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PWR Spotlight, Transitions Team Update, PWR & UUA News, and more!
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Pacific Western Region
Newsletter April 2023
PWR Spotlight: A Visit Can Mean A Lot
Rev. Sarah Schurr
PWR Congregational Life Staff

The Unitarian Universalists of Puna are a small group of seekers on the Big Island of Hawaii. Their average Sunday attendance is around 20 people. The nearest UU congregation is in Honolulu, several islands away. You would need to take a plane to get there. Staff from the UUA are always available by phone, Zoom, and email, but a staff visit to Puna is a rare thing indeed. But when it was available, they jumped at the chance.

My husband had a business trip to the Big Island earlier this year. I tagged along to work remotely and to enjoy the scenery. As our region’s small congregation specialist, I reached out the UUs of Puna and made an appointment to meet with them during my stay. It was exciting for all of us. Margaret and Eleanor drove across the island to meet me in Kona. Bob joined by a video call. We had coffee in the hotel lobby and talked about their congregation. We talked about some key basics, like the importance of being mission-focused. We talked about the role of covenants and having good boundaries to keep the congregation functioning well. We talked about the ongoing importance of offering multi-platform services, even in a post-covid time. We talked about the work in our faith communities of moving from “I to We”. The Puna leaders were very engaged. They heard all this with open minds and open hearts. and asked great questions. Before our meeting ended, I made sure they were familiar with resources like the regional newsletter and how to find good information on LeaderLab.

The information I gave them could have been gleaned from web-based articles, had they known where to find them. Questions they asked could have been answered on a phone call, had they known they had those questions. Sometimes, with small and isolated congregations, it is easy for us to forget just how basic their support needs can be. And it is harder for groups like this to feel connected with the current state of Unitarian Universalism when the only way to get to another UU group is to travel a long distance. There are a few special gifts that an in-person visit can bring. In-person visits provide a personal connection, where body language is easy to read and respond to. Having coffee together helps build an instinctive connection; breaking bread together has always been way to build relationship. And I think the Puna leaders felt like my visit with them showed respect for who they are and what they are doing for our faith. I felt so lucky to have been able to support our UUs of Puna while I was in the area. I think they felt lucky too.

More ways for small congregations to connect and thrive:
1 – Make sure you know who your primary contact is on the PWR staff and be in touch. Each of our congregations has a PWR staff member who is there to be in relationship with them. If you don’t know who your primary staff contact is, check here.

2 – Presidents can attend special Zoom gatherings. Each primary contact staff member hosts regular online meetings for the presidents of congregations they work with. It is a great way for these lay leaders to connect with their peers. Sometimes it is nice to connect with someone who has similar joys and challenges.

3 Take part in special UUA small congregation meetings and trainings. We have whole host of resources just for smaller congregations available on LeaderLab (for example, our "Meaningful Worship for Small Congregations" offering) and we offer a unique day of training every year. This year it is a symposium on Part Time Ministry being offered on May 13th. See below for details.

4 Need help filling your worship calendar?  The MidAmerica Region is hosting a free “sermon of the month” for small congregations. You can use these pre-recorded sermons in your small congregation free of charge. Many are by UUA staff, and on topics of interest. Contact for access.

5 – Know that you are not alone. About one third of all our UU congregations are considered "small". Congregations of all sizes and shapes have a place in our community of communities. And contributions from all kinds of congregations make our work possible through the Annual Program Fund. Thank you for your support, today and tomorrow.
In this Issue
PWR Spotlight
Transitions Team Update
PWR & UUA News
Youth & Emerging Adult News

Mountain Desert News
Pacific Southwest 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
Save the Date: Part-Time Ministry Event
Save the date for this virtual one-day event designed especially for congregations that have part-time ministry, ministers who are serving congregations part-time, as well as congregations and ministers who are considering part-time ministry.

“The Possibilities of Part-Time Ministry” will take place on Saturday, May 13, 2023, 12-5pm ET/9am-2pm PT, featuring theme speaker G. Jeffrey MacDonald, author of Part-Time is Plenty, Thriving without Full-Time Clergy.

Registration and details coming soon!
Register Now for General Assembly!
The theme for General Assembly 2023 is "Faithfully Becoming." We are at a threshold moment for our faith and will choose the next path in our journey. We will consider new articulations of Article II (including our Principles and Purpose) and elect a new President to lead our Association. These are decisions that will shape who we are and how we respond to and grow through these times. These changes offer us possibilities for becoming more connected, courageous, inclusive, generous, and continuing our ongoing journey of becoming Beloved Community.

Registration is now open!
Register early to secure the lowest rates. Volunteer opportunities and financial support are available.

GA Housing Reservation System is Now Open!
Reserve your housing today! To book your room today, visit the GA Housing Reservation System. Any reservations canceled after May 22 will be subject to a $50 cancelation fee. The housing reservation system will close for new reservations on May 23. Learn more about General Assembly housing options here.
Presidential Forums Continue
The series of presidential candidate forums contiues, to allow delegates and members to learn more about Rev. Dr. Betancourt. Planned in concert with the Election Campaign Practices Committee with support from UUA staff, each forum will offer both on-site and virtual participation. There will also be an additional forum during General Assembly in June.

