Newsletter for March, 2016

Mar 2016
From Our President: 

Thank you for helping me help a friend plan a memorial service

The husband of a friend of mine recently took his own life after a long and painful illness. It was very sad. She and I frequently had lunch following Mindful Meditation at the Hammer Museum and I often talked about my involvement with UU Santa Monica. Though not a member of our congregation or our faith, she turned to me for help with her husband’s memorial and I was honored.

She saw me in this way: “And Patricia will see the event as a congregation of sorts with different agendas and messages that folks want to have heard.” “Patricia has a theory about constructive group interactions which can help guide the discussion.” Having heard that (!), I turned to Rev. Rebecca and Mary Mackenzie, who conducted our Compassionate Communication workshop in October, and asked for help. We had a mini telecon at which we addressed my request for help and more specifically some questions I had. I am so grateful for their suggestions and this congregation for giving me the confidence that I could help a friend in need in this way.

The opening words frame the occasion. Sharing of special memories of how lives were touched are followed by a moment of silence in the Quaker tradition.

“Today we gather as a community of family, friends, and colleagues to mourn and bid farewell. We gather to show our love and support for all those whose lives were touched. We gather to seek and receive the comfort and healing we offer one another in community.”

I am grateful for the suggestion of poems that honor his life and passion.

Lost in Heaven by Robert Frost

The clouds, the source of rain, one stormy night Offered an opening to the source of dew; Which I accepted with impatient sight, Looking for my old skymarks in the blue. But stars were scarce in that part of the sky, And no two were of the same constellation— No one was bright enough to identify; So ’twas with not ungrateful consternation,

Seeing myself well lost once more, I sighed, ‘Where, where in Heaven am I? But don’t tell me Oh, opening clouds, by opening on me wide. Let’s let my heavenly lostness overwhelm me.’

The experience of being part of this memorial service planning has deepened my appreciation of life, connections, and community. 

Patricia Wright


News & Announcements: 

Newslettter Editor Resignation

After five years as an editor and then the editor-inchief and a regular designer of the UU Santa Monica newsletter, Charles Haskell has decided to retire from his roles with the newsletter as of this issue. We will greatly miss his steady hand, care and patience, nearly always accommodating our late articles and edits. His expertise as a writer, editor, and photographer has been invaluable in maintaining the quality of our church’s main vehicle of communication. Charles also brought to the newsletter his experience of more than three decades of efforts in nurturing the life of our congregation, including President of the Board and membership and chairmanship on committees such as Finance, Pulpit, Faith in Action, and Bylaws. We thank Charles for the impact his leadership has made on the newsletter and congregation, and wish him and his wife, Christine, well in their future pursuits.

–— The UU Santa Monica Newsletter Team

Sexuality Education for Adults of all Ages and Stages Ages 18 – 98

When: Five sessions on occasional Saturdays this spring
First Session: Saturday, April 2, 2016
Where: Forbes Hall
What: Sexuality Exploration, including:

• accepting, understanding, and affirming personal sexuality
• opening dialogue/building communication
• sexual diversity, sexuality in adulthood, sexual health
• society, media, and values
• your questions, concerns, opinions

Join with other adults to fully consider this vital aspect of being a whole person. O.W.L. is fun and engaging too — we promise!

How: To sign up, or to ask questions, go to the LRE table on Sundays beginning in March, or contact Beth Rendeiro or any of the facilitators

Karen Patterson, Buudha Quant, Sylvia or Steve Young, all in the directory.

Budget Town Hall

Sunday, March 20 12:30 pm in the Sanctuary Purpose: To discuss the 2016-2017 Budget with the Finance Committee

Church Artist’s Wall in June

Please contact Diana Spears if you have work that can be displayed on our wall.

Craft and Book Sale raise funds for Faith in Action programs first weekend in June. Contact Diana Spears to participate.

