Newsletter for May, 2018

May 2018
From Our Minister: 

To the Glory of Life

Dear Friends,

In ministry, I’m fascinated with exploring “well-being”– the degree to which people feel secure, happy, engaged, and successful (by whatever criteria they set). After 20 years in ministry, I think I’ve discovered some of what propels people into well-being; and some of what robs us of it.

Creativity, imagination, curiosity, play, innovation, in generous amounts, lead to ideas, discovery, understanding, connections, empathy, trust – which are vital to making meaning, shaping stories, forming narratives and, ultimately, well-being.

What robs us of well-being is trauma.
Trauma need not be a single event. A great many people experience serial micro-trauma in their life – especially growing up in environments where needs for safety or acceptance go regularly unmet.
Trauma is regressive in the development of well-being in the way it leads us toward, fear – and all the cousins of fear: doubt, guilt, shame, embarrassment, insecurity.
It may seem obvious to learn that creativity and trauma have an inverse relationship. Trauma leads to a loss of creativity. But creativity tends to heal trauma.
Bob McKim was a creativity researcher at Stanford in the 1960s and 70s. In an introductory class, he would routinely ask new students to take a piece of paper, turn toward someone close to them, and do a quick one-minute sketch. He found that he could depend on college students in his engineering-design classes to rarely be artistic. But even more reliable, he found that when he told each artist to show the drawing to their subject, he would hear loud and audible groans. And when they did, there were resounding apologies.
Fear and loathing to reveal creativity…? Apologies and embarrassment rather than curiosity, playfulness and discovery…? These are signs that trauma is winning.
The world is experiencing a great deal of trauma. We have been hurt. We have hurt others. Such pain has gone beyond random and innocent individual acts because these serial micro-traumas have become compounded. They’re now complex, unconscious systemic patterns. To get to a place where we heal such trauma – both in ourselves and in the world – will require an intentional, even religious, creativity. A subversive, revolutionary creativity.
Bob McKim inspired some students to start a successful creative design company called IDEO. It was formed by founders hiring people with whom they wanted to “play.” That is, people whom they trusted, applied imagination, thrived on creativity and had fun. And they discovered that they became more able to fail. They lost their inhibition to fail and moved through it much more quickly. And that resilience led to a great deal more success. And happiness. And well-being.
That describes the church I want. The church, I think, the world needs. Indeed, I think it is the church we all want to belong to. And a church that is possible. All it requires is that we learn to heal. And adopt a revolutionary, subversive creativity. With that as our guide, we can re-wire pain into hope. Rigidity to ingenuity. Despair to well-being. And light a beacon made from hundreds of shining people all playing together.
To the Glory of Life.
The Rev. Greg Ward
From Our President: 

Changes, and Right Relations

Two years ago, when standing as a candidate for President, I promised that I would promote the Right Relations concept in hope of bringing our community together again.
As I review what then was the future and is now the past, my heart is both joyful and sorrowful. I didn’t foresee the pain some of us would experience in the Right Relations process. Pain too often accompanies change. I didn’t foresee the depth to which some of us would embrace Right Relations, and in turn how these same people would find greater purpose to life and amazing connections with others.
We aren’t finished yet with the study and actualization of Right Relations. It appears that it is a life-long process. We have changed. We have much more to do.
I’m not leaving. I’m just moving from President to Past-President, and then to Member. My movement is a part of greater change.
I will continue to promote and support Right Relations. I will continue to promote the practice of “speak to influence and listen to be influenced.”
Know my great appreciation for all of you in making a journey in life that lets us feel both joy and sorrow and contributes to the world being a better place.
Please work to support the safety and security of individual diversity that makes us unique in a world of non-acceptance.
Ron Crane


News & Announcements: 

UUSM Annual Meeting - Sunday, May 20 - 12:30 p.m. - Sanctuary

All members of UUSM are encouraged to attend the Annual Meeting, where we elect our Board of Directors and Nominating Committee, adopt our budget for 2018-2019, and consider resolutions to establish church policy.
Lunch will be available between 11 am and noon, sponsored by the Lifespan Religious Education Team.

