Multitudes of Meanings, Presidents' Zoom, News, Sanctuary and more...


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PWR Newsletter


Multitudes of Meanings

Dear Pacific Western Region Congregational Leaders,

Sometimes it's hard to know what to make of Christmas. It seems to have such a multitude of meanings.

Is it only a punctuation mark in the change of the seasons and the turning of the year?

Or is it only a chance to discover amidst the frenzied, frantic busyness of our lives, a time of stillness and quiet and rest?

Or is it only an excuse to celebrate a little, to indulge ourselves a little, in the abundance of the season - food and drink and music and gifts shared with family and friends?

Or is it only an evil plot by corporations to keep us forever trapped in a vicious cycle of getting and spending on things we neither truly need nor want?

Or is it only a time to carry on family traditions, whether those traditions still mean much to us or not, because they reconnect us with our childhoods, our families, and all those who have come before us?

Or is it only a time when we affirm that just as the sun begins its return on the longest, darkest night of the year, there is hope for our own lives and our world even during the darkest times of our lives, a time when we remind ourselves of this hope by decorating everything around us with light, a time when we affirm that with our effort, perhaps one day there will be peace on earth and goodwill toward all?

Or is it only a time, when the world around us seems cold and barren, to celebrate what is best within the human spirit - our capacity for love, concern and generosity, not only for friends and family, but for all humankind, especially those who may not share in our abundance?

Or is it only a time when we celebrate in story and song the birth of a child born as a savior to his people; a child who would grow up to preach about the possibility of a more loving, more just, and more peaceful world; a child not born to royalty, but to humble parents in humble beginnings, reminding us in a different way that salvation comes unexpectedly in the unlikeliest of times and in the unlikeliest of places and that love must become incarnate to become real?

Or is it something else completely?

However you and your congregation choose to celebrate solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year's, may it be a time of love, joy, peace, and hope for you.

James Kubal-Komoto
Pacific Western Regional Lead

In this Issue
  • Multitudes of Meanings
  • Webinars
  • Events & Training
  • District and UU News
  • Sanctuary
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.

Introduction to Conflict Dynamics

Rev. Margaret Kiep & Dave Mentz
Jan. 18, 2017 - 7-8pm PT

Faith traditions are all in a time of transition and the UU faith is no exception. As we struggle to consider what our faith will look like in the world of congregations and beyond, let us come together to consider some new perspectives on the traditional ideas of membership. In this webinar, we will expand upon the idea of a faith tradition that looks beyond the goal of increasing membership to considering together what a full Spectrum of Engagement in our UU Faith might look like. This spectrum was first presented at GA 2015 by Carey McDonald, Marie Blohowiak and Lori Emison Clair.

Register for Introduction to Conflict Dynamics

PWR Winter Webinars
Learn more and register for PWR Webinars

Webinar Archive

Did you know that video recordings of the PWR webinars are made available as videos after they happen? View some of our recently archvied webinars:

Explore the PWR Webinar Archive


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

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers offers support to city's transgender community

"In its fight for acceptance, respect and understanding, the Colorado Springs transgender community got an unexpected ally Sunday - Mayor John Suthers. It was the first time the city's mayor has recognized the event, said organizer Dana Stevens, who read the letter. Stevens added that past mayors have either ignored or failed to acknowledge the event, which has taken place at the church since 2009. All Souls Universalist Unitarian Church welcomes a wide spectrum of worshipers, including those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender." Read more from The Gazette.

Churches Prepare to Shelter Immigrants From Trump

"Sometimes that means going to the desert. The No More Deaths group, sponsored by the Tucson Unitarian Universalist Church, sends volunteers to areas with border crossings to give migrants food and water, and to provide first aid, in hopes of keeping people from dying while they try to cross the border. The group also does search-and-rescue projects if they learn about migrants who are lost from their groups and in danger. That's according to Emrys Staton, who works with the group and is director of Pastoral Care and Justice Ministries for Phoenix's Unitarian Universalist Congregation. The group, which also documents abuse of migrants by border patrol agents, has about 50 core members in Tucson and Phoenix, he added, and has worked with thousands of volunteers over the years." Read more from The Daily Beast.

Martha Garcia: Politics divide congregations; leaders work to bring unity

"Rev. Peter Farriday of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Santa Clarita shared similar thoughts, calling on people to focus on the greater good of the country and see others, even those who have different political beliefs, as our neighbors." Read more from The Signal.

