Newsletter for October, 2017

Oct 2017
From Our Minister: 

From the Rev. Greg Ward:

Dear Friends,

Not long ago, I came across a picture that remains stuck in my mind. I found it on the internet and it showed a church with tape over the front doors and boards on the windows. In the foreground was the marquee that, for years, announced the weekly sermon. In that space was probably the most poignant and prophetic sermon title in years. Two sentences: “Gone out of business. Didn’t know what our business was.”

I wish I could say this picture is rare in the religious world. But it’s not. And I might be inclined to believe we’d be better off if a few more clueless or ill-intentioned churches went out of business. Except that the problem extends beyond churches. And beyond religion altogether.

The truth is, more and more people are shutting down, too. Closing shop. Going out of business. People who’ve lost touch with what their business is as human beings – unconscious of being part of an interdependent web of all life. And that lack of consciousness has led to personal, social, political, and environmental unrest.

The 21st century has a produced a disheartened world in need of a new path with heart. Courage is the theme for October.

‘Cour-age,’ is a ‘heart word.’ It comes from the French word, cour meaning heart. To bring heart to a struggle. And heart is just what we need for these times and the work before us.

As I’ve been listening to all kinds of stories from people who found their way to UUSM, there are two sides to almost every one: The love felt for the good people and the good things we can do together – and – the brokenheartedness of losing our way to the place of such promise we felt sure we were headed.

Over the years, I’ve made it my business to listen to people into their heart. To love people and en-cour-age them to climb out of stuckness. What people find in such important times is not to come bearing righteousness. It isn’t strength or power or reason that returns us to feeling part of what’s vital and sustaining. It’s heart.

It is my hope that we can awaken to the wisdom of George Bernard Shaw when he said, “The true joy in life is being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. It’s being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap, and being a force [for the collective good] instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

UUSM is not going out of business. Not now. Not just when the world needs us. I see our business as learning to show up and live with heart. Even after living with a little broken-heartedness. Because what the world needs is people gifted with new heart. Good hearts. The kind that will open minds.

To the Glory of Life.
The Rev. Greg Ward 

News & Announcements: 

Newsletter schedule

The next issue of the UUSM Newsletter will be published on October 31. Deadline for that issue is SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15 at noon. Submit items to:

Second Sunday Supper - October 8, 6 p.m.
Hosted by the Green Committee in Forbes Hall

Please join us for this informal, potluck dinner together with UUSM members and friends. It’s a great way to get to know your fellow congregants better! Attendees should bring a main dish, side dish, salad, or dessert to share. You can help: Join our Kitchen Cabinet and help with cooking (the day before), setup, or cleanup. You know that the most fun at any party is in the kitchen! Sign up at Children are absolutely welcome! 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: Jacki Weber,

Heart & Soul: A Contemplative Worship Service
Second Sundays 5 to 5:45 pm in the Sanctuary

Heart and Soul services are led by Rev. Kikanza NuriRobins, Joyce Holmen, and Karen Hsu Patterson. With singing and instrumental music, poetry, statements and questions, silence and sharing, we’ll explore monthly worship themes.
Sunday, October 8 – What Does It Mean to be a People of Courage?

Sunday Spotlight: Kai Landauer in Concert
Sunday, October 8, 7 pm. Sanctuary

Please join us for a special night of music with the songs of Kai Landauer. From his website, “I left Ann Arbor Michigan in 1976…From the very beginning…I have enjoyed my life here. I freed myself and my mind…I lived in the woods, pounded many nails, returned to college, got a degree, got married, survived cancer, raised a family, wrote much music, built a house, and grew in ways I never thought possible. California is my home. My music describes my California experience, defying the odds through my battle with cancer and my perception of life since.” We hope you will join us for this evening. (Click photo at left to see full size flier.)

