Five Groups I'm Thankful For
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Pacific Western Region
Newsletter November 2021
Five Groups I'm Thankful For
by Carlton E. Smith
PWR Lead

It feels like we are on a luge, racing past Halloween, soon turning the curve at Thanksgiving, and then a straight shot through all the December holidays, and crossing the finish-line at the New Year. At this point in life, I would say that all years occur as fleeting, but this one somehow seemed fleeter than most.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, the short days of late autumn usher in a contemplative mode of being for me. The darkness presents as an old friend who stays longer, rather than as an adversary to battle with…This time of year causes me to look back and count blessings, and I share with you now five groups I’m thankful for with regards to my work as Lead of the Pacific Western Region. I could list many more!

I’m thankful for:

Local congregations. You are the gateway into Unitarian Universalism for people seeking a strong, life-affirming alternative to our larger culture, which is so oriented toward greed, exploitation and injustice. You are the wellspring from which great leaders emerge, lay and professional alike. You hold the keys to the future of our faith, in how you reflect our values out into your communities and the world at-large. You give into the Annual Program Fund and make the work of regional and national staff possible. I wouldn’t be in the place I am today without the ways in which several of you have contributed to my life and invested in me. I appreciate you! Looking forward to seeing you all at Compass (December 11-12) and Regional Assembly (February 4-6)…Now is a great time to register!

The delegates to District meetings -- Mountain Desert District, Pacific Central District, Pacific Northwest District and Pacific Southwest District -- Without you, the momentum we have toward next levels of regionalization would not be possible. Because you care so deeply about our faith and its well-being, you have shown up for important informational meetings and important votes. Most recently, PSWD delegates voted to merge with MDD (Oct. 2), and MDD delegates voted to merge with PSWD, with the prospect of merging with other Districts in the future (Oct. 23). Behind the scenes, your District Boards and PWR staff are calling and emailing you to help ensure turnout, but you, Dear Delegates, are the ones that make business meetings happen.

The Boards of the Districts of the Pacific Western Region -- Mountain Desert District, Pacific Central District, Pacific Northwest District and Pacific Southwest District -- You continue to inspire me through your dedication to Unitarian Universalists of our Region, your commitment to justice, equity, and inclusion and your willingness to boldly move forward in faith.

The PWR Team -- Amanda, Annie, Diane, Eric, Ian, Melanie, Melissa, Rhiannon, Sarah M, Sarah S and Summer -- What a ride 2021 has been! At each point along the way, you have continued to shine, with hearts oriented toward what’s in the best interest of the communities and the individuals we get to work with and support. I can’t thank you enough for all you do, and my gratitude reaches to the many people who are extended staff members and also essential to this work.

Our larger Unitarian Universalist Association. For all the breakthroughs this year held, we had steady, compassionate support from peers and supervisors higher up in the organization. These include my supervisor, Jessica York, Director of Congregational Life; her supervisor, Carey McDonald, Executive Vice-President, and of course; Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, President. They were essential in bringing Rev. Ian on to work with us on regionalization this fall (You’re in our hearts, Ian!) and partnering around the major choices to be made in the process. I’m also grateful to work for an organization that recognizes the value of time away from our daily work, such that I will be on sabbatical leave March 4 through mid-June. More about that in the February blog.

For now, I hope you enjoy all the holidays you are looking forward to, that you are staying as safe as you can out in our late-pandemic world, and that you are assured love surrounds you everywhere you may go.

In faith,

PS: I will be on the road and/or otherwise occupied for much of the next few weeks: Oct. 29- Nov. 7, vacation; Nov. 8-11, meetings with the other Regional Leads on Zoom; Nov. 11-14, Living Legacy Project Board retreat in South Carolina, and; Nov. 15-17, site visit in San Diego prepping for Regional Assembly. Please be patient if you need to hear from me…I will get back as soon as I can!