Summer Schedule Starting

Sunday, May 20 will begin our summer worship schedule of ONE SERVICE AT 10 AM.

The May 20 service will be followed by our annual meeting at 12:30 pm. Please note: one service each Sunday at 10 am until September 23.

June Newsletter Deadlines

The June 2018 issue of the UUSM Newsletter will be published on May 28. Deadline for that issue is TUESDAY, MAY 15 AT NOON. Please submit announcements to Submit articles to

Heart to Heart Contemplative Worship Service:
Sunday, May 13 5 pm to 5:45 pm

Heart & Soul is a monthly contemplative worship service series that occurs on the second Sunday of each month. It is a shorter, more intimate service, with singing and instrumental music, statements, and questions, silence, and sharing. Readings, poems, quotes, and music are drawn from a variety of sources, including the UU Soul Matters Sharing Circle, our hymnals, and popular/folk music.
Kikanza Nuri-Robins, Rima Snyder, and Joyce Holmen

Rev. Greg’s Sunday Sermons Available for Purchase

The Rev. Greg Ward’s sermons are now available for purchase at the church office at $10 per publication, published monthly. All proceeds will be contributed to the Minister’s Discretionary Fund to help those who are in need in our community.
If you would like to order a copy of the monthly sermons, you can either mail a contribution to the church or call the office and pay with a credit card, and the sermons will be mailed to you. You can also stop at the office during office hours to purchase a copy.

Second Sunday Supper in May - Hosted by the Heart to Heart Circles Committee
May 13 • 6 to 8 pm • Forbes Hall

Please join us in May as we continue our long tradition of a monthly potluck, this month hosted by the Heart to Heart Circles committee, who will provide the main dish. Attendees are asked, if possible, to bring a side dish, salad, or dessert. To save on waste and promote green living, we kindly ask that you bring your own plates, cups, utensils, and cloth napkins (we will have extra dishes if you cannot bring your own). Contact Norm Richey.

Second Sunday Cinema - May 13 • 7:30-9:30 pm • Sanctuary

Please join us this month after Second Sunday Supper to view a film screening sponsored by UUSM’s Faith In
Action and Green Committee. The environment and our relationship to the earth continues to be at the forefront
of importance – mark your calendars for this special film screening, title TBD.

Brick Installation Memorial Day Weekend

Our next Brick Installation at the Garden of Eternity will take place on Sunday, May 27, Memorial Day weekend. We will be honoring your loved ones and some of our past members who are no longer with us and who were very committed and generous with our church. If you are interested in purchasing a brick, please contact Nurit Gordon in the church office.


Environmental Stewardship Award

UUSM received the Sustainable Quality Award from the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce for our Excellence in Stewardship of the Natural Environment. The award was accepted on behalf of the church by Alison Kendall and Beth Brownlie, pictured here with Chamber CEO Laurel Rosen, and Awards Chair Shannon Parry, Deputy Sustainability Officer for the City of Santa Monica.




Lunch on Sunday May 20 Benefits LRE Matching Fund

Enjoy lunch before the church’s Annual Meeting and support the Lifespan Religious Education program at the same time! The LRE Committee is preparing many different vegetable salads, pasta salad, baked chicken, and
delicious desserts to fuel us for the Annual Meeting, which begins at 12:30 pm.
Proceeds benefit the Spirit Grant Matching Fund, which supports the salary of the RE Assistant. We must raise $6,000 to take advantage of the full amount of the generous grant we received.

Sacred Nature: The Emerging Theology of Religious Naturalism 

Saturdays in May, time TBD. Contact: James Witker.
Informed by new knowledge and inspired by ancient wisdom, Religious Naturalism weds scientific understanding of the universe with perceptions, values, and reverence usually reserved for more traditional religious positions. Join me for an introductory exploration of Religious Naturalism and its implications — for our movement and our world. What if we really did regard nature itself as sacred? How do concepts of god(s) and the divine fit into such a framework? Are scientific inquiry and spiritual inspiration inextricably linked? Please check the Thursday announcements for more details, or stop by the Adult RE table on Sundays for dates and times and to sign up.
Faith in Action News: 

