Newsletter for December, 2017

Nov 2017
From Our Minister: 

Stories That Gather Us Together, Seeking Light

Dear Friends,
Isaiah 9:2-3
The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy. They rejoice before as with joy at the harvest.
It’s December again. The time of the year it becomes a little darker, a little colder. Many of us find this hard and try to coax the light to stay… sing some carols… eat gingerbread men… think of imminent presents. The traditional Nickelodeon fantasy of Christmas.
It dawns on me that this year the holiday tidings may not deck my December halls like the Rockwell / Kincaid picture promises. But I’m not complaining.
It’s been almost 50 years since I made extraordinary efforts to be good for the whole month so that I might get everything I wanted; 50 years since I could make a list of all I wanted, drop it in the mail, and await my bounty.
A few weeks ago, I stood outside the church and watched the moon rise. The light illuminated the Garden of Eternity. I watched people walk through the courtyard and come into the church. They looked up and smiled. Two more made their way to the side door.
One of the old stories I cherish is the one with the three Magi who left the comfort of their kingdoms to seek hope in a chaotic time. I thought about it as I watched another couple walk through the front doors. And then two more. They all went into the church.
Another story of the season that I love is the one where people of a community fight hard to keep opposing forces from stealing what, to them, is sacred. They gather together beside diminishing fires, hoping the only oil they have will be enough to last them into a new age. I see several more cars park. People get out, wait for each other and then walk over to the church.
Another story: one of peoples who gather together amidst encroaching darkness, hoping for new light. I watch as a final car pulls in and I imagine that there are rooms in the church filled with many people, and it is warm.
For 20 minutes I watched people walk through the darkness to the church with its lights on. I reflected on the wonder and trepidation the Magi carried. And what the Macabees hoped. To summon hope by coming together. That must be the spirit of the solstice.
I believe that everything we are doing here in this community is a renewal. It isn’t about getting presents for pretending to be good. Not lists of good and bad. We are looking out on a long journey. But the end of all our efforts will bring a hope more magnificent than can be remembered. It is hope for our times. That the people of our age will be able to look deep into the darkness and division and see a light. A place where it’s warm. And the doors are open. This is something to believe in. And to carry with us.
To the Glory of Life.
The Rev. Greg Ward
From Our President: 




It is a Season of Thanksgiving. Our Community is moving forward.

Change of attitude and heart has sprouted among us.

During this season, please look to enactment of our principles and look forward to what we may mod el in a world fraught with anxiety and turmoil.
The first action any of us may take is to give thanks to each and all of our community for the wondrous world we may promote by practicing our principles with each other.
Give through your actions and through your financial contribution to forwarding our vision with an appreciation for what you each bring, in heart, in soul, in mind, in money, and in caring I thank each of you.
Thank you for being here. Thank you for your smiles and hugs. Thank you for your voice in sharing what you deeply believe. Thank you for your participation. Thank you for searching your inner self and finding new ways to view one another.
Ron Crane
News & Announcements: 

Newsletter Deadline

January, 2018 issue of the UUSM Newsletter will be published on January 2. Deadline for that issue is Friday,  December 15 at noon. Please submit announcements to Submit articles to


Hosted by the Music Committee with Christmas Carols!
December 10 • 6 pm in Forbes Hall
Get in the holiday spirit at Second Sunday Supper in December! All are encouraged to attend this  informal potluck feast – this month you are also encouraged to bring a potluck holiday dish that you’d  like to share! Catch up with  old friends and meet new ones, and come prepared to sing your favorite Christmas carols with the  UUSM choir! You can help - join our Kitchen Cabinet and help with cooking (the day before), setup, or cleanup.  You know that the most fun at any party is in the kitchen! Sign up at Children are absolutely welcome! To save  on waste and promote green living, we kindly ask that you bring your own plates, cups, utensils,  and cloth napkins. We will have extra dishes if you cannot bring your own. Contact: Jacki Weber.

Heart & Soul: A Contemplative Worship Service
Second Sundays, 5 to 5:45 p.m. in the Sanctuary

Heart and Soul services are led by Rev. Kikanza Nuri-Robins, Joyce Holmen, and Karen Hsu Patterson. With singing and instrumental music, poetry, statements and questions, silence and sharing, we’ll explore monthly worship themes.
Sunday, December 10 – What Does It Mean to be A COMMUNITY OF HOPE?