In this Issue
"Five Groups I'm Thankful For"
A Message from Rev. Ian Evison
PWR & UUA News

Youth & Emerging Adult News
Mountain Desert News
Pacific Central News
Pacific Northwest 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
A Message from Rev. Ian Evison
It is only so recently that I introduced myself to you in my new role as Project Manager for Regionalization in the Pacific Western Region. And, I have received some medical news which requires me to withdrawn from the project until the first of the year. On Wednesday, November 3 I will undergo coronary bypass surgery.  

You may follow the details of my journey at my Caring Bridge site.

I am privileged and honored to have been part of this project this Fall. I am amazed at how far the project has come in a few weeks. I am confident that—together—the leaders of the region will work through the remaining issues with care and with a vision for the future of our larger UU movement.   

I write now after the amazing vote of the online Mountain Desert District meeting to merge into the Pacific Western Region.  

Judy Fjell’s music in this meeting spoke both to the moment of this vote and to the unexpected turn of my personal journey. I was powerfully moved by the Pat Humphries song, “Swimming to the Other Side”:

We are living ‘neath the great big dipper
We are washed by the very same rain
We are swimming in this stream together….
Loving spirits will live forever
We’re all swimming to the other side.

Thanks all. See you on the other side.
Pacific Western Regional Assembly: The Joy of Connection in Two Modes!
We are excited to announce that our Regional Assembly will fully embrace safety and inclusivity with two forms of gathering: online and in-person.

The online experience of our worships, workshops, small groups, and service projects will be full and robust, using the Whova platform that was so successful for the 2021 UUA General Assembly. You can find connections, make friends, even help create border justice in our online weekend conference.

The in-person experience will be at a comfortable seaside hotel in San Diego, where you can mingle with actual in-person UUs from all over the Western US: dining together outdoors, meeting together in small groups, watching worships and workshops together, and having some of those casual yet life-changing conversations that can so much more easily happen in person. The in-person version of the border justice project (on Friday) will include a trip to the US-Mexico border, weather- and virus levels-permitting.

Folks attending online and folks attending in-person will be interacting with each other through the Whova and online platforms, bringing everyone together as one for this meaningful event. As we emerge from the most stringent restrictions of COVID, it will be so good to be together.

Reflect, Rejoice, Renew! Pacific Western Regional Assembly
San Diego, CA and online
February 4-6, 2021

UUA Board Meetings and Open Houses
Open Houses
The Board will, once again, hold open houses on the 2nd Tuesday of each month.
  • Tuesday, November 9, 2021; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.
  • Tuesday, December 14, 2021; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.
  • Tuesday, January 11, 2022; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.
  • Tuesday, February 8, 2022; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.
  • Tuesday, March 8, 2022; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.
  • Tuesday, April 12, 2022; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.
  • Tuesday, May 10, 2022; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.
  • Tuesday, June 14, 2022; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.

Board Meetings
The Board meets monthly. Here are the dates/times for each meeting. Please note that a registration link for the meetings will be available on this page in advance of each meeting.

  • Monday, November 8, 2021; 4:00pm PT / 5:00pm MT / 6:00pm CT / 7:00pm ET
  • Monday, December 13, 2021; 4:00pm PT / 5:00pm MT / 6:00pm CT / 7:00pm ET
  • Friday, January 21—Saturday, January 22, 2022; Schedule TBD
  • Monday, February 14, 2022; 4:00pm PT / 5:00pm MT / 6:00pm CT / 7:00pm ET
  • Monday, March 14, 2022; 4:00pm PT / 5:00pm MT / 6:00pm CT / 7:00pm ET
  • Friday, April 22—Saturday, April 23, 2022; Schedule TBD
  • Monday, May 9, 2022; 4:00pm PT / 5:00pm MT / 6:00pm CT / 7:00pm ET
Stewardship Lunch and Share
Stewardship Lunch and Share for stewardship and fundraising lay leaders.
Join PWR staff and congregational leaders from around the region for conversation and sharing about stewardship, generosity, and fundraising. Each gathering will include brief presentations and plenty of time to bring your questions and ideas to one another.
12:00pm to 1:00pm Pacific on the 2nd Friday of the month.

