"These Short Little Days", PWR & UUA News, and more!
Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.
Pacific Western Region
Newsletter November 26, 2020
These Short Little Days
By Rev. Carlton E. Smith
Lead - UUA Pacific Western Region

I confess: I actually like the short little days of late fall and early winter.

My heart goes out to friends and family who have to contend with seasonal affective disorder. With the pandemic raging, the questionable transition of presidential power underway, dangerous levels of social unrest, and a protracted fire season, having very few hours to enjoy the daylight must occur as an especially heavy burden.

The pain multiplies because of all the different ways we are being required to temporarily set aside intimacy and connection so that our very lives might be longer rather than shorter. I know hearts are breaking this holiday season due to the uncertainties of when we might see — and perhaps touch — loved ones again, newborns whose connections to grandparents and other family are on hold, beloved healthcare workers holding on as best they can while making desperate choices about who can most benefit from life-saving equipment and procedures. It’s all so very much.

I say all this from inside a certain bubble, at least for the moment. While I formerly traveled a lot for work, as a member of the UUA’s Congregational Life Staff for seven years now, it was relatively easy to adapt all of my day-to-day tasks to Zoom teleconferencing, which I and my colleagues already used a lot. I’m child-free and not in the bind so many parents experience as they balance between the needs of their young ones and their employer’s needs. My mother died while living in in an assisted care residence months before Covid-19 arrived, when my brothers and I could still be near her in her final moments.

And yet regularly, I learn of another colleague or friend who has contracted Covid, or another who has succumbed. The pandemic hasn’t arrived at my doorstep, but it is definitely making the rounds in the neighborhood.

I do feel the impact of physical distancing. As a partner-free person who lives alone, hardwired for affection, cuddling, and loving touch, I can’t say this level of isolation is my favorite. Traveling for work brought with it the joy of seeing old friends and making new ones. While I appreciate the blessings of modern technology that allow many of us to see and hear each other across the many miles, I wonder how the landscape of all my many relationships will have shifted forever by the time it’s safe to do more than bump fists and elbows.

So here we are together in our various seasons of anticipation. Waiting and praying for the safe delivery of the next holy child. Wondering if there will be enough oil, or food, or love, or justice for us to keep on keeping on. Striving to keep the circles unbroken — the circles that connect us to our values, our ancestors, our heritage, and our descendants and their futures. Hastening to close the door to the current year, but with few of the social conventions in place that we came to take for granted.

Despair has found its way into my house. At the moment it's a mosquito sometimes just in my peripheral vision, sometimes flitting in front of my computer screen, sometimes buzzing in my ear, sometimes landing on my thumb. I’m not too concerned about it now, but I am paying attention.

With all this time to myself, I see the opportunity for healing. The short dark days call me in. It’s not so much an era for projecting outward, but rather for turning inward, like the nights spending more and more time with themselves as the solstice draws near.

Perhaps these short difficult days and these long, deep nights are a package or a wrapped present, and we have to open it to find the gift, whatever the particulars of our circumstances.

In that spirit, I offer you a favorite poem — “The Guest House” by Rumi.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

May it be so, dear friends. Wishing you the best life has to offer this holiday season and always, and reminding you of your power to choose the good every day, no matter how short or long.


Please note: I will be on holiday break from December 18 through January 10, and the entire UUA, including the Pacific Western Region offices, will be closed December 19 through January 3. In the event of a true emergency, please contact Melanie Buck at (720)-778-6682 (Mountain Time), and she will see that someone gets back to you. Thank you!

