Newsletter for April, 2017

Apr 2017
From Our Minister: 

Moments of Connection and Love

Dear congregation,
This is my second-to-last newsletter column as your settled minister, a milestone I intend to mark by writing about transformation, our ministry theme for April.
To me, transformation is the staid and steady form of this powerful word, coming from solid Latin roots that take us from a to b, this to that; but there is also a Greek version, full of the dynamic tension of that ancient culture, which is metamorphosis. In elementary school classrooms around the country, metamorphosis means butterflies — which is actually caterpillar, then caterpillar mush within a chrysalis, and then butterfly. What a powerful reminder of what transformation can look and feel like — how it can dissolve us into our constituent parts before remaking us from the inside out — whether or not we wished to be changed!
As my ministry with you comes to its completion, we would do well to remember how both letting go of old forms and making room for new life are always part of transformation, whether in the seasons changing before our eyes, or in the old and powerful stories of religious and secular culture we hear and tell at this time of year. Stories of freedom — as in the Passover story of how those who had been slaves in Egypt set out on a great journey of personal and communal liberation. Stories of renewal — as in the Easter story of those who had faced betrayal and great loss learned that their story was not over, and that love was stronger than death. And stories of the transforming power of the Earth itself, told in many cultures and in many ways, including Nowrooz, a secular (and in some areas, Zoroastrian) holiday celebrated throughout Iran and in the Persian community of Los Angeles, among many other countries and U.S. cities, to mark the spring equinox and the changing of the seasons.
The religious leader and teacher Howard Thurman reminded us of what he called “the growing edge,” which leads us through times of change and transformation. He wrote the following poem that speaks powerfully to times and seasons such as these:
All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born;
All around us life is dying and life is being born.
The fruit ripens on the tree;
The roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth
Against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit.
Such is the growing edge!
It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung,
The one more thing to try when all else has failed,
The upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor.
This is the basis of hope in moments of despair,
The incentive to carry on when times are out of joint
And people have lost their reason; the source of confidence
When worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash.
The birth of the child—life’s most dramatic answer to death—
This is the Growing Edge incarnate.
Look well to the growing edge.
In our church, too, as we move through this time of transition and transformation, I know the ending of one chapter in the life of our community is also the beginning of a new chapter. May we look well to the growing edge!
Much heart,
Rev. Rebecca
P.S. In addition to Open Hours on some evenings and weekends, I continue to offer office hours during the week for all those who wish to meet with me during the day to share a thought, a feeling, or a story of our time together during this season of leave-taking. My office hours are 10 am to 12 pm Tuesdays, and 3 to 5 pm Wednesdays. This is also a time I hold each week for pastoral appointments. A regular one-on-one meeting with me during this time is about 35 to 45 minutes. If you would like to meet with me during these regular office hours, or at another time if these hours do not fit your schedule, please contact me at or 310-829-5436 x104 to make an appointment. While you are also welcome to drop in, I may have another appointment and be unable to see you, so I recommend that you call or email ahead.
News & Announcements: 

Are You Aware? (Independence, Help)

People often like help when they need it, but want to do most things for themselves. This is true for persons with disabilities. It is good to ask when you see someone that might need help. “Can I help you with the door?” “Do you need help down the stairs, across the street?” However, the person may say, “No, I’ve got it!” This is fine.
If you offer to help a person with a visual impairment, let them take your elbow and follow you. Don’t grab their arm or elbow and push. You might mention unusual obstacles like stairs, or protruding furniture, but you do not need to describe every detail.
You can help by being a friend and friendly. Most help is part of our normal awareness of those we are with, and normal courtesy.
You can help by talking with the Disability Support Group and others in the church about ways to improve support for persons with disabilities in our church community, or by sharing your concerns and needs. Not sure whom to contact? Look for Mark Christiansen, Michael Young, Steve Young, or Sylvia Young.

