Starting With Gratitude
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Pacific Western Region
Newsletter October 2021
Starting With Gratitude
by Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh
PWR Program Staff

Remember at the outset of this pandemic, we kept telling ourselves, and each other, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint?” That message was meant to slow us down, to help us know we needed to do self-care, that we would be wise to store up energy for whatever challenges were up ahead.

Now, 18 months in, we’ve finished that marathon. We’re exhausted. But as pastor-blogger Jenny Smith so devastatingly points out in her July blog, what we did not foresee was that the finish line for the last marathon was just the starting line for the next marathon. Oh yes. The uncertainty, the pain, the fear… it continues. With so much weariness, to boot. How do we, individually and collectively, make it through this next marathon?

One of my spiritual teachers is the American Buddhist eco-philosopher Joanna Macy. Over many decades, she and a community across the world have developed The Work That Reconnects, a way of being that engages us in approaching, rather than avoiding, our pain and our fears so that we can help and heal ourselves and the world.

In this work, before we honor our pain, we always begin with gratitude. Because gratitude grounds us in the “what is,” not just the “what might be.” And our bodies and our minds begin to relax. When we fight to stop the destruction of forests, we must always begin with gratitude for the forests that are here, and the people who have kept them here. When we act to disrupt and dismantle policing as it has been, we can begin with gratitude for the people who have risked so much to build a movement endowed with life-giving community and compassionate care.

And thus, as we begin this congregational year with uncertainty and anxiety and fear, I invite us to pause and revel in gratitude for a moment. YOU, our UU community makers, our UU leaders, and weavers, and connectors. You have been creative, kind, generous with your time, talent, and treasure. You have amazed us with your ability to learn and do hard things during a worldwide pandemic. You have shown curiosity and generosity toward your sibling UU congregations in the PWR. We UUA staff are grateful for you, and we celebrate you.

We don’t know what this next marathon is going to hold. Perhaps it will change into a half-marathon, or a 10K, before we get to the end. With vaccines for all ages coming soon, I certainly hope it will. Whatever comes, we have got each other. The Unitarian Universalist Association has got you, and you’ve got the UUA—a network of generous, creative, inspiring institutions and people—traveling with you along the way.

With faith, hope, and love,

In this Issue
"Starting With Gratitude"
PWR & UUA News
Youth & Emerging Adult News
Mountain Desert News
Pacific Central News
Pacific Northwest 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
Multi-Platform Regional Assembly 2022
This year, because of the ongoing pandemic, we are offering you different ways to Reflect, Rejoice, and Renew through this major event of the Pacific Western Region.  You can participate in person, in beautiful San Diego. You can also participate from the comfort of your own home, wearing your bunny slippers or other comfortable footwear. You might organize small local pods of UUs to watch together as you share a meal or two. All educational programs will be offered via the internet and available to you prior to RA. Watch as many programs as often you like! Social gatherings, networking, and discussions will be available online, and also at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Resort. Attend the way that works for you. Key events, like worship services, will be broadcast to watch at home, or on the big screen on the hotel. On site events in San Diego will be predominantly outdoors and will offer the ability to socially distance as you feel comfortable. Child care will not be available at the San Diego location due to the abundance of unknowns and lack of vaccine for our youngest UUs.

Flexibility seems to be one of key skills needed at this time of pandemic. This format for Regional Assembly, with online programming and face-to-face or digital social and network time, gives us each the flexibility to participate in the way that works for our various levels of comfort and safety around in person gathering. Some of our PWR staff will be in San Diego, at the venue, and others will be providing support from their home offices around the west. We hope to see you at Regional Assembly, either in person or online!

When: Friday, February 4 through Sunday, February 6, 2022
Where: Hyatt Regency Mission Bay, 1441 Quivira Road, San Diego, CA

The latest details including registration, accommodations, tentative schedule, workshop proposals, and vendor and volunteer information can be found on our website.

UUA Board Meetings and Open Houses
Open Houses
The Board will, once again, hold open houses on the 2nd Tuesday of each month.

  • Tuesday, October 12, 2021; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.
  • Tuesday, November 9, 2021; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.
  • Tuesday, December 14, 2021; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.
  • Tuesday, January 11, 2022; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.
  • Tuesday, February 8, 2022; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.
  • Tuesday, March 8, 2022; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.
  • Tuesday, April 12, 2022; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.
  • Tuesday, May 10, 2022; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.
  • Tuesday, June 14, 2022; 4pm PT/ 5pm MT / 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. Pre-register.