Rev. Greg’s sermons are now available for purchase in the front office and on Sundays, in Forbes Hall

Suggested contribution to the Minister’s Discretionary Fund: $5
The minister’s discretionary fund is used to assist members and friends of the congregation and members of the larger community in meeting their basic living needs (such as shelter, food, utilities, medical) and other exigencies (such as transportation, fees). It may be given as a loan or a gift, depending upon the person’s ability and the circumstances. The minister has discretionary and confidential use of these funds. Please leave contributions in the donation box next to the publications.










Join the Choir for the Joy of Music During the Holidays

Caroling, Caroling… All Are Welcome! Spread the spirit of the season by singing holiday carols at Sunrise Assisted Living and Seaport Care Center on Saturday, December 9. We’ll meet upstairs in Forbes Classroom 2 (the choir room) at 1:30 pm to warm up our voices, then walk to the two locations, which are only a few blocks from the church. We will finish by 3:30 pm. Hope to see you there. It is an opportunity to bring joy to seniors. Contact Cindy Kelly if you have any questions.

Heart to Heart Circles: Deadline for 2018

Over the past several years, Heart to Heart Circles have become an integral part of our UUSM community. Within these circles, church members have the opportunity to get to know each other beyond the role layers we present to the world each day. It is an opportunity to share oneself, and to develop the skill of deep listening in an atmosphere of confidentiality, openness, trust, and acceptance.
Until December 15, you may sign up for Heart to Heart Circles that will be held from January through June 2018. (Next summer, we will align new groups to the church calendar year, with groups meeting from October 2018 through June 2019, and signups over the summer.)
We invite you to join a Heart to Heart Circle if you have not done so, or to return for another season of deep listening and sharing. Please visit our table during coffee hour to sign up and to find out more about these wonderful groups, or contact if you have questions.
Leslie Beauvais

Need a Photograph for the Directory?

All church members are listed in the church directory, along with their photographs. If you are a new member, or a long-time member whose photo needs refreshing, Charles Haskell welcomes you to his home studio for your headshot. Contact Charles to set up an appointment.

The Future of Second Sunday Supper

For nearly a decade, Second Sunday Suppers have been an integral component of UUSM congregational life, particularly valued by new and potential members, those who often eat alone, and all who simply enjoy one another in fellowship over food.
I took on coordination of Second Sunday Suppers a year ago to help bridge a gap when prior leaders stepped down. We tried some new systems and some different outreach and have kept it going. I had hoped to identify new leadership, but that hasn’t yet emerged, so we now have a choice to end the monthly community-building potluck or someone new can step up.
My dear board colleague Kim Miller has offered to help sustain Second Sunday Suppers through the spring, coordinating some groups willing to host. We will retire the program in May in the absence of new leadership and execution.
If you are interested in helping strengthen community through Second Sunday Supper, now is the time to step up. Contact me or Kim Miller.
Jacki Weber

Join the Hiking Group!

On November 11 seven of us from UUSM hiked in Red Rock Canyon near Topanga. This was a wonderful hike, with beautiful scenery and mild, balmy weather. We hike as a UUSM group on the second Saturday of the month when the weather permits and a group is interested. Our next hike will be December 9. If interested in joining us please contact Steve Young
Left to right, above:  Dean Wahls, Greg Wood, Dani Rengstorff, John Rengstorff, Sylvia Young, Linda van Ligten.  Photo: Steve Young.


Wednesday, December 20, 7pm: Solstice Vespers
Through readings, chant, candlelighting, and sacred silence, we will mark the coming of the longest night of the year. This evening service will be hosted by Rima Snyder.
Sunday, December 24 at 9am and 11am: Sunday Morning Services
“The Straight Skinny on the Fat Man in Red”
Rev. Greg Ward, Jacki Weber
Sunday, December 24 at 4pm: Beasts and Baubles Christmas Eve
“Would You Like to Hold the Baby?”
Join Kathleen Hogue and Dr. Zanaida Robles for a festive family-friendly Christmas Eve service, including our pageant and Friendly Beasts. PLEASE BRING an ornament you’re willing to part with on the Sunday morning before the services on the 17th or the 24th. Perhaps it can be from your personal collection, a new one picked out at a store, or a simple handmade one.
Sunday, December 24 at 6 & 8pm: Christmas Eve Candlelight Services
Rev. Greg Ward, Dr. Zanaida Robles
Adult Choir led by Dr. Zanaida Robles
Sunday, December 31, ONE SERVICE ONLY at 11am:
“All These Words Mean Happy Kwanzaa”
Gregory C. Carrow-Boyd
Faith in Action News: 