Undy Sundays Return

Each Sunday in April, 40% of our non-pledge offering will go to Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, to support quality mental health care and substance-use treatment in communities where stigma or poverty limit access. From 11 sites and in nearly 100 schools, the agency helps almost 100,000 SoCal adults and children each year. Its 24/7 Suicide Prevention Center receives over 80,000 calls on its Crisis Line annually and provides support groups for people who have lost loved ones to suicide or who have attempted it.
Want to get involved? Consider purchasing new, in-package underwear to donate to Didi Hirsch, sizes S to 2X for men and women. Socks are also welcome. Gerrie Lambson and Cassie Winters will collect your donations at the FIA table in Forbes.
You can learn more about Didi Hirsch from own Cassie Winters, Liam Mina, and Olga Felton, who works at the agency, and from its VP of Development, Joel Wyatt, who will speak at the services April 2.
Cassie Winters and Rev. Rebecca Benefiel Bijur

Newsletters and Websites and Facebook, Oh My!

The volunteers and staff that produce the various communications of the church are pulling together as a Communications Team. We want to coordinate our efforts and use technology to communicate better with our community and to make a difference at UU Santa Monica and beyond. All are welcome to join the team and share their expertise — or just a willingness to help your community stay informed. Come meet with us April 30, 12:30 to 1:30 pm, in Forbes Hall, Room 2, or email Jackie Schwab in the church office,

April 9, 2017 Second Sunday Supper - Sponsored by the UUCCSM Green Living Committee

Come learn about becoming a zero trash campus and our efforts to move toward a goal of becoming a Green Business with the City of Santa Monica.  Win a Girl Scout Dunk Bag!
Potluck at 6 pm -  Bring your favorite side dish that is local, organic, home-cooked, or healthy. Trashless: Bring your own plates, cups, utensils, and cloth napkins - show off your wares! (We will have extra dishes if needed, or if you cannot bring your own.)
Contact Alison Kendall or Beth Brownlie for more information.

Muppet Sing-a-Long!

Saturday, April 8.  Sing along with The Muppets, and all you can eat dinner...with Let's Be Frank Gourmet Hot & Vegan Dogs, popcorn, candy and soda pop!  Doors open at 5 p.m., move starts at 5:45 p.m. Pay what you can...proceeds benefit UUSM.


Does the Santa Monica Police Department Engage in Racial Profiling?

After Second Sunday Supper, April 9, the Coalition for Police Reform (CPR) will screen a video that collates information on community interactions with Santa Monica police officers. The CPR was formed of representatives from UU Santa Monica, Committee for Racial Justice, and the NAACP after the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida. CPR petitioned the Santa Monica City Council to get feedback from the community about interactions with SMPD officers. We raised the issue of racial profiling back then. As a result of CPR interactions with local leaders it became clear that many folks in Santa Monica are in denial about the level of racial profiling that is experienced here by people of color. After the video, two CPR members will lead a discussion of issues raised and inform those present of current efforts by CPR to change police behavior that oppresses primarily Black and Latino members of our communitiy.
Sunday, April 9, 7:15 pm, in the Sanctuary
Contact: Peggy Rhoads

Celebration of Rebecca's Ministry - Save the Dates!

Rev. Rebecca's Portrait Unveiling Reception
Sunday, May 14 at 12:30 pm
Forbes Hall
Rev. Rebecca's Celebrational Service
Sunday, June 3 at 1:30 pm
UUSM Sanctuary
Rev. Rebecca's last service
Sunday, June 4 at 10 am (one service starts)

MEMORIAL DAY SPECIAL  -- Engraved bricks for $400 if ordered by May 19th (Regular Price $500!) 

Provide a lasting memorial to your loved one with an engraved brick in the Garden of Eternity at the UUCCSM.  You can include up to three lines of text including your loved one's name, dates, quotations or fond memories.
We are offering this special rate for engraved bricks to take advantage of the brick supply now at the engraver. In the future, engraved bricks may cost more than $500 due to extra transportation costs.  If you order now, we can install your memorial brick in 2017.  If you've been wanting to do this to honor and remember your parents, siblings or dear friends, this is your opportunity.
Please contact Nurit in the office (  310-829-5436 ext 100), to order your bricks and provide payment and final wording by May 19 for this special offer!


