & Lay Leaders

Rev. Tandi Rogers - December 6, 7-8pm PT

Our pews are filled with people suffering often silently from mental illness, either their own, or that of a loved one. In this webinar, we will cover:

  • The congregation's role in addressing mental health
  • General information about mental health and recovery
  • Some specific mental health problems and how to address them
  • Religion / Spirituality and mental illness

Register for Mental Health Information for Ministers & Lay Leaders

Youth Leadership AND Spirituality: Not an Either/Or Proposition

Youth Ministry Specialist, Eric Bliss - December 12, 7-8 pm

For decades, the best that we thought we could accomplish in youth ministry was empowering leadership. Now, in these complicated and complex times, it is clear that leadership alone is not sufficient to minister to our weary and hyper-scheduled youth. How can a deeper spirituality inform youth leadership AND sustain it? What practices synchronize harmoniously with leading? How can youth balance religious life with the many pushes, pulls, and asks of modern life? These questions and others will be explored in this one hour webinar.

Register for Youth Leadership AND Spirituality

It's not too late to register for fall courses at the UU Leadership Institute!

The Core Leadership Courses are an online version of Leadership School and are designed to integrate newer leaders with current leaders by learning together! We provide materials so that you can self-organize your congregation or cluster for an in-person workshop where you can learn from one another, no matter which level course you are taking!

  • Faithful Membership: For new members and those interested in possible leadership. Covers covenant, healthy communication and boundaries, shared ministry, and stewardship. Also provides an introduction to congregational polity, UU theologies, and the wider UU movement.
  • Healthy Leadership: Includes family (and other systems) thinking applied to congregations. (Similar to Healthy Congregations®) Learn healthy leadership practices, communication and conflict skills, the importance of being mission-focused and how to communicate across differences.
  • Strategic Leadership: Develop a deeper understanding of how to focus your congregation on mission, build trust and develop a cohesive leadership team. Learn about stewardship, strategic planning, annual goal setting and ministry assessment and the basics of congregational governance.
  • Adaptive Leadership: Develop advanced leadership skills that will help identify challenges. Learn how to help others see challenges in new ways, empower others and find creative solutions together. This course includes working on a case study with other participants.

We offer many additional courses on UU History, UU Identity, Stewardship, Membership, Intercultural Skills, Transgender Awareness and more!

Visit for a full list!

Register Now

Board Development Days

A day for congregational teams (board members and clergy) to explore and learn together. Note: This day may supplement your traditional Board Retreat, serve as part of it, or provide the foundation for it.

  • October 14 at Live Oak UU Congregation (Goleta, CA)
  • October 21 at UU Church of Marin (San Rafael, CA)
  • November 11 at Cascade UU Fellowship (East Wenatchee, WA)
  • November 18 at Foothills Unitarian Church (Ft. Collins, CO)
  • December 9 at Florence UU Fellowship (Florence, OR)
  • January 27 at UU Society of Sacramento (Sacramento, CA)
  • February 3 at Granite Peak UU Congregation (Prescott, AZ)
  • March 3 at Olympic UU Fellowship (Port Angeles, WA)
  • March 17 at Edmonds UU Church (Edmonds, WA)
Register Now

Plans are currently underway to offer these throughout the PWR. If you are interested in hosting a Board Development Day in the coming year, let your PWR Primary Contact know.

Mosaic Makers: Leading Vital Multicultural Congregations National Conference 2017

Oct. 27-29 with an optional Professional Day for UU religious professionals on Oct. 30

First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego

Mosaic Makers is a dynamic gathering and learning community for teams from congregations deeply engaged in the work of building intentional multicultural community. We gather together in spiritual community for two and a half days of workshop, experiential learning, and community building around the theme of strengthening the fabric of Unitarian Universalist multicultural ministries.

Learn more about speakers, program highlights, and registering for Mosaic Makers: Leading Vital Multicultural Congregations National Conference 2017

Registration deadline extended to Friday, Oct. 13

Multicultural Renaissance Module Registration Open

Multicultural religious education is a way of seeing and thinking as well as doing. It requires us to truly open our minds and hearts to the perspectives and experiences of others. It requires the humility to see those diverse perspectives to be as valid as our own. It calls us to welcome and include the unfamiliar, those who may be outside our comfort zone. It asks us to acknowledge the realities of oppression and privilege. It means we are open to change and growth, and ultimately care more about justice than comfort.

