Newsletter for January, 2018

Jan 2018
From Our Minister: 

Intentions for the New Year: Choosing Love Over Fear

Dear Friends,

I taught aerobics – mostly step classes – for nine years. I watched, every January 2nd, as a whole herd of new aerobics students flooded eagerly into their first class. For some, it was the first day of their new membership – bought after single handedly eating every last chocolate Santa left hanging on the Christmas tree. This prompted them to sign a lifetime contract at the local gym and pencil aerobics classes into their personal calendars through the year 2025. They donned new clothes and fancy shoes and a determination to stare down their goals and ride it out to the bitter end. Which for most, wound up being January 10th.

Year after year, I would look out on January 2nd and see great determination in the room. By January 4th, I would see that determination waning. Students complained that no one recognized the amazing physical transformation they experienced in their first class. Their thighs began to mutiny. Their muscles were sore and their shoes smelled. No one mistook them for dancers in music videos. By the second week they said they felt like even God was rolling Her eyes at them. Disillusionment. Despair. Drop out.

Regular members laughed at the newbies who got lost in the locker rooms. They snickered as they struggled with machines. They took pride in helping to fulfill their own prophecies that the new members would be gone by February.

There are many parallels between physical goals and religious ones. People who go to church seek spiritual fitness. A stronger sense of self. More endurance in their relationships. More resilience in carrying their values into action. Churches are places where people want to become stronger than their fears, develop a heartier sense of hope, and exercise love for the long haul. But whether it’s muscles or meaning, it’s the same: fitness – whether physical or spiritual – requires a sustaining vision, commitment and community.

Too often, despite our best ideals, when it comes to spiritual fitness, we end up imitating the professor on Gilligan’s Island. We can find ways to fashion generators from palm fronds, vaccines from algae, and transistors from coconuts, but we can never get around to fixing that huge hole in our boat so we can get home.

It is important that we, in this religious community, understand that we live in a time of rampant spiritual disillusionment. People need understanding. Acceptance. Empathy. Company. Without these, very few of us do the exercise and repair we need to resolve the conditions that left us shipwrecked.

Our theme for January is “Intention.” There are a lot of people who could use it as they step into our community. They come to stretch their understanding of what’s possible. To grow stronger in choosing love over fear. To be as limber, flexible, and adaptive as the path before them demands. Our example – our courage and conviction – can make the difference in whether they experience discovery or despondency. We are all one another’s spiritual account-ability-buddies. 

To the Glory of Life.

The Rev. Greg Ward


News & Announcements: 

February Newsletter Deadline

The February 2018 issue of the UUSM Newsletter will be published on January 29. Deadline for that issue is Monday, January 15 at noon. Please submit announcements to Submit articles to

January 14, 6 pm to 8 pm
Forbes Hall






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. UUSM member Kim Miller is currently sustaining this program through May 2018, but at that point the program may be retired in the absence of leadership and coordination. If you are interested in helping strengthen community through Second Sunday Supper, now is the time to step up. Contact Jacki Weber or Kim Miller.


Heart and Soul on Hiatus

The Heart and Soul contemplative worship service is on hiatus in January.


Service Texts for Sale

Rev. Greg's sermons are now available for purchase in the front office, and on Sundays in Forbes Hall. The cost to produce this publication is $5. In order to continue publication, we ask for a donation that will cover - or go beyond - production costs. Any revenue raised beyond cost will go to the Ministerial Discretionary Fund, which is used to assist members and friends in their time of need (such as shelter, food, utilities, medical, etc.).


Tom Peters Publishes Memoir; Book Signing Benefits Church

Congregation member Tom Peters has just published his memoir, Step Away From The War. The book will be on sale after both services on Sunday, January 14, in Forbes Hall, to benefit UUSM. 


Explore Church Activities on Showcase Sunday January 28

We invite every member and friend of the church and others curious about us to Showcase Sunday after the services on January 28. Forbes Hall will be filled with representatives from all committees who are ready to answer your questions. You’ll have the opportunity to find out what the committees do, how often they meet, what skills are required or helpful, and, if it interests you, what it would take to get on to the committee— sometimes all you need to do is ask.

