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Transition Team Update , PWR Spotlight, PWR & UUA News, and more!
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Pacific Western Region
Newsletter October 2022
Governance Update from the PWR Transition Team
Below is the transcript of a video now available at our regional website Thank you, Keith Strohmaier, for recording and writing this, with support from other Transition Team members. — Rev. Carlton E. Smith, Lead-Pacific Western Region

Hello! I am Keith Strohmaier, a volunteer member of the Transition Team of the Pacific Western Region. I represent the Pacific Southwest District and I am a member of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara. I am here to give you an update on the work of the team.

You last heard from us at Regional Assembly in February, 2022. We gave an update on Regionalization in the Pacific Western Region. We spoke about new draft bylaws for the region created by the Transition Team. These bylaws proposed sociocracy as a model to live out our values more fully and embrace the work of the 8th Principle to dismantle systems of oppression in our faith and the wider world. We told Regional Assembly attendees to expect town halls where the Transition Team could explain sociocracy and its roots in Indigenous communal governance, its use in the draft bylaws, answer their questions, and get their feedback.

However, shortly after Regional Assembly, it became clear to the Transition Team that the relationship between volunteer leadership and UUA staff, including Pacific Western Region staff, needed repair and renewal before moving forward with our exploration of sociocracy. We agreed that a new relationship with each other was necessary for any new governance model to succeed and be sustainable.

The Transition Team had specific ideas about what we wanted in this new relationship, but we did not know what UUA staff or Pacific Western Region staff wanted or needed to be in a healthy, collaborative relationship with us. Ultimately, the Transition Team invited UUA staff into a Restorative Justice process where we could more fully understand each other and clearly define a new relationship going forward.

The Transition Team was initially made of volunteer leadership from the four district boards. Staff leadership have now joined volunteer leadership on the team. This is a significant and positive development.

The Transition Team seeks to connect and support work among the congregations and covenanting communities in the Pacific Western Region. The volunteer leaders among us are committed to renewing the fabric of relationships that make up our Pacific Western Region and developing a sociocratic governance model to support them. The UUA staff among us are particularly called to coach, connect, companion and challenge congregations and covenanting communities, which includes everything from hosting large-scale programs to one-on-one consultation with religious professionals and lay leaders.

For our faith to thrive, we need each other. Between volunteer Transition Team members and staff Transition Team members, we naturally have different roles, responsibilities, priorities, and lines of accountability. These differences cause us to diverge in ways that sometimes lead to misunderstanding, disagreement, and decreased effectiveness in our service to the congregations and covenanting communities in the Pacific Western Region. As a unified Transition Team, we are committed to transforming that.

This work is new for all of us. That means there will be mistakes and missteps as we learn what our relationship can be and how we can bring out the best in each other.

To do this groundbreaking work, the Transition Team is working to find someone to facilitate the healing, renewal, and redefining of our relationship.

While this work is being initiated by the Transition Team, it will also involve you. Please stay tuned for more updates about this process from other members of the team and how you can be a part of it.

The PWR Transition Team is Bob Miess (Pacific Central); Mary Nordhagen and Rhoda Whitney (Mountain Desert); Aria Curtis (Pacific Northwest); Kia Bordner and Keith Strohmaier (Pacific Southwest) and Revs. Carlton E. Smith and Ian Evison (PWR Staff). Special thanks to Rev. Summer Albayati who is helping to identify the facilitator Keith mentions above. If you would like to reach out to the Transition Team, please email us at
In this Issue
Transition Team Update
PWR Spotlight
PWR & UUA News
Youth & Emerging Adult 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
PWR Spotlight: Sheridan Unitarian Universalists Respond to High Suicide Rate in Wyoming
By Victor Ashear

Many of us have heard it on the news.  There are some disturbing trends in suicide in this country and a new emergency number people can call for help, 988. Wyoming, Montana, and Alaska, all in the Pacific Western Region, vie for the state with the highest suicide rate from year to year. Wyoming currently has the highest rate, with twice the national average rate of suicide this year. Experts seeking to explain this phenomenon point to several factors. There is the rural landscape, fostering a sense of isolation, as well as the ready access to firearms. Other contributing factors include high rates of alcoholism and other substance use disorders and the lack of mental health resources in rural communities. Added to these are the “culture of independence” and the stigma which still surrounds mental illness.  

