Newsletter for March, 2017

Mar 2017
From Our Minister: 

Moments of Connection and Love

Dear congregation,
I was surprised to learn recently that the Broadway musical “Rent” is now on its 20th anniversary tour. “Rent” was a phenomenon I remember experiencing in high school and college; it was the CD (remember CDs?) that I borrowed most often from my college roommate to listen to in our dorm room. “Rent” tells the story of a group of young people trying to make it on their own in New York City and struggling with HIV/AIDS, drug addiction, relationships, family, money, and identity. Its anthem, “Seasons of Love,” by Jonathan Larson, answers the question, “How do you measure a year?” by arguing that a meaningful life is not measured in time alone, but rather in love, which is often felt deeply in small moments of connection, beauty, and presence. Here are some of the lyrics of the song:
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure — measure a year?
In daylights — in sunsets
In midnights — in cups of coffee
In inches — in miles
In laughter — in strife
In — five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?
How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love
As our time together continues to move towards its close — as we enter a season of transition at UUSM — I am noticing and appreciating those small moments of connection and love that make up our church life, and I hope you will, too.
Over the past few months, I’ve worked with our Board of Directors to gain clarity on what tasks in ministry I’ll continue to oversee, which I’ll hand off, and which I’ll finish in this season of transition. Updates on these tasks are available in my monthly reports to the board, and they are already helping me and your elected leaders feel a sense of clarity and control that we are in a process that will carry us through the end of this ministry.
I also want to commend the Board of Directors, and particularly Kim Miller and Jacki Weber of the Developmental Ministry Task Force, for their efforts over the past few months to communicate clearly their vision for next steps in ministry here, and to do so with openness, transparency, and a willingness to be changed by the conversations they are having with congregants. It is our shared goal that there be as caring and seamless a transition as possible between my ministry and that of my successor, and we are well on the way toward meeting that goal.
Much heart,
Rev. Rebecca
News & Announcements: 

Congregational Meeting March 5 to Decide on Hiring of Developmental Minister

Our congregation will hold a business meeting Sunday, March 5, at 12:30 pm, to vote on whether to authorize our Board of Directors to proceed with searching for and potentially hiring a developmental minister.
We want as many people as possible to actively participate in the discussion. We must have a quorum of at least 55 people onsite for the vote to proceed. If you cannot be there, please participate via absentee ballot (go to, call, or email the church office).
There is a ton of information about developmental ministry on our Ministerial Transition page. If you have questions, we need to hear them so we can understand where there is lack of clarity or disagreement.
About Developmental Ministry (DM): DM is a type of transitional ministry that occurs between two long-term called/settled ministries over a period of three or more years. It’s ideal for a congregation that has goals it wants to work on before calling its next long-term minister.
What we see as our work to be done: Your Board of Directors feels that we have some congregational goals to pursue that are optimal for Developmental Ministry. Here they are in super simplistic form in no particular order:
• Get better at working and playing together — respecting difference while recognizing our common goals of making this life of ours the best it can be (as individuals and in community);
• Reconnect with and recommit to our shared mission and vision;
• Revitalize membership, leadership, and leadership development so that our UU congregation becomes a better instrument for personal and community development;
• Invest in strengthening programs that help us learn more about where we come from; get better about developing stronger stewardship of the programs and resources that fuel our mission and vision — that means
fundraising, but it’s more than that;
• Address structural issues in our church governance that may make our congregational work harder than it needs to be.
— Developmental Ministry Task Force Co-Chairs:
Kim Miller 
Jacki Weber

Newsletters and Websites and Facebook, Oh My!

The volunteers and staff that produce the various communications of the church are pulling together as a Communications Team. We want to coordinate our efforts and use technology to communicate better with our community and to make a difference at UU Santa Monica and beyond. All are welcome to join the team and share their expertise — or just a willingness to help your community stay informed. Come meet with us March 12 and April 30, 12:30 to 1:30 pm, in Forbes Hall, Room 2, or email Jackie Schwab in the church office,

