Newsletter for February, 2018

Feb 2018
From Our Minister: 

Nevertheless, They Persisted

Dear Friends,

In unison, the students dropped their shoulders in a heavy sigh. “But, Ms. Ruszel, it’s so hard!” they cried.

“I know it’s hard,” she responded with a sympathetic smile. “That’s why I chose it.”

They weren’t sure what to make of that. They were given a lesson that was a little above them. That required them to struggle, and they wanted something easier. But she wouldn’t give in. Her students didn’t think she liked them. But I know different.

Lucy Ruszel, besides teaching English, was teaching her sophomores perseverance. I know, because Lucy is my partner and that’s what she teaches me. When I am stuck and feeling particularly discouraged, I know I can count on her for two things. First, to love me. And second to ensure her love does not replace my effort. But, rather, inspire it.

One of the stories I’m fond of is that of climber George Mallory who led an early expedition to climb Mt. Everest. Between 1920 and 1924 he made three attempts. Before he left for his final attempt he said, “I can’t see myself coming back defeated.” His words turned out to be prophetic. He died during the ascent.

Mallory’s body was found in 1999, less than 2,000 feet from the peak. His body was found with his head peering up to the summit, his arms extended high over his head. His toes were pointed into the mountain, his fingers dug into the rock, refusing to let go.

What makes the story compelling, however, is not Mallory. It’s what was said by a member of his team upon their return to England. At a banquet held to receive the climbers’ and salute their bravery, a picture of Mt. Everest stood behind the table of honor. As one leader was introduced, and the applause died down, he turned to face the picture of the mountain. In tears he said, “I speak to you, Mt. Everest, in the name of all brave men living and those not yet born. Mt. Everest, you defeated us once. You defeated us twice. You defeated us three times. But, Mt. Everest, we shall one day defeat you, because you can’t get any bigger, but we can.”

Lucy reminds me sometimes that the best challenges are ones we’re given in Love by something larger than us. To measure our courage. Our heart. Our perseverance. All of which grow when tested. Rarely enough at the outset, our character grows to meet the size of the challenge.

This church has its challenges: Climbing out of conflict. Overcoming financial struggles. Organizing to work effectively with one another. But, in truth, these are just starter tests to help us grow. The real mountain before us is to end racism. End loneliness and cruelty. End war. Replace hate with love. We don’t need things to be easy. Nor must we be perfect.

We just need to keep our eyes on the summit and climb with heart.

To the Glory of Life.

The Rev. Greg Ward

Pastoral Program Emerging

One of the great benefits that makes being in community so rewarding is the personal connections. This is especially true in the midst of challenge, deep sorrow, or even the joy of hitting important milestones. We need to share our lives with one another. Although it’s clear that there are a great many informal networks of care, allowing us to reach out to one another, UUSM has no real formal and intentional networks of care.

With the help of some really great people (Bettye Barclay, Karen Hsu Patterson, JoAn Peters and Linda van Ligten) I am hoping to establish a sustainable system of care which will not only help people ask for and offer help, but also share needs/ joys and be part of solutions and celebrations. On February 4, we are going to share a little more about the program – and how to participate – in the worship service. If you are looking for a way to be part of extending love and support and deepening yourself as a loving/connecting part of the UUSM community, please talk with any of us after the service that day, give me a call, or send me an email ( with “Pastoral Care” in the subject line.

Thank you for allowing me the chance to be part of the love that heals all things.

The Rev. Greg Ward


From Our President: 

A Time for Unitarian Universalist Principles

We are but four months until our annual meeting, to be held on Sunday, May 20.

That meeting is the cornerstone of our democratic process. Prior to the meeting, the Finance Committee will hold a Town Hall to present our financial status to the congregation, and to discuss the debt we face for this fiscal year and the year to come.

Our aspiration – to build a stronger community of cooperation and respect – is working. The tenor of dispute and difference has changed. We are treating one another with more of the respect and consideration endemic to our principles.

I encourage you to continue with the Right Relations we have studied so intently in the last year and a half.

Please carry forward in expressing your beliefs with gentleness of presentation and consideration of the differences in our diverse community.

Attend the Town Hall on Finance, the Right Relations presentation of a Covenant of interpersonal interaction, and the Sunday event sponsored by the Nominating Committee, where you may learn more of the many activities available to be of service to one another and the world.

In this time of world disorder, it is a time for UUs to speak out and be seen as providing a better way to inhabit this earth. Let us provide a model for others by practicing on ourselves.

We each need each other.