In this Issue
These Short Little Days
Widening the Circle of Concern Award
Sharing Our Resources & Successes
Virtual GA 2021
PWR & UUA News
Youth 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 Field Staff
Summer Albayati
"Widening the Circle of Concern" Award
The four District Boards of the Pacific Western Region are excited to jointly announce the very first Widening the Circle of Concern Award. The $2,000 award will go to a PWR congregation which has taken significant congregational action based on the recommendations in the Widening the Circle of Concern Report or has made efforts which foster diversity, equity and inclusion. The winner will demonstrate innovative and replicable work that presented a challenge to participants. The award will be presented at the PWR Regional Assembly Feb 12-14, 2021. For consideration, please submit a one-page summary of the work to Rev. Mary Wellemeyer at   Submissions are due January 15, 2021. Winners will be notified by email.
Sharing Our Resources & Successes
From Susan Howlett, PNWD Co-President: As you try to create more equitable systems in your congregations, check out this handy resource! Westside UU Congregation in West Seattle, Washington, put together this Equity Decision Making Tool to help them navigate thorny topics. Sharing resources brings our covenantal relationship with one another to life! Thanks, Westside!

P.S. Our hope is that we will be able to highlight resources, successes, and stories from our congregations in all four districts in this space. We’d like to start sharing good news each month from some of our congregations so that others can get inspired by their successes and feel more connected to them. We think people are hungry for success stories and connection these days, and we want to be shining a light on the benefits of being connected with our fellow UU leaders. If you have something to share, please email

Virtual General Assembly 2021
The UUA Board of Trustees has passed a resolution making the 2021 UUA General Assembly a 100% virtual event. Let’s reach record-breaking attendance June 23-27, 2021! Registration opens December 1, 2020 and costs $200 per person. Financial support for registration as well as a payment plan are available. You are warmly invited you to submit a Program Proposal. We are looking for programs that are the best of the best - adding tremendous value to this experience. Proposed programs should provide meaningful opportunities for learning and skill development, as well as address one or more of the following focus areas - liberatory theology, grief and trauma healing, community of communities, preserving connection to Milwaukee, and social justice. See the Program Proposal Guidelines.

NEW THIS YEAR! There are two deadlines for submissions of program proposals. Late proposals will be handled on a case-by-case basis with advance notice to the PDG team.

  • Proposals received by Friday, January 15 - Decision by February 15; If selected, final video (for On-Demand programs) or abstract (for Live Interactive Workshops) due on Thursday, April 30.
  • Proposals received by Friday, January 29 - Decision by February 15; If selected, final video (for On-Demand programs) or abstract (for Live Interactive Workshops) due on Friday, April 15.
Article II Study Commission
The Article II Study Commission (A2SC) was appointed at the 2020 Virtual General Assembly, to complete a review of the Principles and Purposes of the Unitarian Universalist Association. This process is outlined within the bylaws of the Association and is required every 15 years. The A2SC has released an introductory message and reflection of their first six months engaging their charge. This first blog post will be available here by December 1st.
EqUUal Access Sermon Contest
EqUUal Access is holding Our Carolyn Cartland Sermon Contest! This annual contest highlights disability-related themes and topics. Entries are due by May 1, 2021 with a cash prize of $500 going to the chosen applicant. The award will be presented at the virtual EA Celebration. Time permitting, the winner may be asked to give an excerpt at the event. For more information, please click here. All entries, including the cover page found on this link should be emailed to
Support from the UUA Office of Church Staff Finances
Does your leadership role entail responsibilities related to supporting staff or budgeting for staff? The UUA Office of Church Staff Finances has a wealth of personnel-related resources available through their homepage, Benefits, Compensation, and Aid Funds, all designed to help you make sure that your congregation is a faithful employer – faithful to the law and to our values. Stay current by subscribing to Compensation and Staffing Newstheir monthly newsletter. Check out the November issue, which included articles on staff-sharing, salary recommendations and resources, and timely Retirement Plan reminders. 
Save the Date: New Day Rising Conference National
February 27, 2021- Zoom Format
Is your congregation ready to take a new step in racial justice work? Want to learn what your fellow congregations are working on, and how you might apply it at home? Join a continent of UUs as we explore next steps in creating Beloved UU Communities