All Unitarian Universalists are welcomed and encouraged to engage with the presidential candidate forums and the process as a whole, to ensure our next UUA President may establish the foundation for their leadership with broad participation.
It's April: Shower Your Staff With Care
Jan Gartner, UUA Compensation and Staffing Practices Manager

Every year, we update our Benefits Tune-up Workbook, one of the most popular resources offered by the UUA Office of Church Staff Finances. It helps congregational leaders understand our benefit plan rules – necessary documents, eligibility criteria, enrollment windows, and more. Ensure plan compliance and take good care for your staff by having good protocol in place for benefits administration!
Autism Acceptance Month April 2023
The UUA and UUMA have partnered to offer a series centering neurodivergent voices called Welcoming Neurodivergent People: Skill Up; perhaps you have already participated in one of the live Q and A sessions or watched a recording. April is Autism Acceptance Month, so we think this is a great time to share some resources.

Much of the autistic community has moved away from the blue puzzle piece as symbolization. Blue is often associated with assigned male at birth (AMAB) people and moving beyond the assumption that autism mostly or only affects AMAB people has been a hurdle for the community. Similarly, the oft-marginalized community is not a puzzle to figure out.

Let’s learn about the autistic community from those who know best, autistic folx themselves!

Ministerial Scholarship Opportunity
Are you a lay leader in Unitarian Universalism who will be entering your first year of seminary in 2023, or are undertaking undergraduate work to prepare for seminary? Or do you know someone who fits this description?

Each year the Rev. Chuck and Nancy Thomas Scholarship supports a student in the first year of seminary or in preparatory academic work for seminary training. The UUA’s Thomas Scholarship was founded in 1998 to honor Rev. Chuck Thomas’ career in the Unitarian Universalist ministry and his family’s long-standing commitment to lay leadership.

Thomas Scholars qualify for this award by demonstrating their outstanding commitment to Unitarian Universalism as lay leaders. To apply, applicants must email a completed application along with two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a two to three page essay that describes their path to seminary, highlighting their work as a lay leader in their congregation and in the larger community.

For more information and to find the application for this scholarship and other ministerial scholarships available from the UUA, please visit the UUA website. Application are now open and must be submitted no later than April 14, 2023.
How to Participate in the Article II Conversations
Wondering how you and your congregation can contribute to the Article II conversation on the revision of our Principles and Purposes?

  1. Read the Article II Commission Report (pdf) or watch the video of their presentation (YouTube)!
  2. Watch the Article II Commission space! Starting April 1, you can suggest amendments ideas here. In May, discussion groups will be organized to craft the amendments. Check the webpage for more information and details!
  3. Commit to attend General Assembly! It might be fun for your delegates to attend this year’s General Assembly in Pittsburgh in person, but your delegates can also attend the business only online GA meetings for no cost. There really is no excuse for not representing your congregation at General Assembly this year. Register here!
  4. Plan a good process and select your delegates! How can your delegates represent the overall perspective of the congregation? Members should feel confident that your community’s chosen delegates have sufficient guidance to represent your whole congregation. How to do this? Our nominated candidate for UUA President, Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt, suggests some good processes here. Long story short, plan for intentional conversation and broad outreach!

    The Article II Commission is looking forward to continued engagement with Unitarian Universalists about this important shift in our theology. Your voice matters!

    Join Greater Pittsburgh UUs for a Virtual Article II Conversation
    Are you familiar with Article II revision process? Would you like to know how the current revision was arrived at?  If you want to know how you can be involved with Article II going forward, and what will be happening at General Assembly 2023; you are invited to join Rev. Sunshine Wolfe and leaders from the Greater Pittsburgh areas as they answer questions related to the Article II revision process.

    Article II includes several sections including our current UU Principles and Sources. After time for information and Q&A, participants will have space to communicate with one another about Article II and what it might mean for their congregations and communities. Please join us online on April 29th 10a-12pm ET. Register here.

    Article II Updates from Lifespan Faith Engagement
    The Lifespan Engagement Office of the UUA has invited religious professionals in congregations already discussing the Article II Study Report to share their creative ideas and resources, and we are putting all that content together in a public online document that is growing daily. Our goal is to support congregational engagement and shared learning about this proposal. This process itself is faith formation! Every UU community is a little different from the next, so the tools you’ll need to faithfully consider the issue are not one-size-fits-all.

    As you consider the Article II proposal in your community, check out the stories, sermons, lesson plans, lectio divina guides, activities, discussion slides and more on the Article II Resource Hub. Consider leaving a note there about a resource if you have feedback to share on how it went – or how you adapted content for your congregation.