More Than 100 Turn Out for Interactive Panel on Racial Injustice

On the night of Saturday, November 11th, Faith In Action collaborated with our new friends and community partners from OFA (Organizing For Action) to bring you “An Uncomfortable Truth: Time To Talk About Racial Injustice.” The evening was a great success and exceeded our expectations, with a combined turnout of more than a hundred from our congregation and the wider community packed into the sanctuary to hear from a diverse panel
of experts. Visitors came from all the way across town and as far as Orange County.
Topics covered included the challenges of implicit bias, reform of policing and the criminal justice system and, for those of us who are not people of color, how to understand white privilege and be effective allies to Black- and Brown-led justice movements. Powerful stories were shared by the speakers, and some exchanges with an engaged audience became emotional. A few highlights from the panel: Randy Shrewsberry, a former police officer turned reformer, discussed the racist culture in law enforcement into which he had been indoctrinated, and his own struggle to overcome the false narratives he had grown up with. Charles Swain, Esq., a civil rights attorney and the
father of one of OFA’s student organizers, choked up as he related memories of segregated maternity wards in the Alabama of his youth. Donazaleigh Abernathy, the daughter of civil rights pioneer Ralph Abernathy, described memories of Dr. King and her own journey from the deep South to living as a black woman in Beverly Hills, where she continues to face routine discrimination and harassment based on the color of her skin.
For the first time, our FIA team put in place a security plan for the evening with input from the new UUSM Safety Task Force and the Santa Monica Police Department. In the last several months, concerns have been raised about newly-energized hate groups in our area and disruptions at other anti-racist events in the neighborhood. Thankfully, the evening went smoothly and without incident.
We are excited about the many connections that were forged or strengthened between our congregation and the wider community at this event, and we look forward to new possibilities as FIA continues work to confront and oppose racism in greater LA and beyond!
James Witker
Splinters from the Board: 

Church Receives Bequest; Rev. Greg Describes Church Models

The board met in Forbes Hall on November 14 with eight board members, Rev. Greg, and eleven guests in attendance. Rev. Greg lit the chalice with a reading about the “coat of power” that increasingly fits over time.
Secretary Beth Brownlie read the name of the new member who joined since the last board meeting: Aubrey Sassoon, for a total membership of 340.
Rev. Greg encouraged the board to adopt a goal of making 100% cooperative, respectful process its main task and the main commitment of every member on the board. His challenge to board members is to conduct every interaction as if they were standing outside the church on a Sunday morning surrounded by visitors, newcomers and potential investors in the church. The board will collectively be reading and discussing “Never Call Them Jerks” by Arthur Paul Boers. The board read aloud the draft covenant of right relations.
Rev. Greg pointed out that UUSM is the size of a programmatic church but operating on a pastoral model that cannot be sustained. Congregations that operate from a programmatic model do not require it to be the sole responsibility of the minister to carry the communication, resolve the conflict, manage relationships and keep programs well informed and connected. Congregations operating from pastoral models, however, depend much more on the minister.
UUSM has been awarded $8,500 as a stipend toward the cost of an intern (approximately $20,000 total). In the application for the stipend UUSM expressed interest in entering into a good faith agreement to move toward fair share over four years. Two applications for the intern position have been received and interviews will be conducted by a small group represented by the minister, personnel, board, and at large.
A workshop on the history of UUSM up to 2008 was held on Sunday, Nov. 12 and was well attended by about 50 people. The next phase of the exploration of our history from 2008 to the present will be held in January.
UUSM has been awarded approximately $116,000 from the estate of Ralph Meyer. Once received, the money will be allocated to the various funds established by the Committee on Money in 2016.
As of November 9, UUSM has received pledges for the 2018 calendar year from 38% of the membership for a total of $175,159 towards the goal of $425,000, which will represent a 15% increase over last year’s budgeted amount.
An overview and timeline of the development of the comprehensive safety policy was given by Emily Hero.
The board unanimously affirmed and approved the Newsletter Committee’s decision to select Abby Arnold as their Editor-in-Chief.
UUSM board meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month, and are open to all members. More details can be found in the minutes of each meeting, which are posted on the website in the “members only” section.
Patricia Wright


