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"Endings and Blessings" , PWR & UUA News, and more!
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Pacific Western Region
Newsletter July 2022
Endings and Blessings
by Carlton E. Smith
Regional Lead

What we call the beginning is often the end
and to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
We shall not cease from exploration
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.
– from Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot
(#685 in Singing the Living Tradition)

At the end of my last blog, I was a day’s drive from arrival in Portland, Oregon, my new temporary home, after nine years in my hometown in North Mississippi. Now, as we enter the Fourth of July weekend, I’m at the end of my four-month sabbatical, looking back on our UUA’s 2022 General Assembly, and looking forward to reconnecting with the congregations, leaders and staff of the Pacific Western Region.

Going into my sabbatical at the beginning of March, I had a sense it would pass very quickly, and that perception held true. I have covered many miles since then, which in some ways reminded me of what life was like before the pandemic. Back then, work as a member of the UUA Southern Region staff required me and my colleagues to be on the road two or more weeks out of the month. While I wasn’t obligated to be in motion throughout the sabbatical, connecting with family and friends added to the richness of my time away from UUA/PWR responsibilities.

Among UUA staff and religious professionals, a sabbatical isn’t a vacation as much as it is an opportunity to reflect on one’s journey, restore energies that have been spent down, and fulfill on interests and projects that have waited in the wings. My sabbatical project was the completion of my first book, Try My Jesus: Daily Reflections to Free Your Mind, Deepen Your Faith, and Invite Universal Love Into Your Life. While I had begun writing it in the winter of 2021 and intended to begin actively promoting it at the beginning of the sabbatical, the editing, proofreading, revising and uploading processes took a bit longer. I’m grateful that it’s available now wherever books are sold.

I’m so glad to have seen some of you during General Assembly last week. It was the first time we had so many members of the PWR staff together in person, which was also a gift. I’m grateful for our new General Assembly structure and schedule, which together allow for more online participation, optimize our time together in General Session, and support self-care for staff, delegates and volunteers alike.

On the morning of Friday, June 24, we of course got the news that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade. That afternoon, many of us GA attendees joined in a protest in Downtown Portland where Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray spoke on behalf of our UUA’s ongoing support for reproductive justice and bodily autonomy. While we were aware that the formal announcement of the decision was imminent, the reality of it was and is still severe. Here is a link to resources and ways to be in action.

I’m glad to be back at work as of July 5, as well as for the faithful work of the PWR team in my absence and the support of other members of UUA Congregational Life staff, especially Congregational Life Director Jessica York and all the other Regional Leads. Thank you all in advance, friends, for your patience as I come back up to speed. It’s an honor to be in this role, and I’m grateful for you!

As my sabbatical ends, I am at the beginning of life as a published author and as a resident of the Pacific Western Region. Now that my residence in Mississippi has ended, I open myself to new experiences and adventures in parts of the country that are new to me. May all of our endings and beginnings guide us to greater appreciation of our blessings and of each other, as the journey continues to unfold.

In faith,

In this Issue
Endings and Blessings
PWR & UUA 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
DRE Led Youth Ministry Volunteer Orientation
Congregational Life and Lifespan Faith Engagement are offering a course that can be facilitated by a religious professional for the youth ministry volunteers in their congregation at their own pace. This 4 session training has a flipped classroom approach where participants watch informational videos before a live discussion to integrate learning. Learn more here!
2022-2023 PWR Leadership Offerings
PWR announces the leadership offerings for 2022-2023, including:

  • Launch: Collaborative Board Retreat in August and September
  • A fall series of leader specific resources & best practices webinars
  • A spring session of Leading from the Heart

See our website for more details!

Updates From the Religious Education Credentialing Committee
The Religious Education Credentialing Committee (RECC), in an effort to dismantle white supremacy practices in our credentialing processes, has been working with MMAPEU Consulting over the past church year to evaluate and assess our programs for barriers to access.  The first tangible outcome of this ministry is to share our new Mission, Vision, and Values Statement, placing our Unitarian Universalist faith and values at the core of all we do. Please review this document and consider if the Religious Education Credentialing Program is right for you or a religious educator near you!  Contact the UUA’s Professional Development Programs Manager, the Rev. Sarah Gettie McNeill, for more information.
Save the Date: Owl Facilitator Trainings
Our Whole Lives facilitator trainings begin again in person:
August 19-21 in Berkeley, CA
September 3-5 in Bellevue, WA
Levels and Registration Links
Updates from Faithify
Mattatuck UU Society Multicultural Audit
This campaign claims and is claimed by Unitarian Universalism from its inception. This project began with our congregation trying to figure out how to implement recommendations for congregations from Widening the Circle of Concern. One of these recommendations was to do a multicultural audit of the congregation. Unitarian Universalism is deeply invested in dismantling white supremacy culture and that's what this project and these funds will help us do. Donate here.

UU Congregation of the Grand Valley: Help Rebuild our RE Program in Conservative Western Colorado
Our talented and wonderful Director of Religious Education (DRE) left to take a full-time job with the local food bank about a year ago. We are now hiring a new DRE and have a small funding gap we hope you will help fill. We expect the RE program to attract new families to the Congregation who will help fund the position in the future. We also expect in-person fundraisers to raise more money as pandemic restrictions are able to be lifted. Donate here.
UUA Presidential Search Begins
The Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA) Presidential Search Committee has started their work for the 2023 UUA Election. On the Presidential Search page, you'll find the official job description for UUA President, the portion of the UUA Bylaws that describe the nomination process, the application deadline, how to apply, and who to contact for more information. You can learn more from the UU World Article on the process. Applications open through July 15, 2022.
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.
Update From PCD Board

On June 11, a quorum of delegates at the Pacific Central District’s annual business meeting gave the Board the authority to move forward with institutional integration. This means that in the near future, the non-profit organization known as the Pacific Central District will either dissolve or merge with another UU non-profit. The Board prefers a merger with other districts in the Pacific Western Region or with the UUA itself.