Support UUSM Through the Ralphs Community Contribution Program

Ralphs Grocery Stores offers an easy way for church members with a Ralphs Rewards Card to support UUSM through Ralphs’ Community Contributions Program. Eight UUSM households are currently enrolled and effortlessly donated $105.97 by shopping and using their cards to donate a percentage (up to 4%) of their purchases between September 1 and November 30, 2016.
If you would like to participate too, please go to and create an account to register your Rewards Card. At the bottom of the Account Summary page is the Community Rewards section. Search for the UUSM organization number, 81397, enroll, and then go shopping! Important: you have to re-register EVERY year in
September. For questions about this nearly effortless UUSM fundraising program, contact Hildreth Simmons.
Ralphs Online Registration Instructions
1. Log in to
2. Click on ‘Create an Account’
3. Follow the five easy steps to create an online account
4. You will be instructed to go to your email inbox to confirm your account
5. After you confirm your online account by clicking on the link in your email, return to www. and click on ‘my account’ (you may have to sign in again first).
(This means that you have already entered your email address and chosen a password)
1. Log in to
2. Click Sign In
3. Enter your email address and password
4. Click on “My Account” (In the top right hand corner)
5. Link your card to our organization (Unitarian Universalist Community Ch #81397) by clicking on “edit my community contribution” and searching for 81397. Click the button to the left of our name and click Enroll.
Supporters can earn rewards on almost everything, every time they shop! However, there are specific purchases that cannot be included: alcohol, tobacco, pharmacy, postage stamps, gift cards and Green Dot Prepaid Cards, gift certificates, CRV, fluid milk and milk products, lottery and promotional tickets, fuel, fuel center purchases, and sales tax. More information is available at

Are You Aware? (Transportation)

Depending on public transportation to get to church makes church participation more difficult.People in the congregation may stop coming or limit participation if they need to depend on public transportation.Despite improvements, public transportation is still unreliable and time consuming.
The Disability Support Group proposes reactivating a network to provide rides (like Care-Net).We want to try to help people come to church.We need you! If you are willing to be on a list of people who can offer rides to and from church, mainly on Sundays, or think you may sometimes need a ride, please contact Mark Christiansen or Steve Young.
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.
Green Living Committee: 

March and April, 2017 - Climate Justice Month
Seeds of Change

Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed.  Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.

-- Henry David Thoreau

Join Rev. Rebecca, Green Living committee leaders , and special guests for Seeds of Change, a five-week exploration of personal and social transformation through the lens of climate justice.  The journey begins on March 19, with Reverend Michael Dowd, eco-thologian, preaching in honor of World Water Day on March 22.  Our Climate Justice Month will conclude with our participation in the March for Science in Los Angeles on April 22 and then celebration with the Earth Sunday sermon on April 23.


Splinters from the Board: 

Application for Developmental Minister Submitted to UUA

The board met Tuesday, February 7 in Forbes Hall, a week earlier than originally scheduled, to allow for celebration of Valentine’s Day. All board members were present except Rev. Rebecca, who has a commitment to meet with Heart to Heart facilitators on the first Tuesday of the month. Also present were Church Administrator Nurit Gordon and six guests. The Rev. Sarah Schurr, UUA Western Region Congregational Life Lead, who specializes in ministerial transition, participated via internet in the developmental ministry discussion. The meeting was conducted by Ron Crane, who shared that he was very happy to be back, and we were very happy to welcome him back.
We welcomed new church members since the last board meeting: Cheryl Sims, Mark Berlin, and Chela Metzger, for a total UUSM membership of 322.
The Treasurer/Finance report was taken off the consent agenda and added to the regular agenda. The remainder of the consent agenda was approved.
The first item on the discussion agenda was an update and discussion of the developmental ministry application process. The application has been submitted, communication with the congregation, led by Jacki Weber and Kim Miller, continues, and there will be a church business meeting March 5 to ask the congregation to endorse by majority vote the board’s process for hiring a developmental minister.
The application for a developmental minister was submitted to the UUA January 23. It was accepted with high compliments on the excellence of the overall content and especially the articulation of our goals. The UUA team of Rev. Schurr, the Rev. Jonipher Kwong, and the Rev. Keith Kron are leading the search. They expect that it will take about eight weeks to identify an initial pool of candidates, which will then be evaluated by the team and a subcommittee of the board. The cost to our congregation will be approximately $1,500, mostly for transportation.
The application has been posted on the web page for developmental ministers, and Keith has made phone calls to encourage ministers to apply. The team will narrow the search to a short list of three candidates based on the goals defined in our application. While a regular called minister must be hired by a vote of the congregation, the board is responsible for hiring a developmental minister.
Qualifications for a developmental minister who would support our congregation include a non-anxious presence, experience in achieving a cultural shift, understanding of and comfort with our church’s culture, and ability to work with the regional staff and our right relations consultant.
The second item on the agenda was an inquiry into how to best use the board’s time between now and May. Proposals included a community-wide workshop on leadership enrichment and articulation of roles and responsibilities (Patricia Wright), continuing work on the smart goal of assessment (Joe Engleman), and continuing work on the smart goal of a Sexually Safe Congregation (Emily Hero). A motion to hold a leadership and roles/responsibilities workshop to be led by Gregory Rouillard of the Living the Seven Principles Ministry failed by a 2/7 vote, based on the desire to wait for a developmental minister to work with right relations. Assessment was put on hold. Emily Hero and Kim Miller will continue to work on the goal of a Sexually Safe Congregation.
The third item on the agenda included a discussion of the budget process and a proposal for how the board can handle responses to written letters, complaints, and concerns that come to the board’s attention. Feedback on the proposal was positive but no immediate action was taken.
The treasurer and chair of the finance committee, Kim Miller, updated the board on the budget process and status, following the budget development procedure defined under our finance policies. The Personnel Committee’s recommendations regarding salaries have been submitted to the Finance Committee and budget requests have been received. The Finance Committee will meet in closed session and prepare a draft budget to be submitted to the board at its March meeting. The final budget will be voted on by the congregation at the Annual Meeting in May.
As of the submission of the statement of income and expenses for January 2017, UUCCSM is “in the black” by $2,855. The meeting adjourned at approximately 9:30 pm following check out by individual board members.
— Patricia Wright