Ron Crane


News & Announcements: 

Newsletter Deadline

The March 2018 issue of the UUSM Newsletter will be published on February 27. Deadline for that issue is Thursday, February 15 at noon. Please submit announcements to Submit articles to

Second Sunday Supper
Feb 11, 6 to 8pm.
Forbes Hall

Please join us for this monthly informal potluck get together! This month’s dinner is sponsored by the Music Committee, Faith In Action and Rev. Greg, in conjunction with our Second Sunday Spotlight featuring Roy Zimmerman. There are plenty of sign-ups for main dishes already so come with your appetite! As always, we invite you to bring your own tableware in order to be green-friendly. Contact: Kim Miller for more informaiton.

Second Sunday Spotlight:  Roy Zimmerman - "ReZist!"
Sunday, February 11, 7:00 p.m., in the Sanctuary

We’re excited to welcome the great Roy Zimmerman back to UUSM! Roy’s shows are always a great time -- funny, heartfelt, and inspiring for people who care about progressive values in difficult times.

“ReZist” is 90 minutes of Roy Zimmerman’s original songs, a funny and forceful affirmation of Peace and Social Justice. “Sometimes I think satire is the most hopeful and heartfelt form of expression,” says Roy, “because in calling out the world’s absurdities and laughing in their face, I’m affirming the real possibility for change.”

Roy’s songs have been heard on HBO and Showtime, and his videos have garnered tens of millions of views. He has recorded for Warner/Reprise Records. He’s shared stages with Bill Maher, Ellen DeGeneres, Holly Near, Robin Williams, Arlo Guthrie, John Oliver, Kate Clinton, and George Carlin, and tours the country constantly with his wife and co-writer Melanie Harby.

Are You Aware? Clogged Spaces Block Access

We have done much to make our church campus more accessible and friendly, but important meetings are still held in inaccessible locations. There are also several bottlenecks on Sundays that make navigating with a walker or wheelchair difficult. Often membership, coffee, and other tables are set near the patio entrance to Forbes Hall. This is a popular place to talk. Getting by here is a challenge for everyone, and is extra challenging for wheelchairs and walkers. A second bottleneck is at the foot of the side patio ramp. Tables set up in this area often need to be moved when anyone uses the ramp.

You can help by looking around as you are involved in church activities. When you are working or passing through these bottleneck areas please look around and move if you see a bottleneck, so these spaces can remain open and welcoming to all.

You can help by practicing awareness. Would a person with limited vision, with a walker or wheelchair, with limited hearing, or cognitive limitations be able to talk with you and participate in church activities? Do you have a need that is not being addressed? What can be done to improve access for you, or someone you know?

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.

Thank you again for your help and support.

Steve Young, for the Disability Support Group

New Website Section Spotlights Individuals Who Leave a Sustaining Legacy to UUSM

There are many people who greatly contributed to the success of our church over the years. Jerry Moore is organizing a series of profiles of people who played important roles in UUSM’s history. These accounts will be published on our website in a new "Profiles in Stewardhsip" section of our Stewardship/Fundraising page. This month, Jerry’s story on Earl Morgan will be posted. “Earl was an unusual individual,” says Jerry, who was Earl’s stockbroker, and notes that while Earl was never a member of our church, he left his estate, with a value of over $400,000, to UUSM upon his death in 2003. Watch for more stories of the people who made lasting contributions to UUSM.

Contact: Beverly Shoenberger and Carol Ring

You are cordially invited to join our monthly group, “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. 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, one 25-minute period of sitting with walking meditation, and time for journaling and sharing. 

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.


Faith in Action News: 

We CAN Help Our Unhoused Neighbors

There has been an astounding rise in the number of homeless on our streets that includes disenfranchised young, poor families, forgotten veterans, and the chronically homeless. Officials on the subject along with many political leaders point to the cause as steadily rising housing costs and stagnant incomes.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has said that the issue of homelessness has persisted “through administrations, through recessions,” and that “our city is in the midst of an extraordinary homelessness crisis that needs an extraordinary response. These men, these women, these children, are our neighbors.”

The statistics are just staggering – for 2017, the homeless count in the County of Los Angeles is 58,000 (up 23%), in LA city it is 34,000 (up 20%), and in Santa Monica, it is up 26% from last year to 921 people. And, for a city the size of Santa Monica, that means 1 out every 100 persons is living on the streets.

But we care and we can help! And maybe give them some hope. The FAITH IN ACTION committee of UUSM, with the assistance of the Didi Hirsch Center and other local centers that serve the homeless, plans to donate packages of emergency supplies - things like blankets, socks, and toiletries - to people in need.

Our initial goal is to hand out care packages (drawstring carry bags) to at least 100 people. While it is not necessary for anyone to donate 100 of anything, cumulatively, we are looking to gather all the supplies for 100 bags before we bundle them. Giving anything listed below, in any quantity you can, would be greatly appreciated.

All donations should be sized for INDIVIDUALS, meaning that there should as little repackaging as possible. No large containers of things like soap or toothpaste. Hotel size products are ideal. It is easier to provide two or three hotel soaps, for example, than to resize a large one.

