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Disaster Ready

Dear Pacific Western Region Congregational Leaders,

Many of us watched with great anxiety the situation at the Oroville Dam in Rancho Cordova, California over the last few weeks, with water spilling over the top and emergency spillways offering too little relief. Emergencies, whether from infrastructure failings, severe storm and climate conditions, or violence, is something our congregations may sometimes be forced to face.

In an effort to better support congregations investigating this issue, I recently attended a workshop on Disasters and Emergency Preparedness. My top ten learnings there were:

  1. In a disaster, people do not run screaming and chaos does not ensue. People are more likely to just stand there when they need to move.
  2. Civilization does not break down in a disaster. Most people help each other and feel better and more in control when they feel they are being heroic. A few folks behave badly, but no more than usual. Maybe fewer than usual.
  3. Disaster planning that is based on the assumption of mass hysteria will fail because it is not planning for the actual problems you do face, like people wanting to be helpful and not knowing how and getting in the way.
  4. Organizations (and households) that have good emergency and disaster plans do WAY BETTER than those who don't. This is in part because they know what to do and have the supplies needed, and in part because they feel less powerless and more capable. Feeling more capable makes you more capable.
  5. Emotional and spiritual "First Aid" following a disaster is very practical. It is not about insight or meaning, but about finding lost children and making sure older folks have their heart medication. This is actually very healing and lets them know they are alive and they matter. Save insights for much later.
  6. There are tons of emergency planning resources out there. SAIF has some, the US Department of Education has some, Church Mutual has some...
  7. More and more schools, churches, and other organizations have "active shooter" plans as part of their disaster planning. This is a good idea because not having a plan has serious consequences where having a good plan really saves lives.
  8. People who were involved in a terrible situation, but were not physically hurt themselves, need care as much as those who are injured. They are victims as well.
  9. In a disaster, Churches are generally called upon by emergency responders to be sources of evacuation space as well as sources of helpful volunteers. This is fair in that this is how we live our values.
  10. People who have been traumatized by a disastrous event never "move on and get over it" but they can "more forward" and live good lives.

In the spirit of resilience,
Rev. Sarah Schurr
PWR Congregational Life Staff

March 2, 2017
In this Issue
  • Disaster Ready
  • Webinars
  • Events & Training
  • District and UU News
  • Youth Ministries
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.

SpiritJam: Fun, Engaging Faith Formation

Katie Covey
Mar. 8, 2017 - 7-8pm PT

Are you having trouble recruiting teachers? Check out a new model of Religious Education called "SpiritJam" developed at the UU Fellowship of Boulder, CO.

  • Staff teachers lead the program.
  • Align Religious Education with Thematic Ministry.
  • Provide consistency, professional leadership and safety for the children.
  • Free up the energy of parents with paid lead teachers.
  • Offer service opportunities for all ages.

Register for SpiritJam: Fun, Engaging Faith Formation

Reaching Out to Millennials & Young Families

Rev. Annie Gonzalez Milliken & Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh
Mar. 18, 2017 - 9-10am PT

This webinar is designed for UU congregations who know their community has something to offer young adults and families with young children and want to intentionally reach out to those groups. We'll explore characteristics of successful outreach efforts and help you identify concrete ways your congregation can build meaningful connections with members of these groups.

Reaching Out to Millennials & Young Families


Creative Responses to Budget Shortfalls

Rev. Jan Christian and Kay Crider
Apr. 4, 2017 - 6:30-7:45pm PT

Join on Zoom:

No need to register for this free webinar exploring the many ways that congregations can respond creatively to budget shortfalls or pledge campaigns that didn't meet their targets. Join Rev. Jan Christian, Congregational Life Staff, and Kay Crider of Stewardship for Us, as they share guidance from their years of experience working with congregational finances.


Other UUA Webinars

Offered by the UUA's Office of Church Staff Finances
Ministerial Compensation: Unraveling the Complexities for Lay Leaders

Rev. Richard Nugent, Director, Church Staff Finances

Are you a lay leader with responsibility for ministerial compensation or payroll? We'll help you make sense of ministers' dual tax status (including the enigmatic "in lieu of FICA"), housing allowance rules, withholding options, and more. We'll also talk about good practices for ministerial benefits and contracts. Come with your questions and your curiosity.


Events and Trainings

Religious Education Trainings
Learn more about RE Trainings
Save the Date
  • PSWD Justice District Assembly
    Southern Arizona
    Mar. 31 - Apr. 2
  • UU Buddhist Convocation
    Corbett, OR
    Mar. 31 - Apr. 2
  • PNWD UU Administrators and Membership Professionals Retreat
    Olympia, WA
    Apr. 4
  • UUMA PCD Chapter Retreat
    San Juan Bautista, CA
    Apr. 21-23
  • PCD District Annual Meeting
    Walnut Creek, CA
    May 5-6
  • UUMA PNWD Chapter Retreat
    Federal Way, WA
    May 5-8
  • PCD-LREDA Pot of Gold Conference
    Oakland, CA
    Sept. 30

Denominational News


PWR Congregations in the News

A Unitarian church in Denver shields immigrant from deportation
"The Unitarians have a long history of activism. They fought slavery, and several members were killed during civil rights protests in the 1960s. In 1971, Beacon Press, founded by the American Unitarian Assn., published the Pentagon Papers — detailing deceptions over the U.S. role in the Vietnam War — in book form."
Read more in the LA Times

Fresno faith leaders call for protection for undocumented immigrants
"At the meeting, Trump asked local law enforcement for help in catching and deporting criminals who are undocumented immigrants – a comment that Rev. Tim Kutzmark of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno referred to as "disturbing." "My heart is troubled," he said. Kutzmark listed the organization's demands of the sheriff's office, including an in-person meeting with their representatives, as well as an end to Immigration and Customs Enforcement's presence in county jails."
Read more in The Fresno Bee