On Your Own: Watch compelling video TED-talk style testimonials from selected congregations around the continent sharing their learnings, hopes and next steps in their quest for racial equity in their congregations

Together: Worship·Workshops·Caucusing. With plenty of breaks
Saturday, February 27th, 9a-6p PT/10a-7p MT
UUA Seeking Volunteers
What’s your vision for Unitarian Universalism? We want to hear from you!
The Unitarian Universalist Association seeks visionary and flexible Unitarian Universalists to serve the committees, commissions, and boards that work with staff and the UUA Board of Trustees to carry out the mission of the Association. If volunteering at the Associational level is of interest to you, please consider serving in volunteer leadership.

We’re actively recruiting to fill openings on the following volunteer bodies, which will be elected into position at General Assembly 2021. Submit an application for these by the January 15, 2021 deadline:

  • Board of Review
  • Board of Trustees
  • Commission on Appraisal
  • Commission on Social Witness
  • Financial Advisor
  • General Assembly Planning Committee
  • Nominating Committee

Rolling applications for appointment on the following volunteer bodies are also currently being accepted: the Appointments Committee, the Audit and Risk Committee, the Election Campaign Practices Committee, the General Assembly Planning Committee, the Investment Committee, the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the Open UUA Committee, the Presidential Search Committee, the Religious Education Credentialing Committee, the Retirement Plan Committee, the Socially Responsible Investing Committee, and the UUA Employee Health Plan Trust.

If you already know which volunteer body would best suit your abilities and talents, please
submit an application for that committee/commission/board. However, if you’d like to serve, but you’re unsure of where your skills would be of best use, or the volunteer body on which you were hoping to serve doesn’t have any openings at the moment, we encourage you to fill out a general interest form. That way, as positions open, members of the Nominating Committee, Appointments Committee, or staff will know your interests and how to reach you.

The work our dedicated volunteers do is vital to Unitarian Universalism as a faith movement. Transform your vision for Unitarian Universalism into reality - VOLUNTEER!

Save the Date for Regional Assembly 2021: Love Right Through
Please watch this newsletter and the PWR website for more details on our virtual Regional Assembly:

Love Right Through  
Feb. 13, 12-5 PM (with district-specific programming on Feb. 12 and a worship service on Feb. 14)
A Virtual Regional Gathering
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.
Upcoming Youth Events
Pacific Western Region (PWR) Events
  • “Transform YoUUrself”: Youth Leadership Development Program. Virtual, Jan 9, Feb 13, and Mar 26, 7:30 - 9 pm MT. Registration coming soon.

District Specific Programs
PCD Coming of Age  
  • There will be no PCD COA Events this year. Please contact our COA Coordinator, Rachel Nannini, to discuss your COA program (


PSWD Camp de Benneville Pines
MDD "Walk the Talk" Award
We need something to celebrate!  Do you know a lay person in the Mountain Desert District who is living a life which exemplifies Unitarian Universalist principles?  Nominate them for the “Walk the Talk” Award.  We need your help to lift up the people who further this faith.

Even though you probably have the principles memorized, it never hurts to be reminded! Follow this link to reflect on them and see who might come to mind to nominate.

Visit our website and tell us who you think should win the award and why. The winner will have their registration paid for our next annual assembly, plus receive a $100 prize. Nominations are open until December 31, 2020.

MDD Winter Chalice Lighter Call Now Open!
Isn’t the Chalice Lighter program a wonderful way to help UU congregations 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 Ogden, Utah with a much-needed accessibility building project.

Hopefully, you’re still in the giving spirit! We know that circumstances may mean some may not be able to give more than good wishes, but we’re hoping that those who can will step up and help fill in for those who must take a break. The Winter Call will assist the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Missoula, Montana replace their roof.  It is way past time it was done. They have used buckets in the kitchen to catch the drips, but it is time for a more permanent solution. Visit the MDD website to read the call letter and make a donation.

