PWR Newsletter – September 2023 - Archived

Try to Remember the Kind of September“, PWR & UUA News, and more!
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Pacific Western Region
Newsletter • September 2023
Try to Remember the Kind of September

By Rev. Sarah Movius Schurr
PWR Program Staff

Some of you may remember that song, from the musical The Fantasticks, that invites us to “try to remember the kind of September when life was slow and oh so mellow”. Reminiscence is a vital part of life. This is especially true for older adults, where looking back to days gone by is an important developmental task. It is necessary for making meaning out of our lives. Recollecting stories of our past accomplishments can inspire us to action in the present.  Remembering how you successfully learned a difficult skill can build confidence when facing a new challenge. Grandpa telling the story of how he was a conscientious objector in the war is a way to pass along the family values to another generation. Immigration stories have a key role in family traditions. And sometimes it is just fun to listen to the music you enjoyed in your youth or watch an old movie you first saw decades ago.

I recently attended Eliot Institute, the UU Family Camp in the Pacific Northwest. I have been attending Eliot for over 20 years.  My peers and I did a lot of reminiscing at camp. We watched a new generation of leaders and remembered when they were the children among us. We enjoyed the comfort of the new buildings while talking about the old buildings that once stood in their place. We told the stories of the old rope swing, long since removed. It felt great to remember some good times from the past and to see the generational shifts in the community. At evening worship, we lit candles for those who have died. There are rocking chairs on the inn porch bearing the names of campers who live on in our memories. This reminiscing engenders many feelings, including a mixture of pride in what we have accomplished and confidence in those who will lead into the decades ahead.

In addition to good reminiscing, we need to be mindful of how stories about the good old days can be problematic when they are used as a way to vilify groups of people. I am not talking about believing that no one will ever play guitar as well as Jimi Hendrix. I am talking about longing to go back to a mythic past that was a fantasy to begin with. Watching old TV shows where the imaginary town of Mayberry was so peaceful that the sheriff never even carried a gun, you might long for those days to return. But there never was a Mayberry – this was not real. And if you look closely, this southern town with no strife also had no people of color. Do some of us long for a peaceful Carolina town with only white people? Too often I have heard people say their community was so happy until “those people” moved in and everything changed. This is a story where often people of color or immigrants or sexual minorities are cast as those who ruined the mythic paradise that people remember. It even happens in our UU congregations, when long time members blame uncomfortable changes on new members with new their ideas. This is not healthy reminiscence, but the kind of revisionism we want to avoid.

As the turning of the year brings us another September, we can examine how and if our memories of the good times are working for the good. Looking at history, we see that Fascist movements often called on bringing society back to a lost golden age.  Mussolini wanted to return to the glory of ancient Rome. Hitler wanted to bring back the great Aryan nation.  Both dictators manipulated their people by trying to hold up a proud mythic past. Some today want to recreate a time from America’s past that we have somehow lost.  What were these mythic days?  A time when women were fine with sexual harassment?  A time where everyone was straight? A time when polluting the earth did no damage? Times like this never really existed. There may be some Unitarian Universalists who want to bring back the era when we were always working on the right side of justice in the public square. Those times never existed either. Longing for imaginary glory days might inspire some to try to bring those times back, by working against the rights for women, sexual minorities, or the earth.  And that would be a tragedy.

In this Issue

Try to Remember the Kind of September
PWR & UUA News
Youth & Emerging Adult News
Mountain Desert 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
Leading From The Heart: Training for Congregations
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 and in covenant. For each session participants will complete prework introducing the topic, participate in a large group Zoom gathering to learn more, and meet with a small group (between large group Zoom) to go deeper and make meaningful connections with others.

Learn more and register today! Registration closes September 4.

Save the Dates: Pacific Western Regional Assembly
April 19-20, 2024
Online and in-person
Look for details about registration, location and presenters in upcoming editions of the PWR Newsletter.
Coming This Fall: PWR Chalice Lighters

The PWR Chalice Lighters Visioning Circle is designing what the future of the Chalice Lighters Program will be as the districts merge and dissolve into a unified region this winter. We intend to combine the mutual support and relationships among congregations that the District Chalice Lighter programs faithfully established over many years with multiplying the program’s effectiveness across all the participating areas of the region.

PWR Chalice Lighters will officially launch in January 2024, and this fall will be our “on-ramp”. Look for details in upcoming editions of the PWR Newsletter on how your congregation can apply for support from Chalice Lighters and how you can participate in the program as a PWR Chalice Lighter donor yourself. We thank everyone who already shows their commitment to Chalice Lighters by contributing to the program monthly.

From Your PWR Chalice Lighters Visioning Circle:
Judy Bentley, Mountain Desert
Janet Murphy, Pacific Southwest
Karen Urbano, Pacific Central
Rev. Carlton E. Smith, PWR Lead
Rev. Ian Evison, PWR Project Manager for Regionalization
Rhiannon Smith, PWR Administrator

Welcome, in this Season of Return

The Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt, elected UUA President at General Assembly in June 2023, offers a message of welcome at the start of a new congregational year for Unitarian Universalists. Rev. Dr. Betancourt also invites all UUs into a shared ministry together to reimagine the workings and expressions of Unitarian Universalist faith, while holding on to the traditions, theology, and commitments that have made us who we are.

Save the Date: PWR Transition Team Town Hall
The Pacific Western Region Transition Team is nearing the end of our work. We would like to invite you all to an upcoming series of Zoom town hall meetings, to be held Tuesday, October 17, 2023 at 6pm PT and Saturday, October 21, 2023 at 10am PT. The purpose of these meetings is to update you about the work of the Transition Team and to provide an opportunity for community connection and celebration as we transition together into a new Region. Be on the lookout for forthcoming details.

Warm regards,
Libby Fitzgerald
Transition Team member from the former Pacific Northwest District
Libby is a third generation Unitarian Universalist and the newest member of the Pacific Western Region Transition Team.

Caring for Trans Families

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