UUJMCA Regional Justice Training Embraces “Love Resists” Campaign

On Saturday, April 14, Unitarian Universalists from Los Angeles, Ventura, and Riverside Counties gathered at the
UU Church of Studio City to participate in the Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of California’s Regional Justice Training. The theme of the all-day training session was “Love Resists.” It was led by the triad of UUJM executive director Evan Junker, UU Refugee and Immigrant Services and Education (UURISE)’s CEO Katia Hansen, and Reverend Paul Lawngston-Daley of the UU Service Committee. UUJM is a grassroots-led organization advancing justice in California through education, organizing and advocacy for environmental, economic and immigrant justice as well as equity ministry. Advocacy has included work on the Truth and Trust Bills, the Human Right to Water Act, California Senate bills SB 54 (Sanctuary), SB 10 (Bail Reform), SB 562 (Healthy California Act) and the Racial Identity Profiling Act.
The morning started with a reading of Side with Love staff member Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen’s beautiful “Prayer for When You Reach Out to a Potential Partner,” beginning with the words “I am doing this for liberation” (the prayer may be found on the Love Resists website). Rev. Paul exhorted the group to ground our justice work in collective liberation, the premise that none of us are free until we all are free, bolstered by our First and Seventh Principles. In so doing, we seek the same protections for impacted immigrant communities as we do for our friends and families. Paul referenced the story of the Bodhisattva Warrior who, not satisfied with achieving his own enlightenment, stayed to work towards liberation for all. The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches that we should not question, like the priest and the Levite, what will happen to me if I stop to help, but rather what will happen to the traveler if I fail to stop and help. We ask ourselves, who is my neighbor?
Evan explained that the Love Resists campaign is directed to ending the harm caused by criminalization of people for being rather than doing – a structure that stereotypes communities as a whole for a collective trait, versus responding to actions people take as individuals. Examples include criminalizing street vending, sleeping in cars and sitting on sidewalks, bathroom bills, over-policing communities of color, and disproportionate school discipline of very young students of color.
UURISE’s Katia discussed the issues of Expanded Sanctuary and Justice Accompaniment. Whereas many congregations are unable to offer physical sanctuary, they may be able to participate in the expanded concept and protective intent of sanctuary through Know Your Rights trainings, Rapid Response, sanctuary in the streets, safe harbor/ landing or court accompaniment. The Accompaniment Model builds on the thesis that we will treat  impacted communities as we would our friends and family – centering their dignity, and assuming mutual  reciprocity. We do not approach justice work from a savior paradigm, but rather with the understanding that we all need help at various times, and while on this occasion I will leverage my privilege to provide you support, you may help me next time.  Accompaniment may include being present during court hearings or ICE check-ins, providing a meeting space, offering financial support for fees and bonds, or giving child care during meetings. Katia reiterated that we seek to develop accountable relationships and learn when to stand beside, behind or between the  immigrant and law enforcement – never in front of or over.
An activity anchored by Audre Lorde’s quote: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live singleissue lives,” demonstrated the intersectionality of many social justice issues and organizations. For   example, it was evident that the person who held the sign for “homelessness” intersected with those who held the  signs for “low wages” and “non-representative government.” More subtle was the connection with “climate justice” or “Sierra Club” (someone who experienced forced migration owing to a climactic disruption in their home country becomes homeless) or “Islamophobia,” or when person who has resources is red-lined from renting by a bigot. Viewing immigration through multiple lenses opens up the work; a person who advocates for climate justice need not redirect their energies to immigration, but they may develop insight about how their advocacy and interventions affect immigrants as well as the local residents.
One of the most powerful sessions addressed Covenanted Relationships, emphasizing that how we are with each other is as important as what we do together. Through collective liberation and mutual reciprocity, we are  privileged, rather than burdened, to engage in justice work. Our time, needs and education are not more important than the lived experience of impacted communities. Attitudes that “just showing up should be enough” and “they should be grateful for my efforts” constitute the violence of white privilege, as destructive as assault. But as we are learning through our right relations process, we enter into covenants to plan for the occasions when we fail, so that we can continue our relationships notwithstanding our mistakes. If we are ashamed when we err, we may attack ourselves or others, withdraw or avoid; Paul remarked that in the face of conflict, UUs tend to leave rather than  engage. To reduce shame’s toxicity, we must bring our errors into the “light of day” and communicate. Inherent in  covenanted, accountable relationships is the willingness to accept feedback, including about how we have erred.  In so doing, we may progress from shame to openness and curiosity.
Paul closed the afternoon with the same prayer by Rev. Nguyen, asking us to consider if we heard it differently – if it was more meaningful following this training. I did and it was.
For more information about the Justice Ministry, please see For further discussion about justice work in the field of immigration, please see, and UURISE.
Audrey Lyness