Nov. 6, 5:00pm to Nov. 8, 12:00pm
Denver, CO

Led by: Rev. Samaya Oakley and Aisha Hauser

Learn more

Denominational News


#UUWhiteSupremacyTeachIn Fall 2017

In the last few weeks, Unitarian Universalists have responded alongside interfaith and activist partners with love and resistance to overt white supremacists in Charlottesville and across the country. In April, May, and June, 682 of the 1,038 UU congregations--and 32 other UU communities--held UU White Supremacy Teach-ins.

Through public witness, education, and introspection, our faith is coming to understand that fighting white supremacy means both resisting its most blatant forms "out there," and disrupting its systemic manifestations within.

The first round of teach-ins brought moments of triumph, awkwardness, fierce debate, powerful revelations, joy and pain for Unitarian Universalists of color, and much more. The Teach-In team again calls our siblings in faith to action to continue the work of growth and learning. On Sunday, October 15 or Sunday, October 22, join together with UU communities nationwide in Part Two of the UU White Supremacy Teach-in. Our power and reach are magnified when we come together.

Learn More About the Fall 2017 Teach-In

PWR Congregations in the News

PUUF receives official Welcoming Congregation status - The Pagosa Springs Sun
This month, the Pagosa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (PUUF) reached a milestone in its history, receiving official approval as a "Welcoming Congregation" through the national Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). The congregation applied for this designation following 18 months of proactive education, community outreach and self-reflection regarding issues confronting the LGBTQ community.

Undocumented immigrant finds sanctuary at Colorado Springs church - Fox 21 News
President Donald Trump's executive order making immigration laws more strict has undocumented immigrants all over the country taking refuge, including Elmer Peña and his family, who have found sanctuary at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Colorado Springs. "There is a story about a family that wants to be together," Peña said. "I feel welcome in this place."

'Righteous roar' by faith leaders at Nunes' office to protect immigrants, health care - The Fresno Bee
Nunes' office door remained locked during most of the demonstration, with only a few people allowed in. The group was told Nunes was out of the country and may not be available to meet with constituents until next year. That's too long to wait for the Rev. Tim Kutzmark of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, who was among around 20 members of Faith in the Valley at Nunes' office Tuesday. "In a very short amount of time, decisions are going to be made on the (federal) budget," Kutzmark said, "and the current budget is going to harm the most vulnerable."

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship to celebrate 50 years in Durango - The Durango Herald
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango is celebrating 50 years of diversity and inclusivity this month. The Rev. Katie Kandarian-Morris, who has been with the fellowship since 2014, describes Unitarian Universalism as a liberal religion.

Unitarian Universalist Church Celebrates 60th Anniversary - The Independent
In the spring of 1957, a group of families met in a private home to organize a Livermore Unitarian Fellowship. This year, the Unitarian Universalist Church in Livermore is celebrating its 60th Anniversary.

I Cast My Lot with You: A Pastoral Message from UUA President, The Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray

Dear Colleagues, Religious Professionals and Lay Leaders,

I am thinking of all of you. It is now three months into my term as UUA President, and it has been a time of repeated tragedies and traumas. These have included political traumas including the Transgender Military Ban and the rescinding of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. They have also included the devastating natural disasters of fires out West and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria that devastated parts of Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. And there have been the violent human tragedies of Charlottesville and now Las Vegas.

Read more.

Opportunity to Serve on the UUA Board

Your Unitarian Universalist Association needs YOU! Are you committed to the work of our Association? Do you have a calling for Denominational Leadership? We're looking for those who would like to serve on the board of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).

The UUA Board of Trustees conducts the affairs of the Association and carries out policies and directives, acting for the Association between General Assemblies. The board is composed of the Moderator, who chairs the board, the Financial Advisor, and ten trustees elected at large. The Youth Observers and the President of the Association are members of the board without voting privileges.

The applicant who is appointed to the board will serve through the end of the year (June 2018) and should be willing to run for election to a three-year term on the board at General Assembly 2018.

More information aboard the board, including the board's covenant, minutes, and reports, can be found at If you have any questions about appointment, running for election, or serving on the board, you can contact the Appointments Committee Secretary, Sara Surface at

Application deadline is October 15, 2017 so apply now.

PWR Job Postings

Ministry Positions


PWR Youth News


Regional Mission Trip for Youth and Adults next summer!

  • Do you have a passion for environmental justice?
  • Have you been interested to partner with grassroots organizations to create a lasting partnership in solidarity with local communities?
  • Have you ever wanted to make a real difference while learning hands on skills and concepts?
  • If you answered "Yes," or better yet, "Hell yes!" to any of the above, then the new PWR Justice Journey is for you!