But we Unitarian Universalists in the small town of Sheridan, Wyoming, are doing our part to help. I’m a clinical psychologist and active member of the Sheridan UU Fellowship who trains volunteer group leaders to support individuals in crisis. In the past, I trained law enforcement personnel in our community in mental health crisis management. The training encourages law enforcement to lead the individual in crisis to mental health treatment rather than arrest.

The people I train now are part of a newly forming affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). One member of the group is a veteran who experienced several suicide crises and psychiatric hospitalizations before they found stability. Now they work as a peer support specialist. Other trainees of the new support group have delt with mental health challenges too. The NAMI group has received to grants and raised thousands of dollars for a fund to help pay for mental health services for those in need. The group will be doing several mental health awareness activities in the coming months.

The Sheridan Fellowship has also been active in the supporting the local “Out of Darkness” Walk, which raises funds to support mental health services. Fellowship President Cal Furnish took a key role in organizing it the last couple of years. Some of the fellowship members who participate in the walk have had their own mental health challenges and have contributed to other fundraising efforts for the town’s NAMI affiliate.

We all have a part to play in reducing the high rates of suicide. Often being the member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation can reduce feelings of isolation and help provide the support people need to get through tough times. If I can help your congregation in strategizing how to engage in suicide prevention, please let me know.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, text HOME to 741741 or visit for additional resources.

Victor Ashear, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist, belongs to the Board for NAMI Wyoming and to the UU Fellowship of Sheridan, Wyoming. He can be reached at

If you have an idea for our PWR Spotlight, please email
Keep Online Ministry Interactive
With widespread availability of Covid 19 vaccines, the world is beginning to open up. This year, most UU congregations are holding Sunday services in person. Many also have some kind of online worship component. Some offer a live Zoom service, others offer live streaming on platforms like Facebook or YouTube, and others offer pre-recorded worship services on their web pages. For those who have trouble attending in-person services, worship online has been vital, and continues to be an important part of their life.

Disability advocates remind us that multiplatform worship in real time, with the chance for some interaction, creates a meaningful experience for those participating online. Read our LeaderLab article to learn more about the importance of multi-platform worship and see ideas for making you congregation's services more inclusive.
FOUNDATIONS: Skill Building Series for Congregational Leaders
This series of PWR-hosted webinars in October to December will equip leaders and potential leaders in congregations with skills to lead their congregations effectively, relationally, and focused toward transformation and liberation. These leaders and potential leaders will connect with one another and foster a sense of connectedness with the region and larger UUA. Some sessions will be role specific; many will support every type of leader in our churches.

1st and 3rd Tuesdays ( 2:00 PT) and Thursdays (6:30pm PT) - each topic offered twice
  • Oct. 4th or 6th - Take your meeting facilitation skills to the next level
    Have you always wanted to learn the tricks to having effective meetings that inspire and move your team forward? Join us to skill-up and get more done, while hopefully shortening your average meeting times!
  • Oct. 18th & 20th - Who does what? RASCI and other tools for planning
    Do you have a great project in the works? Do you need to figure out how to get more projects done in your congregation? If so, join us to learn tools to help you identify who will take on projects with lots of identified support so your volunteers actually want to do more!
  • Nov. 1st & 3rd - Sustaining leadership: leadership succession planning & development
    Oh, no! Who will be president next year? Who will take on worship? If this feels like an annual anxious and typical experience for your congregation, then come and learn about planning for leadership succession and subtle ways to develop more leaders within your congregation.
  • Nov. 15 & 17 Elements of a congregation: Understanding the parts and roles that make up your community (good for sabbatical planning, lay-led, and sustainable ministry)
    Who does what in this congregation? What do we need? What can we live without? If you are interested in how you will cover every aspect of ministry now that you are facing sabbatical/departure of a minister or being unintentionally lay-led, then this is the workshop for you.
  • Dec. 6th & 8th Governance: Beyond Robert’s Rules
    Is there life beyond Robert’s Rules? For some of our congregations, life is thriving without Robert’s Rules. If you want to know more, and bring more possibilities to be more inclusive within your congregational governance system, then join us for this wonderful workshop where we will explore life beyond the norm.