The Worship Associates Program

Rev. Greg is using his background of teaching worship to educate and empower a group of people to help take on and expand the role of “pulpit host.” This cadre of people will learn leadership – not just in a worship setting, but how to inspire and transform people and communities. One of the main goals of this new program is to embody the diversity that is capable of providing new heart, new insight, to enlarge our understanding of 21st century realities. We are continuing with many of those who already have skill and experience in leading worship, but we want to add some new insights and energy from people who can broaden our diversity in every category – age, gender, race, class, sexuality, theology, religious or cultural history, etc. Please click on the Worship Associate Application form, or ask Rev. Greg if you are curious. He will be accepting applications for the month of October.

Annual Pipes Lecture to Feature The Rev. Judith Meyer on Nov. 5

The Pipes Lecture Committee is thrilled to bring you another fabulous weekend this year. We are excited to announce that our minister emerita, the Rev. Judith Meyer, has agreed to come for a Saturday afternoon tea on Nov. 4, and the Pipes Lecture on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 2:30 pm in the sanctuary.
The title of Rev. Meyer’s talk for the Pipes Lecture is “Falling Out: Alienation and Community in Divisive Times.” She will offer reflections on life in a red state, especially during this perilous year, and suggest ways to cope with the widening and hostile differences in our country.
Many of you will warmly remember Rev. Judith from her ministry here from 1993 to 2008. She and her husband, David Denton, will be returning to visit Santa Monica from their home in Knoxville, TN. Our minister emeritus, the Rev. Ernie Pipes, for whom the lecture series is endowed, is pleased to have Rev. Judith join us as speaker. For those of you who don’t know Rev. Judith Meyer, we expect you will share our enthusiasm when you meet and hear her.

Heart to Heart Circles: New Groups for 2018

Over the past several years, Heart to Heart Circles have become an integral part of our UUSM community. Within Heart to Heart Circles, church members have the opportunity to get to know each other beyond the role layers we present to the world each day. Heart to Heart Circles provide opportunities to share one’s self, and to develop the skill of deep listening in an atmosphere of confidentiality, openness, trust, and acceptance.
This October and November, you may sign up for Heart to Heart Circles that will be held from January through June 2018. (Next summer, we will align new groups to the church calendar year, with groups meeting from October 2018 through June 2019, and signups over the summer.)
We invite you to join a Heart to Heart Circle if you have not done so, or to return for another season of deep listening and sharing.
We also invite and encourage those who have had the Heart to Heart Circle experience to consider becoming a Heart to Heart facilitator. More information about becoming a facilitator will be announced soon.
Please visit our table during coffee hour after services in October and November to sign up and to find out more about these wonderful groups, or contact Leslie Beauvais if you have questions.
Leslie Beauvais

Kudos for OWL

The “OWL Program Takes Flight” article in UU World magazine features the organization co-founded by a UUSM member!
Among the articles featured in UU World’s Fall, 2017 section was one about the benefits of OWL (Our Whole Lives) education beyond congregational walls. The local non-profit, “More Than Sex-Ed,” co-founded by UUSM member Beth Rendeiro, was featured in the article. 
From the article: “More Than Sex-Ed: "The secular Los Angeles-based not-for-profit offers customized OWL workshops, discussions, and classes for organizations, schools, and private groups… More Than Sex-Ed has already had three contracts with Los Angeles-area schools. Through this work, the organization’s paid OWL trainers have taught students who express a range of religious views, from humanist and Buddhist to evangelical Christian.”
Congratulations Beth! More information about the organization can found at

