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More like a marathon than a sprint

Dear Pacific Western Region Congregational Leaders,

Unitarian Universalists by the hundreds and perhaps by the thousands participated in the Women's March in Washington, D.C., and in sister marches in cities across the United States to stand up for our shared values of compassion and justice for all people. I suspect this was the largest Unitarian Universalist public witness since the 1963 March on Washington. A weekend later, Unitarian Universalists across the country participated in demonstrations again at our nation's airports.

Will this level of participation continue in the weeks, months, and years ahead, or will it fizzle? It may depend on three things:

1. One study shows a deciding factor in whether a congregation participates in social justice in the wider community is ministerial leadership. Another study shows a deciding factor in whether ministers provide such leadership is participation in a small, relational group of colleagues. (Participation in such a group is also linked to less congregational conflict, greater congregational growth, and longer ministerial tenure.)

Take home: If you are a minister, I encourage you to make participation in such a group, whether a UUMA cluster or an interfaith group, a priority. If you are a lay leader in a congregation with a minister, encourage your minister's participation. If you don't already belong to such a group, especially if you are geographically isolated, consider starting an online group with colleagues.

2. Similarly, studies show the most important factor in whether individual congregation members participate in social justice activities in the wider community is also participation in a small, relational group. It doesn't have to be a social-justice oriented group. It could be a 12-step group, a knitting circle, a Bible study, a book group.

Take home: If you want members of your congregation to be more active in social justice, bolster small group programming within your congregation. Talk to your regional staff about how you might do this.

3. What doesn't make a difference in congregational involvement in social justice? Incredibly, prophetic preaching. A study of congregations during the Viet Nam War era showed how often ministers preached prophetic sermons had no effect on whether church members participated in anti-war activities.

My own experience serving a congregation that was actively involved in the wider community echoes this. I sometimes did preach prophetic sermons, especially if there was a specific call to action, but I also found that the more my congregation was involved in the wider community, the more important it was to preach pastoral sermons as well as sermons that explored specific spiritual and religious topics or Unitarian Universalist identity.

Take home: Connecting people to specific opportunities to be involved is more important than prophetic preaching every Sunday.

Friends, our efforts to make this world we share more compassionate and just will always be more like a marathon than a sprint. May we be wise in how we sustain ourselves and those we serve on the way.

James Kubal-Komoto
Regional Lead, Pacific Western Region

In this Issue
  • Organizing for Commitment
  • 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.

Inclusive Youth Group Dynamics

Eric Bliss, Natalie Briscoe, and youth TBA
Feb. 14, 10-11am PT & Feb. 15, 5-6pm PT

How do we create space for real diversity in our youth groups? For believers? For introverts? For those who are differently abled? For our growing trans-youth population? This hour long webinar will examine the issues of growing complexity around an inclusive youth ministry program and provide real tools for creating safe, open spaces for our gloriously varied and multi-faceted youth participants, including a new methodology for fashioning the complicated, and sometimes tedious, youth group covenant.

Register for Inclusive Youth Group Dynamics


Just a Few Kids: Creative Strategies for Congregational Engagement

Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh & Rev. Sarah Schurr
Feb. 16, 2017 - 7-8pm PT

How do you create a meaningful congregational experience when you've got a small number of kids in your congregation, few of whom are the same age? What will engage them, minister to their needs, and build a strong UU identity? You'll walk away with creative "out of the box" ideas for nurturing connections, fun, and faith across the ages and generations.

Register for Just a Few Kids: Creative Strategies for Congregational Engagement


Other UUA Webinars

Offered by the UUA's Faith Development Office
Supporting Gender-nonconforming Children and Their Families

What are some ways to support and welcome gender-creative and transgender children and their families in our congregations? What practices and resources can enrich faith development for children of all genders? Join us and bring your questions! With Melissa James, Alex Kapitan, Lisa Rubin, UUA Our Whole Lives Program Associate Melanie Davis, and webinar host Gail Forsyth-Vail.