This idea came from talking to other UU congregations about their activities. It turns out that it’s been done before at our church. Who knew?

Many committees offer time-limited opportunities – tasks that take a fixed length of time. The Communications Team, for instance, is seeking someone for a 3- or 4-month commitment to organize and promote a new campaign for renting out our sanctuary for weddings.

Do you have an idea for how to fill a need in our community? Would you like to start something new such as broadcasting our services or perhaps writing blurbs that promote our beliefs? Come and be part of the fun on the 28th and find out which committee is best for you.

The Nominating and Membership Committees are organizing this event to remove the mystery of how to get involved...for longtime members, new members, and friends. If you have any suggestions or would like to help on the day of the event, please contact us at nomcom@

Bob Dietz


Choir Caroling

Our choir and friends went caroling on Saturday, December 8 at Sunrise Assisted Living and Seaport Care Center



Seeking Missing Coffee Cups

Have you inadvertently taken a coffee cup from church? Several people have noticed that our congregational coffee cups have found their way to home cupboards, the floors of their cars, or other places. Please check, and if you have a church coffee cup, we would be grateful for its return.

Are You Aware? (Getting to Church)

When it is difficult to get to church you have alternatives to your car. Ask another member for help, or use any of the following:

Santa Monica Big Blue Bus – Line 1 Santa Monica Blvd. – runs about every 15 minutes on weekends; Line 2 Wilshire Blvd. – runs every 20 to 30 minutes on weekends. \

Santa Monica Dial-a-ride. Operates inside Santa Monica weekdays and from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm on Saturday and 8 am to 1:30 pm on Sunday. To register call 310-394-9871; registered participants can call 310-394-981for reservations.

METRO Access Services operates regionally for rides 24/7. Reserve one day ahead at 800-883-1295. To start registration, call 800- 827-0829 or visit .

Lyft ( and Uber ( ride/how-uber-works/) generally provide quick and reliable help when you have the app on a smart phone. \\

Cost per ride: Buses $1.25 ($0.50 for seniors) on Big Blue Bus; Dial-a-ride, less than $1; Access Services, between $2 and $4; ride services and taxis will cost more.

You can help by reaching out to others in the church. Discuss carpooling to church with people who live near you, or offer help by asking, “Do you have a need that is not being addressed?” or, “What can be done to improve your access?”

You can help by talking with the Disability Support Group and the Church CARE GROUP about ways to improve support for persons with disabilities in our church community or by sharing your concerns and needs. If you are not sure whom to contact, look for Mark Christiansen, Michael Young, Steve Young, or Sylvia Young.

Women’s Singing Retreat with Carolyn McDade Songwriter, Spiritual Feminist, Social Activist

“Spirit of Life,” “Come, Sing a Song with Me,” “Rising Green,” and “We’ll Build a Land.” These four of Carolyn McDade’s wealth of songs you already know from our hymnals. At annual retreats across what she has called “a continent in song” this skilled leader has taught dozens more. She composes and arranges insightful, healing, empowering works to cherish each soul, build community, honor the earth. Whether you think of yourself as a singer or not, consider joining me to sing with Carolyn on Friday evening February 23 and Saturday daytime, February 24 at the United Church of Christ in Simi Valley. Registration information: or 818-599-0257. Recordings: This is the 18th year of our singing circle of liberal religious women from across the Southland. A wonderful experience.

Joyce Holmen

“I am in awe of what happens when creative energy serves a deep and common purpose — a vision of wholeness, reverence, and well being formed in communion with one another and the community of Earth.” — Carolyn McDade 

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.

33rd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration in Santa Monica on January 15, 2018
THEME: Never Lose Hope: Unity Wins 

On Monday, January 15, the MLK Jr. Westside Coalition presents its annual celebration of Dr. King with keynote speaker Dr. Tommie Smith. Dr. Smith, a long-time faculty member of Santa Monica College, is also notable for his achievements at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games, where he won a gold medal for the 200 meter sprint. At the medal podium, while the national anthem played, Dr. Smith and fellow American medal-winner John Carlos, wearing Olympic Project for Human Rights badges, each raised a black-gloved fist in protest against human rights abuses.

