PWR Newsletter – September 2021 - Archived

“New Beginnings, Familiar Concerns” , PWR & UUA News, and more!
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Pacific Western Region
Newsletter • September 2021
New Beginning, Familiar Concerns
by Rev. Carlton E. Smith
PWR Lead

We are at the beginning of the academic year and the congregational year,  a time that comes with many emotions.

Some parents among us are eager for their children to be back in school. Some are anxious about safety measures that schools are or are not taking. Some are both, and others have different feelings.

Some of us were eager to get back to our congregations in-person and away from Zoom. Some don’t feel safe or even ready to be back in public spaces, especially as cases of the Delta variant continue their rapid rise. Some of us are both, and others have different feelings.

Many of us fear for the safety of the people of Afghanistan as US troops have removed themselves from the country and the Taliban takes full control of the government. Some of us have relatives, friends and comrades who are in danger, as is also the case with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida this weekend. Meanwhile, communities and forests in the Pacific Western Region itself remain at risk because of fire hazards …

Our UUA President, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, recently updated the Association’s recommendations for regathering. While there is no one-size-fits-all advice to be offered, we can remind each other of the value that we Unitarian Universalists place on life and lives, and use that to guide our choices, in our congregations, in school settings and beyond.

For those who want to be in solidarity with the vulnerable people fleeing from Afghanistan, a good place to start is with this list of possible actions from our partners with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

And whenever natural disasters occur, it can always be a reminder to contribute generously to our UUA’s Disaster Relief Fund. Prayerfully, the impact of floods, winds and fires on UU congregations will be minimal, but in any event, our covenant of mutual support is stronger when we are mindful to contribute. I just gave to the UUA Disaster Relief Fund, and I hope many of you will too.

These times present us with new challenges, familiar concerns and new opportunities. May we continue to be true to each other and to the faith in love and unity at the heart of our tradition.

In faith,

In this Issue

“New Beginning, Familiar Concerns”
Welcome Rev. Dr. Ian Evison to PWR Staff

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
Welcome Rev. Dr. Ian Evison to PWR Staff

I’m happy to announce a new member of the Congregational Life Staff for the Pacific Western Region: Rev. Dr. Ian Evison as Project Manager for Regionalization.

As both the Pacific Southwest and Pacific Northwest District Boards of Trustees announced their votes to recommend dissolution of their respective Districts this winter, conversations regarding regionalization shifted into higher gears. There were and are many questions to be answered, among them: What is the future of the Chalice Lighters program? How can the Districts reflect our UUA’s larger commitment to the Commission on Institutional Change’s “Widening the Circle of Concern” report? How do we honor the distinct legacies of all the Districts — Pacific Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Central and Mountain Desert?

Since that time, the pace of the work has only accelerated, with each of the District Boards faithfully discerning what organizational and administrative transitions it needs to make. Our UUA has funded this temporary, 12-hour-per-week position through mid-June 2022.

Ian will collaborate with me as Regional Lead to provide coordination support to UUA and PWR staff and District Board members for the regionalization process in the Pacific Western Region. His many years of dedicated service to Unitarian Universalism, especially as the Lead for a Region that made the transitions that are now upon us, will be invaluable.

Just a little about his background: In 2019, Rev. Ian retired from his position as Regional Lead and Congregational Life Consultant with the MidAmerica Region, the first in which Districts dissolved. In January 2021 he moved to Seattle where he is becoming a Master Gardener and has begun volunteer teaching of English to recent immigrants. His personal passions include gardening, woodworking, and cooking. He previously served as Director of Research at the Alban Institute in Herndon, Virginia. before coming to the Alban Institute Ian served as Dean and Interim President at Meadville Lombard Theological School. Prior to that, he was minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Niagara in Niagara Falls, New York. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a D.Min. from Meadville Lombard Theological School.

You will be able to welcome him at his uua email address,, in a few days. Please join me in welcoming Rev. Ian!

In faith,

Registration Open for Regional Assembly 2022

Register now!

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

UUA Updates COVID-19 Recommendations Due to Delta Variant
With COVID infection rates surging in many communities and with the even more highly contagious Delta variant circulating, the UUA created updated guidance on gathering on August 20th, 2021. Many UU congregations had planned to be meeting in-person by this September, yet the surge of the virus has created many hotspots across the country where even vaccinated people are at “very high” or “severe” risk of acquiring the virus in the course of their normal daily activities. For congregations that COVID Act Now categorizes as “very high” and “severe” risk, the UUA urges the suspension of large in-person gatherings. For more information, congregational leaders may be in touch with their primary contact on the Pacific Western Regional staff.
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.

Update on the Accessibility & Inclusion Ministry (AIM) Program
Nothing could have prepared the world for the upheaval we would all face in 2020. We learned how fragile life can be, especially for those who are most vulnerable. It has become abundantly clear that every voice matters and needs to be heard.
EqUUal Access helps to amplify the voices of people with disabilities in UU congregations. We are presently working out how best to carry this mission forward, including with our signature program, Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry (AIM). For a full update and a list of current resources available, click here.
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.

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 c

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