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"What Help Would Help?" , PWR & UUA News, and more!
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Pacific Western Region
Newsletter August 2022
What Help Would Help?
by Carlton E. Smith
Regional Lead

I’m aware of the power of sharing our stories. This is where I see meaningful opportunities for the newsletter. The Pacific Western Region is vast to say the least. The weather conditions in Albuquerque are bound to be different from those in Anchorage. When it’s evening in Honolulu, it’s getting close to midnight in Denver. Politics in Montana will be different from those in California. However, even with all the geographic diversity throughout the Region, we can still be bound together through learning and knowing a bit more about what’s going on in our respective contexts.

I would like for the PWR newsletter to be a platform where we come to appreciate each other more and understand our challenges and triumphs. It can be a place where we learn and grow together, an appropriate extension of the conversations that happen between congregants, lay leaders, ministers, congregational staff, and PWR staff.

I will offer an example.

Just this week, available members of the PWR staff had a conversation regarding our upcoming in-person team huddle which was set for July 31-August 3. For reasons related to Covid-19 and its variants, it was time to reassess whether we still wanted to go forward with our plan. As it turned out, I had been reading the book Many Voices, One Song: Shared Power Through Sociocracy by Ted J. Rau. The members of the PWR Transitions Team have been reading and discussing it as part of their biweekly meetings. As I read, I came across the idea of rounds of conversation on the way to a decision based on consent. We PWR staff had a round where each person shared their preferences and concerns about meeting in-person. Based on that, we explored our options, and then came up with a proposal for action we could all work with. In the end, we agreed to postpone the meeting until sometime in the fall when conditions were more favorable.

I know that there are difficult choices that you must make in your congregations that affect budgets, livelihoods, relationships, and families. As regional staff, we face these as well. Having rounds as we did in our discussion about whether to meet in-person provided a framework for everyone to speak their piece and to arrive at a workable conclusion, consistent with our values of community care, compassion, and integrity.

What are some things that you are working on now? What’s going well? What would you be interested in seeing covered in a PWR Newsletter article or blog? Drop us a line at and we will weave in what we can, and discover together what help would make a difference.

In faith,
In this Issue
What Help Would Help?PWR & UUA News
Youth & Emerging Adult 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
DRE-Led Youth Ministry Volunteer Orientation
Congregational Life Staff and Lifespan Faith Engagement staff are releasing a five-hour orientation for new youth ministry volunteers. We intend this as something you facilitate with your adult volunteers. It combines video presentations featuring 10 UUA staff along with discussion prompts and several case studies. There are places for you to present what your volunteers need to know about your organization’s structure and safety policy. There are four modules: Roles and Relationships, Safety, Youth/Adult Partnership, and Covenant and Community. Each has about 30 minutes of video and 45 minutes of activities, discussion, and case studies. These four modules can be delivered in one day or over the course of weeks or months depending on your volunteer team’s needs. Learn more here!
2022-2023 PWR Leadership Offerings
PWR announces the leadership offerings for 2022-2023, including:

  • Launch: Collaborative Board Retreat in August and September
  • A fall series of leader specific resources & best practices webinars
  • A spring session of Leading from the Heart

See our website for more details!

Companioning Children in Play As Liberative Faith Formation
PWR Staff Dr. Melissa James and Annie Scott, CRE, both experienced religious educators, will lead an online version of the workshop they presented at this year’s GA in Portland.

This webinar invites participants to develop understandings of religious education and family ministry based in community care and play. Participants will develop skills to shift curricula and volunteer support to create a culture of play and companioning that meets the relational and spiritual needs of families and children today. Monday, August 15, 11 AM-12:30 PM Pacific time. Join here!
Neurodivergence for Religious Professionals
The UUA and UUMA are launching a series of interviews and live Q&A’s to speak on neurodivergence, neurotypicality, and ableism. We hope that it can be informational for people of all neurotypes!

This series is an invitation into a deeper journey. One that will likely include dissonance and even disagreement. We expect this and welcome it. It will invite all of us to more deeply untangle our internalized ableism and to more clearly perceive the ableism in our communities.

The first interview (with Heather Petit) is now available to stream online. We will have a live viewing at 1pm ET/10am PT followed by a Q&A at 2pm ET/11am PT on August 19th. Registering participants can submit their questions ahead of time and receive a recording of the live Q&A, whether or not they’re able to attend the live viewing and Q&A.

We talk about everything from a definition of neurodivergence, models of disability, communication, and much more! We had such a great time interviewing Heather, and feel like we all learned a lot that we're excited to share with each of you.

This is the first in an ongoing series! Dates for live events TBD but keep on the lookout!
Calling all DREs, Ministers, Membership Leaders!
Are there folks in your church who got out of the habit of attending during the pandemic and haven’t returned yet? Rebekah Simon-Peter says that one sincere, guilt-free invitation might be all that is needed to get them back. Read the article here.
Updates from Faithify
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cookeville Prison Ministry
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cookeville, Tennessee began a letter-writing campaign in 2020 to let folks in the local jail know that we believe in their inherent worth and dignity. However, we are a tiny congregation of around 30, plus a few friends, and we quickly got overwhelmed. We also wanted to help people who didn't have outside help with commissary and supplies that we think are basic needs for human dignity. We send our penpals letters, puzzles, writing prompts, and financial help when we can.

We were quickly inundated with heartbreaking stories and letters asking for help. If you'd like to be a penpal, please email In addition, if you could help us put money on the books for the dozens of people asking for aid, we would appreciate it. We believe in mutual aid and harm reduction, and we are doing our best to affirm our first principle in our community. Donate here.

UU Congregation of the Grand Valley: Help Rebuild our RE Program in Conservative Western Colorado
Our talented and wonderful Director of Religious Education (DRE) left to take a full-time job with the local food bank about a year ago. We are now hiring a new DRE and have a small funding gap we hope you will help fill. We expect the RE program to attract new families to the Congregation who will help fund the position in the future. We also expect in-person fundraisers to raise more money as pandemic restrictions are able to be lifted. Donate here.
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 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 are interested, please sign up and join our community. Our Pacific Western Region 2022 EA Database can be found here.

Small Groups
We have an annual, monthly gathering for EA 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
Need 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.

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
Little Did I Know: An Anthology on Loving and Companioning Young Lives
Inspired by the pandemic and her own teenage daughter’s upcoming departure from home, editor Vanessa Rush Southern set out to collect an anthology of reflections on the spiritual gifts and challenges of raising young people. In reflecting with others, she found an array of life experiences, choices, struggles, and insights. She found joy and deep meaning pressed up against all the hard parts, tumbling out between diapers and carpool runs, breaking in like fireworks in the midst of casual conversations, in an email from a birth mother that turns the world on its end. She found that the young lives that intersect or get invited into relationship with our own, however we make or made our way to each other, have the power to change us, all of us, in ways both startling and universal.

This inclusive and diverse anthology includes all kinds of families: chosen and biological, extended families, single parents, divorced parents, and more—a beautiful spectrum of people reflecting on the role children and young people have played in their lives and in their larger search for meaning. Little Did I Know goes well beyond the sentimental to an honest reckoning with the vulnerability and beauty of parenting and caregiving.

Vanessa Rush Southern is the senior minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco and has served congregations in Boston; Washington, D.C.; and Summit, New Jersey. She is the author of two books, This Piece of Eden and Miles of Dream, and has been published in the Dallas Morning News, Scroll India, and Woman’s Day Magazine. She is married to Rohit Menezes and mother to Leila Menezes.

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