Faith in Action News: 

P&SJ Collects Signatures at Ciclavia

The route of the Culver City Meets Venice CicLAvia March 26 went right over the spot on Windward Avenue where Brendon Glenn was killed May 5, 2015. Members of the UU Santa Monica Peace & Social Justice Committee and others were there to collect signatures on a petition demanding that District Attorney Lacey prosecute the LAPD officer who killed Brendon, as part of our continuing antiracist activities. Photo by James Witker.


Green Living Committee: 

UU Santa Monica Named a Green Sanctuary by the UUA 

In February 2007, the Green Sanctuary Committee was voted into existence at an FIA Town Hall Meeting. Those at the meeting voted to take actions and apply to the UUA to become a Green Sanctuary Church.
On March 17, 2017, after ten years of hard work by many volunteers of this beloved community, we were officially awarded the Green Sanctuary designation by the UUA.
It’s a grand kickoff to our 2017 Climate Justice Month of April. In next month’s newsletter, we’ll have an in-depth look at what it takes to become a Green Sanctuary.
Meanwhile, here is a partial list of volunteers who helped this effort: Leslie Reuter, Alison Kendall, Sandra Trutt, Beth Brownlie, Jessica Clay, Greg Woods, Linda Van Ligten, Hildreth Simmons, James Witker, Diana Spears, Rick Teplitz, Kathryn Lee, Rick Rhoads, Haygo Salibian, Katie Malich, Cathie Gentile, Nalani Santiago-Kalmanson, Linda Marten, Karl Lisovsky, Brad Hutchinson, Bryan Oakes, Robin Lowney-Lankton, Laura Eklund, Administrator-Nurit Gordon, two spiritual leaders, the Rev. Rebecca Benefiel Bijur and the Rev. Judith Meyer, Catherine Farmer Loya, DRE...and many more in our community. Thank you all, for helping our community get there!
Beth Brownlie
Splinters from the Board: 

Developmental Minister, Budget, RE Assistant, Plumbing, and More

The board met March 14 in Forbes Hall. In addition to board members minus one, there were 17 guests, many of whom had come to represent RE. The Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong, our district representative, participated via the internet in the discussion of the Developmental Ministry (DM). I lit the chalice with a reading from the book Turning to One Another, by Margaret Wheatley.
We welcomed new members Arin Smith and Jacob Brunell.
The Personnel Committee update to the Personnel Manual was postponed from the consent agenda to the next board meeting. The remainder of the consent agenda was approved.
The first item on the discussion agenda was an update and discussion of the Developmental Ministry application process. At the March 5 business meeting with 106 in attendance, 16 proxies, and 3 absentee ballots, the congregation authorized the board to proceed with the ongoing process of hiring a developmental minister. (See page 1.) The work of the Developmental Ministry Task Force (DMTF), a subgroup of the board, in March and April will include reviewing the materials on candidates provided to the DMTF by the UUA support team, scheduling interviews to evaluate the candidates, and selecting one candidate for approval by the board. The UUA team of Rev. Kwong, the Rev. Keith Kron, and the Rev. Sarah Schor reduced an initial pool of seven candidates to three, based on their estimation of the best match to our goals. The packets have been received by the DMTF. Any congregant who wishes to provide input into the interview questions or simply to look at them may get copies from DMTF co-chairs Jacki Weber or Kim Miller.
A board meeting March 28 (instead of the regularly scheduled Executive Committee meeting) will discuss and vote on the DMTF’s selection of the DM candidate. If the candidate is approved by the board, the DM will preach at both services Sunday, May 7. Between mid-April and May 7, information about the DM will be shared with the congregation and there be may be an opportunity to ask questions of the DM.
The second item on the discussion agenda was the proposed budget, including a request brought forth by the RE committee to hire a part-time RE assistant. As part of the budget process that is defined in our Bylaws, the finance committee presents a proposed budget to the board at the March meeting for discussion. A vote on the budget by the board takes place at the April meeting. The congregation, as the final authority, votes on the budget at the Annual Meeting, which this year takes place Sunday, May 21. There will be a Town Hall meeting on the budget Sunday, April 2.
The proposed FY 2017/2018 budget shows a deficit of $33,403. There are no salary increases and costs have been contained to the extent possible. Pledge receipts are estimated at $370,000, a reduction of $10,000 over the previous fiscal year. The proposed budget packet including historical graphs can be found on the members only website.
The personnel committee has approved the request for a 10-hour/week DRE assistant. The cost is estimated at $9,000 a year. No motion for the board to approve the request was made, but the guests at the meeting were given the opportunity to speak in support of the request. Further discussion of the request and possible ways to support it will take place.
The third item on the agenda was the sad state our plumbing. Repairing the existing waste line and installing a new line are under consideration. Three bids will be obtained, as required by our policies. We are likely looking at a cost of about $10,000, which would come from the Building Reserve Fund.
The board approved an amount of $1,450 to begin the engineering investigation of the Arizona/Forbes Hall entry because the building is sinking. A soils test will be first.
Item four addressed summer ministry planning. Volunteers have come forward but would be happy to have co-chairs: Linda van Ligten for pastoral care from June 4 through the start date of the next minister, Vilma Ortiz for Sunday worship/Pulpit group from June 11 through the start date of the next minister, Beth Brownlie to take on an initial exploration of membership. Thank you!
Item five on the agenda, a report from the Investment Committee, was postponed until the next board meeting.
Item six was Rev. Rebecca’s celebration. Planning for her celebration is underway with support coming from dedicated donated funds and use of remaining church-event funds. Over $1,000 of the $1,900 requested has been raised. The board approved a motion to raise funds for the event.
The meeting, though long, was declared “very productive.” We adjourned at about 10 pm.
Other UU News & Events: 