Offered by the UUA's Office of Church Staff Finances
Strategies for Setting Staff Salaries

Jan Gartner, UUA Compensation and Staffing Practices Manager

The UUA Salary Recommendations provide clear, consistent guidance based on sound compensation principles, but they aren't customized counsel that perfectly fits any single congregation. Join Jan for an overview of the UUA Salary Recommendations and related resources, followed by suggestions and strategies for applying our guidelines sensibly and justly in your context.

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

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!

  • 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
  • Arizona
    Feb. 21, 2017 - Valley UU Congregation
    Rev. Dr. James Kubal-Komoto and Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh
Staff Development Days details

Save the Date



PWR Congregations in the News

Hundreds march through foot of snow in Durango
The "Standing on the Side of Love March" started at noon at the train station and headed north to Buckley Park. Sledders were momentarily displaced as the marchers surged into foot-deep snow in the park. At our nation's founding, white male property owners had voting rights, and since then, every other group has fought for their voice, event organizer Melissa Stacy told the crowd. Stacy and Katie Kandarian-Morris, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango, called on the crowd to protect the freedom of all people and promote love.

Read more in the Durango Herald

Inauguration spurs protest, hope: San Mateo County reacts to change in presidential administration
For the Rev. Ben Meyers' congregation at the Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo, the wake left behind by presidential campaign messages still remains. Meyers, the church's pastor, has noted increased attendance at services since the November election, which he guesses is because people are seeking community following some of the divisive remarks made during the campaign and the swirling rhetoric around the incoming president's policies.

Read more in the San Mateo Daily Journal

1,200 encircle courthouse in Prescott Womens's March
Organizers of the Women's March on Washington-Prescott counted more than 1,200 participants from Prescott and surrounding communities. Karla Brockie, pastor at Granite Peaks Unitarian Universalist Congregation, offered a blessing to begin the march, ending it with "Peace" said in several languages.

Read more in the Daily Courier

Prayers for a brighter day fill Salt Lake City interfaith inauguration service
It was gray and lightly snowing Friday at 9 a.m. as about 70 anxious worshippers — mostly women — quietly filled the pews at First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City for an interfaith prayer service. The historic sanctuary was hushed; the mood somber. "As we gather for this inauspicious inauguration, it is not an easy day," Unitarian Universalist minister Tom Goldsmith began. "Eight years ago, our spirits soared in exultation. We couldn't imagine that we would now be on the edge of despair, worried and concerned."

Read more in the Salt Lake Tribune

Unitarian Universalist Church celebrating 25 years in Ogden
A small church with a big voice is celebrating 25 years in Ogden. Since the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden was organized in 1992 as the Unitarian Universalist Society of Ogden, members protested the Iraq War in 2002 and 2003 and lobbied for anti-discrimination laws in Ogden in 2011. In 2016, the church asked the Weber-Morgan Health Department for diesel emissions control and testing, Bertilson said.

Read more in the Standard Examiner

'We are here:' Women's March draws enthusiastic crowd in Yakima
"I can't believe this is my Yakima. I'm so proud," said Mary Milam of Yakima, who passed out a few pink hats to marchers before they started down the route from City Hall, along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and south to Yakima Avenue. The march ended at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Yakima on Second Street, where participants gathered for a networking event that organizers said was intended to inspire future action.

Read more in the Yakima Herald

Castle Rock group joins Women's March on Denver
Sue Zloth of Castle Pines attended the Women's March on Denver side-by-side with her wife, Sue Fraley. The couple married in 2015 after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage. They've been together for 27 years. "I feel like we're supporting the positive values that have been in place from our leadership in this country," Fraley said, referring to policies largely implemented during the Obama administration. The women, who are members of the Castle Rock Unitarian Universalist Community, protested among crowds that far surpassed anticipated levels — reportedly, more than 100,000 people. Joining them Jan. 21 were other members of Castle Rock Unitarian Universalist Community, and more than 100 Unitarian members from throughout the Denver metro area.