Register via Wufoo once for the entire series, and join when you can for what serves you.
Coming in November from Your PWR Program Staff: Elements for a Holiday Season Service
In response to requests for pulpit time from my September newsletter blog, the PWR staff is offering the following elements that can be used for a Sunday service: A “For All Ages” by Annie Scott, CRE; the poem "Gate A-4” by Naomi Shihab Nye read by Rev. Summer Albayati, and: a sermon, “Lessons from Gate A-4”, made of reflections from Dr. Melissa James and Revs. Sarah Millspaugh, Sarah Schurr, and myself, Carlton E. Smith. Here is the blurb for that service:

"Lessons from Gate A-4”
Pacific Western Region Staff Team
In her poem "Gate A-4”, Arab-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye shares an account of distress, compassion and community as she is called to interpret Arabic for a fearful traveler at an airport. As many of us take to the highways, airways and railways this November and December, the PWR Staff has put together a worship service that touches on the themes of the poem, and questions such as Who are we called to care for? When do we answer the call to serve? Where might we be surprised by grace?

If your congregation would like to receive access to these worship elements the last week in October, email me at by October 28. Thank you! — Carlton
UUA Legacy Giving Webinar for Congregations
Saturday, October 15, 2022 | 1 pm - 3 pm ET
The UUA’s Legacy Gifts Office offers a number of services, including an online workshop to assist congregations in creating legacy giving programs. This webinar, to be held via Zoom on Saturday, October 15, 2022, from 1 pm to 3 pm ET, covers the basics of legacy giving and how to set up a legacy giving program in your congregation. We aim to equip congregations with the knowledge they need to start a legacy program. To register for the 10/15/22 webinar, email us at or call (888) 792-5885 (select option 3).

Our Whole Lives: Middle & High School Facilitator Training
Saturday, October 15, 2022 | 1 pm - 3 pm ET
The UUA’s Legacy Gifts Office offers a number of services, including an online workshop to assist congregations in creating legacy giving programs. This webinar, to be held via Zoom on Saturday, October 15, 2022, from 1 pm to 3 pm ET, covers the basics of legacy giving and how to set up a legacy giving program in your congregation. We aim to equip congregations with the knowledge they need to start a legacy program. To register for the 10/15/22 webinar, email us at or call (888) 792-5885 (select option 3).

New Program for Lay-Led Congregations
Is your congregation operating without a professionally-trained minister? Your UUA Congregational Life Staff is offering a program this Fall just for you: Essentials for Lay-Led Congregations. 
The program includes an email subscription to a newsletter (full of helpful tips, tools, training opportunities, and other resources), and admission to the December 10, 2022 Lay-Led Congregation Convergence. There you will get to connect with leaders from other lay-led congregations. Learn more here.
Family Ministry Training
New England Region is offering the Family Ministry Training Renaissance Module in an online format! Starting Wednesdays, October 26th to December 7th (skipping November 23rd) from 5:00pm-7:30pm EST / 2-4:30pm PT / 3-5:30pm MT/ 4-6:30pm CT. This training will be led by Kathy Smith and Rev. Samaya Oakley. Registration is limited to 15 participants and the standard fee is $225. If the standard rate price is prohibitive, please take advantage of our community rates. If you are in a position to support others in this training, please add what you are able. Register and find more information here. The registration deadline is Tuesday October 11th, 2022. Sponsored by New England Region UUA.
Right Relationship Team Training is Open!
Creating beloved community requires intention and practice. Our covenants articulate our intention, but how do we live into the practice? Right Relations Teams (RRT) are lay leaders entrusted to help the congregation practice faithful communication and creative conflict based on values of mutuality and consent.  

This training is for congregational teams who will be helping their congregations (or other covenantal communities) live into their covenants.

Your team can take the training on your own ($30/person), or you can take a facilitated version with other congregations and 6 live practice sessions ($400/team). Payment must be received to reserve your spot.