"Pacific Western Region Justice Journey: Roots, Reflections and Relationships - An Environmental Justice Journey. A week-long immersion experience focusing on Environmental Sustainability through service, learning, and through a meditation practice designed to be reflective and to sustain future justice work.

Register now! Deadline is Nov. 20, 2017.

Learn more

Upcoming Youth Events - Save the Dates and Registrations

  • PCD Youth Retreat - RejUUvenation
    October 13-15, 2017

    UU Fellowship of Redwood City, CA
    Register Now
  • MDD Fall Con - The Courage to Care
    October 13-15, 2017

    Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, CO
    Register Now
  • PNWD Fall Youth Con: CommUUnicate
    October 27-29, 2017

    Camp Cispus in Randle, WA
    Register Now
  • MDD MLK Con
    January 13-15, 2018

    First Universalist Church in Denver, CO
  • PNWD Spring Youth Con
    March 23-25, 2018

    Camp Cispus in Randle, WA
  • MDD Bridging Con
    April 6-8, 2018
    Los Alamos UU Church in Los Alamos, NM
  • PSWD Youth Cons
    Coming up! We'll have more details soon!
    November 3-5 - Fall Retreat
    January 12-14 - Winter Retreat
    March 16-18 - Spring Retreat
    MiSC Camp - TBA 2018
  • Youth Chaplain Training - Columbine, CO
    November 17-19, 2017

    Columbine Unitarian Universalist Church
  • PNW Leadership Development Con
    December 1-3, 2017

    UU Church of Spokane, WA
  • PSWD Youth Advisor Training
    Spring 2018

  • Roots, Reflections, Relationships - A UU Justice Journey - Pasadena, CA
    July 14-22, 2018
    Throop UU Congregation in Pasadena, CA
    Only 15 youth slots available
    Register Now
  • Thrive West (For Youth and Young Adults of Color) July - Aug TBA
  • Summer Seminary Late July - Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, IL.

Technology and Communications


This is a new feature in the PWR Newsletter, brought to you by Christopher Wulff, PWR's Communications Specialist. In each issue we will feature a technology or communications tip related to congregational life. In future columns we'll talk about photo directories, members-only sections of websites, automating data and communications, what the heck is Snapchat, and much more. Do you have a question about technology or communications in your congregation? Send Chris an email at

Can You Hear Me Now?

A number of PWR congregations make fantastic recordings of their services, recognizing that more and more people want to listen to the sermons in the days, weeks, and years after the service. While some congregations just post individual audio files to a website archive, most who are making audio recordings each week have gone the next step and turned those audio files into a podcast that people can subscribe to. It can be a great service both for members who want to hear the sermons they'll miss when traveling and as outreach for people who are curious what your services are like before they start visiting. I've found that there are even sermons that I keep putting back in my queue to listen to again and again.

Have you ever noticed yourself having to adjust the volume on your stereo when listening to your congregation's podcast? One of the challenges of producing our podcasts is maintaining a consistent volume, both within each recording and from week to week. We also want to try to be consistent with other podcasts, otherwise our recordings wind up sounding thin and people have to crank up their volume just to hear us, and then are deafened when the next show starts.

There are two functions at play here. The first is called normalization, and this basically serves to level out the volume of your file, bringing down the really loud sections, where the speaker leaned right into the podium, and pumping up the sections where they brought it down to a whisper. The second is called loudness (also known as voice boost or sound check), and this refers to the overall volume of the recording. While the norm for most recording software is -24 LUFS (perceived loudness units), for podcasts the norm is -19 LUFS when recording in mono, or -16 LUFS when recording in stereo. Basically, when you're recording for podcasts, it needs to be significantly louder than normal.

Whatever recording or mastering software you're using for your podcast recordings, be sure to set your loudness before you export the file so that your listeners can hear you well without having to pump up the volume in their cars or headphones. For more information about loudness, check out the Audacity Blog.

If you're looking for a quick and easy way to get your recordings adjusted to the right volumes and levels, check out, a service that allows you to upload up to 2 hours of audio a month for free processing. Aside from correcting volumes, it can also help with noise, hiss, and hum reduction.

Got more questions about podcasting? Contact Christopher Wulff at

Heart to Heart, Soul to Soul, Listening Hearts

Rev. Christine Robinson and Alicia Hawkins, Skinner House Books

Authored by the PWR's newest Congregational Life Primary Contact, the Rev. Christine Robinson, who supports PWR's large congregations. A series of collections for deep and powerful small group ministry or spiritual sharing groups. Covers topics such as forgiveness, loss, nature, money, and friendship.


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