This is an opportunity to direct our collective energy and resources to ministries that matter, rather than in maintaining institutional structures that no longer serve us well.

The District has been a custodian of shared aspirations and resources for over 60 years. During the institutional transition, the Board is committed to honoring the intent of the gifts the District has received and continues to receive. We will disburse designated funds, and provide support for the Youth Ministry Consultation Process. We will continue to collaborate with other districts and the Region to reimagine the Chalice Lighters program.

As UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray often says, the UUA is the institutional embodiment of the covenant among member congregations. Although the UUA and its regional staff are now providing services to congregations that once flowed through the District, the UUA is not a service provider. Cooperation among congregations and the cultivation of effective lay participation and leadership, if these remain aspirations, cannot happen without the active engagement of congregations and volunteer leaders.

Volunteers from PWR’s four district boards have formed a group called the Transitions Team to imagine ways for UU communities in the PWR to organize ourselves so that we might engage together in ministries that call for different scales of collaboration. The team is working closely with regional staff to build a foundation of trust for the work and the relationships to come.

The Board is extremely grateful for all who offered their faithful presence at the annual business meeting. Our house for hope will always need housekeeping. Thank you for sharing the work, and for re-imagining it together.

Chalice Lighters Update
Dear Ones,

Thank you all so much for your faithful and ongoing support for the PCD Chalice Lighters program.

If you attended the recent Pacific Central District annual meeting, or read the Board update in the PWR newsletter, you have learned about changes to our District, including its probable going out of existence. However, our hope is that the Chalice Lighter Program will continue in some modified form.

If you have been a sustaining donor to Chalice Lighters or have responded to the occasional call, we thank you. Congregations in the PCD thank you. You likely noticed that the program has been on hold as districts across the PWR figure out our collective future.

The needs the Chalice Lighters program have addressed continue. Whether for technical assistance to maintain virtual for hybrid communications during these difficult years of the pandemic, for youth and young adult programming and the staff to support it, or for environmental improvements to buildings, you have come through with your generous contributions. Please read the report offered at the annual meeting for complete information about recent calls.

And, we continue to receive your gifts. Contributions to the Chalice Lighters program through October 31, 2022 will be “undesignated.” If we continue to give to each other at the current level, this will build a pool of $23,000 in undesignated Chalice Lighters funds. This means we would be able to support one or multiple projects with about $27,000 for our Winter 2022 call. If more people decide to donate, more funds will be available. If the demand exceeds donations, that would be a joyful challenge for the Board to meet!

If your community has a project to expand your welcome, and a grant anywhere around $500 to $25,000 would make a difference, please, let us know.  We encourage any UU community in the PCD with a tangible project to remove barriers to participation in our life saving movement to reachout to us.

We hope to open a call in November 2022, with the expectation that funds collected now through February 2023 will be distributed in April 2023.

Thank you for caring for one another through direct mutual support,

Karen Urbano
PCD Volunteer Chalice Lighter Coordinator and Board member,
On behalf of the PCD Board

Eliot Institute: UU Camp in the Pacific Northwest
The Eliot Institute holds four multi-day inter-generational camps each year for members and friends of Unitarian Universalist congregations in the Pacific Northwest.

For three of Eliot’s camps, there is a morning program on topics that range from spiritual growth, social justice, environmental issues, and the arts.  Programs for youth and children run concurrently with the adult morning program. Afternoons and evenings are filled with traditional camp activities. Our fourth camp, Creative Arts Eliot, features workshops led by artists instead of a speaker.

Visit our website to learn more and read about specific camp descriptions and dates. Seabeck Conference Center has a variety of housing options. Proof of vaccination is required by Eliot Institute and there are scholarship funds available. If you have questions, you can contact our administrator, Bev Hesterberg, at

Come relax, grow and connect with others on the beautiful 90-acre campus in Seabeck, Washington, with sweeping views of Hood Canal and the Olympic Mountains. We would love to have you join us!
InSpirit UU Book and Gift Shop
Trusting Change: Finding Our Way Through Personal and Global Transformation
In Trusting Change, minister and award-winning author of Writing to Wake the Soul Karen Hering invites readers on the cusp of great change—which is all of us today—to explore the new possibilities emerging in our times. Whether you are living through significant personal transitions or navigating a world reshaping itself faster than ever, the book offers ten skills for living on the threshold as well as spiritual practices and inspiration for connecting with your own inner wisdom. From the first page, you’ll find a storytelling companion ready to journey with you through uncertainty and change. Hering does not pretend that change is simple. But she offers reassurance that it becomes easier to trust the more we participate in it.

Sharing wisdom found in the body, in nature, and in metaphors, these reflections include creative and embodied exercises that invite readers into a larger story of change. With suggestions for using the book alone and with others, Hering reminds us that trusting change is made possible by sharing its challenges and its possibilities with others. This book is a conversation with the reader meant to also stir conversations between readers as we learn to live into and through our transformative times together.

Karen Hering is an ordained minister in St. Paul, Minnesota, and serves as a threshold guide to people and communities on the cusp of change. She is the author of Writing to Wake the Soul: Opening the Sacred Conversation Within, winner of a silver Nautilus award and named one of the best spiritual books of the year by Spirituality & Practice. Her writing has appeared in literary journals, periodicals, and anthologies. She leads retreats and programs in a literary ministry that engages writing as a spiritual practice and a healing tool for personal and social change.

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