The theme of the celebration, which is free of charge and includes music, entertainment and student awards, is “Never Lose Hope: Unity Wins.” The event takes place at the SGI-USA World Peace Ikeda Auditorium, 525 Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica, from 9 to 10:30 am, and is followed by a Community Involvement Fair at St. Monica Church’s Grand Pavilion at 701 California Ave. The Fair offers participants the opportunity to learn about local organizations and includes refreshments and door prizes. UUSM’s Peace and Social Justice Committee will staff a table, as it has done in the past.


Faith in Action News: 

Non-Violence Workshop Inspires and Empowers 

On Saturday, November 18th, 17 committed UUSM members gathered in Forbes Hall for a full-day workshop on non-violent resistance and activism organized by FIA and Adult RE. The program was developed by Abby Arnold with others from the Santa Monica Committee of CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice), and is rooted in principles and strategies developed during the Civil Rights era by Martin Luther King, Jr. and others. Our facilitators, Rabbi Neill Comess-Daniels, Rev. Jim Conn, and Gabriella Rosco, led us through history, philosophy, and implementation of non-violence as a moral discipline and practical approach to effecting change. Rev. Greg presented a timeline of liberatory ideas and social action in UU history, helping to ground the training in our own spiritual tradition. It was a powerful day of learning and discussion that inspired and equipped us for the work ahead.

James Witker

I believe compassion is the most important quality to cultivate. Indeed, the most revealing insight for me during the CLUE workshop was during our enactment of a protest march, with harsh insults hurled at the marchers. Some people said it felt good to be on the other side – it was cathartic. But I must say, I felt deep compassion for anyone who behaves with such ire. As I pretended to march, I could feel their hearts as heavy as stones, and their minds and souls in upheaval as they fought against what is in their own best interest. It didn’t make me defensive. It brought me sadness. The fight is a hard one, but we must always keep our eye on the prize, a time when everyone can come together and be on one page. It might be naïve, but I believe reconciliation between sharply divided Americans can be achieved if we exercise compassion and hold tight to hope.

Sarah Robson

The Anaheim 3 Struggle Continues

On Monday, November 27th 4 congregants, our Director of Religious Exploration, other UUs and friends came out to the North Justice Center in Fullerton to support Hugo Contreras, Nichole Schop, and Mark Liddell in their ongoing legal battle. They are still facing misdemeanor battery and resisting arrest charges from opposing the KKK in Anaheim in February 2016. A group led by strong women chanted and picketed before going inside to support the defendants. As we went to enter the courthouse, the police stopped us and demanded decorum, telling us we wouldn’t be allowed to chant inside. We packed the hearing room and the judge’s jaw dropped when he saw the number of people who had come out in support. As long as the unfair prosecution of anti-racists continues while violent white supremacists walk free, we will be there.

The trial is scheduled to start on Monday, February 26th at the North Justice Center in Fullerton. We will have a rally outside at 8 am. Carpools will be arranged at the Faith in Action table.

Save the date: Monday, February 26, 2018 at 8 am. North Justice Center 1275 North Berkeley Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832

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

Sarah Mae Harper


Splinters from the Board: 

Intern Minister Chosen; Discretionary Fund Approved

The board met in Forbes Hall on December 12 with nine board members, Rev. Greg, and six guests in attendance. Rev. Greg lit the chalice with “A Blessing for One Who Holds Power” by John O’Donohue … “May the gift of leadership awaken in you as a vocation …”.

Secretary Beth Brownlie read the name of new member Jennifer Styzens, for a total membership of 339.