FROM LINDA VAN LIGTEN: Volunteers Make Welcome Event a Success

Appreciations for those who came together to make the meet-and-greet a success. Because of you, this past Sunday’s first meet-and-greet with Rev. Greg was a huge success. Let me count the ways.
- Pam Teplitz and Kit Shaw coordinating the coffee, with the luncheon, helping serve both, Pam bringing watermelon, much appreciated on such a hot day.
- Wendi Gladstone, coming early, setting up, donating funds, and keeping the mimosas flowing, with a touch of mint in each cup, and helping clean up.
- Patricia Wright bringing the vegetable trays. Peggy Kharraz bringing homemade hummus and pita, in lovely serving dishes.
- Kim Miller, donating funds and orange juice, essential to the mimosas, delivered by her husband Mike Reivitis, since Kim was in choir rehearsal.
- Kathy Cook for bringing chips and dip, and helping during the luncheon.
- Rick Teplitz for helping set up.
- And the rest who kept the food and drink going, and helped clean up: Alicia Van Ooyen, Alison Kendall, Cathie Gentile, Eileen Mc Cormick, Audrey Lyness, Haygo Salibian and Sheila Cummings.
YOU ROCK ! It was a fun time in the kitchen with you all.

Caregivers’ Support Group holds its last meeting

When our Caregivers’ Support Group began meeting 17 years ago, “family caregiver” was not a common term, and those who had such responsibilities generally bore them in isolation, frustration, and confusion. Since then, many books, news stories, documentaries, websites, and organizations have become available to offer insight or assistance to folks taking care of a parent, spouse, friend, or grown child up close or across the continent. WISE services in Santa Monica now has a group for caregivers, too. Over the long years, a couple of dozen church members have benefited from having a regular opportunity to discuss their situation with those who truly know how difficult things can be. We’ve shared problem-solving suggestions, resources, tears, laughter, and more. Our group held its last meeting in September, but members will continue to be available to the church community, including Helen Brown and Joyce Holmen.
Building News: 

UUSM Featured on Santa Monica Conservancy’s “Sacred Places” Tour 
Saturday, Oct. 7, 1 to 5 pm 

The Sacred Places tour will explore the architectural beauty, history, and culture of Santa Monica’s churches, chapels, and a synagogue. Selected for their historical significance and cultural diversity, these sites are located in different parts of the city. Tickets for the tour are $25 for conservancy members, and $30 for the public, and may be purchased online at Visitors will be provided with a map and detailed brochure. Some of the other 15 places featured include Iglesia el Sermon del Monte, Pilgrim Lutheran Church, Temple Beth Shir Shalom, Phillips Chapel, Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, and Calvary Baptist Church. Check-in locations are First Presbyterian Church, 1220 2nd St.; Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 1343 Ocean Park Boulevard; and St. Anne Church and Shrine, 2011 Colorado Ave. Dwight Flowers and John Zinner, who are active with the Conservancy, are UUSM’s liaisons for the tour.


Faith in Action News: 

UUSM Joins Annual Interfaith March

UUSM participated in the annual Interfaith March, held this year on Sunday, September 10 in observance of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Institute for Religious Tolerance, Peace, and Justice hosted the Interfaith March, which was held in the San Fernando Valley, following two years of marches in Koreatown. Approximately 400 people, more than previous marches, turned out from all faith traditions, alongside atheists, agnostics, and humanists. The march started at Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church in Encino, then continued to Temple Judea, and on to the final stop at the Islamic Center of Reseda.

Soraya Deen of the Muslim Women’s Speakers was one of the main organizers. UUSM’s Peace and Social Justice Commission hosted her group’s first public outreach event in our sanctuary Labor Day weekend 2016.

Seven of our congregants (Sarah Mae Harper, Hugo Contreras, James Witker, Deirdre Dietel, Roberta Frye, Patrick Tape, and Stan Bemis) braved the heat to attend the march, along with UUs from Emerson, The Onion, and Santa Clarita. Most of us could not make the entire march, mainly due to the heat. We look forward to the next interfaith march and hope to bring more people out in the future.

James Witker and Sarah Mae Harper


Green Living Committee: 

Veggie Bus Getting Ready to Roll

Alison Kendall, helping prepare Community Services Unlimiteds’ (CSU) “Veggie Bus” to receive solar panels as part of it’s remodel into a permanent classroom, seed library and performance space. UUSM has been working with CSU on this project and several other volunteers joined Alison on Sept. 9 to help make this project happen. There is another workday coming up on Saturday, October 14. Watch the Thursday announcements for more information.