UUMA/UUA Neurodiversity Skill Up Series
This series is jointly supported by the UU Ministers Association and your UUA staff. It is aimed at religious professionals but open to all. Religious educators can get credit for credentialing and UUMA members continuing education credit.
Next up in our series will be a panel presentation in November focusing on supporting neurodivergent children and youth. Joining us will be Katie Resendiz, Rev. Sierra-Marie Gerfao, April Rosario, and Meredith Plummer. Between them they have extensive experience across many kinds of neurodivergence and decades of experience with neurodivergent children and youth inside and outside UU congregations. Look for this the week of November 14th. We recommend having watched at least one of the first three sessions and read the recommended 101 document to get the most of this experience.

In October you can catch up on our first three events with Rev. Heather Petit, lay leader and professor Ramon SeLove, and religious educator Meredith Plummer. Start on our Welcoming Neurodivergent People: Skill Up Page for Heather’s presentation, for upcoming events, to subscribe to our announcement list, and to access the UUMA’s website where you can purchase the full presentations and Q&As for all of our events. Not all the events are posted yet but we will post them as we are able.

Updates from the UUA International Office
Post-Imperial Futures: Addressing Legacy and Living Into Promise
UUA's International Office and Meadville-Lombard Theological School are hosting multiplatform conference "Post-Imperial Futures: Addressing Legacy and Living Into Promise," October 6-8, 2022, with leading theologians and activists to equip ordained and lay leaders with the tools to educate their congregations and decolonize their ministries. Learn more and register today!

UN Sunday
The UN Sunday packet is here! Every year the UU Office at the United Nations buts together a packet for congregations to create their own UN Sunday. This year's theme is "Displacement & Human Rights: All In for Climate Justice." The packet includes quick background information, links to short videos, easy to use worship planning resources, plus one-session intro to UU@UN for each children and youth.
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.
Young UU Project
Have you heard of YUUP yet? The Young UU Project began in 2020 as a way for young UUs to keep in touch with each other and their faith during the pandemic, and is held by Lifespan Faith Engagement. The purpose of YUUP is to be a national community care network and multi-directional communication channel that centers BIPOC, trans/non-binary and neurodivergent youth and offers a transition zone for young people moving into emerging adulthood. 

Anyone (youth, caregivers, religious professionals, lay leaders, everyone!) can tap into the social ministry of YUUP by following them on Instagram @yuup.uua and signing up for the YUUP newsletter. YUUP also has a community sphere just for youth, those who bridged in 2022 and support adults. These “Third Monday Meetups” are where youth swap ideas they can take home to their local communities. In August they swapped Favorite Check In Questions. In September they swapped favorite youth group games, which will soon be released on Instagram and in the newsletter.

Adult readers - We need your help connecting youth to this community! Please point them to UUA.ORG/YUUP to connect at whatever their capacity is.
Young Adult Revival Network Worship
UU young adults and friends from around the world are invited to attend our monthly worship service, held on the third Sunday of each month. Each month our Worship Team puts together a fabulous, faithful, spiritual program that reflects our faith and the fact that we are young adults. From our song choice, to the content of our reflections, this isn’t your traditional UU worship experience. So join us, and discover a different way to embody our faith. This is an intergenerational event, all people ages 18 and older are welcome to attend. Register here.  
Emerging Adult Database
If you or another emerging adult UU (18-24) are interested, please sign up and join our community. Our Pacific Western Region 2022 EA Database signup can be found here.

Small Groups
We have an annual, monthly gathering for EA (18-24) Small Groups.  It’s a mix of fun, ministry, and faith. Next year's edition kicks off in Sept/Oct. Email if you’d like more information. It's a great way to stay connected to UUism if you don't have the time or inclination to attend church on Sunday!

Pastoral Care
Are you an 18-24 year old in need of Pastoral Care?  We have a network of chaplains specifically for you! Simply email or by phone: 204-900-0150. Rev. Marcia Stanard and others are here to listen and be of support.

Chalice Lighter Invitation for Proposals
Is your community expanding your welcome?
Can we provide each other financial support for our efforts?
If your answers are YES!, please submit a proposal for the upcoming PCD Chalice Lighter call, and sign up to be a Chalice Lighter!

Who can propose?
Any UU congregation or community in Northern California, Hawaii, and North Western Nevada.

