PWR Newsletter – August 2021 - Archived

“Rejoicing, Grieving, and the Possibilities of Change”, PWR & UUA News, and more!
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Pacific Western Region
Newsletter • August 2021
Rejoicing, Grieving, and the Possibilities of Change
by Dr. Melissa James
PWR Program Staff

I entered the Lutheran church building for the first time on a Sunday in over a year and a half. I was a guest preacher there last summer, too. Then, however, they were virtual so I led worship sitting alone at the Pastor’s desk. This time was different. The congregation had started gathering for worship in person slowly–first by reservation only and just in the last couple weeks by open invitation. Come masked and preferably vaccinated (though we would all be on our honor), do your best to respect social distancing, but come. It sounded inviting enough. Like so many UU congregations, careful thought and planning had gone into safety protocols that balanced the need to follow guidelines yet remain worshipful. They had done a really admirable job.

As I talked with the stalwart volunteers who were there an hour before the service (you know the ones I mean) and asked them about being back there was a resounding answer of “I LOVE it!” Sometimes this was emphasized with “It didn’t feel like I was going to church sitting at home but here…” or “If only we could get rid of these masks!” They longed to be in the space that was so dear to them, they longed for connection. Many of them longed for some sense of normalcy. Being back together in the sanctuary gave them a taste of that normalcy and community. I rejoiced with them that those who were there could be back together.

And yet…When I looked around the sanctuary, I was deeply reminded of the now and not yet in which these liminal times hold us. Even as a guest I could sense absence in the space. There was no noise from the children as they left for their Sunday School class–because there were no children, though families typically make up a vibrant part of the community. As I remembered to direct my gaze up at the livestream camera now and again, I wondered who was on the other side and how they were doing. Those who were not, could not, or would not be physically present were all but forgotten by everyone except me as the preacher and the trusted tech volunteer. And this in a congregation that does community well–that works hard on welcome and draws people in. I grieved for those absences.

There is no blame or shame in my observations. Simply a recognition that whatever the shape of our regathering, our search for a predefined “normalcy” will be a failed one. Those who get to define that “normal” will inevitably be the ones who get to access it (and even then not fully) leaving many of us outside the boundaries. Our communities will not be the normal we knew before the pandemic. They can’t. We are changed just as the world around us has changed. And I, for one, find possibility in that reality.

There are so many examples of congregations doing multi-platform worship and programming well. Where I take heart are the examples where the change is adaptive and not just technical. All my gratitude and blessings on those staff and volunteers who have figured out the technical answers. The technical is very important. We have a real opportunity when those technical answers are linked to meaning-making. Where have we really seized the opportunity to ask ourselves how has the pandemic changed the way we understand ourselves? What opportunities has it opened up? What has it shown we can let go? How do we keep on the path of expanding accessibility? What is really important about living into Beloved Community together?

Please note: All UUA staff members including your Pacific Western Region staff continue to be under travel restriction through December 31, 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic. We anticipate that the restriction will be lifted in time for the Pacific Western Regional Assembly, February 4-6, 2022, but of course that gathering in San Diego is contingent upon favorable expert recommendations as we get closer to that weekend. For more helpful information to about how to discern whether and how your congregation should gather this fall, please visit the UUA website.

In this Issue

“Rejoicing, Grieving, and the Possibilities of Change”
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
Save the Date: Regional Assembly 2022


Reflect, Rejoice, Renew: Pacific Western Regional Assembly 2022 will gather UUs from across the west to hold space for multigenerational community, large and small, group worship, activities, discussion, and learning. Come celebrate our history and people and connect with each other, our faith, and our future
When: Friday, February 4 through Sunday, February 6, 2022
Where: Hyatt Regency Mission Bay, 1441 Quivira Road, San Diego, CA

The latest details including Accommodations and Tentative Schedule, Workshop Proposals
Coming soon: vendor and volunteer information.
Registration Opens September 1.

Article II Study Commission
Unitarian Universalism is no stranger to movements that call for racial justice both within and beyond our institutions. Over and over again, pockets of people have worked to say racism is a problem, racism is a problem *for us,* and that we are committed to fighting racism and other oppressions. As a grassroots movement to adopt such a commitment as the 8th Principle of Unitarian Universalism, spreads throughout our congregations, the question has been raised, “how does the 8th Principle Project relate to the current study of Article II: Principles and Purposes, of the UUA Bylaws?”

Check out the latest blog post from the Article II Study Commission, as they reflect on the 8th Principle Project, and how it relates to the work of the Study Commission: The Article II Study Commission and the 8th Principle.