Building News: 

UUSM Sanctuary Upgrade & Lighting (SoUL)Project

AV Update: The last piece of the AV system is about to be completed. We have received all our parts that will make the connection from the pulpit to the soundboard and to the projector. We hope to be making the final connections soon. After doing some research and talking to Alex, our AV consultant, we expect these new parts and connections to work. We will be testing the new connections and equipment in the next few weeks. 
SoUL Lighting Project Update: We have ordered and received our additional lighting fixtures and will be installing the additional Upper Sanctuary Lighting, Sanctuary Entry and Exterior Lighting to add to our lighting that we have now. Our light and control levels will increase over the next few weeks! 
Our project continues to be well under our budget of $80,000. As you all know, this is a volunteer effort. Thank you! Thank you, our dedicated volunteers. Our lighting project has taken an extended amount of time because we are relying on a lot of volunteer effort by volunteers who are full-time working professionals with young families. 
Our Project Binder, detailing our expenses and project details is always available for Member review. Please schedule and appointment with Nurit Gordon if you would like to review this detailed Project Binder. 
If you see something that needs attention, please tell us. Thank you all for your help and understanding during our electrical upgrade. 
Our Electrical and Lighting Task Force: 
Brad Hutchinson, Nurit Gordon, Beth Brownlie, Bryan Oakes, and Karl Lisovsky. Our 
AV Task Force: 
Steven DePaul, Bob Dietz, Karl Lisovsky, and Greg Wood.
Faith in Action News: 

Standing on the (In)Side of Love with Immigrants

“Standing on the Side of Love” is printed on each Valentine card that was written Sunday, February 14, to over 50 men and women in Orange County detention facilities. Children wrote some of the messages, and others wrote more than one. We needed to set up a separate table to accommodate all those who responded to our call to reach out to our imprisoned brothers and sisters confined in barracks by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)!

The obstacles facing those trying to obtain bond, seeking asylum, and dealing with isolation from their families are great. Writing to people in detention is one way to ease the feelings of isolation. Members and visitors in our congregation have joined the Friends of Orange County Detainees to correspond and visit with people detained at Santa Ana Jail, Theo Lacy Facility, and James Musick Facility. Over the course of its four-year existence, FOCD has increased the number of its visits to 1200 in 2015. Thank you to all of you who wrote Valentine cards.

We know from speaking to those we visit that the cards are welcomed with excitement.

Peggy Rhoads and Cathie Gentile

Anti-KKK protestors need our help!

Hugo Contreras, member of UUSM, and Mark Liddell (included in photo below), of First UU of Los Angeles, and Nikki Schop, an LAUSD high school teacher and friend of both, were arrested in Anaheim on February 27 while preventing a Klu Klux Klan member from leaving Pearson Park, after Klan members had stabbed three other protestors. To help with their bail and legal fees, please make checks payable to UUCCSM and put FIA-Legal in the memo line. For more info, contact Rick Rhoads, fia@ . Thank you.

Rick Rhoads

NEW!! Green Living Practice Groups

Let’s engage with Unitarian Universalists around the world in renewing our commitment to Faith in Action during Climate Justice Month from World Water Day, March 22, until Earth Day, April 22.

We will join in a spiritual practice of learning and sharing our ways to align our daily life more closely with the needs of Mother Earth and all living things … including our future generations. Focus to include Water, Energy, Air, and Resources.

Wednesdays (series of four), 8:30 – 9:15 am March 23 and 30, April 6 and 13, 2016.

For more information or to RSVP, contact or Beth Brownlie.

DA Lacey: Indict Clifford Proctor, the LAPD officer who killed Brendon Glenn

Five UU Santa Monica congregants, including Rev. Rebecca, joined by one congregant from First Church, presented our petition to District Attorney Jackie Lacey Feb. 17 demanding that she indict Clifford Proctor.

Proctor is the LAPD officer who killed Brendon Glenn May 5, 2015, in Venice. As reported in our February issue, LAPD Chief Beck has called for Proctor to be indicted, based on evidence that includes a video of Glenn, an unarmed Black man, being shot twice in the back by Proctor while lying prone on the sidewalk. DA Lacey has said that she is still conducting an investigation.