Nov. 12th Topic: Online Auctions
Register for upcoming lunch and shares here.
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. Next meeting November 11th at 9p ET/8p CT/7p MT/6p PT. Details and registration at the UUA website.
Compass: Navigating the Paths to Liberation Together
When asked, "What wisdom might we offer to one another in this challenging moment?" Let us boldly respond, “Interdependence will guide us onward.” And it is truly in one another that we find our compass in navigating the paths towards liberation.

All are welcome to gather in community for Compass: Navigating the Paths to Liberation Together on December 11-12, 2021, as we discern our way forward. The virtual event series will include invigorating worship, special musical guests, thought-provoking conversations, breakout caucus gatherings, a special presentation from the Article II Study Commission, and much more.

Registration is now open. Learn more about Compass here.
Updates from the UU Ministry for Earth
Last Call! Watch & Host a Community Screening of The Condor & The Eagle
NOW through November 30, 2021

For the past three years, UU Ministry for Earth has partnered with the creators of the award-winning documentary, The Condor & The Eagle, as an executive producer, and host of over twenty community screenings, raising over $40,000 to support Indigenous-led Climate Justice efforts. UUMFE is now finalizing this chapter of its work with one last big community screening partnership.

NOW through November 30th, you can stream the film online and share the film with your community as a congregational/organizational co-host! A pre-recorded panel discussion will play immediately after the film credits, and co-hosts are welcome to organize their own community discussions to pair with the film as well. Details here.
News from the UUA Office at the United Nations
Save the Date: Intergenerational Spring Seminar April 22-24, 2022
The UUA Office at the UN is hosting its Intergenerational Spring Seminar in partnership with UU Ministry for Earth and UUSC, focusing on climate justice, forced displacement, and human rights. The Seminar is for everyone age 14+ and is expected to take place online with opportunities to participate in New York City too! Registration will open in December. Find more details here.

Unitarian Universalists at COP26 UN Climate Summit
The pivotal UN Climate Summit, COP26, will take place in Glasgow October 31-November 14, bringing world leaders together to address climate change and meeting the Paris Agreement’s goals. In collaboration with UUSC and UU Ministry for Earth, the UUA Office at the UN (UU@UN) is sending credentialed observers to be part of the Summit representing Unitarian Universalist values. Follow along with the delegation’s experience, learn how to tune into COP26 sessions and press conferences directly, and view recordings and resources from previous events in the lead-up to COP26.
Spiritual Grounding for Religious Educators
Back by popular demand!  

Are you feeling burned out or crispy in your work?  Would you like to gather with other religious educators with the aim of nourishing your spirit and refueling your soul?

What: Spiritual Grounding Gathering for Religious Educators in the Pacific Western region
When: Monday, November 22nd, 12pm PDT / 1pm MDT via Zoom

About this offering....
Join former DREs and UUA Congregational Life Staff Annie Scott, Eric Bliss and Melissa James for a 60 minute gathering to nourish your efforts as a DRE, including worship, breakouts, and embodied practices. Register here.
UUs for a Just Economic Community Seeking Board Members
UUs for a Just Economic Community is searching for new board members. Ours is a working board--we only have a very part time administrator and all the rest of the work is done by board members. This is a great way to interact with thoughtful, justice minded people. Our full board meets monthly for about one hour.  

We also have task forces to concentrate on issues and to work to bring UUJEC to the broader UU community--things like preparing for a GA workshop. We host a Green New Deal webinar and a general economic justice webinar every month.

Here's a letter that further explains our mission and work.
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.
JUUst Breathe Live
JUUst Breathe Live is a YouTube live stream where youth ministry has a say! Hosts Shannon Harper and Eric Bliss interview youth and adult bad asses who hold a vision of liberal religious youth ministry that is both lifesaving and spirit-lifting.

