PWR Newsletter – January 2023 - Archived

PWR Spotlight, Transitions Team Update, PWR & UUA News, and more!
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Pacific Western Region
Newsletter • January 2023
Along with the rest of the UUA staff, your Pacific Western Region staff members are on holiday break through Monday, January 2, 2023. If you have a congregational crisis between now and then, please call or text (720) 778-6682, and you will be contacted by an on-call staff member. Otherwise, we look forward to connecting with you in the New Year. Thank you, and enjoy the season!
PWR Spotlight: Dr. William McPherson, Climate Change and Unitarian Universalists at COP27

The beginning of 2023 seems like a particularly good time to reflect on climate change and our responses to it. In November, the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) — also known as COP27 – convened for two weeks in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. With our ongoing commitment to affirming the “interdependent web of existence of which we are a part”, Unitarian Universalists naturally have a stake in the outcomes of COP27.

Our UUA and the Pacific Western Region were well-represented at COP27. Both UUA COP27 Observers have ties to the UU Fellowship of Redwood City, CA, namely Lily Hartzell, who was raised there, and Deb Pritchard, a long-time member who also represented the International Convocation of UU Women (IWC) at COP27. Other PWR UUs bearing witness and raising their voices included UU-at-large Daphne Wysham, Chief Executive Officer of Methane Action, who traveled from Port Washington, WA to COP27, and Cindy Piester of the UU Church of Ventura (CA), COP27 Observer with Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Meanwhile, leaders of Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth (UUMFE) were keeping its members informed through a series of conversations updating them on COP27, including some with UUs there in Sharm El-Sheikh. One of the facilitators of those conversations was Dr. William McPherson, author of Ideology versus Science; Climate, Weather and Ideology and Sabotaging the Planet. Dr. McPherson, a member of University Unitarian Church in Seattle, is a retired environmental diplomat with 21 years of service in the U.S. Foreign Service, including assignments in Tokyo and Geneva. He has continued his work on international environmental issues as a writer with Earth Negotiations Bulletin, and as an activist with the Sierra Club. Dr. McPherson generously agreed to be in the PWR Spotlight for January via a phone interview. – Rev. Carlton E. Smith, Lead – UUA Pacific Western Region

Rev. Carlton E. Smith: What is most important for UUs to know about the outcomes of COP27?

Dr. William McPherson: COP27 did make some achievements, mainly the Agreement on Loss and Damage. There was a request by some parties at COP26 to consider a fund to help with the damage from climate change, such as the flooding in Pakistan. Most of the parties agreed that a mechanism should be set up for future COPs that would review some of the dimensions and requirements. That committee will report to the next COP in Dubai.

A major setback at COP27 happened with regards to the statement that coal power plants should be phased down and that fossil fuel subsidies should be phased out. The word unabated was added to describe those coal power plants and the word inefficient was added to describe those fossil fuel subsidies. These additions were made to address objections of fuel-producing countries, including Saudi Arabia and India. By adding the word unabated, those countries have license to do carbon capture-and-storage, even though that form of mitigation is known to produce more emissions when gas or oil is burned. By adding the word inefficient, the statement includes the idea that financing can be done more efficiently, say with a lower emissions rate. It doesn’t alleviate concerns that the use of fossil fuels continues.

Most of the subsidies set aside go toward the developed countries. This allows oil companies to say that their wells are being depleted, so they can get some return on that. Six or seven words in that statement were the result of hours of negotiation.

All parties are expected to provide new national recommendations for emission reductions by next year. Anyone who is interested in learning more about nationally-determined contributions can visit

CES: What are the best ways for UU congregations that want to get involved in action for climate change to begin?

WM: One of the things we’ve been pushing is climate finance. The Green Climate Fund has a schedule of payments for all parties. The US fell behind during the Trump administration. We are trying to get the Biden administration to pick up the difference. Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (UUSJ) does a lot of action directly with Congress. They’ve been pushing for Congress to fund the Green Climate Fund fully and make up the backlog of payments. They had an action recently in which members went on their website to send a letter to Senators and Congressmembers urging them to do so. That is still pending, but it’s coming for a vote pretty soon. The new Congress and especially the House will be less receptive these next two years. It’s pretty urgent to get that funding going.

The other action is to keep informed about these COP meetings. UUs can use all the resources we have on the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth (UUMFE) website. There is a page on the COP there. That’s where we have all the programs listed. If we can get congregations to look at those pages and join UUMFE that would be great. UUMFE won’t be in Dubai for COP28 next year, but It’s possible some other UUs will be selected to attend.

There are some very active UU state action networks, such as in Arizona, California, Iowa, Minnesota, Washington, and Oregon. These state climate programs can be examples. Those are the places you find action.

CES: How has being a Unitarian Universalist informed your climate activism?

