Newsletter for August-September, 2017

Aug 2017
From Our Minister: 
Dear Friends,
As I prepare to come join you, I invite you to play a game. This game is much less common than most played on the planet today. Over time, I have found those with cleverness and curiosity are being recruited and taught to play ‘more sensible’ games like, “Me First,” “Dog Eat Dog,” and “Only the Strongest Survive.” Versions of these games transcend language and culture. Most people in the world hardly even recognize how fervently they strategize and compete in such games. It simply becomes like water to a fish. A way of life.
The game I suggest is different. It’s called “Faithing the Future Forward Unafraid.” To explain how it works, I want to start by clearing up some common misconceptions. First, unlike most games, it is not competitive. It is cooperative. It’s not about ‘beating’ your neighbor. It’s about understanding their needs and adopting the goal of making them more successful.
Second, although it’s called “Faithing the Future…,” it’s not about believing in God nearly as much as believing in those around us. Having faith in them. Especially those different from us. I find this to be much harder than believing in God. It means seeing beyond limits, looking beyond shortcomings, letting go of others’ past failings and our past hurts. It means living beyond our usual doubt, cynicism, despair and our own rugged individualism. Sometimes I think the better word is ‘Loving’ rather than ‘Faithing’ the future. Because the people who have loved me best are those who saw what I was capable of before I did.
Third, it’s about the future – building it from the present. By being present. By showing up in a socially/culturally
evolutionary way. It’s about learning to assume things are as they could be instead of how they have been and then allowing/ guiding the world to become more of what we imagine it can until it does. It requires vision, commitment, resilience and great love on our part.
And, finally, comes the “Unafraid” part. The hardest part. When I look at the world today – our political woes,
environmental crisis, racism, classism, guns, violence, readiness for war and lack of commitment for peace, healthcare and education – my heart fills with overwhelm and fear. I’ve recognized one of the most important parts of this game is imagining myself living beyond fear. Imagining myself reaching out and joining with others in the work of faithing our future forward instead of cowering before it.
The irony of becoming skillful at this game is that, regardless of whether or not I change anything or anyone around me, I become more imaginative, more cooperative and more faithful to what I most believe in. And I live with – and act from – less fear. The world needs people—and whole communities — to help tip the balance of this world from fear to love; from hurt to hope; and from competition to cooperation. I look forward to becoming skillful in this game with you and making it our purpose and promise together.
To the Glory of Life.
Rev. Greg Ward

The Call to Camp

A number of people have already asked me if I am planning to be with you at the UUSM retreat at DeBenneville Pines on Sept 15-17. It breaks my heart to have to say ‘no.’ Between the ages of 2 and 25, I spent most of every summer at ‘camp’ and nothing would make me happier than to return (especially to celebrate my birthday on the 16th).
However, I want to urge you all to attend and I’ll tell you why. One of the things I discovered over my life is De
Benneville’s ability to create ‘liminal spaces’ and ‘moments that matter.’ Liminal spaces are those places where the
distance between who we are, who we’re becoming and what the world needs are closest in proximity to one another. And it connects us with others who are ready for transformation so that it leads to magical moments – moments that matter.
Even though we’ll be 3000 miles apart, we will be engaged in similar endeavors. I will be in Boston at Association
Headquarters helping 30 candidates who’ve spent the last 4-6 years aspiring toward professional UU ministry. They will also be trying to find a convergence between who they are with what they are becoming and what the world needs.
Whether lay or professional, we are all called to help love the world into where it needs to be and bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice. We need places – like our church, like De Benneville, like headquarters – that have a little magic in them to call people to their highest ideals. We need the company of one another so that no one has to do this work alone.
If you are interested in coming alive and cultivating a world with more love and justice, I urge you to contact the retreat registrar, Jacki Weber. And I look forward to comparing notes with you soon about how we will change the
world — together.
Rev. Greg Ward

FROM REV. GREG: How to Train Your New Minister

During the months of September, October and November, I will be holding one-on-one conversations to learn as much as I can about the UU Community Church of Santa Monica.
I will be listening carefully to hear a wide variety of personal narratives so as to piece together a fuller, more
collective over-arching narrative.
In September and early October, I will try to meet with those currently serving in leadership. This will allow me to
acclimate to current policy, protocol and procedures. Those now in leadership will be receiving email invitations to
schedule a time to meet with me.
During October and early November, I am interested in meeting with anyone who is interested in sharing their perspective and experience at the church. If you’re interested, please look for a link to sign up in the October newsletter.
Thank you for helping me get to know you at UUSM.
From Our President: 

Revisiting Our Principles

There is a wallet sized card (printed by UUA) on the table as you enter the foyer.