RE News: 


Faithful to the Future: Big Picture Inspiration for Chaotic Times
Sunday, March 19, 3 to 5 pm, Sanctuary.
Childcare provided.
This program, geared for adults and teens, builds on Rev. Dowd’s two TEDx talks and on material in his
bridge-building book, “Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your
Life and Our World,” which was endorsed by six Nobel Prize-winning scientists and by religious leaders across
the spectrum.
We each have experienced times of trouble that threaten to overwhelm our individual lives. In such times, a vision of possibility is essential. The same holds for the punctuations in history when whole societies face troubles of an immense and uncharted variety. Truly, we here and now have arrived at such a time. Humans, unwittingly, have become a planetary force. We are changing, irreversibly, the very climate of our world. Henceforth, any actions we take as individuals and societies will be done in the new light of climate change. What vision will carry us forward through such times and inspire us to work together? How shall we frame the need to shed our business- as-usual outlook on life and take on a new vision of possibility that can unite us as a species in joyful self-sacrifice and service? What vision will charge us with a sense of heroic purpose that the future is, indeed, calling us to greatness?
Science and religion are not enemies; indeed, they must work together if humanity is to survive the 21st century. Given our impact on Earth’s climate, the seas, and other species, humanity is about to experience what could be called “The Great Reckoning.” The good news is that this will also be “The Great Homecoming”: the prodigal
species coming home to reality. This presentation will focus on six points of agreement held by tens of millions of
religious and non-religious people across the globe — and how to stay deeply inspired in the face of changing climate and other large-scale challenges.
Rev. Michael Dowd is a bestselling eco-theologian and pro-science prophetic voice whose work has been featured in The New York Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek, Discover, and on television nationally. Michael and his science writer/evolutionary-educator wife, Connie Barlow, have spoken to more than 2,000 groups throughout North America since 2002, including some 500 UU churches. Their work has been featured on the cover of the “UU WORLD” twice, in 1997 and 2006.
Michael has delivered two TEDx talks and a program at the United Nations. He has also conducted an acclaimed online conversation series: “The Future Is Calling Us to Greatness.” Dowd’s great joy is sharing a
science-based message of inspiration about our sacred responsibility to future generations. He last appeared at
UUSM in March 2014, and we’re excited to have him back.