Barbara Andres

(Quantities of each to total at least 50)

Blankets Bottled water (Dasani, Arrowhead, and the like)
Hand wipes
Toothbrushes and toothpaste (hotel size)
Nail clippers and/or a finger nail file
Band aids (probably a box each)
Packs of Kleenex
ChapStick or other lip balm
Shampoo (oatmeal is non allergenic) (in small bottles)
Combs and/or small brushes
Mints or cough drops
Bar soaps (hotel size)
Deodorant (stick type, hotel size)
Rain ponchos Large or XL underwear (tighty-whities, for all gender identities)
Lotion in small bottles
XL T-shirts (generic please)
Bus passes
Gift certificates for fast food or meal vouchers

For this year, we have met our goal for the following items –

Drawstring backpacks (180 total)
Socks (2 pairs for each backpack) (256 pairs total)
Underwear (tighty-whities), (1 pair for each backpack) (98 pair total)
New (shop size) terry cloth towels (2 for each backpack) (204 total)
Quart and gallon size Ziploc bags (at least 1 for each backpack)

* Previously donated; however, additional quantities are more than welcome.

Cash donations should be made to the FAITH IN ACTION committee for the Homeless Street Survival Project. PLEASE NOTE that this is not a food handout. We are looking to assemble some street survival items.

There will be a COLLECTION BOX in Forbes Hall along with a current worksheet of items still required. Please take a worksheet, give what you can, and hopefully, by the end of February we will make this happen.

Join Us to Support Anti-Klan Demonstrators at Trial on Monday, February 26

UUSM member Hugo Contreras, along with allies Nichole Schop and Mark Liddel, was arrested two years ago while opposing the Ku Klux Klan at a rally in Anaheim. The Anaheim Three face charges of misdemeanor battery and resisting arrest in Orange County Superior Court.

The trial is scheduled to start on Monday, February 26, at the North Justice Center, 1275 North Berkeley Avenue, in Fullerton.

Congregation members and friends are encouraged to attend the trial in support of Hugo, Nichole, and Mark. We will have a rally outside the North Justice Center at 8 am on February 26. Carpools will be arranged at the Faith in Action table.

For more information, stop by the Faith in Action table between services or contact Sarah Mae Harper.

UUSM members joined thousands of others at the 2018 Women’s March in Los Angeles on January 20












Splinters from the Board: 

Board Studies Leadership, Discusses Pledge Results

The board met in Forbes Hall on January 9 with nine board members, Rev. Greg, and 13 guests in attendance. Rev. Greg opened with a reading of the poem “For a New Beginning” by John O’Donohue.

Secretary Beth Brownlie read the names of new members Craig Charles, Alicia MacLennan, Dan Wunsch, and Erika Scremin, for a total membership of 343.

There were two main discussion topics that occupied the meeting. They were a discussion of the common read of the first four chapters of “Never Call Them Jerks” by Arthur Paul Boers, and a discussion of stewardship and the Board’s role as fiscal steward.

“Never Call Them Jerks” addresses difficult behavior by church members. Key aspects of “jerks” include blaming and shaming, labeling situations, triangulations, and bullying, amongst others. The first four chapters explore that behavior and ways of addressing it that do not work, and acknowledge that it exists in all of us. We bring our past into our present, and it affects how we react to present situations. Rev. Greg is asking the board to identify areas of leadership – and areas of self-awareness, self-differentiation, and self-acceptance – in order to become better versions of ourselves and to learn to tackle problems in a collaborative and cooperative way. Along the way it helps to notice what triggers us and what underlying needs govern our behavior.

The board welcomed stewardship co-chairs Kit Shaw and Gretchen Goetz who reported on the status of the 2018 pledge campaign. 50% of the pledging units have pledged. 50% of the pledging units are rolled over. The dollar amount pledged to date is $368,706. 48 pledges are the same as last year, 66 have increased, 13 have decreased or terminated, 13 are new pledges.

As agent to the board as fiscal steward, stewardship has done its job for this year’s pledge campaign! Stewardship created a process in carrying out the wishes of the board. It is clear that there will be a deficit, so what do we do now? We raise the level of conversation with the congregation further through stewardship, pastoral care, membership, and a good slice of education.

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 or by talking directly to board members.

Patricia Wright


RE News: 

March Madness Party

Dress in your jersey, stripes, hats and shoes. This party will be fun no matter which team you choose. We will have pizza, wings, sandwiches and more, Whatever your taste you will definitely score. Bring the kids, they’ll have fun too, With lots of activities for them to do. Come watch the game and be a team player, Funds will go to the RE Assistant (so we can pay her). 