We started out at the LA County DA’s office in the LA Mart, 1933 S. Broadway. Carpooling from the church, four of us arrived a half hour before the 12 noon announced time, so we decided to collect more signatures (we already had 100 from Forbes Hall and in front of the building. Thirty-five more people signed. Building security told us we had to leave because we were on “private property.” We replied that as there was a DA’s office and courthouse in the building, we felt we had the right to petition there, and we continued to collect signatures. The police arrived at about 12:05 and supported the position that we had to move out to the relatively sparsely populated sidewalk on Broadway. 

By that time, the other two members of our delegation had arrived and we said, OK, we’re going to go to the seventh floor to present our petitions. We then discovered that although the DA’s website lists three office locations—LA Mart, near LAX, and Inglewood—the DA’s office is actually in the Criminal Court at 210 W. Temple. We drove up there, elevated to the 17th floor, and gave our petitions to a clerk who said she’d deliver them to DA Lacey. To be continued.

You can still sign the petition. Go to and search for “Indict Clifford Proctor, Who Killed Brendon Glenn.” To get involved in this and other anti-racist campaigns, sign up for the Peace & Social Justice Committee email list at the Faith in Action table in Forbes Hall.

Rick Rhoads


Green Living Committee: 

Climate Justice Month 2016 + Commit 2 Respond

Our Climate Justice Month Begins  on March 22, which is World Water Day.  The Climate Justice Month series of worship and events concludes with Earth Day on Sunday, April 24. 


On March 20, our RE Youth will engage and kick off World Water Day (March 22) with a beach clean up with Heal the Bay.  We will be working at the beach surrounding Annenberg Beach House.  Meet at UUCCSM, 9am to join the caravan to the Beach. 

In April, our RE Youth will install our first rain barrel for UUCCSM. 


Green Living Practice Groups on Wednesdays (Series of 4) , 8:30-9:15am, Dates are : March 23, March 30, April 6, April 13, 2016.

We will join in a spiritual practice of learning and sharing our ways to align our daily life more closely with the needs of Mother Earth and all living things....including our future generations. Focus to include Water, Energy, Air, and Resources. Contact: Beth Brownlie or for more information and to RSVP.

Second Sunday Supper, April 10, 6pm : Join us in community meal and learn about our community partner CSU, Community Services Unlimited.

Green Living/FIA Film Series:  April 24, 2016, 5:30pm

The Wisdom to Survive film screening with discussion to follow. 


Come join us in worship on Earth Day Sunday, April 24, with our beloved minister, Rebecca Benefiel Bijur preaching.  9am and 11am.  Come learn about our new community partner, CSU, Community Services Unlimited which serves the South Central LA population promoting Earth Justice. 

Generous Congregation Giving: To be towards CSU and UUMFE in April for Earth Month.


Splinters from the Board: 

Budget Town Hall set for Sunday, March 20, 12:30 pm

The meeting of February 9 began with lasagna, chalice lighting, and check-in. President Patricia Wright described a recent positive experience with the practice of check-out. The Board will be resuming this practice with the hope that each person will describe how the meeting went for them so that they are able to avoid the need for meetings after the meeting.

The consent agenda was approved. We have two new members: Sarah Mae Harper and Hugo Contreras, bringing our total membership to 329.

Sue Stoyanoff, representing the Committee on Ministry, informed us of the format for the Congregational Conversations, which will have taken place on the weekend of February 20-22. The facilitators are members of the Pacific Western Region Congregational Life Staff: Rev. Dr. Ken Brown, Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong, and Rev. Jan Christian. The summary report and recommendations will be written by all three, reviewed by the Western Region Head, and then forwarded on to the Committee on Ministry and then to the Board. The Committee on Ministry is asking for Board members’ help in sending out reminders to the congregation for each person’s focus group appointment. (UPDATE: The facilitators were Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong, Rev. Jan Christian, Rev. Ann Hines, Rev. Maggie Yenoki, and Rev. Tera Little. Rev. Hines and Rev. Yenoki stood in Rev. Brown’s place due to his illness. All five will contribute to the report which will be written by Rev. Brown. It will be reviewed by the Western Region Lead, Rev. Nancy Bowen.)