WM: It’s given me the networks I work with. Networking is very important. You can’t do a lot by yourself. There’s a climate action team at University Unitarian that’s been quite active in discussing important issues, but a lot of the actions are state-level and city-level actions. The Green New Deal idea is active here in Seattle. University Unitarian has also gotten involved in the Interfaith Resilience Center which is out of a neighboring Baptist congregation that uses solar and other energy alternatives. So we cooperate across denominations and faith traditions. In fact, we just had a Green Possibilities Fair at Temple Beth Shalom across the street from University Unitarian. We’re all in this together.

CES: What’s the best way for readers who want to follow up with you on what you’ve shared with us?

WM: I can be reached at

CES: Dr. McPherson, thank you so much for sharing your insights on COP27 and climate action with us!

If you have an idea for a future PWR Spotlight let us know at Special thanks to Julie Steinbach of the International Convocation of UU Women (IWC) for making sure COP27 was on our radar.

In this Issue

PWR Spotlight: Dr. William McPherson, Climate Change and Unitarian Universalists at COP27
Transitions Team Update
PWR & UUA News
Youth & Emerging Adult News
Pacific Central News
Mountain Desert 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
New Year Update from the PWR Transition Team

Hello, members of the Pacific Western Region of the UUA! We’re hoping you have been having a wonderful holiday time and are looking forward to the New Year!

As we move into the New Year, the Transition Team is moving into some…transition! One of our beloved team members, Aria Curtis, is stepping back in February 2023, and so we are looking to bring aboard one or two new members. Might that be someone you know, or maybe even you yourself? Before you offer to step into it, you might wonder–
what does a Transitions Team Member do?

We meet twice per month, the second and fourth Mondays, 4-5:30pm Pacific Time, working on our transition. In each meeting members of the team are leading, learning, thinking carefully about the transition we are fostering, taking actions to move forward. What is this transition about?

In the recent past we have been four 501(c)3 UUA districts. We had district boards, district gatherings, district workshops and webinars, Chalice Lighter programs, leadership schools, and other opportunities for congregations and their leaders and members to connect with and support one another.

We are now transitioning to a Region-level organization that will be a 501(c)3 organization that will do most of the same things, but involving congregations across the entire Region. We are also consciously designing the organization to help us more richly connect with one another as a Community of Communities, be more anti-oppressive in the way we are organized and the way we work with one another, and more collaborative with our Regional Staff.

For anyone who might be interested in becoming a member of the Transitions Team for at least a year, we invite you to

  1. Email the transitions team at to express interest, ask questions, and explore this role.
  2. Attend one or more meetings of the team to observe and get a real “feel” for this exciting work.

We are striving to be as transparent as possible! If you have any questions, please feel free to email the Transition Team, and one of us will answer you as soon as possible.

In faith,
Your PWR Transitions Team

The PWR Transition Team is Bob Miess (Pacific Central); Mary Nordhagen and Rhoda Whitney (Mountain Desert); Aria Curtis (Pacific Northwest); Kia Bordner and Keith Strohmaier (Pacific Southwest) and Revs. Carlton E. Smith and Ian Evison (PWR Staff). If you would like to reach out to the Transition Team, please email us at

Presidential Forums Coming in 2023

The Presidential Forums are coming in early 2023! You’ll be able to attend in person or online to meet the next presidential nominee(s). Want to know when/where they’ll be held? Check this newsletter for updates.

Save the Date! 2023 Intergenerational Spring Seminar

The UU Office at the United Nations is excited to announce that the 2023 Intergenerational Spring Seminar will take place April 1-3, 2023, with the theme “Demilitarization & Abolition: Resist Policing and Empire.” The event, planned in close partnership with the UU Service Committee & the UU College of Social Justice, will be a multiplatform event, held in-person in Minneapolis, MN and online. More details to follow, registration opens in January, put it on your calendars now!

Pastoral Care Training for Religious Educators

Led by: Rev. Sunshine Wolf and Annie Scott, CRE
Many parents and teens turn first to their Religious Educators for pastoral care, 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 pre-work 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.

Schedule: Every 2 weeks on Wednesdays, January 18 – April 26.
Staring at: 7:00pm ET / 6:00 pm CT / 5:00pm MT / 4:00pm PT / 3:00 pm Alaska / 2:00 pm Hawaii

Find out more and register here. Registration deadline January 11th.

Spring Right Relationship Team Training is Open for Registration!

Creating beloved community requires intention and practice. Our covenants articulate our intention, but how do we live into the practice? Right Relations Teams (RRT) are lay leaders entrusted to help the congregation practice faithful communication and creative conflict based on values of mutuality and consent.

This training is for congregational teams who will be helping their congregations live into their covenants.

In this facilitated version, you will learn with other congregations during the six live practice sessions. The cost of $400/team covers the facilitators and includes a code to access to training materials. Register here.

Note: The training can also be taken on your own ($30/person). There are instructions for you to facilitate your own practice sessions.

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