Come join us via the chat for real time conversations where your ideas matter and your questions get answered. Explore faith, spirituality, and life purpose as never before. And above all, bring your authentic self and...JUUst Breathe.

Access our YouTube Channel here.

Join us November 14th at 5p PT/6p MT/ 7p CT/8p ET for a thought-provoking discussion.
Camp is Back in 2022!
Exciting news! Camp will return in 2022. Dates have been confirmed for High School QUUest Camp and Middle School (Spirit) QUUest Camp, our week-long, residential high school & middle school camp in the mountains. July 3-9, 2022 in Casper, Wyoming. Watch the newsletter and our website for more information as it becomes available.
Emerging Adult Newsletter
The Emerging Adult Task Force recently launched its own newsletter! Check out this month's edition for news, events, ways to connect, resources, and more.
Upcoming Youth Events
District Specific Programs

PSWD Camp de Benneville Pines
MDD Fall Chalice Lighter Call Now Open!
It’s that time again, time for the Chalice Lighter program to help a UU congregation in the Mountain Desert District (MDD)! Three times a year, the MDD puts out a call for donations from Chalice Lighters (or anyone). Your generosity with the Fall Call will help the Unitarian Universalist Church of Las Cruces, New Mexico with asbestos abatement. They had ages-old carpet, past redemption, and were in the process of removing it so that their choir members would be able to breathe in the sanctuary when they discovered they had a larger problem than they knew.

Hopefully, you’re feeling generous! If those with the financial capability consider doing a little more than usual, it will help close the gap caused by lost donations from those of us who are still hurting from this unusual past year and more and can only contribute best wishes. The Spring Call which wrapped up on June 30, 2021 is helping the Cache Valley Unitarian Universalists of Logan, Utah repair the retaining wall on their property.

Visit the MDD website to read the call letter and make a donation.

A Message from Your PCD Board
Dear Pacific Central District Friends,

How are you loving yourself, each other, and the world? As we enter into the last quarter of Gregorian calendar year 2021, I hope your connection to what sustains us all is strong. I hope you know and feel that you are loved.

For some time, UUA regional staff and district volunteers in the Pacific West have been actively wrestling with the question of how to be an association together. Volunteer leaders from the Pacific Southwest are now sprinting towards legally merging with the Mountain Desert District by the end of the year, and the Pacific Northwest District is seeking to dissolve early next year.

What do these mergers mean? They mean that the Pacific Western Region staff will continue to operate as they already have for four years, but rather than the Mountain Desert District “doing-business-as” PWR, MDD and merging Districts will become the PWR as a legal entity. It will no longer require financial sponsorship of a 501 (c)(3) organization because it will be one itself. The PWR will have new by-laws and a new board with new objectives that regional staff and the four District boards are actively working out.

The Pacific Central District is on a slightly different timeline. There are three reasons. We want to make sure that our youth ministry consultation effort continues to have the support it needs. We want to safeguard the financial gifts that have been bequeathed to the District. And we, your volunteer Board, have discovered that we prefer a slower pace. It is how we make it possible for us to do this work at all.

Just like the other district boards, the Pacific Central District Board is going through a legal due-diligence check-list provided by the Mountain Desert District’s legal counsel, collecting the documents that define and bind us as a 501c(3) non-profit corporation, and updating our bylaws to allow for a variety of institutional futures.

Just like the other district boards, the Pacific Central District Board is also in active conversation with regional UUA staff and the other district boards about the new by-laws and board for the 501c(3) corporation that will soon be called the Pacific Western Region.

If you are called, in any way, to participate in the nitty gritty ministry of UUA  governance, here are some pathways:

  1. Engage with the UUA board. Board meetings are posted here.
  2. Engage with us. The Pacific Central District Board meets on the first Tuesday at 8PM PT of every odd numbered month. The District is transforming into something different, one way or another, and our geographical area will want representation on the new Pacific Western Region Board.