Date: Saturday, March 17 
Time: 6 pm Place: UUSM Forbes Hall 
Cost: $25 
Tickets: Kathleen Hogue, 

OWL K/1 Class Begins in February 

Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. Orientations will be held Sunday, February 25 from 1 to 3 pm, and Sunday, March 11 from 12:30 to 4 pm. For more information on OWL or to sign up contact Kathleen Hogue, Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration (DRE) at


“An Enjoyable Dive into Who and What We Are”
This ongoing, 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 that 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: Patio area
When: First and Third Sundays (February 4, 18)
Time: 9:30 to 10:45 am
Contact Facilitator: Bill Blake 
“Open Meditation Group”
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.
Location: Forbes Hall
When: to be decided by participants
Time: 7 to 8:30 pm
In response to requests, we are now offering a monthly Friday afternoon “Open Meditation” group, in addition to the monthly Friday evening group.
Location: Forbes Hall
When: First Friday, February 2
Time: 1 to 2:30 pm
If you have questions, speak with either Beverly Shoenberger or Carol Ring at coffee hour.
“Introduction to Meditation”
Carol Ring and Beverly Shoenberger are also offering a three-week introductory exploration of meditation for those who are new to meditating. This will begin on Saturday, Feb. 24th and run for three weeks, from 10 am to noon. Location TBD
“Humanist Voices in Unitarian Universalism.”
Join me as we read and discuss this new and remarkable little volume of provocative, inspiring, and heart-warming essays that just might challenge your view of Humanism – whether you consider yourself a Humanist or not. Contributors include luminaries of Secular Humanism and Unitarian Universalism such as Edd Doerr, Michael Werner, Chris Stedman, the Rev. David Bumbaugh, the Rev. Kendyl Gibbons, and the Rev. William Murry.
From the publisher: “In this highly anticipated collection, Unitarian Universalist Humanists present their faith perspectives in 23 engaging and thought-provoking essays. The contributors, both lay and ordained, demonstrate why Humanism has been one of the bedrock theologies of Unitarian Universalism for the last hundred years. They reflect on what it means to be a religious Humanist today and how they see the movement evolving in the twenty-first century. They explore Humanist history, beliefs, approach to life, social justice, community, and religious education. Together, these voices proclaim a passionate affirmation of a rich and dynamic tradition within Unitarian Universalism.”
We’ll meet for three sessions beginning in February, Dates and times will be decided by the group. Sign up and purchase the book at the Adult RE table and/or contact James Witker.
“Building Your Own Theology (BYOT): Ethics meets the 5th UU Principle”
Over two workshops, we have focused on eight dimensions of moral decision-making: authority, motivation, responsibility, situation, intention, relationships, values, and character. In this workshop, we strive to discuss the 5th Principle of Unitarian Universalism in the context of these dimensions.
The 5th Principle stresses “the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.” Let us explore this principle in the context of the elements of moral decision-making, both in the abstract and in specific scenarios generated by BYOT’s author. We may explore coverage and interpretations of current events, and experiences of workshop participants!
Don’t worry if you have not participated in past BYOT Ethics workshops – the only prerequisite for this gathering is interest.
Facilitator Leon Henderson-MacLennan
Scheduled for Sundays February 11, 18; March 4 and 11, 1 to 3 pm.
Location: TBD
“Can We Make Room Enough for Love?”
Recently, a pair of guest speakers at a college human sexuality class in Orange County introduced themselves this way: a trans-man, married to a butch dyke (“I am NOT a lesbian”), in a 24/7 master/slave relationship, raising a child together.
“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Queer, poly, kinky, platonic, bro-mantic, asexual. Today, many relationships don’t look like the traditional model of meet, marry and multiply happily ever after. Last summer guest speaker Ian Dodd gave a sermon called, “Can We Make Room Enough for Love?” which explored the roots of romantic love and both ancient and modern alternatives to our society’s traditional views of loving relationships. His talk provoked a wide variety of reactions, questions, and comments from the UUSM community.
As a follow up, Ian and his wife, Margot Page, and Beth Rendeiro, UUSM’s OWL coordinator, will be facilitating a one-day workshop where participants will explore their questions, cultural overlays, attitudes, and assumptions about love, loving relationships, marriage, and monogamy. Are you curious about what these out-of-the-mainstream relationships look like? Are you in a non-traditional one yourself and wanting to “come out” to your community, including your church community? Be prepared for a day of critically examining your ideas, learning from others, and exploring a wider variety of love and loving relationships than maybe you ever considered before. Come share your views and experiences with others in a safe, intimate atmosphere of inquiry and support.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, join us for “Can We Make Room Enough for Love?”– a day of looking at love and contemporary relationships, Saturday, February 10, 9 to 3 pm, in Forbes Hall.
Contact Ian Dodd or Beth Rendeiro.