RE News: 

A Destination of Hope and Wonder

Sometimes, when the world is at its messiest and most complicated, when the to-do list runs off the page, and we are out of time, patience, creativity and imagination, we can sometimes wonder what role the church is supposed to play in our lives. And if you’re a parent, you may be in that mad dash toward the holidays, dreaming of the finish line – where the warmth and the meaning waits – just hoping to get there before you hit the wall.
If this is what it’s like and things are stacking up, and you’re climbing as fast as you can, worrying if it’s enough, it’s worth it to stop and check to see if your ladder is against the right wall. Because, when it comes right down to it, that’s what the church is for: to help with perspective. And attitude. And a larger vision.
There is a story that’s helpful in moments like this. It’s about 3 bricklayers. Each worked tireless for some time in the same routine. Each one of them was asked what they were doing.
The first man answered gruffly, “I’m laying bricks.”
The second man replied with a sigh, “I’m putting up a wall.”
But the third man said with energy and enthusiasm, “I’m building a cathedral.”
The church does a number of things for us. First, it teaches us about the stories that we adopt to make sense of our lives. To help us understand what’s most important. Stories help shape perspective. And attitude. And a vision for what’s possible. When it comes right down to it, these are the things that lead us to a better destination.
This month, our theme is hope: something that is often a little more natural for our children than for us as adults. When life is at its busiest and the season is at its darkest, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important. So let me take a moment to remind us. To make sure our ladder is against the right wall.
The church exists to provide hope. To work toward making tomorrow better for our children and their children. One of our primary ways of doing this is through cultivating a sense of hope and wonder and imagination in our children through stories. And through exploring ideas like Love and Justice.
This month, we encourage you to listen to the stories of the season. The Magi. The Maccabees. The story of those who wander through the darkness looking for light. And hope.
We have stories this month in worship that invoke imagination. And wonder. And hope. We have our holiday pageant “Would You Like to Hold the Baby?” at 4:00 pm on Christmas eve with some favorite carols and the friendly beasts. We have teachers whose main hope is that the classroom – and the church – is a destination of hope and wonder. We provide the ladder. Love and Justice are on the wall. Children are our hope.
See you in church.
Kathleen Hogue


Adult RE Offerings for December 2017
An Enjoyable Dive into Who and What We Are
This on-going, twice 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 bi-monthly group meetings will also focus on insights gained throughout the month. It is expected that participants have a regular meditation practice.
Location: TBD on day of meditation
When: First and Third Sundays (December 3rd, December 17th)
Time: 9:30-10:45 AM
Contact Facilitator: Bill Blake
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.
Location: Forbes Hall
When: Friday, December 15th
Time: 7 PM – 8:30 PM
Contact Facilitators: Carol Ring, and Beverly Shoenberger
UUA Common Read: The Third Reconstruction
“A truly moral agenda must be anti-racist, anti-poverty, pro-justice, pro-labor, transformative and deeply rooted and built within a fusion coalition. It would ask of all policy, is this policy constitutionally consistent, morally defensible and economically sane. We call this moral analysis and moral articulation which leads to moral activism.”  --Reverend Doctor William J. Barber II
The Third Reconstruction serves both as a memoir and as a detailed, pragmatic guide to building and sustaining a social justice movement. From the UUA website: “Drawing on the prophetic traditions of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, while making room for other sources of truth, the book challenges us to ground our justice work in moral dissent, even when there is no reasonable expectation of political success, and to do the hard work of coalition building in a society that is fractured and polarized.”
Please join us on Sunday, December 3rd from 1-3pm in Room 4, to discuss the 2016-2017 Common Read, The Third Reconstruction. Portions of the G.A. speeches will be viewed during the class. Consider how Rev. Barber’s “Fourteen Steps Forward Together” may apply to UUCCSM’s own justice work. Contact Audrey Lyness 
Location: Room 4
When: Sunday December 3rd
Time: 1-3 PM
Contact Facilitator: Audrey Lyness 
Neighboring Faiths: Beth Shir Shalom (Judaism)
Please join us for a Family Shabbat service on Friday, December 1st at 5:30 pm at the Beth Shir Shalom synagogue located at 1827 California Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403. See the RE table for a background of Progressive Reform Judaism, and temple etiquette.
For questions, contact Dorothy Steinicke