The Board briefly reviewed the plans for the Congregational Business Meeting on February 14.

Treasurer Kim Miller reported that the Finance Committee has begun work on the 2016/2017 budget. They plan to host a Town Hall meeting to discuss the budget with the congregation prior to presenting the final version to the Board. The date for the Budget Town Hall was set for March 20, 2016, at 12:30 pm.

Board members signed up to help the Pledge Team with thank you calls and/or letters.

The Board voted to adopt the interim service animal policy, to be implemented commencing February 14, 2016. This policy had been researched and developed by our Treasurer, Kim Miller, who is a lawyer. The policy was created in response to one or two people bringing what appear to be their pets to church. The policy states that only certified service animals that have proper medical certification with the owner will be allowed on the premises. The owner must keep the animal under their immediate control and restrained at all times. Anyone with a certified service animal is requested to sit in the northwest corner of the sanctuary, close to the side door to the courtyard. The animal may not be on a lap or on the pews or next to another church member. A service animal has been specifically trained to perform certain supportive work to their owner. A common example is a “seeing eye dog.” We cannot accommodate “emotional support” animals, even if the owner has a certification for the animal. The policy will be posted in the foyer of the Church and at the entrance on Arizona Ave. to Forbes Hall. Any disputes will be directed to the Board to resolve at the next regular business meeting, and the animal cannot be on the premises until the dispute is resolved. The Board passed a second motion that various named staff members, the personnel committee, and any interested person will provide input in writing by April 1, 2016. After that input is received, a permanent policy will be drafted for implementation by the Board. The final policy may be the same as the interim policy, or it may be modified. Until a final policy is adopted, the interim policy will apply.

The Board approved a motion to make a request of $2,000 for the 2016/2017 budget to hold a congregation-wide workshop to support Board goals. This request was inspired by the successful Compassionate Communication workshop held last year. If the request is approved, the specific topic will be influenced by the feedback from the Congregational Conversations.

Beth Brownlie made a motion to set up a task force to study a plan for leadership development within the congregation. This motion was tabled until the next Board meeting.

The Board passed a motion to support The FIA Green Living Committee’s completion of the Green Sanctuary application process to become a Green Sanctuary. This would complete a process that we began in 2008 when we became a Green Sanctuary Candidate after congregational and ministerial input. The Committee hopes to re-energize and activate our community towards new efforts of environmental justice. They plan to put a motion on the agenda for the congregation at the Annual Meeting on May 22.

Cynthia Cottam


RE News: 

We Grow by Offering, Not by Grabbing

In our society and in many parts of our lives, people are encouraged to value getting ahead of, competing against, and doing better than other people. In schools children compete to win the spelling bee or be the valedictorian of their class. Ads on our televisions and on our social media, one after another, sell us products by promising that they will make us look better than someone else or beat someone to the finish line — they tell us that our worth is determined by comparison to other people, and that if we aren’t winning, we’re losing. And they do everything they can do convince us that the way to be the winner is to buy and consume and get and gather more and more and more.

We live in a consumer culture — it is the ocean we swim in, and we do not leave it behind when we walk through the doors to church on Sunday mornings. But “what’s in it for me?” and “I’ll give exactly the worth that I’ve gotten out of it so far, and no more” do not serve us well in the context of a covenantal community that is committed to personal growth and effecting change in the world. What would change in our lives and in our congregation if instead we made a spiritual practice of asking, “What does the world need of me, and what contribution can I give that will help me respond to that need in a meaningful way?”

This is not news — we know this already. We know that we are all enriched when we are connected to one another. Our minister is called by the congregation, our Board members are elected, and our programs are supported by the work of church members who volunteer their time because they know that what we’re doing here is important and because they find meaning in their own lives through taking part in the work along with others who share this commitment. Don’t underestimate the value of what we do here — we’ve got a special thing going! And every piece makes a difference, whether you’re teaching an RE class, singing in the choir, making coffee, preparing mailings in the office, leading a book group, or even (and perhaps especially) introducing yourself to someone new on Sunday morning.