Board Meetings
The Board meets monthly. Here are the dates/times for each meeting. Please note that a registration link for the meetings will be available on this page in advance of each meeting.

  • Thursday, October 14—Saturday, October 16, 2021; Schedule TBD
  • Monday, November 8, 2021; 4:00pm PT / 5:00pm MT / 6:00pm CT / 7:00pm ET
  • Monday, December 13, 2021; 4:00pm PT / 5:00pm MT / 6:00pm CT / 7:00pm ET
  • Friday, January 21—Saturday, January 22, 2022; Schedule TBD
  • Monday, February 14, 2022; 4:00pm PT / 5:00pm MT / 6:00pm CT / 7:00pm ET
  • Monday, March 14, 2022; 4:00pm PT / 5:00pm MT / 6:00pm CT / 7:00pm ET
  • Friday, April 22—Saturday, April 23, 2022; Schedule TBD
  • Monday, May 9, 2022; 4:00pm PT / 5:00pm MT / 6:00pm CT / 7:00pm ET
Putting Our Generosity to Work: The 2021 PWR Grants Program
During this unique time in history, with a global pandemic and uprisings for justice, the PWR has been looking at our assets and resources to see how they could be used to help move the arc of the universe. Putting Our Generosity to Work is part of that effort.

The Pacific Western Region Staff plans to distribute residual grant monies collected at and prior to the 2013 Regional Assembly. Congregations can apply for one or both of these grants. Applications will be reviewed, and award decisions made, by a regional volunteer team of volunteers as well as a liaison from the PWR-UUA staff.

The Leap of Faith grants are to assist with congregational growth in a multitude of areas, including active partnership with local communities and implementation of Commission on Institutional Change's recommendations to widen the circle of our faith. Approximately 10 of these $3000 grants will be awarded.

The Big Faith grant program is to facilitate the uses of technology growing our faith. This might include web page modernization, online worship or staff training in social media. Approximately 8 of these $1000 grants will be awarded

Applications will be accepted between through October 11, 2021. Recipient organizations are expected to report back on how the money was used. Potentially these reports could be included in future PWR newsletters.

Interested congregations, and covenanting communities with fiscal sponsorship, can apply for either or both PWR grant(s). If you are interested in serving on the selection team please apply. We hope to have many perspectives at the decision-making table.
Taproot: A National BIPOC Space
The work of spiritual community is complicated in the 21st century. The need for faithful leadership that is grounded and resilient is imperative. This is all the more true for leaders within our communities and congregations who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC). All too aware of this need, Congregational Life is excited to explore and co-create a network with congregational leaders that support them in this time in emergent ways through Taproot: A National BIPOC Space. BIPoC Leaders rooted in the Unitarian Universalist congregations are invited to take part in this monthly, virtual gathering.

Second Thursday of the month, starting October 14th at 9p ET/8p CT/7p MT/6p PT. Details and registration at the UUA website.
Gather, Inspire, Launch! Commission on Social Witness Fall Convening
Two-part Fall Social Witness Convening of the Commission on Social Witness (CSW), 10/6 and 10/13

At the UUA General Assembly this past June, the delegates voted to affirm three bold statements for healing action. The delegates also adopted a formal UUA Statement of Conscience on Undoing Systemic White Supremacy. Join these two meetings to find out what UU leaders around the country are doing, what you can do, and who you can partner with to carry forward these bold actions full of inspiring possibilities.

Gather, inspire, and launch your social witness action! The Commission on Social Witness invites you to the Fall Social Witness Convening in two parts. Attend both sessions to find out about all the statements and actions! More information and registration here.
Compass Virtual Gathering
COMPASS: A Liberatory, Everyday Theology for Changing Times
December 11 & 12, 2021

With so much uncertainty in the wider world, sometimes it can be hard to find one’s bearings. Join us to find our collective “compass” as we explore interdependence as a path to wholeness.  

This event is for: lay leaders, religious professionals, adults, youth, members of congregations, and anyone else who is interested in diving into an exploration of interdependence in UU theology and practice.  

Compass will be held online December 11 and 12, 2021 beginning at 10am PT/11am MT/12pm CT/ 1pm ET. The weekend will include worship, speakers, identity caucus space and more. Registration will open on October 1 here.    

Compass will be hosted on the Whova Platform, available in desktop form or on your mobile device via the Apple and Android app stores. This is the same platform used for General Assembly and New Day Rising. If you already have the app downloaded, you can simply open your app and tap “My Events” to find Compass. The app will be launched for use starting December 1.

