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Access to Antidotes

Michelle Obama said in response to bullying language and behavior: "when they go low, we go high." As a mother, I am so happy to have a pithy mantra for my children.

I've been thinking of the response for our religious people to these uncertain times. When things are uncertain and there is fear all around, we gather and go deep. Not as pithy as Ms. Obama, but just as aspirational.

The work of religious people in uncertain times is first to gather and be still. Be still in our spiritual practices and reflection. Remember who we are and what we value. The truth is, we as Unitarian Universalists were made for these times. We are religious meaning-makers at our core and we hold dear the very values that are at risk. We've been practicing for these times. We have tools for these times.

Take OWL, the Our Whole Lives sexuality curriculum. It is based on the values of self-worth, sexual health, responsibility, justice and inclusivity. It teaches things like boundaries, consent, negotiation, respect, self-control. Can you imagine if national leaders had taken OWL? That is one example—we have access to many such antidotes to the ills and evils of the world.

And we have each other. Our congregational polity is one of radical interdependence between our congregations and Covenanting Communities. Whether we're combining efforts for a bigger impact or learning from each other, we are simply better together. Now is the time to mobilize and leverage our gifts and relationships. Your regional staff can help you make those connections and build those relationships.

Connie Goodbread and Susan Smith are often quoted as saying "Everything we do is faith development. All we teach is Unitarian Universalism. The congregation is the curriculum." My friends, your wider community and the world news are now our curriculum more than ever. We are being called into our Becoming. Like the Sweet Honey In the Rock song, we are the ones we've been waiting for. In ten years, even 50 years, what do you want our Unitarian Universalist story to be? Live into that.

How do we do that? We must hold two things that can dynamically inform each other: discernment and action. This is the going deep. The discernment must inform the action. And then the action informs our discernment. Liberation theologians call this "praxis"—the cyclical interplay between reflection and action. Who are we and what are we called to do as Unitarian Universalists? Or who am I as a Unitarian Universalist and what am I called to do? Reflection and action.

I want to commend three resources to fortify and inspire your praxis:

These times will require we partner with people we never imagined partnering with -- people we're not sure we trust yet, people with whom we don't always agree, people whose norms and leadership styles are different than our own, people our culture tries to pit us up against. And that is part of the religious work. Our salvation is equal to Beloved Community here on earth. And it cannot be realized until our circle widens and widens and envelopes the entirety of creation. And in that process of widening our circle, we will then become a people we may have never been able to fully imagine.

May we make our ancestors proud.
May we bring comfort to those suffering
and challenge to those who cause suffering.
May we make the way brighter, more loving
and more just to those yet to come.

Rev. Tandi Rogers
PWR Congregational Life Staff

In this Issue
  • Access to Antidotes
  • Webinars
  • Events & Training
  • District and UU News
  • Transitions
  • Youth Ministries
  • Celebrating Solstice
  • Be the Love - Beloved Community
PWR Quick Links
PWR Field Staff

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
From Visitor to a Full Spectrum of Member Engagement

Marie Luna, Vice President of 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

New Events and Trainings
Religious Education Trainings
Learn more about RE Trainings

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
  • Arizona
    Feb. 21, 2017 - Valley UU Congregation
    Rev. Dr. James Kubal-Komoto and Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh
Staff Development Days details

Save the Date



PWR Congregations in the News

Standing Rock Sympathizers Rally in Richland, WA

"About 200 Mid-Columbia residents rallied in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's efforts to stop Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access Pipeline during a rally Sunday at Richland's John Dam Plaza. The Rev. Doak Mansfield of Pasco's Community Unitarian Universalist Church marshaled the cheerful interfaith crowd as it waved protest signs at drivers, many of whom honked their horns in support. Mansfield called it a low-tech gathering, with no speakers, that generally aimed to build local awareness about the issues raised in the increasingly tense protests at Cannonball, N.D." Read more from the Tri-City Herald.

Weighted stuffed animals provide comfort

"Stuffed animals have long been seen as cuddly sources of comfort, but with added weight they bear a greater therapeutic benefit. These "heavy helpers" calm the nervous system and help ground children dealing with sensory processing issues or trauma. On a recent Wednesday, a group of women from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Vancouver gathered at the Children's Center to help sew some heavy helpers." Read more from The Columbian

Walking in the shoes of Ventura's homeless

"This is the third year Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura's Lift Up Your Voice program has put on Take a Hungry Person to Lunch. It coincides with National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, held each year in the week before Thanksgiving." Read more from the Ventura County Star.

Northern Utah minorities react to Trump's election with fear, anxiety

"Rev. Shelley Page of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Ogden acknowledged that the election left her and many she knows in a state of shock — and concerned about what will happen next. 'My sense was that regardless of who won, there would need to be healing of the divisions in our country so we could move forward in productive ways that benefit the common good, which is what society is supposed to be about,' Page said. 'The veil was lifted on some aspects of our culture that do not promote the common good — blatant racism, homophobia, misogyny and xenophobia were in full view and being lauded by someone running for the highest office in the land. So this is a scary time.'" Read more from the Standard Examiner.