    What's the next step? The process for amendments begins in April, and is detailed on the Article II page here. In June of 2023, there will be a delegate vote requiring a simple majority to move Article II forward. If so, the final vote will be in June 2024, requiring a two-thirds vote to adopt the revision.
    Coming in May... UUA Legacy Giving Webinar for Congregations
    Saturday, May 6, 2023 | 1 pm - 3 pm ET / 10 am - 12 pm PT
    The UUA’s Legacy Gifts Office offers a number of services, including an online workshop to assist congregations in creating legacy giving programs. The webinar on Saturday, May 6, 2023 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 webinar, email us at or call (617) 948-6509.
    Updates from Faithify
    Faithify is a direct funding platform for Unitarian Universalist ministry projects. This includes everything from youth work to justice, service, buildings, staff positions, and emerging ministries. Faithify is full of campaigns funding projects through the direct support of others. Visit the website for a full list of current projects, and view some of the latest projects below to donate:
    EqUUal Access Carolyn Cartland Sermon Contest
    Since 2016, EqUUal Access has sponsored an annual contest for sermons related to disability.  It is named after Carolyn Cartland, an early president of EqUUal Access.  This annual contest highlights disability-related themes and topics. Entry deadline: May 1. One cash prize of $500. When feasible, the winner may be invited to present their sermon at an EqUUal Access event during UUA General Assembly. Travel costs to GA cannot be supported.

    • The sermon must be an original work on a disability theme or topic
    • The sermon must be preached between May 1, 2022 and April 30, 2023.
    • Entries (sermon text and entry cover information) must be submitted before midnight on May 1st, 2023.
    • This sermon contest is open to all lay or religious professional Unitarian Universalists.

    For more information, see Information for Submitting a Sermon.
    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.
    UU Camps for Middle and High Schooler Campers
    In the beauty of the great outdoors, youth build community and deepen their connection to Unitarian Universalism through worship, workshops, justice work and plenty of good ol’ fashioned camp fun.

    PWR Camps are open to all middle and high school youth (current 5th graders through class of 2023) with age specific cabins and programming. Reserve their spot now with a deposit you can afford (sliding scale) and customize your payment plan to fit your budget.

    QUUest Camp: Week-long, residential camp in the mountains. July 9-14, 2023 Casper, Wyoming

    Camp Blue Boat: Week-long, residential camp in the Pacific Northwest. July 16-21, 2023 Ellensburg, WA
    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. 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.

    MDD Chalice Lighter Funds Available
    The Mountain Desert District will soon merge with 3 other districts to become the Pacific Western Region for real. Before the merger the MDD has $30,000 to distribute as Chalice Lighter grants. The number and amounts will be determined by the applications received.

    To apply for a grant, please write a letter and send it to The deadline for submitting the application is April 15, 2023.

    The application letter needs to include the following:
    • The name and address of the congregation/covenanting community
    • Name and email for contact person
    • Background statement/Description of need for project
    • Specifics of project, including the proposed budget, listing what resources and/or finances are available from the congregation to help with the project
    • The potential impact on the growth of Unitarian Universalist through this project
    • Criteria for determining the success of the project
    • Number of members of your congregation/covenanting community
    • Date application approved by your Board of Trustees
    Grant Funding Available for MDD Congregations
    The Midwest Unitarian Universalist Conference has endowed funds, established in the early 1900s, to offer financial support to elderly Unitarian Universalists, both lay persons and retired ministers and their partners in the UUA MidAmerica Region and Mountain Desert District of the Pacific Western Region. Funds have been used to assist in the purchase of hearing aids, mobility devices, and medical expenses. More than $3,000,000 has been distributed since the Conference was formed.

    In 2018, the Midwest Unitarian Universalist Conference also established a Munroe Husbands Grant fund to assist Lay-led congregations in the MidAmerica Region and Mountain Desert District of the Pacific Western Region. These funds have been used for leadership development, procurement of technical equipment needed for multi-platform meetings and services, attendance at conferences and General Assembly, and religious education program development. Since its inception, more than $21,000 has been distributed in support of Lay-led congregations.

    For more information visit our website or email
    Register Now: Pacific Southwest Service Area Assembly!
    Come be a part of our "District" Assembly! There's so much to do, to learn and to re-connect!
    Perhaps you missed the good news! The PSW Service Area (formerly known as PSWD) is gearing up for a traditional-style spring assembly. Join other UUs from the Pacific Southwest, April 21 - 23, in San Luis Obispo, CA where local UUs are creating an incredible event for all of us. can attend in person or virtually! Click here for more information and to register!
    InSpirit UU Book and Gift Shop
    Mistakes and Miracles Audiobook
    We’re thrilled to announce that this year’s Common Read, Mistakes and Miracles: Congregations on the Road to Multiculturalism by Nancy Palmer Jones and Karin Lin, published by Skinner House Books, is now available as an audiobook. 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. The Common Read discussion guide for Mistakes and Miracles is also now available and offers a series of four 90-minute, online gatherings. You can find the audiobook on Audible,, and a variety of other audiobook platforms.