*Compass is different from the Camp de Benneville Pines 60th anniversary celebration December 4, 2021, and the Pacific Western in-person Regional Assembly Feb. 4-6, 2022 (see ’Save the Date’ above). We hope to see your congregation represented at all three events...Stay tuned for more details!
News from the UUA International Office
Celebrate United Nations Day on October 24!
Coming up on October 24, the world celebrates United Nations Day. Many Unitarian Universalist congregations will be marking this holiday by hosting a United Nations Sunday service, focusing on the 2021-2022 UN Sunday theme “All In for Climate Justice: Food Equity and Sustainability.” The UUA Office at the United Nations (UU@UN) is grateful for the support of congregations who dedicate their collection on UN Sunday to fund their important advocacy for UU values at the UN. A special video message from the UU@UN is available for congregations hosting UN Sunday services to introduce the offering. Find this and additional UN Sunday resources here. A congregation that holds a UN Sunday service with a collection for the UU@UN is close to qualifying for the Sixth Principle Congregation Award! Learn more here.
Recovering from Covid’s Second Wave in India
India is now emerging from Covid’s devastating second wave. After months of frantic searches for oxygen and overflowing hospitals, infections are declining. But the trauma of so much loss still cuts deep. As the UUA Holdeen India Program learns more of what happened on the ground, one thing is clear: Without the massive relief operations carried out by grassroots organizations across India, countless more would have lost their lives. UU support for our community partners in India was pivotal to relief efforts. UUHIP is deeply grateful to the UU faith community for so much solidarity at the height of the crisis. Now, we need your support to continue this transformational work. For many social justice organizations, charitable contributions come in a flood during crises—and then a trickle as media coverage fades. Yet our work in a crisis is only possible because we sustain long-term partnerships on the ground. If your congregation routinely holds special collections, please consider the Holdeen India Program as a regular recipient.
Read this in-depth update from the Holdeen India Program.
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.
JUUst Breathe Live
JUUst Breathe Live is a YouTube live stream where youth ministry has a say! Hosts Shannon Harper and Eric Bliss interview youth and adult bad asses who hold a vision of liberal religious youth ministry that is both lifesaving and spirit-lifting.

Come join us via the chat for real time conversations where your ideas matter and your questions get answered. Explore faith, spirituality, and life purpose as never before. And above all, bring your authentic self and...JUUst Breathe.

Access our YouTube Channel here.

Join us October 10th at 5p PT/6p MT/ 7p CT/8p ET for a thought-provoking discussion.
Webinar: Centering Marginalized Youth
As we partner with youth to engage in spiritually nourishing, life-affirming faith formation, there are no more salient issues to explore than our program's attempts at inclusivity and accessibility. And how can we do this in each congregation? Come, join us October 28!
Upcoming Youth Events
District Specific Programs

PSWD Camp de Benneville Pines
MDD Regionalization Process Continues & Business Meeting Registration Now Open
We want you to know what’s happening and have a chance to give your input!

Plan to attend – by zoom – either Thursday, September 30, at 7 pm MDT or Saturday, October 2, at 10 am. Register by emailing MDD Vice President, Rhoda Whitney at
Important decisions about how the Mountain Desert District wants to participate in the regionalization of the Pacific Western Region are being discussed.

These meetings are being held in advance of the MDD Business Meeting planned for Saturday, October 23 at 10 am. Registration is now open! The conversation about regionalization will continue. It is time to make some important decisions about how to move forward. The specific wording of motions for delegates to vote on will be sent later, but in general we will be looking to authorize the MDD Board of Trustees, with the assistance of legal counsel, to draft agreements to combine with any of the current four districts of the Pacific Western Region as they become ready to do so. For more information, please see our website.

MDD Fall Chalice Lighter Call Now Open!
It’s that time again, time for the Chalice Lighter program to help a UU congregation in the Mountain Desert District (MDD)! Three times a year, the MDD puts out a call for donations from Chalice Lighters (or anyone). Your generosity with the Fall Call will help the Unitarian Universalist Church of Las Cruces, New Mexico with asbestos abatement. They had ages-old carpet, past redemption, and were in the process of removing it so that their choir members would be able to breathe in the sanctuary when they discovered they had a larger problem than they knew.

Hopefully, you’re feeling generous! If those with the financial capability consider doing a little more than usual, it will help close the gap caused by lost donations from those of us who are still hurting from this unusual past year and more and can only contribute best wishes. The Spring Call which wrapped up on June 30, 2021 is helping the Cache Valley Unitarian Universalists of Logan, Utah repair the retaining wall on their property.

Visit the MDD website to read the call letter and make a donation.