Church Finances and Human Resources

December 1 Fair Labor Standards Act changes blocked

Many congregational leaders have been hard at work this fall, reviewing job responsibilities, recordkeeping, and pay practices in anticipation of December 1 changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Recently, a federal judge temporarily blocked implementation of these changes, adding additional uncertainty to the future of this regulation. The judge's action is in response to a suit filed by several states and employer groups seeking to overturn the increase in the weekly wage trigger.

Currently, employees must be paid a minimum of $455/week to possibly be exempt from the provisions of the FLSA. In addition to the minimum salary, they must also meet various "white collar" job duty provisions. As we have explained, there is a "ministerial exception" for clergy and others whose work has "essential religious duties" to the extent congregations feel the classification can be defended if contested by an employee or former employee. (There is no minimum salary for the ministerial exception.) All of the job duty provisions remain, regardless, along with recordkeeping requirements. It is only the white-collar salary level that is now in question. Finally, several states (for instance, California) have more stringent fair labor standards than the federal government. It's critical that congregational leaders review state standards to ensure compliance.

Next Steps: The Obama Administration is certain to appeal this decision. Whether this occurs before or after January 20 may determine whether implementation takes place at all. The UUA Office of Church Staff Finances advises congregations to remain prepared to implement the higher wage standard ($913/week) if the injunction is reversed. Meanwhile, congregations should continue to use this opportunity to evaluate the exempt/non-exempt status of each non-clergy employee and review the hours actually worked by each employee. Paying your hard-working employees for the hours they actually work is a UU value in keeping with our commitment to economic justice in the world. If our goal is to be achieved, it must begin within our own congregations.

Have you ever cleaned your house for company, but the company cancels at the last-minute? Then you have a clean house! In that spirit, we appreciate the house-cleaning you've been doing on the pay practices front.

If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to Jan Gartner, UUA Compensation and Staffing Practices Manager at or the Rev. Richard Nugent, Director, Church Staff Finances at

Rev. Sarah Schurr - PWR Congregational Life Staff

Ministerial Transitions

We have some new faces in our Pacific Western Region pulpits this year, and some that are familiar but in a new location. Here are the ministers who were settled this fall, serving congregations in the Pacific Western Region. If you get the chance, please offer them a warm welcome.

  • Kevin Lawson in Flagstaff, AZ
  • Christian and Kristin Schmidt in Kensington, CA
  • Mathew McHale in Canoga Park, CA
  • Jason Cook in Fullerton, CA
  • Kevin Tarsa in Grass Valley, CA
  • Maria Christina Vlassidis Burgoa in Hayward, CA
  • Nica Eaton-Guinn in Thousand Oaks, CA
  • Dana Warsnop in Ventura, CA
  • Duffy Peet in Bozeman, MT
  • Thomas Perchlik in Olympia, WA
  • Beth Chroniser in Seattle, WA (University)
  • Sean Neil-Barron in Fort Collins, CO

Looking for resources or support for a ministerial transition in your congregation? Find your congregation's Primary Contact.

In Search Of...

Individuals interested in serving on either the UUA Health Plan Board or the Retirement Plan Committee

The Office of Church Staff Finances staffs both committees charged by the UUA Board to oversee the management of the UUA Health Plan and the UUA Retirement Plan. Several members of these committees will be rotating off in June 2017. We are seeking individuals possessing specific skills (outlined below) to refer to the UUA Appointments Committee. We welcome expressions of interest from individuals from historically-marginalized communities with the requisite professional expertise.

UUA Health Plan: The Employee Benefits Trust Committee oversees the UUA Health Plan which provides comprehensive health insurance to approximately 1,500 members, the employees and their dependents of the UUA National Office and 350+ congregations. The Committee meets approximately 4-5 times annually – two meetings are in person in Boston. The Committee approves changes to the various benefits offered, sets the premiums charged individuals and their employers, and exercises fiduciary responsibility for the Plan and its assets Consistent with criteria established by the UUA Board, we are seeking individuals who have current experience, preferably at a senior level, in health insurance policy, health plan administration, or pharmacy benefit management, as a financial, human resources, and/or medical professional. For more information, please refer interested individuals to Jim Sargent, UUA Health Plan Director, at or (617) 948-6405.

UUA Retirement Plan: The UUA Retirement Plan Committee oversees the UU Organizations Retirement Plan which is a 401(a)/(k) retirement plan offered by 600+ congregations to approximately 3,500 participations. More than $300 million is invested by plan participants. . TIAA is the recordkeeper of the Plan. The Committee meets 4 times annually – two meeting in Boston and two by phone. The Committee, with assistance from outside consultants, approves changes to the funds offered plan participants, the annual administrative fee charged plan participants, and reviews plan performance by TIAA. Consistent with criteria established by the UUA Board, we are seeking individuals with experience in investment advising, mutual fund/portfolio management, finance, retirement plan management, or human resources in a large organization. For more information, please refer interested individuals to the Rev. Richard Nugent, Church Staff Finances Director, at or (617) 948-6456.