Read more in the Littleton Independent

Women's March on Montana in Photos
Justin Whitaker, a member at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Missoula, catalogued the Women's March there in a photo collection. "Today, women and allies from across the state (and no doubt beyond) descended on Helena for a sister-march in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington. It was one of hundreds of marches around the world, gathering an estimated 2.5 million people globally. I had the pleasure of joining with friends from Missoula along with many from my Unitarian Universalist fellowship. Below are a few of my photos from the day."

Read more on Patheos

UU Partner Church Council Pilgrimages to Transylvania

Want to go to Transylvania to see the important Unitarian historic sites such as the place where the Edict of Torda was debated and the cell where the imprisoned Francis David died? Want to know some of our Transylvanian Unitarian kinfolk? The UU Partner Church Council invites you to join in one of its two public pilgrimage offerings in 2017:

Cross Cultural Transylvania Pilgrimage (on a budget) in August 2017: Experience Transylvania alongside Khasi Unitarians from NE India!  The Unitarian Union of NE India has asked the UUPCC to organize a pilgrimage for its members, and they want to share their journey with you.  Two weeks visiting the historic Unitarian places, medieval cities, castles, and enjoying the pastoral beauty of central Transylvania - all for less than $100/day.

Transylvania Thanksgiving Pilgrimage in September 2017: Two life-changing weeks in Transylvania for under $1,150!  This is the same quality Unitarian pilgrimage that the UUPCC has been facilitating for two decades - but at 60% of the price. Beginning and ending in Kolozsvar/Cluj, this tour will visit the most significant of the Unitarian holy sites.  You will spend the special Transylvanian Thanksgiving weekend with your partner congregation, making new friends and revitalizing your partnership.  If you do not have a partner in Transylvania, the UUPCC will arrange for you to stay in one of the many beautiful Unitarian villages with other pilgrims.  In addition to the Transylvania Pilgrimage, there is also an optional 4 day/3 night pre-trip Budapest extension, and a 6 day/5 night post trip extension to Maramures & the Painted Monasteries of Bucovia.

Visit Pilgrimage Opportunities for more information on these pilgrimages or call (314) 918-2618.

UUA Elections Information

Our elections of people to serve the members and congregations of the Association 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.

UUA Salary Recommendations and Resources for 2017-2018

The UUA Office of Church Staff Finances is offering congregations a "catch-up year" with no changes to their salary recommendations or Geo Indices. This does not mean holding salaries constant, however! As you prepare your budget for the upcoming program year, they urge you to review staff salaries, benefits, and payroll costs. Use the revised Guide to Salary Recommendations [PDF] to help better understand their guidelines and apply them appropriately in your congregational context. You'll find reformatted salary recommendation tables, modified capsule job descriptions, the Geo Index Listing, and the new Guide on their Salary Recommendations page.

Then, visit the Compensation and Payroll page for information on upcoming compensation-related webinars: Strategies for Setting Staff Salaries, with Jan Gartner (Feb. 21 & 22) and Ministerial Compensation: Unraveling the Complexities for Lay Leaders, with Rev. Richard Nugent and Jan Gartner (Mar. 7 & 8).

Black Lives of UU Convening

The Black Lives of UU Convening will take place in New Orleans, LA from March 9th to 12th. This historic event will bring together Black Unitarian Universalists from across generations. Over the course of four days together we will co-create spiritual nourishment and healing through ritual, worship and pastoral care.

Formed in the wake of several conversations among Black UUs at the July 2015 Movement for Black Lives Convening in Cleveland, OH - the BLUU Organizing Collective works to provide support, information and resources for Black Unitarian Universalists. We also work to expand the role and visibility of Black UUs within our faith.