Here Are the Churches Fighting Back Against Trump's Immigration Crackdown
"But last week, Vizguerra took a different route. Fearing deportation, she took refuge in the First Unitarian Society in Denver and declared sanctuary. The decision proved prescient: The day of Vizguerra's scheduled check-in, ICE officials told her attorney that Vizguerra's request to remain in the country had been denied."
Read more in Mother Jones

Sanctuary debate on: City Council hears both sides of controversy; may vote Feb. 27
"The Unitarian Church has already taken a strong stand in support of honoring the humanity of all those in our country," said Florence Caplow, a minister of the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, who called upon Port Townsend to live up to its progressive history. "When the Chinese Exclusion Act saw the Chinese getting lynched in other towns, here in Port Townsend, we continued to support them as business owners and community members. We did not harm our Chinese immigrants."
Read more in the PT Leader

Chalice Lighters Across the Region

The Mountain Desert District's Winter Chalice Lighter Call will go toward the UU Fellowship of Bozeman Montana, who are purchasing and enlarging a building to accommodate their growth. The enlarged building will provide Sunday service space, a kitchen and social hall, RE classrooms and office space.

The Pacific Southwest District's Winter Chalice Lighter Call is going toward the renovation of rooms at First UU Church of Los Angeles. Assistance from Chalice Lighters will allow them to bring two lovely but badly-worn rooms back to attractive shape. They will become spaces that communicate UU values with beauty and warmth.

The Pacific Central District's Winter Chalice Lighter Call opened February 20. For their inaugural call under the new program, they are supporting a new type of ministerial internship program. Funds collected from this call will be held by the district until an application comes from a suitable sized congregation to run this trial internship program.

Compensation and Staffing News

Are you interested in receiving regular updates with tips and resources on compensation, staffing, and personnel matters? Sign up for Compensation and Staffing News, a new monthly publication from the Office of Church Staff Finances. Developed with supervisors and human resources teams in mind, topics may also be of interest to administrators, finance committees, and others who assist with employment matters.


The Religious Institute offers numerous programs for clergy, religious professionals and congregants on issues of sexuality and sexual misconduct, with the goal of supporting Sexually Safer Congregations (watch an upcoming newsletter for an article from Congregational Life Staff Sarah Gibb Millspaugh). Their spring course offerings include Sexuality Issues for UU Religious Educators and Preventing Clergy Sexual Misconduct for UU Ministers

Join Prison Ministry Support Circles! The Church of the Larger Fellowship's Prison Ministry began hosting monthly Worthy Now Support Circles on the fourth Thursday of each month at noon EST starting in February. The circle is a space for UUs and those who identify as religious liberals who are doing ministry in prison, jail and detention to come together in community. They are a place to share ideas, work out problems, and grow. Email for more information.

Traveling to Washington for a March? UU Church of Arlington is offering B&B-style housing for the March for Science (April 22) and the People's Climate March (April 29). The cost is $50 per person per night and guests must be affiliated with a UU congregation. Contact

The Music Leadership Certification Program is a unique, three-year program that summons music leaders to their calling of music ministry, enriches their service to Unitarian Universalist congregations, and enhances their professional perspective and skills. Apply by March 15.

The elections of people to serve the members and congregations of the UUA are at the heart of our fifth principle of our faith and our trust in the democratic process. In June of this year we will vote for the next president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. We encourage you to become an informed voter by reviewing basic information [PDF] about candidate forums and where/how to vote, reading the complete FAQ on how UUA elections work, and learning more about each candidate. You can find links to this information plus much more on the UUA's Elections homepage.




Goldmine Youth Leadership School

Goldmine is a week-long community building and training space for high school youth interested in leadership, activism, and spiritual growth. Goldmine 2017 will be held July 23-29, 2017 in Golden, CO (just outside Denver) at Jefferson Unitarian Church. The application will be available in mid-March, but the staff application is already open.

High School Youth Civil Rights Pilgrimage

Join a life-changing and awesome summer experience! High School Youth Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham, Alabama being offered June 5-9 for rising 9th graders to graduated 12th graders.

This trip is being planned by the Living Legacy Project along with UU DREs, retired UU ministers, song leaders of the music of the Underground Railroad and the modern Civil Rights Movement, and Civil Rights Era Veterans. This high school generation may be one of the last generations to hear the Veterans of the Civil Rights Era share their stories firsthand!

Visit the Living Legacy website to get more info about this amazing opportunity and register! Youth Leadership Grants are also available for this trip!

Contact Tina DeYoe - or Jules Jaramillo - for more information.

Upcoming Youth Ministries Events

Everybody is Important: A Kids' Guide to Our Seven Principles

Jennifer Dant, Skinner House, 2011

Helps children understand the seven Principles and how to live out these values every day. The Principles are cast in terms a child can understand, such as "Everybody is important" instead of "the inherent worth and dignity of every person." With attention to the spiritual needs of young children, Dant relates each Principle to the context of their lives, from playing with friends to helping care for pets. Illustrated in full color. Ages 5-7.

I'm Like You, You're Like Me: A Child's Book About Understanding and Appreciating Each Other

Cindy Gainer, Free Spirit, 2016

With its wide-ranging examples and fun, highly detailed art, I'm Like You, You're Like Me helps kids appreciate the ways they are alike and affirm their individual differences-all while building self-confidence. It's a great introduction to diversity and self-esteem for children. A two-page adult section in the back provides tips and activities for parents and caregivers to reinforce the themes and lessons of the book.