Youth Ministry Training Webinar 4

Pastoral Care to and With Youth - Webinar

"We must create communities of care that can hold and support our youth as they negotiate coming of age in the 21st century," says Jennica Davis-Hockett, who serves in the UUA Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries and is the author of "Bringing the Web to Life," a youth ministry curriculum which includes sessions on active listening as an important element of pastoral care.

Adults serving in UU youth ministry often wonder how to best provide appropriate pastoral care for individuals and how to create communities of care through traditions and rituals so that youth know they can turn to their spiritual communities in hard times. For youth ministry leaders seeking to expand their ability to demonstrate and nurture deep care, there is a super opportunity to expand your pastoral care skills coming up in December.

We invite you to take part in the Pastoral Care To and With Youth webinar, which is the fourth offering in a series of Youth Ministry Competencies webinars. Join them December 8th at 5pm PT or December 13th at 10am PT by registering at

Rev. Evin Carvill-Ziemer

LQBTQ Youth Survival Guide

Dear beautiful, fabulous gender creative and sexually non-conforming youth and teens–all those who are queer, trans, non-binary, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and a hundred other wonderful self-proclaimed identities,

My heart breaks for you. This is not the future I wanted for you. This is not the future I have been fighting for. But I also know you are strong and I want you to have the information you need to survive. Because I need you to survive! I haven't seen a "this shit is real" missive to you yet, so here's what I've got. I don't think it's helpful to sugar coat this. Yes, you and I and millions of others like us are going to be under attack, so we need to be prepared to fight for ourselves and for each other.

And, I've heard a lot of hard, sad things from the LGBTQ youth I know. I want you to hear how much hope there is: People who believe you are beautiful and needed are in the majority in this country. If you doubt this, ask someone to add you to the secret Facebook group Pantsuit Nation and post your story and picture.

Continue reading LQBTQ Youth Survival Guide

Upcoming Youth Ministries Events



Worship Resources

The Return of the Light - Celebrating the Winter Solstice

Winter solstice is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Traditionally, it is a time of both foreboding and expectancy, as the longest night leads to the return of the sun. "Solstice" in Latin means "the sun standing still." The Winter Solstice has become important to both humanists and pagans, who can find common ground in celebrating this occasion. Themes can include light amid darkness; the death of nature and the cycle of life; the darkness just before the dawn; the miracle of every birth. Celebrating the winter holidays is an excellent opportunity for Unitarian Universalist congregations to express their commitment to our Sixth Principle: We covenant to affirm and promote the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all.


Be The Love - Meck Groot

Disagreement and Connection After November 8

"How do you talk to someone you have fundamental disagreements with?"

A religious educator asked me this question this week as she sought my help in guiding youth about how to have conversations across divides. I felt stumped and flagged the email to get to later.

This is a burning question for many in the wake of the presidential election. Whether we encounter differences among people we work with, worship with, live with or share blood or friendships with, this question is on a lot of minds. Especially as Thanksgiving approaches, some of us wonder what the heck we'll do if the subject of political differences comes up around the dinner table.

After closing that email, I thought about Compassionate Communication and Process Work and open honest questions and all the books I've read and the workshops I've attended and the awesome teachers I've had who have so much wisdom on these matters. And none of it made any difference. Until…

Continue reading Disagreement and Connection After November 8

Be the Love is an initiative intended to support you and your community to live more deeply into Beloved Community. It is a strategy for supporting all of us to practice a faith that honors giftedness, deepens authentic connection and sparks joy among and beyond us. PWR Congregational Life Staff Deborah Holder is one of the three contributors who bring Be the Love to life.

Crowdfunding Offers New Opportunities to Expand Congregational Giving

This article from Faith and Leadership at Duke Divinity suggests that crowdfunding offers congregations a way to broaden their concept of stewardship, with opportunities to expand the focus, audience and reach of fundraising efforts, says an expert on stewardship and congregational giving. Initially popularized in the arts community as a way to raise money for specific projects, crowdfunding, or "crowdsource funding," is part of the rapidly changing landscape of charitable giving, with important implications for the church.

Read the full article or visit Faithify—the UU crowdfunding site.

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
InSpirit Holiday Gift Guide

Poetry, coloring books, spiritual books, justice inspiration, bright striped socks… InSpirit Books and Gifts has a Holiday Gift Guide with ideas for the Unitarian Universalists, spiritual progressives, cultural creatives, and freethinking mystics in your life: whether they be five years old, or 85. Check out the guide online to see how you can support your faith by buying just-the-perfect-thing for your friends and family.

Poems to Live By in Troubling Times

In this 2006 sequel to the Beacon Press bestseller Poems to Live By in Uncertain Times, editor Joan Murray has once again gathered an astonishing group of poems that speak to our personal and shared concerns in a troubled time. Readers will find wisdom to sustain them as they face difficulties in their individual lives or confront our common contemporary predicament. These are not poems that provide easy answers or overheated rhetoric but poems that speak directly and deeply to the soul.


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