Interfaith Solidarity March in Support of the Muslim Community - Sunday, April 2, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Starting at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, 3663 Wilshire Blvd., LA and ending at the Islamic Center of Southern California (program and fabulous food), with stops at St. Basil Roman Catholic Church and Immanuel Presbyterian Church. Rev. Rebecca and 24 others from our congregation participated last year. Can we double that? Or more? In the past year, racism in our country has become more overt. Threats and hate crimes against Muslims, Jews, and other religious minorities have increased. Marching in solidarity with our interfaith neighbors is more important than ever. Please see
RE News: 

From Our Director of Religious Education:
It Gladdens My Heart to See Our Congregants Live Their Credos

CREDO (Latin)
1. A stated system of principles or beliefs
2. Experience, as in personal experience
3. What I set my heart to (literal translation)

As a non-creedal religion, we don’t ask or expect everyone who calls themselves a Unitarian Universalist to believe the same thing. However, we do share core values and beliefs that have to do with how we live in this world together. Our personal credos reflect those UU values.
As Director of Lifespan RE here at UUSM it gladdens my heart to see our congregants living their credos.
I witness it often in the larger community at events, such as the Women’s March, that demonstrate the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large and the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
I witness it when our children and many adults in the community attend other places of worship through the Neighboring Faiths program and put to practice our belief in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
It is evident when I see so many wonderful volunteers involved in environmental causes and in making our own church property beautiful and green, demonstrating respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Our Heart 2 Heart members demonstrate acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations through the sharing of deep feelings and experiences in a non-judgmental atmosphere.
The Right Relations Task Force exercises our belief in justice, equity, and compassion in human relations by helping congregants and staff work through differences and misunderstandings; Finally, our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person is evident all around us when congregants welcome in the visitor, smile, and offer the hand of friendship.
These are our principles but are those all of the values we share? I say no. I believe we all share these values as well: love, compassion, connectedness, and hope. Our compassion and love are why we have our guiding principles. We value connectedness because we know that none of us can change the world alone, and our connectedness creates hope for our work in the world.
Another thing I have noticed here at UUSM is how much we value our children. This is evident when parents bring their kids to church. It is evident when they get involved in what they are learning and talk about it after church. The passion of our teachers demonstrates this as well. You can see it in their eyes, and their smiles show that they know that they are making a difference in the world every time they teach. Want to learn more about credo? Sign up to be a mentor to a sojourner in our Coming of Age program for next year. This is a great way to make a difference and there is no better way to find out what you set your heart to.
Kathleen Hogue, DRE

