Clergy Call to Standing Rock, Events, Webinars and more...


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PWR Newsletter


Standing with Standing Rock

UU clergy across the Pacific Western Region are answering the call to be in solidarity in South Dakota. These include Rev. Kristin Grassell Schmidt (Berkeley, CA), Rev. Darcy Baxter (Stanislaus County, CA), Rev. Matthew Funke-Crary (Green Valley, AZ), Rev. Beth Chronister (Seattle, WA), Rev. Lynn Gardner and Rev. Wendy Bartel (Sierra Foothills, CA), Rev. Beth Johnson (Palomar, CA), Rev. Rachel Baker (Las Vegas, NV), and Rev. Marcia Stanard (Oregon City, OR). They are joined by students from the Pacific School of Religion and the Starr King School for the Ministry and numerous lay leaders as well. You can see many of these folks in the banner photo above.

Last week, the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota, issued an urgent call for people to show up in solidarity with indigenous activists who are facing increased violence and resistance from militarized police and security forces. In particular, local clergy near Standing Rock issued a call for clergy to show up for a non-violent direct action training and actions on November 2-3.

While the call for clergy hoped for 100 to attend, more than 500 have responded from across the US, with more than 50 UUs there for the orientation last night. Rev. Wendy Bartel writes, "Yesterday, the folks at First Universalist Minneapolis sent us off with song, prayers, and sandwiches! 14 UUs and 2 rabbis in a passenger van and mini-van."

Ministers Rev. Dennis Reynolds and Rev. Florence Caplow presenting a letter of support from UU Clergy earlier in October.

The orientation included powerful accounts of local history and traditions of resistance from Dakota Goodhouse as well as from Lyla June who lifted up how colonizing people have a duty to acknowledge the atrocities committed against Indigenous Peoples. "Jennifer Martel, who staffs the Sitting Bull Visitor Center, offered an impassioned invitation to get to know the people of this land," writes Bartel. "She implored us to learn where we come from, to know our family histories, to 'be proud of who we are as we come to terms with our ancestors because we need to know one another, not hide. There is no planet B' she said."

The clergy will spend Thursday gathering at the Oceti Sakowin Camp/ Seven Council Fires Camp, participating in a reading of a repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery, as well as other rituals and activities to learn and demonstrate solidarity with the tribal leaders.

If your congregation is wondering how to lift up issues of Indigenous Rights or support the work of the activists gathered at Standing Rock, contact your Congregational Life Primary Contact.

For more information:
In this Issue
  • Clergy Call to Standing Rock
  • Events & Training
  • Webinars
  • Staff Profile
  • Resources
  • Youth Events
  • UU News
PWR Quick Links
PWR Field Staff

Events & Training

Southern California 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!

  • San Diego County
    Nov. 5, 2016 - Chalice UU Congregation
    Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong and Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh
  • 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
Staff Development Days details

Renaissance Modules

Through the Renaissance program, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) provides education for religious educators in ten areas. Each 15-hour module provides standardized basic training in a specific area useful to religious educators and they may be taken in any order. Renaissance Modules are open to anyone interested in religious education leadership, including ministers, religious education teachers, and lay leaders.

Learn more about RE Trainings

Coming Soon

  • Interdependence Day
    Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016 9:30-3:30pm
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Rev. Deborah Holder and Rev. Jan Christian

Save the Date

  • International Women's Convocation
    Pacific Grove, CA
    Feb. 16-20
  • PNW District Assembly
    Eugene, OR
    Feb. 24-26
  • PSW Justice District Assembly
    Southern Arizona
    Mar. 31 - Apr. 2
  • UUMA PCD Chapter Retreat
    San Juan Bautista, CA
    Apr. 21-23
  • PC District Annual Meeting
    Walnut Creek, CA
    May 5-6
  • UUMA PNW Chapter Retreat
    Federal Way, WA
    May 5-8


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
Helping Your Congregation De-Stress for the Holidays

Katie Covey, DRE
Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 7:00-8:00 p.m. PT

Simple ideas for worship and program leaders to make the winter holidays meaningful and less stressful, including a "No-Rehearsal Christmas Eve" program, a multigenerational program of "Make Your Own Gifts" and an "Unplug the Xmas Machine" Family Workshop.

Register for Helping Your Congregation De-Stress for the Holidays

Serving as Leader: Effective Leadership in Small Congregations

Rev. Sarah Schurr
Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - 7:00-8:00 p.m. PT

Being a good lay leader in a Unitarian Universalist congregation is hard. Burnout is common and no matter what you do someone is unhappy. In this webinar, we will explore the role of leaders in a Unitarian Universalist congregation. We will talk about helpful roles and sound leadership approaches. We will offer some useful tools to help your leaders and your congregation to thrive.

Register for Serving as Leader: Effective Leadership in Small Congregations

More Upcoming PWR Webinars
Learn more and register for PWR Webinars

UUA Webinars

Join UUA staff and guests for one-hour webinars requested by religious professionals and lay leaders. Webinars are normally recorded and archived if you can't attend them when they are initially offered.