Roaring Fork activists join fight at Standing Rock

"'For the police to believe that was such an antagonistic act worthy of freezing people and throwing a concussion grenade so closely to (a woman from New York) that she lost almost all the flesh between her elbow and wrist is appalling,'' said Shawna Foster, minister at Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist church in Carbondale [Colorado] who has also traveled to Standing Rock. 'The police may have a shaky legal ground to stand on – they are protecting private property in violation of treaties – but they have lost moral ground with the escalation of violence.'" Read more from the Post Independent.

Hundreds attend Interfaith Works Thanksgiving at Abbey Church in Lacey

"The Olympia Charter for Compassion, a copy of which was included in Sunday's program, was created by a number of South Sound congregations in response to 'recent acts of physical and verbal violence against persons of color, gay, lesbian and transgender persons, and those of different religious traditions.' Perhaps the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation choir struck the best note for the afternoon, singing a hearty, hand-clapping song called "Room at the table" for everyone." Read more from The Olympian

Yakima's homeless encampment move-out day has arrived

"Bill Jacobs, shelter leader at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Yakima, said that they haven't had many people stay at the shelter ever since the cold weather shelters opened on Tuesday. 'We are blessed to have this wonderful Yakima-large building which we don't use ourselves to full capacity and the fact that we can use it to provide shelter to people that desperately need it is something we are very proud of,' said Bill Jacobs." Read more from KAPP-TV.

PWR Networks

The Presidents Zoom

Board Presidents in our small congregations have a big job to do! In these congregations, that often have limited or no ministerial support, the Presidents are often the place where the buck stops for every new idea or old problem.

On the evening of Thursday, December 8, about a dozen board Presidents from our small congregations gathered on Zoom. Facilitated by PWR Congregational Life Staff, the Rev. Sarah Schurr, the purpose of the meeting was to give these Presidents a chance to learn from and support each other.

"It was great," she said. "Many of these Presidents have felt isolated and now found other leaders share who their joys and struggles. We heard some great news about what is going on out there in the 'small but mighty' congregations. There are some new and blossoming partnerships between congregations—sharing staff, programming, and worship services. We also heard about some exciting new meeting spaces and professional ministry support."

The Region's plan is to sponsor another Zoom meeting for small congregation Presidents in early spring. If you are the board President of a UU congregation with fewer than 75 members and you want to be involved, contact Rev. Sarah Schurr at

PWR Networks

Sanctuary Movement

UU congregations throughout the Pacific Western Region have expressed a growing interest in becoming part of the Sanctuary Movement. Their campaign says, "As people of faith and people of conscience, we pledge to resist the newly elected administration's policy proposals to target and deport millions of undocumented immigrants and discriminate against marginalized communities. We will open up our congregations and communities as sanctuary spaces for those targeted by hate, and work alongside our friends, families, and neighbors to ensure the dignity and human rights of all people."

Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh, PWR Congregational Life Staff, recently participated in a webinar organized by Rev. Alison Harrington, of Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, and shared Harrington's Four Ways Your Faith Community can Prepare for Sanctuary. If your congregation is interested in learning more about Sanctuary, be in touch with your congregation's Primary Contact.




Upcoming Youth Ministries Events

Considering Hate: Violence, Goodness, and Justice in American Culture and Politics

When we "Stand on the Side of Love" we know we are standing against hate. But how well does "hate" describe what's going on when those in power disregard the humanity of others? In this provocative book, Kay Whitlock and Michael Bronski suggest that American society's reliance on the framework of hate to explain oppressive violence is wrongheaded, misleading, and ultimately harmful. Considering Hate calls us to take a critical look at cultural norms, and to radically reimagine the meaning and structures of justice within a new framework of community wholeness, collective responsibility, and civic goodness.

Katha Sagar, Ocean of Stories

The newest in our series of UU-produced children's stories from world religions, Katha Sagar engages children and adults alike with beautifully-illustrated Hindu epics and folk tales. Co-written by Rev. Abhi Janamanchi and Sarah Conover, these vivid dramas from South Indian culture feature gods, goddesses, kings, sages and fools. The stories themselves convey key values, such as honesty, generosity, and justice but also introduce readers to unique religious and cultural observances. Additional resources provide further information on Hinduism. Sarah Conover's other five books in this series, each beautifully illustrated, can also be found at InSpirit Books and Gifts.