It lists our Principles and the Living Traditions we share. I strongly suggest you acquire one of these cards and carry it with you.

I carry one. I also carry an extra to give acquaintances who ask what Unitarian Universalists believe.
When I have a few moments, I review these Principles and take an evaluation of how I’m doing on each. I also ask myself which ones I need to give more awareness and effort.
As we are nearing the welcoming of a new minister it behooves us to do some preparation.
Let us prepare ourselves in mind and spirit to utilize our Principles as an impetus to begin anew what we strive to become.
Welcome Rev. Greg!
Welcome to each of you as you learn more about yourself and learn more about each other.
As a beginning, try our first Principle:
"We covenant to affirm
and promote:
The inherent worth and
dignity of every Person.”
Don’t forget to include yourself as one of those persons."
Ron Crane 
News & Announcements: 

Summer and Fall Service and Newsletter Schedules

Services: one service at 10 a.m. through Sunday, September 17. Starting Sunday, September 24, two services at 9 and 11 a.m.
Newsletter:  The next issue of the UUSM Newsletter will be published on September 25. Deadline for that issue is SEPTEMBER 11 at noon. Submit items to

How to be there with love and gentle care at the end of a life

At one’s most vulnerable hour, our UU Principles guide us to be there for one another, acknowledging the inherent worth and dignity of all.
We invite you to come to a Friday evening talk, and/or Saturday workshop. Be inspired and comforted with specific things to do and say to bring compassion and support to one who is dying. Most of us will have this powerful opportunity to be present for someone at the transitional moment of death. Having skills and understanding to apply at that time helps everyone involved. The two-part event is presented by Cassandra Christenson and Beth Rendeiro.
Dates to save on your calendar:
Friday, October 27, 7-9pm • Saturday October 28, 10-4pm
For information or to RSVP,  see the RE Sunday table in Forbes Hall.

Sunday November 19, 2017

Hosted by the art committee. This event raises several hundred dollars for the church each year.
The Treasure Table is returning • Treasures beckon Treasures for the taking • Art, antiques, or uniques
A wonder you have hoarded for years
To donate, contact Beverly Alison for pickup or questions.
We are looking for people who make something new and different and we will have our usual artists who do pottery, glass and jewelry. If you are interested in participating please contact Bettye Barclay 

Labor Day Meet-and-Greet with Rev. Greg Ward

In September we extend a very warm welcome to our new Developmental Minister Rev. Greg Ward. Come for a potluck meet-and-greet Labor Day weekend, (details TBD), and bring your most ingenious “Welcome Back to L.A.” tips and insider connections.
Sunday, September 10 Rev. Greg will be in the pulpit at 10 am, and the guest of honor at a convivial Second Sunday Supper. How can you join in the fun? There’s more info at

RE Seeks Funds to Match Grant

This is the month. We have been awarded a Spirit Level grant of $15,000, contingent on our ability to match it. The grant will allow us to hire an assistant for our RE director, Kathleen Hogue. Please don't miss this opportunity to support our church before the deadline at the end of this month. T shirts and tote bags as thank you gifts. We need a lot more money but only a little from each of you if enough of you can help! Contact Kathleen Hogue or the office to make your donation, or come to the Spirit table after the service on any Sunday. Credit cards. Or checks. Or cash. All welcome.


Faith in Action News: 

Interweave Picnic a July Success

UUSM’s Interweave, along with the Women’s Alliance, held its annual picnic for the church in the courtyard on Sunday, July 30. Participants were asked to make a donation, which was forwarded to The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) young people. Once again organized by Kris Langabeer and Debbie Menzies, the picnic was well attended, delicious, music-filled – with many helping hands and lots of opportunities for good conversations – wonderful!
Interweave is our church’s group for LGBTQI individuals and our friends and allies. In addition to the annual picnic, Interweave helps organize the Coming Out Day Sunday service in October, and coordinates UUSM participation in the Pride Parade each June.