UUSM at Children’s March in Washington DC

Three generations of the Olson family marched in the Children’s March in Washington D.C. on March 24. Current members David and Kitsy Olson, their daughter Katey who grew up in this church, and grandaughters Sophie and Charlotte Flynn were all together at the march to end gun violence. Sophie and Charlotte were dedicated in our church with proud godmother Cynthia Kelly.
Splinters from the Board: 

Board Discusses Budget, Future Leadership

The board met in Forbes Hall on April 10 with nine board members, Rev. Greg, and 11 guests in attendance. Patricia lit the chalice for empathy as a way of being.
Rev. Greg engaged the guests first and then the board in a fishbowl dialog whereby the participants in the fishbowl are invited to discuss and the others observe. He asked the guests to share how they felt about the church and the board’s work since the beginning of the church year, and why they come to board meetings. Members of the Nominating Committee come to glean what they might need to exercise their role. Others attend to learn more about the board and what it might be like to be on the board. Guests observed that tension has decreased, and trust has increased over the last 12 months. During their turn in the fishbowl, the board expressed the weight of being on the board and the challenge of modeling with each other what they need to be in the community, especially regarding right relations.
A proposal for funds to support Second Sunday Supper (SSS) cleanup, parking, and help with childcare was introduced. Such a fund and other dedicated funds should have “sunset” clauses, i.e., termination clauses to begin to move us away from directed donations and to help us look at how we budget in coming years.
The Nominating Committee’s slate of candidates was presented. The candidates nominated include Jacki Weber for President, Beth Brownlie for Vice-President, Norm Richey for Secretary, and Kim Andres for Treasurer, with Nina Emerson and Eileen McCormack nominated for two-year terms as at-large board members. Ed Brand and Margot Page were nominated to complete one-year terms for vacant positions. Ron Crane will remain on the board as the Past President. Kikanza Nuri-Robins and Patricia Gomez were nominated for election to the Nominating Committee. Church members may also be nominated by petition.
A lengthy discussion of the budget submitted by the finance committee ensued. The very successful sustainability campaign has reduced the deficit to at least $21,500, with gratitude to the community for increasing pledges and contributing to the sustainability fund so that pledge increases could be matched. The finance committee has also proposed to continue the deficit reserve fund for the 2018/2019 budget by shifting funds from other reserves. This proposal will appear as a resolution at the Annual Meeting for the congregation’s vote. The utilization of reserve funds for purposes other than originally specified requires a majority vote of the congregation.
The board did not have time to adequately review the budget. A special meeting of the board was held on Tuesday, April 17 to review and approve a budget to present to the congregation at the Annual Meeting on Sunday, May 20. Pledge income remains at 100% of pledges for 2018. Two motions were passed: 1) Expenses for our Director of Religious Education were increased by $1,200 to $2,200, in accordance with her contract; 2) PSWD/UUA dues were increased by $1,414 to move to 55% of our fair share, with a commitment to pay our full dues to our denomination in four years. This increases the deficit by $2,614. The board approved a budget with a deficit of $24,268. The successful sustainability drive made a big difference in reducing the deficit.
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: 