A Message from Your PCD Board
Dear Pacific Central District Friends,

The PCD Board continues to meet every-odd numbered month on the first Tuesday at 8PM. Reach out to us at if you wish to attend, so we can share the Zoom link with you.

We are working on two projects:
  • Exploring possibilities for supporting the ministries that belong collectively to UU communities in our specific geographical area while increasing collaboration and institutional integration across the Pacific Western Region and beyond.
  • Supporting our youth and youth ministries, including support for the PCD Common Ground Council

On the regional collaboration front, a “Chalice Lighters 2.0” document that re-imagines the Chalice Lighters program as a region-wide program will soon be available for general review.

On the district front, the PCD Board is reviewing our existing bylaws and other institutional agreements to prepare us to make our next move in being better, and loving better, together. Expect us to ask you to show up to a business meeting next year to update our bylaws.

We need your help to make sure our governing documents reflect who we are together now, and allow us to become who we want to be together in the near future.

Your PCD Board,

Catherine Ishida
Roger Jones
Bob Klein
Ben Meyers
Bob Miess
Karen Urbano

PCD Fall Chalice Lighter Call Now Open!
The Unitarian Universalists of Petaluma have purchased their first permanent home as of May 31, 2021. They intend to nurture a vibrant UU presence in the historical district of downtown Petaluma. However, as an older building, there are many things needed to bring it into accessibility compliance, in addition to needing a new roof, paint, new carpeting and many more items. They are fortunate to not have a mortgage thanks to a generous donor, but all of these repair items are costly. Fundraising is underway for most of those upgrades.

The congregation anticipates growth, both due to the attractive and well-situated new building, and their enthusiastic permanent minister. To bolster this ambition, they are proposing two inclusion and outreach projects: non-gendered and accessible bathrooms to welcome all bodies, and a large display case to create a clear and attractive welcome at their doorstep. With these paired in-reach and out-reach strategies, they hope to offer their community a UU congregation that is deeply inclusive and living our expressed values. Your Chalice Lighter donation will help the UUs of Petaluma achieve their goals.

Visit the PCD website to read the call letter and make a donation.
PNWD Fall Chalice Lighter Call Now Open!
Thank you for being a stalwart and generous donor to Chalice Lighters! This is your Fall Call for the 2021-2022 church year: fund Growth Technology Grants. As congregations decide when to reopen for in-person services, their interest in "hybrid" services, that can also be attended virtually by congregants in their homes using their computers, has mounted. This capability is especially important to serve those whose immune systems are compromised or who for a variety of reasons believe it to be unsafe for them to attend indoor worship services. We PNWD Chalice Lighters can help provide equipment to meet this need, as well as more traditional applications of technology, such as assisted listening.

Your congregation may be one of those who need equipment to provide such capabilities. If so, encourage your leaders to apply for a Chalice Lighter Growth Technology grant. A revised application form is available through the PNWD Chalice Lighters web page. The form contains further guidance on award criteria. We will accept applications until the call closes, October 31, 2021.

For more information, to make a donation, or to apply for a grant, visit the PNWD website.
Reminder: Special PSWD Business Meeting October 2
The Pacific Southwest District of the UUA (PSWD) announces a special business meeting from 10am-12pm on Saturday, October 2.

This is a very important meeting. We will vote on the future of the district. The PSWD Board needs your participation!

Please see our website for the agenda and more information. Registration and delegate certification are now open.
InSpirit UU Book and Gift Shop
Faith on Trial: Religion and Law in the United States
Mark J. T. Caggiano
Books about religion and the law tend to be highly technical or aimed primarily at religious conservatives. In Faith on Trial: Religion and the Law in the United States, legal scholar and Unitarian Universalist minister Mark J. T. Caggiano argues that concerns about separation of church and state often serve to silence the viewpoints of religious progressives, many of whom exit the conversation in the hope of protecting important social issues from religious infighting. But it is impossible to win a debate that you never join, and as Caggiano writes, it is paramount in these times that “religious liberals and progressives cultivate and refine an ability to articulate the need for moral changes within the political system. That goal will require an understanding of the law as well as a moral vision for the world.”

Complete with historical context, legal analysis, and specific examples of cases and statutes, Faith on Trial is an invitation to religious progressives and moderates to help put social progress and inclusion at the center of the national conversation about religion and the law.

Mark J. T. Caggiano currently serves as minister at First Church in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. A former lawyer, he is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Divinity School and received his Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Boston College Law School, teaching First Amendment law concerning matters of religious rights and the separation of church and state.

Now available to pre-order!