Peace and Social Justice Committee Resists ICE Detention of L.A. Pastor

Pastor Noe Carias Mayorga, an Evangelical minister, was detained by ICE when he appeared for his routine immigration hearing at the Los Angeles Federal Building. Pastor Noe is married to an American citizen and has two children who are also American citizens. He is the pastor of a small congregation near Echo Park, and has been living in the U.S. since he was a teenager.
On Thursday, July 27, a prayer vigil organized by Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) and partner Matthew25 SOCAL, took place in front of that same Federal Building. Pastor Noe is now in detention at a GEO Group (a for-profit company) facility in Adelanto in San Bernardino County, another county away from his family and congregation.
Peace and Social Justice Committee members Hugo Contreras, Roberta Frye, Cathie Gentile, and Audrey Lyness attended the vigil to show solidarity with our partner, CLUE.

Our Banner Is Back!

Faith In Action’s Black Lives Matter/Standing on the Side of Love banner was reinstalled on the fence in front of the Eternity Garden on July 14. FIA would like to thank Bob Dietz, Jessie Dietz, and Audrey Lyness for their valuable assistance in repairing and reinstalling the banner.
Cathie Gentile


Green Living Committee: 

The Green Living Committee Joins with CSU Again!

In the last 18 months, this congregation through the Green Living Committee has been taking steps to partner with Community Services Unlimited (CSU). CSU has been around since the ‘70s as a community group focused on empowering the residents of South Los Angeles by providing access to healthy food for those with few options and building youth leadership to support those efforts into the future. CSU has earned (with significant technical assistance from our committee members Alison Kendall and Beth Brownlie), a $10,000 project grant from the US Green Building Council to turn their beautiful Veggie Bus into a permanent classroom, plant nursery and seed library. This grant requires them to unveil a completed project by the end of September and there’s plenty to do. We got an amazing amount done at the last volunteer day and there is one more volunteer opportunity left for this grant project: Saturday, September 9, from 9 am to 1 pm.
There are many ways to volunteer: cleaning, painting, etc. as well as electrical and some construction for folks who have those skills. And there will be some of their “beyond organic” produce available for purchase to support their efforts. If you can make some time to join us to help extend our reach beyond Santa Monica and the Westside, please join us!
For those who want to car pool and reduce our carbon footprint, please contact Rick Teplitz to coordinate.
Splinters from the Board: 

July 11 Board Meeting Report

Motivated by a very short open agenda, the board met electronically via Zoom with eight board members participating. Kim Miller participated from Forbes Hall to accommodate any guests.
The chalice lighting was dedicated to board member Kikanza Nuri-Robins, who is recuperating from surgery.
The consent agenda consisted of:
1. Minutes of the June 13 board meeting (approved)
2. Generous contribution report
3. DRE report
4. Administrator’s report
5. Financial reports: June 2017 and End of Year 2016/2017
6. Membership report (No new members and no members resigned)
7. Attendance Report
8. Communications Team report was accepted.
The board approved a motion to enter into executive session. The board approved a motion to come out of executive session.
The board authorized $4,000 from the Contingency Fund to retain the services of UUSM’s employment lawyer regarding personnel.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 8 pm.
Patricia Wright
August 8 Board Meeting Report
The consent agenda was approved.
Facilities report: We are awaiting a third contractor bid for plumbing repairs.
Pledge report: Steve White reported that pledges are trending downward in the last seven years.
Right Relations Task Force report was made by Vilma Ortiz, Sue Stoyanoff and Nancy Edmundson by Zoom. Many positives about the Right Relations work and effort within the Church community, but it is recognized that more needs to be done regarding conflict management and resolution.
Discussion of letter to Board regarding reserving and calendaring use of church space was tabled for next Board meeting.
Board entered into Executive Session.
Brief discussion of intergenerational issues. To be attended to through an educational approach.
Next Board meeting Sept 12.
—Norm Richey
RE News: 