Your PCD Board,
Catherine Ishida
Roger Jones
Bob Klein
Bob Miess
Karen Urbano
(The Rev. Ben Meyers was recently elected to the District Board, but has decided that he is unable to take on this ministry at this time. Thank you for your willingness, and thank you for all the other ways you love the world!)

PCD Fall Chalice Lighter Call Now Open!
The Unitarian Universalists of Petaluma have purchased their first permanent home as of May 31, 2021. They intend to nurture a vibrant UU presence in the historical district of downtown Petaluma. However, as an older building, there are many things needed to bring it into accessibility compliance, in addition to needing a new roof, paint, new carpeting and many more items. They are fortunate to not have a mortgage thanks to a generous donor, but all of these repair items are costly. Fundraising is underway for most of those upgrades.

The congregation anticipates growth, both due to the attractive and well-situated new building, and their enthusiastic permanent minister. To bolster this ambition, they are proposing two inclusion and outreach projects: non-gendered and accessible bathrooms to welcome all bodies, and a large display case to create a clear and attractive welcome at their doorstep. With these paired in-reach and out-reach strategies, they hope to offer their community a UU congregation that is deeply inclusive and living our expressed values. Your Chalice Lighter donation will help the UUs of Petaluma achieve their goals.

Visit the PCD website to read the call letter and make a donation.
PNWD Fall Chalice Lighter Call Now Open!
Thank you for being a stalwart and generous donor to Chalice Lighters! This is your Fall Call for the 2021-2022 church year: fund Growth Technology Grants. As congregations decide when to reopen for in-person services, their interest in "hybrid" services, that can also be attended virtually by congregants in their homes using their computers, has mounted. This capability is especially important to serve those whose immune systems are compromised or who for a variety of reasons believe it to be unsafe for them to attend indoor worship services. We PNWD Chalice Lighters can help provide equipment to meet this need, as well as more traditional applications of technology, such as assisted listening.

Your congregation may be one of those who need equipment to provide such capabilities. If so, encourage your leaders to apply for a Chalice Lighter Growth Technology grant. A revised application form is available through the PNWD Chalice Lighters web page. The form contains further guidance on award criteria. We will accept applications until the call closes, October 31, 2021.

For more information, to make a donation, or to apply for a grant, visit the PNWD website.
InSpirit UU Book and Gift Shop
Announcing the 2022 UU Common Read
The 2021–2022 UU Common Read is Defund Fear: Safety Without Policing, Prisons, and Punishment by Zach Norris, published by Beacon Press. The Common Read builds community in our congregations and our movement by giving diverse people a shared platform for reflection and a shared focus for action. Further, a Common Read can take us on a powerful faith journey as we explore—individually and together—what it means to be human and accountable in a pain-filled world.

In Defund Fear, Community leader and lawyer Zach Norris shifts the conversation about public safety away from fear and punishment and toward growth and support systems for our families and communities. Norris explores what has gone wrong, why, and who has been most impacted by repressive and racist policing systems. He offers a blueprint for public safety that holds people accountable while still holding them in community. As Unitarian Universalists, the matters raised in Defund Fear invite us to respond to public safety in the U.S. today through a lens of faith. We urge you to grapple theologically with big, tough questions about who we are and the meaning and purposes of our lives. For your care, for your growth, and for the care and growth of others in your community with whom you will discuss Defund Fear, it is strongly recommended that you enter this book with this series of questions by your side.

We expect by the end of this calendar year we’ll be ready to announce a menu of resources so that congregations can start scheduling their Common Reads. You may find, based on the identities and social location that you hold, that a community other than your UU congregation may better support your faithful exploration of Defund Fear and what it asks of you. With online gathering now a norm, readers need not live near one another to form a group. Anticipate a range of resources geared toward identity-based groups and geographically dispersed cohorts as well as a traditional discussion guide for a Common Read session that any UU faith community can use. For more information visit:


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