  • November 9 & 10 - Safety in Youth Ministry
    This webinar, with Evin Carvill-Ziemer and Kim Sweeney, is based on the second competency in the Competencies for Ministry To/With Youth: Creating a Safe(R) Youth Program.
  • November 15 & 16 - Spirituality and Aging
    What are the spiritual needs, gifts, and challenges of older adults? Join Gail Forsyth-Vail for a one-hour conversation with Rev. Karin Peterson, a spiritual director and author of the Tapestry of Faith program, Hindsight, Humor, and Hope, and Rev. Bruce Marshall, author of a forthcoming Skinner House book based on interviews with people at the senior residence community where he serves as chaplain. We will talk about spirituality, aging, and how our congregations might better serve both aging Baby Boomers and those of the Silent generation, born before 1946.


PWR Congregational Life Profile

Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh

Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh joined the Pacific Western Region's Congregational Life staff in July 2016. She serves as primary contact for most of our congregations along the southern border of the US, from El Paso, TX to where she lives in San Diego, CA. Sarah is our specialist in Lifespan Faith Formation, serving as a resource throughout the region for congregations who wish to bring depth and breadth to their offerings for children, young adults, and adults. (Eric Bliss is the specialist in youth ministries.)

Sarah brings to the PWR more than 20 years of experience resourcing our congregations for effective outreach, worship, and faith development. She has seven years of parish ministry experience in Massachusetts and was the affiliated community minister of the Tapestry Congregation in Orange County, California. Sarah trained ministers in faith formation for all ages as a course instructor at Harvard Divinity School. She worked with our own Christopher Wulff and Carey McDonald to develop the UUA WordPress Theme for Congregations as well as many other resources for congregational communications and outreach. Sarah is the author of Coming of Age Handbook for Congregations, co-author of Our Whole Lives: Sexuality Education for Young Adults (ages 18-35), editor of many Tapestry of Faith adult programs, and author of other resources available from the UUA Bookstore.

A graduate of Colorado College and Harvard Divinity School, Sarah has previously served the UUA as Outreach Associate for Digital Ministries, Adult Programs Director, Outreach Coordinator for Our Whole Lives, and Youth Programs Specialist. She grew up primarily in the Mountain Desert District, active in the UU Church of Boulder, CO as well as MDD youth programs. She's married to Rev. John Gibb Millspaugh, a UU minister who works full-time for food justice, and is the mom of a delightful kid who is almost as enthusiastic about Unitarian Universalism as she is.


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
PWR Mailing Address Update

The PWR recently moved its mailing address! We invite congregations and leaders to update their contact information as follows:
Pacific Western Region - UUA
P.O. Box 567
Brighton, CO 80601

An Indigenous People's History of the United States

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Beacon Press

This week Unitarian Universalists from our region, including many clergy, have answered the call to go to Standing Rock, ND to block the Dakota Access Pipeline. This powerful book puts it all in perspective, telling the story of American settler-colonialism from the perspective of the first nations, nations who never stopped having a right to self-determination. Knowing this history helps non-natives show up in solidarity today.

Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What

Peter Steinke, Alban Institute

This is an anxious time in American society, as the Presidential Election makes clear. It's also an anxious time in our lives and in our congregations. Whether you're dealing with conflict, battles about who's in charge, difficult behavior, betrayals of trust, or any of the kinds of things that stir up anxiety in congregation, this invaluable book offers wisdom and practical tools for not only lowering anxiety, but learning while leading along the way. A great group-read for staff teams, boards, and committees.


News and Updates

First Unitarian Society of Denver Banner Vandalized

The congregation again had their Black Lives Matter and stone facade vandalized exactly one year and one day since the last occurrence. Their Minister, Rev. Mike Morran notes "In time, we will replace the vandalized banner with a new one. For the time being, we will leave it there so that all may see not just the sign, but the vandalism. We will NOT be deterred from proclaiming that black lives matter."

UUA Announces Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program to support promising, innovative faith leaders

Modeled after "artist-in-residence" and "scholar-in-residence" programs, entrepreneurs are chosen for a yearlong residency with the UUA. They receive $20,000 to support their ongoing ministry and to share their inspiring stories with Unitarian Universalists across the country through workshops, writing and conversations. The program is targeted at a key time when entrepreneurs who have started new forms of faith community are ready to expand their reach and impact, and need some extra support.

UUA Board of Trustees approves plan to change Annual Program Fund to percent-of-budget model

At its October meeting, the board endorsed the recommendation of the Annual Program Fund Task Force to move from asking most congregations for a fee per member to asking them for a percentage of their congregational budget. The task force has not yet proposed the specific formula for how much the UUA will ask congregations to contribute, nor has it set a timeline for switching to the new model. (via UU World)

UU Buddhist Convocation

The national UU Buddhist convocation will be held in the Pacific Northwest March 31-April 2nd, led by Rev. James Ford, UU minister, author, and Zen teacher. Ford says that Zen meditation, both its "just sitting" or "silent illumination" discipline and "koan introspection" are in fact the language of dragons. "In our time together we will be introduced to the grammar of dragons, a bit of the vocabulary, and with that to throw ourselves into a little dragon language immersion."



Youth News

Upcoming Youth Ministries Events