Future Change Framework: Strategic Direction for a Post-Pandemic World

Saturday, August 7, 2021, 12 pm to 3 pm Eastern / 11 am to 1 pm Central / 10 am to 1 pm Mountain / 9 am to 12 pm Pacific

How can we use the recovery from Covid-19 to create real, lasting change? Our congregations have seen dramatic change during the pandemic—but the status quo is often resistant to lasting transformations. The Future Change Framework from the Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) is a way to think about how we respond to crisis and how that can drive positive change. Using the framework helps us to think through what we’ve stopped, what we’ve paused, what we’ve put in place temporarily, and how we’ve innovated. Reflecting on these areas helps us see what’s most valuable for an unknown, ever-changing future and clarify our strategic direction so that we stay relevant.
On August 7, MidAmerica Region will once again offer a 3-hour workshop with Ian Burbidge, Associate Director of the RSA Lab, and developer of the Future Change Framework. Ian will work collaboratively with participants to surface challenges and opportunities they are experiencing/exploring via the RSA’s Future Change Framework. This program is for any congregational leader, lay or ordained, interested in exploring the challenges and opportunities presented to us as we move into a post-pandemic world. Congregational teams are especially welcome! More information and registration here.
Save the Date: Compass Virtual Gathering

COMPASS: A Liberatory, Everyday Theology for Changing Times
December 11 & 12, 2021
What is Compass?
It’s a national virtual event
It’s a regional gathering*
It’s a time to learn together – worship together – share our wisdom
It’s a time to be with other congregational leaders on the journey towards our shared future.
Registration opens October 1st.

*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!
Pastoral Care by Religious Educators

Led by: Rev. Sunshine Wolf and Annie Scott, Credentialed Religious Educator
Thursdays, October-February
Register here.

Many parents and teens turn first to their Religious Educators for pastoral care, and being prepared to receive those conversations is the focus of this series. The class will be based on the Spiritual Leadership program in Leader Lab created by the New England Regional staff. There will be prework prior to the first class and each session and you must get an endorsement from the minister you serve with or your board to sign up for the course. More information here.

Leading from the Heart

October 13th, November 10th, December 8th
8-9:30 pm Mountain / 7-8:30 pm Pacific / 6-7:30 pm Alaska / 4pm (Oct) 5pm (Nov/Dec) Hawaii
Hosted by: PWR Staff led by Rev. Summer Albayati and Melissa James
In this 3-part series for budding and experienced leaders, participating will ground you in your own spiritual soil, acknowledge roots, discern flowers, find abundance, and preserve seeds to keep the harvest going.

Topics will include: UU and ancestral theology, the synergy of passion and mission, living out of conviction. Participants will spend about 4 hours a month in a variety of solo work, small group discussion (1 per month on group’s time frame), and a full group monthly meeting. Register here.

News from the UUA International Office
For UU Youth, Adults, and Climate Justice Enthusiasts
Be part of planning the 2022 Intergenerational Spring Seminar hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Office at the United Nations! Youth (age 14-18) and Adult Chaplain and Planning Committee Member applications are due August 9, 2021. The planning team will convene in September to design intergenerational programming that is inclusive, engaging, and inspiring. The 2022 Intergenerational Spring Seminar, expected to take place in NYC April 22-24, 2022, will center around the theme of action for climate justice, with a focus on climate-forced displacement. Learn more here about the Seminar, this year’s theme, and leadership opportunities.
Take Action to Become a Sixth Principle Congregation
The Unitarian Universalist Office at the United Nations announces an annual award to recognize congregations that show their commitment to our Sixth Principle’s “goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all” and their support of the UU@UN through their actions and financial giving. The Sixth Principle Award is given yearly to congregations that complete at least three engagement activities between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022 (see the categories online!). In recognition for their steadfast dedication to international human rights, Sixth Principle Congregations that qualify and submit a brief report by March 31 will be presented with an award certificate during a reception at UUA General Assembly, formal recognition on the UU@UN website, and a specialized video from UU@UN staff honoring the congregation’s contribution. Find more information about the Sixth Principle Award and how to qualify 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.
Fall Youth Studios: Drop In, Connect, Grow

Multigenerational drop In spaces with monthly themes and guest youth and adult hosts: Youth Advising, Leadership, Worship Arts, Pastoral Care, Justice, and Multicultural Transformation. Each month will have a Saturday bonus event with caucusing first and then games. Register for a month’s worth of content and get videos for the sessions you miss!

Join for one session, one month or the whole series. Register here.

Network of Hospitality for Bridging Youth

The UUA’s Office of Lifespan Faith Engagement—in collaboration with the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church—is happy to announce the piloting of a new network of hospitality for Unitarian Universalist youth who are bridging out of their high school years. Building off of wisdom from previous programs, this network aims to connect bridging youth to the congregation where they wi

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