April Adult RE Groups

Canticle to the Cosmos
A scientific and spiritual odyssey through the evolutionary origins of the universe, life, and humanity. We will view and discuss this 12-part video course by cosmologist and religious naturalist Brian Swimme, who seeks to provide people with a scientific *and* sacred understanding of cosmic origins, divine creativity, and an ecological consciousness urgently needed in our time. In his book, The Universe Is a Green Dragon, Swimme writes, “Our ancestry stretches back through the life forms and into the stars, back to the beginnings of the primeval fireball. This universe is a single multiform energetic unfolding of matter, mind, intelligence and life. None of the great figures of human history were aware of this, not Plato or Aristotle, or the Hebrew Prophets, or Confucius.…We are the first generation to live with an empirical view of the origin of the universe…to look into the night sky and see the birth of the cosmos as a whole. Our future as a species will be forged within this new story of the world.”

Every Sunday in April, 4 to 6 pm in Forbes Hall
Facilitator: James Witker
“Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”
Join us for a multi-week exploration of this bestselling book by Yuval Noah Harari that draws from many fields of study (history, anthropology, archaeology, and the biological sciences) to tell the story of how modern human beings came to be and where we may be headed in the future. Sapiens argues that history has been shaped by three major revolutions: the Cognitive Revolution (70,000 years ago), the Agricultural Revolution (10,000 years ago), and the Scientific Revolution (500 years ago). These paradigm shifts empowered Homo Sapiens to order our world around ideas (politics, economics, religion, etc.). The resulting transformations quickly made us the dominant species on Earth and have now put us on the verge of overcoming the forces of natural selection itself, even as we face grave ecological peril. We’ll discuss this “big history” epic from a variety of perspectives, valuing our congregation’s philosophical and spiritual diversity, in four sessions over eight weeks.
Saturdays, April 8 and 15, 6 pm, Forbes Hall.
Co-Facilitators: Laura Matthews and James Witker
Create an Advance Healthcare Directive
A workshop to help individuals prepare critical paperwork that will guide their families and physicians with personal instructions about end-of-life care. Many of us learned about Advance Healthcare Directives in the Conversations about Death discussion group. You can print your own copy of the form for free, as well as explore a good checklist and resources, by visiting the website of California State Attorney General: I’ll bring several copies of forms plus reference materials and home-baked cookies. You bring notes or drafts and contact information for your doctor, health insurance, and your healthcare proxy/agent.
Sunday, April 30, 2 to 5 pm, Mathews Conference Room
Facilitator: Joyce Holmen

Ongoing Groups

Thursday Night Centering Meditation
We will do Centering Meditation where you choose a word to say silently to yourself as you enter the silence. You can choose a word such as peace, love, or joy. There is a brief time of comments, sharing, and questions. We end the evening with a guided Mindfulness meditation.
Thursdays 7 to 8:30 pm, in the Cottage.
Please contact the facilitator, Bettye Barclay, beforehand
An Enjoyable Dive into Who and What We Are
This ongoing, once a month class is presented to help participants master specific meditation skills. We endeavor to answer the questions Who am I? (attitudes and beliefs) and What am I? (essence or true nature). This class includes meditations that explore participants’ spiritual goals. The monthly group meetings will also focus on insights gained throughout the month. It is expected that participants have a regular meditation practice.
Monday, April 3, Forbes Room 1, 7 to 9:30 pm
Facilitator: Bill Blake
Co-facilitator: Dave Watson
Music News: 

Music Program Supports Our Music Program

"Leslie Beauvais and Friends" (lots of them) sang and played piano, flute, violin, and guitar at a concert March 12 following Second Sunday Supper. The concert raised $1,025 to support our Church’s Music Program.