Friends, coming to church is not just about finding nice people who think like we do to spend an hour with on Sunday mornings. There are plenty of social clubs that can fill that role. I’m interested in something more and I have a suspicion that you are, too. I’m here to be part of a community of people dedicated to thinking deeply about our values and beliefs … and then walking together and holding one another accountable for spending every one of our days doing our best to align our actions with those core values. I’m here to be part of a community that encourages us to push beyond what is comfortable for us and to engage the big, hairy questions of life and justice and faith, because that’s how we grow. I’m here to be part of a community where we don’t just hope that someone else will put together something of interest for us to consume, but instead show up with hands ready to build the beloved community the world needs.

Maybe the most important thing we can do as a faith community is to stand counter to the consumer mindset that is so deeply ingrained in our American culture. Maybe one core message of our faith is, “We grow by offering, not by grabbing.” This month, I invite you to take some time to think about ways that you can celebrate and enhance your connection to the other people around you — at church, at home, at work or school, and even when you’re driving your car or standing in line at the grocery store — because we know that together we can do more than we can do separately to build lives of meaning and to bring justice and peace to our hurting world. What will you offer the world?

 — Catherine Farmer Loya

Winter 2016 Adult RE


“This Changes Everything, Capitalism vs. the Climate,” by Naomi Klein, Study Group

Four sessions beginning the fourth week of March. Times and dates TBD according to the group’s preference. Sign-up and purchase copies of the book at the RE table in Forbes Hall.

Along with being the hottest year on record, 2015 brought us further evidence of sea-level rise, ocean acidification, drought and extreme weather, as well as more dire predictions from the world’s scientists about the threat to human civilization from runaway global warming. Nevertheless, the year ended with a relative bright spot — at the COP21 talks in Paris, world leaders committed to meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But can these emissions targets truly be met under the current global economic system?

In her momentous and contentious 2014 book, Naomi Klein, author of “No Logo” and “The Shock Doctrine,” takes on what she calls “the fiction of perpetual growth on a finite planet.” She writes: “There is still time to avoid catastrophic warming, but not within the rules of capitalism as they are currently constructed... Any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of worldviews. Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war.”

As we begin Climate Justice Month (designated by the UUA’s as the period from World Water Day on March 22 to Earth Day on April 22), join Adult RE and Faith in Action for an in-depth discussion of the issues Klein raises in her wide-ranging and engaging work. Is the drive for profit incompatible with sustainability? Can capitalism function without the ready availability of cheap carbon-based fuels? Or can neoliberalism — the doctrine of hyper-growth and free-market fundamentalism — be curbed in favor of a regulated capitalism that accounts for social and environmental costs? What would a world truly shaped by our shared Unitarian Universalist values look like, in which human rights, environmental stewardship, and freedom of conscience are all upheld? And what can we as individuals and as a congregation do to fight climate change before it’s too late?

Facilitators: Rick Rhoads, and James Witker,


Building Your Own Theology

February 10 - March 16, Wednesdays, 7-9pm, in Forbes Hall

Inspired by the fourth principle, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, this class allows you explore what UUs believe and help you “build a theology” of your own. We will explore our spiritual odysseys, examine the varieties of liberal religious experience, discuss the nature of ultimate reality, and learn how to make meaning in our lives. At the end of the class participants will have the opportunity to write a personal credo of their own theology.

Facilitators: Catherine Farmer Loya and Dan Patterson. 

Thursday Night Centering Meditation

Participants can choose: First and third Thursday: February 4, 18, March 3, 17, April 7, 21, 7:00 to 8:30pm, in Cottage SE Or second and fourth Thursday: February 11, 25, March 10, 31, April 14, 28, 7:00 to 8:30pm, in Cottage NW

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, joy, etc. There will be a brief time of comments, sharing and questions. We will end the evening with a guided mindfulness meditation. Facilitator: Bettye Barclay.