The Board approved the Covenant of Right Relations and recommended that the congregation adopt the covenant. The Board has the responsibility for and is considering a date for a congregational meeting to vote for the adoption of the covenant, perhaps preceded by a town hall meeting. How to integrate the covenant into the life of the congregation will be the work of Right Relations and may involve workshops and practice sessions on each of the main aspects of the covenant. The covenant is aspirational and broad. Right Relations is working on processes and procedures to address application of the covenant.

Rev. Greg’s report to the board started by talking about the binary thinking that he has observed in our congregation. Binary thinking is either/or, left/right;, up/down, right/wrong, good/bad, and is a barrier to a more reverent, nuanced, curious relationship, one that requires more courage, more self awareness, and energy. Though moving out of binary thinking requires more energy, it carries the promise of being more energizing as well. Focusing on process over task and getting better at process can provide the board and the congregation with a path to productivity, health, and happiness.

The board authorized the hiring of Robin Stillwater, a seminarian at Union Theological Seminary, as Intern Minister for ten months, beginning in September 2018.

A board retreat to address ways in which the board can be more effective is in the planning stage and is in search of a consultant for the retreat.

The board adopted an interim policy for a Ministerial Discretionary Fund for the purpose of providing financial support to those in financial need and is tax-deductible to the donors.

At the request of the finance committee, the board approved sending a request to the congregation to make an extra end-of-the year donation to the church.

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: 

Teri Lucas Joins RE Staff


Teri will begin on January 2, 2018. Her professional work experience has been in higher education admissions in New York City where she was Director of Admissions at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music for 17 years. After moving back to Los Angeles in 2011, she was the Director of Admissions at Union Institute and University and the Cornel School of Contemporary Music.

Teri has her own consulting business, “Fashion & Fitness.” She has taught Healthy Eating classes in New York and at the Santa Monica and Glendale YMCAs. She is currently embarking on a new project with Jodi Shannahan, whom she met at UUSM. They will be offering classes and groups on mindful eating and behavior changes that help us to reach our goals.

Teri recently returned from seven months in Vietnam where she volunteered at the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation working with children and families. In Saigon she taught English, and worked with women on issues of health and healthy eating.

Teri has been attending our church services for a few months now and has been involved in Adult Exploration offerings as well. She has already made friends and connections here and even attended a second Sunday Supper. She is interested in the exploration of religion and spirituality and is looking to apply her talents and abilities in the creative environment of UUSM.

The work that Teri will be doing involves registration, record keeping, publication of materials, communication, and organization. You may also see Teri some Sundays as she will be covering for the RE Director occasionally. Thank you all who have been donating matching funds to our Spirit Grant that has allowed us to hire Teri. Please keep it coming so we can continue!

Kathleen Hogue

Adult RE Offerings for January 2018

“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 (January 7, January 21)
Time: 9:30 to 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, January 19th
Time: 7 pm to 8:30 pm
Contact Facilitators: Carol Ring, and Beverly Shoenberger

“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, Rev. David Bumbaugh, Rev. Kendyl Gibbons, and Rev. William Murry.

“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 3-4 sessions beginning the third week of January. 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.

James Witker

New Offerings for February - Sneak Peek

Ethics Meets the 5th UU Principle: Build Your Own Theology
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 Build your Own Theology’s (BYOT’s) author, as well as in coverage and interpretations of current events, and 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 February: Date, Time, and Location TBD

“Can We Make Room Enough for Love?”
Last summer a sermon by guest speaker Ian Dodd 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, provoked a wide variety of reactions, questions and comments from the UUSM community.

In response, Ian and his wife Margot Page and Beth Rendeiro, UUSM’s OWL coordinator, will be facilitating a one-day workshop where participants will be able to explore their questions, cultural overlays, attitudes, and assumptions about love, loving relationships, marriage and monogamy, and how we can “stand on the side of love” with people whose relationships don’t fit the societal norms, or even how people in non-mainstream relationships can feel empowered to “come out” in their communities, including their church community. Be prepared for a day of critically examining your ideas, learning from others, and maybe being exposed to a wider variety of love and loving relationships than 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 am to 3 pm, in Forbes Hall. Contact Ian Dodd or Beth Rendeiro for more information.