Certification for UU Music Leaders

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. Through the certification program, music leaders in our congregations develop a foundational understanding of three main areas of knowledge: music skills and resources, UU heritage and values, and leadership and interpersonal skills. Apply by March 15. Questions? Contact Pat Kahn, Professional Development Programs Manager, at

Grow Racial Justice 2017

With escalating threats to communities of color and an intensifying backlash against powerful movements of resistance, the struggle for racial justice requires a new level of clarity, commitment, courage, and community. To help our movements respond, join Grow Racial Justice 2017 in New Orleans, LA, June 17-20, in the days prior to the UUA General Assembly. Building upon the pilot offering in 2016, this year's program will equip UU young adults of color in the Thrive cohort and white UU young adults in the Shift cohort with the skills, spiritual grounding, and community to engage in racial justice work within and beyond our UU faith. Financial aid is available. Priority deadline is Feb. 15; applications received after that date will be considered on a space available basis. Learn more and apply on the UU College of Social Justice website.

Annual Award for Distinguished Service

The Annual Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism is one of the most prestigious awards given by the UUA. The Board of Trustees seeks nominations for the 2017 award, to be presented at the 2017 General Assembly in New Orleans. Candidates for this award should have, over a considerable period of time, strengthened the institutions of the UU denomination, clarified the UU message in an extraordinary way, and exemplified what Unitarian Universalism stands for. The deadline for nominations is March 1, and the Board will make a final selection at its April meeting. Please send nominations to: Rob Eller-Isaacs, Chair, UUA Distinguished Service Award Committee, c/o Stephanie Carey Maron, UUA, 24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210 or by email to




Seeking a PNW Youth Con Coordinator

The Pacific Western Region is hiring a part-time Con Coordinator for the Pacific Northwest. The purpose of the role is to support vibrant youth ministry in PNWD congregations by helping to ensure well-organized, covenantal, and healthy district conferences for high-school aged Unitarian Universalists.

If you know someone who would excel in this role, please encourage their application. If not, please publicize in your networks. Deadline for applications is March 1st. Find more details about this position.

PNW Chaplain Training

March 3-5 - UU Congregation of Salem, OR

Youth Chaplain Trainings are designed for the participants to learn invaluable life skills of affirming and emotionally supporting our fellow UU's by helping manage crises, ensure a healthy and safe environment, and bringing spiritual resources and support to the various communities in which one resides. This training is for youth, adults, and young adults!

Learn more and register

Upcoming Youth Ministries Events

Detained and Deported: Stories of Immigrant Families Under Fire

Margaret Regan, Beacon Press, 2016

Drawing on years of reporting in the Arizona-Mexico borderlands, journalist Margaret Regan tells poignant stories of families under fire. Inside the massive Eloy Detention Center, a for-profit private prison in Arizona, she meets detainee Yolanda Fontes, a mother separated from her three small children. In a Nogales soup kitchen, deportee Gustavo Sanchez, a young father who'd lived in Phoenix since the age of eight, agonizes about the risks of the journey back. Regan demonstrates how increasingly draconian detention and deportation policies have broadened police powers, while enriching a private prison industry whose profits are derived from human suffering. She also documents the rise of resistance, profiling activists and young immigrant "Dreamers" who are fighting for the rights of the undocumented.

Nothing Gold Can Stay: The Colors of Grief

Mark Belletini, Skinner House Books, 2015

In twenty-two simple yet profound reflections, seasoned minister Mark Belletini explores the many and varied forms of grief. His honest, poetic essays serve as a prism, revealing the distinct colors and manifestations of grief in our lives. He addresses the way we respond to loss of people in our lives, loss of love, loss of focus, and loss of the familiar—understanding that grief is as much a part of our lives as our breathing. Belletini uses specific and personal stories to open up to the universal experience. Nothing Gold Can Stay is a gift of awareness, showing how the shades of grief serve our deepest needs.


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