What kinds of projects do Chalice Lighter grants support?
Any project that expands our welcome and removes barriers to participation in our life saving movement, especially projects for which a little support from neighbors, financial and otherwise, would make a large difference in outcome.
There is more background information on the PCD Chalice Lighter program on the PCD website which now contains mostly historical information.

What is the size of a Chalice Lighter grant?
The Fall 2022 call will be able to provide grants from $500 to $25,000.

Who decides which proposals will be funded?
The PCD Board will make a list of one or more projects to fund through the Winter 2022 Chalice Lighter call for donations. The Board’s goal will be to optimize the impact of the $25,000 or so that we expect to have available.

When will funds be disbursed?
Grants will be awarded in April, 2023.

How does a community submit a proposal?
Please fill out this Google form by October 18th, 2022 at 3PM PT.
These are the questions in the google form:
  1. What is the name of your community?
  2. What are the names of your contact persons, their preferred pronouns, and their contact information?
  3. What is the project you seek funding for?
  4. How much money do you hope to receive through a Chalice Lighter grant?
  5. How will a Chalice Lighter grant make a difference in expanding your community’s welcome?
  6. If your community receives a grant, will your contact persons let the PCD Board know what the impact of the grant was within a year using this Google form?
  7. How will your community encourage members and others to become Chalice Lighters and contribute to this and future Chalice Lighter calls for contributions?
  8. What else would you like to share?

How does a person become a Chalice Lighter and contribute to a Chalice Lighter call?
Anyone can make a one-time donation at the PCD Chalice Lighter One Time Gift Page.
Anyone willing to commit to an annual contribution of $60 or more to support up to three calls a year may sign up on the PCD Chalice Lighter Automatic Giving Page.
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!
Fall 2022 Cascadia Chalice Lighters Call
Completing a congregational internship is a required part of an aspiring UU minister's journey to ministerial fellowship. Many seminarians are parents and/or partners, and thus may be geographically bound when looking for their internships. Interns expect to be paid--at least a stipend, and very few of our local congregations have the budget available to support internships. For many years, a fund named for three renowned Pacific Northwest ministers, the Rev. Dr. Phillip Hewett, Rev. Dr. C. Leon Hopper, and the Rev. Dr. Peter Raible, (the HHR fund) has supported internships by providing awards of up to half the cost of a one-year internship.

The Fall 2022 Cascadia Chalice Lighters Call is devoted to replenishing the HHR fund.  This will directly benefit interns and the congregations they serve and learn from, and indirectly will support congregations served by these former interns.

Please support this worthy cause with your generous donations. You can contribute online here.

Thank you all for your generosity!

Sally Betser & Floyd Roell
Cascadia Chalice Lighter Program Coordinators
InSpirit UU Book and Gift Shop
Care for the World: Reflections on Community Ministry
Community ministry is the fastest growing type of ministry in Unitarian Universalism and many ministers serve in some combination of parish and community work. But what is community ministry? It’s not often clearly understood, and nonprofit work, justice movement leadership, and other forms of community ministry are still widely unknown or considered radical. When many people think minister, they still imagine only a church minister.

In Care for the World: Reflections on Community Ministry, editor Erin J. Walter and contributors offer essays, interviews, and resources to revolutionize our understanding of ministry, lifting up the rich diversity of community ministries—both lay and ordained and led by religious leaders with a broad range of life experiences, identities, and communities of care—within Unitarian Universalism. These reflections show the immense and vital work that Unitarian Universalists are doing in the world and will inspire readers to live a spirited, purposeful life, rooting their daily work in their deepest values and faith.

This collection will also support seminarians and religious professionals who are in or considering going into community ministry and inspire congregations to nurture and affiliate with community ministries. Without knowledge of the important work of community ministry, potential leaders may not answer their call. And the world needs this sacred, vibrant work now more than ever.

Rev. Erin J. Walter serves as the minister and executive director for the Texas Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry and a coach for Beloved Conversations. Rev. Erin is the singer/songwriter/bassist for band Parker Woodland and teaches dance as a joy practice. She is affiliated with Wildflower Church in Austin, Texas, and the Church of the Larger Fellowship. Pre-order now!