What I Learned in Sunday School: A Visit to Neighboring Faiths

M y family started attending UUSM about two years ago so that my brother and I could experience religious education. This past year, I have begun to do the part of religious education that I was most looking forward to: visiting other places of worship. I was excited for this because I thought it would be interesting to learn about religions besides my own.
Since my family started going to UUSM, and my brother and I started RE, I have seen three different places of worship: a Lutheran church, an African Episcopal Methodist church, and a Christian Science church.
The Lutheran church was just down the street from UUSM, and they were very welcoming. We were told stories about Martin Luther, as well as other stories in the bible, and as a parting gift they gave us little Lutheran activity books.
I missed the time that RE went to the Jewish Temple, so the next place I went was the African Episcopal Methodist
church. There, before we went in, the smell of the barbecue that was happening outside the church filled the air. We went inside, and they had pretty stained glass windows and almost everything was the color green. The service started and the preacher read from the bible and preached about current events. The choir at the African Episcopal Methodist church was really great, and they sang about what the preacher was saying. At the very end, the Sunday school class led us in guessing the significant African-Americans whom they were talking about for Black History Month.
At the Christian Science church we sat down and ate pizza with the kids from that Sunday school. They explained some of their beliefs with the help of their parents and Sunday school teacher. Afterwards, they showed us their atrium. They had folding chairs instead of pews and plants and sunlight behind where the speaker stands to preach.
The Christian Science church and both of the other places of worship that I visited were very different from UUSM and from each other. It just goes to show that religion is different for everyone and Religious Education does a good job of teaching that fact to kids like me.
Elleanor Quist
UUSM youth share their faith journey at the April 22 Coming of Age ceremony

UUSM Youth at the United Nations

With the support of UUSM, members of the Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) spent spring break at the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office in New York City, where they participated in When Crisis Calls:
Advancing Just Migration For All. During the four-day event, our youth learned to collaborate with others while learning to be global activists. They shared their experience during the 9 am service on Sunday, April 22. 
Photos by Carol Ring

From the Director of Religious Exploration:  Emergence and Creativity

How wonderful that the Soul Matters theme for last month was emergence, and this month it is creativity! In April, during The Time For All Ages, we talked about our brains and of what could emerge if we use our non-dominant hand. We discovered that one of the things this enhances is creativity. I hope you have all been using your non-dominant hands, because I need your help.
I need your help with creating a multigenerational community at UUSM. It is not enough that we have children and adults of all ages in the same place at the same time. If we are all there together but not connecting, this is not community – it’s more like being stuck on the 405. We need to talk to our children, listen to them, share with them, and support them, and we need to do it together.
“Better forms of community are built on the
back of those who have toiled and sacrificed
long before we put ourselves on the line.
Simply put, there are no creators without
companions.” – Soul Matters
How can we do this? This summer I would like to have YOU come and share your wisdom, gifts, talents and skills with our children in their class. I call this program “You Can Do It Too!” Each Sunday a “guest” will come and share something with the kids. In addition to sharing, the guest shows them how to do what was shared. Some ideas of what to share are poetry, writing, art, cooking, music, science, stories, how to repair something – the choices are endless. Each class will follow a format and be led by an experienced teacher, keeping you free to focus on sharing.
Come to the RE table to sign up. Come and make a difference. Come discover something wonderful about others and yourself. Remember, you never know when you scatter seeds what will emerge. I believe that in working together as a loving community we are sure to grow beauty, kindness, connection, joy and affirmation. From you I receive, to you I give, together we share, and from this we live!
Kathleen Hogue

5th and 6th Grade OWL Graduates

Our Whole Lives (OWL) is the sexuality curriculum used by Unitarian Universalists across the lifespan. This year, nine 5th and 6th graders completed the agespecific OWL class at UUSM, and celebrated with a graduation
ceremony on the patio.


Music News: 

Leslie and Friends

A concert called Leslie and Friends was organized by Leslie Beauvais and held after Second Sunday Supper on April 8 to benefit the Music Fund. There is so much wonderful church talent including Leslie Beauvais, Tom Ahern, Ken Alexander, Teri Bond, and Kai Laudauer (aka Karl Lisovsky). However, the show was “stolen” by Delaney Hutchinson, accompanied by her dad, Brad Hutchinson. The Music Fund supplements the money for the Music Ministry not covered by the operating budget of the church.
Cindy Kelly