From our Director of Religious Exploration: 
Love and Our First Principle

“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul; that makes us reach for more, that plants the fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds.” —The Notebook
Love is hard to explain. Some people just say, “You know it when you feel it.” I believe you know it is love when you act on it. It is when you want the best for others. Love is learned and practiced. This is done by making decisions every day in how we accept each other, take care of each other, look at each other, and talk to each other. When acting out of love we ask: “What is the most loving thing I can do for this particular person in this particular moment?”
Last week I made the decision to have my 13-year-old service dog euthanized. She had been in pain for a while and her kidneys had shut down. She had been my helper, my friend and companion her entire life, and could no longer live the life of a dog as she knew it. This was not an easy decision for me, as I thought only of my selfish desire not to lose her. But loving her meant that I had to do what was right for her. Yes, it was the right thing to do, but I miss her. I miss that special love that comes from pets called “unconditional love.”
The concept of unconditional love is even harder to define. Some people say it is the only genuine kind of love. Some would say that it does not exist between humans. It is a love that has no bounds. It is unchanging and does not depend on any particular characteristic of or treatment by another person.
“I saw that you were perfect, and so I loved you. Then I saw that you were not perfect and I loved you even more.” — Angelita Lim
Our first principle is, “We affirm and promote the worth and dignity of every person.” This is our chance to practice unconditional love. When we disagree with one another does that mean that we no longer love one another? When we hurt each other, or when we have been done a serious harm? No. We make the decision to act out of love, to move forward with love. This does not mean we allow ourselves to be hurt over and over again. It means we know that everyone is imperfect but everyone is in some ways good. We act in good faith, hoping the one who has hurt us will be coming from a place of love, just as we are. Practice, practice, practice!
Whether you believe in God, or a higher power, or not, most would say that the most important thing we can do in our lives is to love. I believe to love unconditionally is to touch the divine. Let us remember in our homes, at work, at school, in traffic, and at church to act out of love.
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” —1 John 4:7
Kathleen Hogue

RE Offerings for September 2017

New Workshop: “Reverence for Life”
Switching to a more plant-based form of eating is one of the very best ways to practice Faith in Action, since it is directly related to our Seven Principles. Longtime UUSM members and longtime vegetarian/animal advocates/health aficionados Amy and Bruno Lacombe are eager to introduce the Unitarian Universalist Animal Ministry to our congregation, beginning with the program Reverence for Life, based on Albert Schweitzer’s program of the same name. This will involve viewing a brief video (no graphic images), guided discussion, and followed up with dinner at The Veggie Grill on Wilshire and 20th.
Saturday, September 30 from 4:00-5:30pm
Location: Forbes Hall
Facilitators: Amy and Bruno Lacombe
Contact: Amy Lacombe
New Ongoing Group: “Open Meditation Group”
You are cordially invited to a new meditation group called “Open Meditation.” Whether you are a beginner who is just curious about meditation or whether you have been meditating for many years – you are welcome. Meditation at its root is a natural and deeply human practice. We are not teaching a particular form of meditation or doctrine. You don’t need to know anything, do any particular activity or believe in anything. We will have brief readings, two 20-minute periods of sitting with walking meditation, and time for journaling and sharing, You can drop in when it serves you, or come regularly. If you are late, just come in quietly and join us. If you have questions, speak with either Beverly Shoenberger or Carol Ring at coffee hour.
Friday, September 22 (and beginning in October, every third Friday) in Forbes Hall, 7 pm to 8:30 pm.
Facilitators: Beverly Shoenberger and Carol Ring


An Enjoyable Dive into Who and What We Are
This on-going, 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 will include meditations which 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.
Day: Monday, September 11
Location: Room 1
Time: 7 pm to 9:30 pm
Facilitator Bill Blake 


Want to have fun, work with dynamic people, make connections and help plan programming? Want to help others by providing them with the tools to become who they want to be? Join the Adult RE Committee (ARE Committee). We generally meet every first Friday of the month at 7 pm, upstairs in Room 1. All are welcome to come to the meetings and ask questions, offer feedback and ideas, or join the committee! Please contact Kathleen ahead of time for last minute changes of the meeting date: Kathleen Hogue