Canticle to the Cosmos
A scientific and spiritual odyssey through the evolutionary origins of the universe, life, and humanity. We will view and discuss this 12-part video course by cosmologist and religious naturalist Brian Swimme, who seeks to provide people with a scientific *and* sacred understanding of cosmic origins, divine creativity, and an ecological consciousness urgently needed in our time. In his book, “The Universe Is a Green Dragon,” Swimme writes, “Our ancestry stretches back through the life forms and int  the stars, back to the beginnings of the primeval fireball. This universe is a single multiform energetic unfolding of matter, mind, intelligence and life. None of the great figures of human history were aware of this, not Plato or Aristotle, or the Hebrew Prophets, or Confucius.…We are the first generation to live with an empirical view of the origin of the universe…to look into the night sky and see the birth of the cosmos as a whole. Our future as a species will be forged within this new story of the world.”
Every Sunday in March, 4 to 6 pm in Forbes Hall
Facilitator: James Witker,
Spirited Seekers
Discover the world of spirituality in the monthly Spirited Seekers group. We shall endeavor to keep an open mind, and to delight in the multitudinous expressions of spirituality and the deeply personal encounters with the Divine, according to our understanding. We aim to discover new ways of looking at spirituality beyond the bonds of a specific theology, and we seek to enrich our own practices, if we choose to engage in any. All are welcome.
March’s Topic: Michael Dowd, the Pro-Future, Eco-theology Evangelist, will be visiting our church this month. In preparation, Spirited Seekers will plunge into Dowd’s “Ten Commandments to Avoid Extinction,” also known as Reality’s Rules or the Limits of Grace. Come and discuss these important ideas.
Sunday, March 5, 1 to 3 pm in the Warren Mathews Conference Room
Facilitator: Sarah Robson
Sneak Peek: At April’s meeting, Julia Jonathan will present American Shamanism.
“Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”
Join us for a multi-week exploration of this bestselling book by Yuval Noah Harari that draws from many fields of study (history, anthropology, archaeology, and the biological sciences) to tell the story of how modern human beings came to be and where we may be headed in the future. “Sapiens” argues that history has been shaped by three major revolutions: the Cognitive Revolution (70,000 years ago), the Agricultural Revolution (10,000 years ago), and the Scientific Revolution (500 years ago). These paradigm shifts empowered Homo Sapiens to order our world around ideas (politics, economics, religion, etc.). The resulting transformations quickly made us the dominant species on Earth and have now put us on the verge of overcoming the forces of natural selection itself, even as we face grave ecological peril. We’ll discuss this “big history” epic from a variety of perspectives,
valuing our congregation’s philosophical and spiritual diversity, in four sessions over eight weeks.
Saturdays, March 4 and 18, 4 to 6 pm, Forbes Hall.
Co-Facilitators: Laura Matthews and James Witker
Reverence for Life: Transforming Belief into Practice through Animal Ministry
This class is designed for UU’s interested in beginning, supporting, or growing animal ministries in their congregations. During this one-session, one-hour webinar, we will reflect upon Albert Schweitzer’s ethic of Reverence for Life and what it could mean for our lives, organizations, and congregations. We will outline resources and possible next steps to set up an animal ministry within our congregation. Part of this ministry
might include joining the Reverence for Life Program designed by the UU Animal Ministry (UUAM).
Sunday, March 19, 1 to 2 pm, in the Warren Matthews
Conference Room
Facilitators: Amy Lacombe and Bruno Lacombe
Create an Advance Healthcare Directive
A workshop is set for Sunday, April 30, 12:30 to 3:30 pm, to help individuals prepare critical paperwork that will guide their families and physicians with personal instructions about end-of-life care. Many of us learned about Advance Healthcare Directives in the Conversations about Death discussion group. You can print your own copy of the form for free, as well as explore a good checklist and resources, by visiting the website of California State Attorney General: I’ll bring several copies of forms plus reference materials and home-baked cookies. You bring notes or drafts and contact information for your doctor, health
insurance, and your healthcare proxy/agent.
Sunday, April 30, 12:30 to 3:30 pm, in the Warren Matthews
Conference Room
RSVP and/or questions: Joyce Holmen


Thursday Night Centering Meditation
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, or joy. There is a brief time of comments, sharing, and questions. We end the evening with a guided Mindfulness meditation.
Thursdays 7 to 8:30 pm, in the Cottage.
Please contact the facilitator, Bettye Barclay, beforehand
An Enjoyable Dive into Who and What We Are
This ongoing, once a month class is presented to help participants master specific meditation skills. We endeavor to answer the questions Who am I? (attitudes and beliefs) and What am I? (essence or true nature). This class includes meditations that explore participants’ spiritual goals. The monthly group meetings will also focus on insights gained throughout the month. It is expected that participants have a regular meditation practice.
Monday, March 6, 7 to 9:30 pm, Forbes Room 1
Facilitator: Bill Blake
Co-facilitator: Dave Watson


Music News: 

Second Sunday Concert Featuring Leslie Beauvais

Immediately following Second Sunday Supper, in the Sanctuary, a special concert by our fantastic and talented singer/songwriter Leslie Beauvais. All donations to this event will go to the UUSM music fund, which relies on events such as this to help raise funds for our musicians, printed music, and other expenses related to music ministry. Please join us! Contact: Kim Miller for more information.