A District Update from the PCD President
Communities Are Meeting the Moment
A small group gathered on November 15th to share a large number of ways in which their communities were keeping people engaged with their UU communities and the world. Here are some “big-picture” takeaways from the conversation:

  • Larger (greater than 100 members) congregations are doing well. They are able to host many kinds of virtual gatherings that people are participating in, and for the most part congregational giving levels are holding steady or actually going up, especially in terms of overall engagement.
  • Smaller congregations are having a harder time, but are collaborating with each other to create sustainability. Sometimes the collaboration is with larger congregations - an example is a “revival” weekend in the North Bay area of California.
  • Are our current efforts sustainable? Some volunteer leaders wanted to make sure that paid staff can and do take time off for more self-care.
  • New and old non-local members are active in communities. Although the current focus is keeping the less virtually inclined connected with the community, soon there may be concerns about how to keep engaging virtual-only members as in-person gatherings resume.
The next conversation will be in mid-January 2021. (Probably Sunday, 1/24/21)
Chalice Lighters Program is Expanding
Beginning with the Spring 2021 all, the PCD Chalice Lighters program will be expanding to support and prioritize projects that increase inclusion and diversity as called for by the UUA Commission on Institutional Change. There will be no restriction on who can apply for a chalice lighters grant that will increase inclusion and diversity and help our movement grow in the PCD. For the first year of the expanded program, the Board will match the funds raised by Chalice Lighters. At the current participation level of the Chalice Lighters program, this means we may be able to support requests for funding up to around $6000.

In the meantime, the PCD Board has decided to match funds raised for the current Chalice Lighter call to support the UUA Disaster Relief Fund. Reason? Supporting each other and surviving together during challenging times enables us to grow and thrive in better times.

In these challenging times, it has been a true privilege to get to learn some of the wonderful and beautiful things big and small happening in our communities.

Thank you,
Catherine Ishida, on behalf of the PCD Board
Help Protect a Native American Sacred Site
Please join the First Unitarian Church of San Jose, CA, and Starr King Unitarian Universalist Church of Hayward, CA, in supporting the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band to protect their sacred grounds of Juristac, just south of the San Francisco Bay Area. A proposed open pit sand and gravel mine threatens this sacred site, as well as the rich ecosystems the tribe’s stewardship has protected throughout its history.

This isn’t just another good cause. This is about religious freedom, and respect; about overcoming the effects of centuries of settler colonialism by being in solidarity with Indigenous people to protect their sacred sites and to practice their religions in their ancestral way. It responds to the call issued at General Assembly last June in the Action of Immediate Witness to Address 400 Years of White Supremacist Colonialism. Native American spirituality has been devalued since Europeans arrived. In the 1800s Congress ignored the 1st Amendment and passed a law making it illegal for Native Americans to practice their religions, and that wasn’t repealed until the 1970s. Indigenous religions are still considered "less than" by the dominant US culture, and their sacred sites get desecrated with impunity by commercial interests. We are asking your help stop one of those desecrations.

How you can help:

For more information see the
Project Juristac website or contact Colleen Cabot (, 408-914-0362) or Beth Ogilvie (, 510-363-0612). Thank you!
Fundraiser: Help Undocumented Students Stay in College
Fund emergency grants to help undocumented students pay rent, tuition or other critical expenses that threaten their ability to stay in college. The University of California Davis recently announced new restrictions on funding for this purpose — and student need is greater than ever due to the pandemic. This campaign, supported by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, aims to raise $5,000 for emergency grants to lighten their load. We have developed a relationship with SPEAK, a student-run organization at UC Davis that supports the undocumented students who are the beneficiaries of this campaign. We hope you will support this effort to help undocumented students at a particularly scary time for immigrants in this country. For more information, visit the Faithify page.
PCD Winter Chalice Lighter Call Now Open!
The Winter 2020 Chalice Lighter Call for the Pacific Central District will be devoted to the UUA Disaster Relief Fund. Many members of congregations in the PCD, as well in other districts of the Pacific Western Region, have been affected by the wildfires that have raged through Northern and Southern California, Oregon and Washington. Now Colorado is experiencing climate-related wildfires. The disaster fund is a general fund, but we want to support it because it is actively supporting UU families that have lost their homes to wildfires this year. In addition, individual UUs and UU communities in our district have been supported in the past and will need support in the future. Visit the PCD website to read the call letter and make a donation.
PNWD Winter Chalice Lighter Call Now Open!
Thank you for being a stalwart donor to Chalice Lighters! Your donations this year have funded a $5,434 grant to the Woodinville UU Church to provide online service streaming capability. A $9,959 grant to the UU Fellowship of Fairbanks for construction of an accessible emergency exit ramp for their sanctuary has also been awarded. In the 2019-2020 church year you provided $49,487 to help PNWD congregations, as detailed in the Chalice Lighters annual report.

This is your Winter Call, again dedicated to supporting PNWD congregations struggling to survive in the wake of the coronavirus. Why, despite evidence of need, have we not received more applications for these funds? Some have told us that while operating virtually, the challenges of signing up the requisite percentage of their members as Chalice Lighters has been a deterrent. In response, the PNWD Chalice Lighter team and board have agreed that only 20% of members need to be Chalice Lighters in order to apply for pandemic relief grants, rather than the standard 30%. This should put applying within the reach of every PNWD congregation. Others have said that they are “treading water” and overwhelmed. To help, we have further simplified the application. Others have not yet experienced budget shortfalls, but fear problems in the coming months if online or deferred worship services fail to attract new members to replace attrition. Consequently, the deadline for applications is extended until all funds collected for this purpose are disbursed. Visit the PNWD website to read the call letter and make a donation.
White Memorial Theological School Scholarship 2020
Are you currently a student in theological school? Could you use some help with tuition and expenses? If the answer to the first question is yes, likely the second question has the same answer. The PSWD can help.

The White Memorial Fund was established in the 1920s with a $10,000 gift from Charles White of Pasadena, CA. The interest from this amount is used to further the theological education of students preparing for Unitarian Universalist ministry. Over the years, the White Memorial Scholarship has provided a one-time annual gift of $2000 available to help support Unitarian Universalist Ministerial students, with preference given to those who have a connection to the Pacific Southwest District. All UU students attending theological school are encouraged to apply. For more information and to apply please go to our website.
InSpirit UU Book and Gift Shop
Announcing the 2020–2021 Common Read!
The 2020–2021 UUA Common Read is Breathe: A Letter to My Sons by Imani Perry, published by Beacon Press. Emotionally raw and deeply reflective, Perry issues a challenge to society to see Black children as deserving of humanity.

She admits fear and frustration for her sons in a society that is increasingly racist and at times seems irredeemable. However, as a mother, feminist, writer, and intellectual, Perry offers an unfettered expression of love—finding beauty and possibility in life— and she exhorts her children and their peers to find the courage to chart their own paths and find steady footing and inspiration in Black tradition. Breathe offers a broader meditation on race, gender, and the meaning of a life well lived and is also an unforgettable lesson in Black resistance and resilience.

We are in the midst of a historic national reckoning with what it means to live as a Black or Brown American and systems of institutional racism that have been operating since our country’s founding. As UUA President, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, has written, “It matters that we support the uprisings whose goal is the liberation of Black people and communities who for too long have been crushed by white supremacy, militarism, and capitalism. We must find the sources within ourselves to give us courage in this moment. To resist. To risk. To sacrifice for this movement that needs all of us to succeed. To be midwives for a new era in which all of us will be free.”

Discussion materials will be available for download in late fall 2020. For more information about the Common Read program visit our website.

Unsubscribe | Manage your UUA subscriptions

Pacific Western Region - UUA
P.O. Box 567
Brighton, CO 80601
United States