Film Screening with Director - Saturday, Oct. 7, 7 pm in the Sanctuary

UU Santa Monica’s Green Living Committee presents a special screening of the award-winning film, “Love Thy Nature,” with filmmakers and community partners — Saturday, October 7 at 7 pm on the big screen in the sanctuary.
Narrated by Liam Neeson, “Love Thy Nature” points to how deeply we’ve lost touch with nature, and takes viewers on a cinematic journey through the beauty and intimacy of our relationship with the natural world. The film shows that a renewed connection with nature ignites a sense of meaning and wonder so profound that it touches us at the very core of what it means to be human. The winner of 27 awards, it screened in 140 cities around the globe, advancing the filmmakers’ mission to grow the nature-connecting movement.
The film’s director, Sylvie Rokab, will be present for a Q&A. Please join us afterward in Forbes for refreshments and a chance to learn more about how the Green Committee and our community partners are working on environmental and climate justice in Santa Monica/LA and beyond. View the trailer at
Film Screening with Director Saturday, Oct. 7, 7 pm in Sanctuary
U U Santa Monica’s Green Living Committee presents a special screening of the award-winning film, “Love Thy Nature,” with filmmakers and community partners — Saturday, October 7 at 7 pm on the big screen in the sanctuary. Narrated by Liam Neeson, “Love Thy Nature” points to how deeply we’ve lost touch with nature, and takes viewers on a cinematic journey through the beauty and intimacy of our relationship with the natural world. The film shows that a renewed connection with nature ignites a sense of meaning and wonder so profound that it touches us at the very core of what it means to be human. The winner of 27 awards, it screened in 140 cities around the globe, advancing the filmmakers’ mission to grow the nature-connecting movement. The film’s director, Sylvie Rokab, will be present for a Q&A. Please join us afterward in Forbes for refreshments and a chance to learn more about how the Green Committee and our community partners are working on environmental and climate justice in Santa Monica/LA and beyond. View the trailer here:
Splinters from the Board: 

The board met on September 12 with all board members, our DRE, and 11 guests in attendance. A delicious vegetarian, Indian-themed dinner was provided by Beth Brownlie. Board member Jerry Gates lit the chalice and gave tribute to the Rev. Charles Joy as the inspiration for the chalice as the UU symbol, originally meant to represent sacrifice and love.

The Right Relations Committee has been invited to attend board meetings to provide process observation at the end of the board meeting.

The consent agenda was approved with a requested update on the status of fundraising for the RE Assistant. With Sunday’s bake sale, $6,500 of the $7,500 November goal has been raised. The full text of consent agenda reports is available on in the members-only section.

An all-day board retreat will be held on Saturday, September 30 at the home of John Sussman. Patricia Wright will provide breakfast and Kim Miller will provide lunch. The agenda for the retreat is in the planning phase and will be forthcoming.

Beth Brownlie and Norm Richey are spearheading the revival of the Membership Team. Following a first meeting, their goal is threefold: 1) attract new members, 2) engage visitors, and 3) nurture and energize existing members.

This year’s Ernie Pipes featured lecturer will be Minister Emerita Judith Meyer. A motion from the Pipes Fund requesting board funds for a reception to accompany the lecture did not pass. The Pipes Lecture Fund is self-sustaining.

The board approved two motions related to the Forbes Hall waste line repair/ regrade. The first, to approve the contract with “The Sewer Spy” in the amount of $11,380, to execute the repair; and the second, in the amount of up to $5,000, for the permit required by the City of Santa Monica and the refinishing following the repair. Both amounts will come from the Capital/Building Reserve Fund. Details of the motions and the proposed work can be found in the meeting minutes on the UUSM website members-only section. The essence of the work includes replacing parts of the sewer lines and lining the pipes that run under Forbes Hall.

Various policies that have been proposed or pending were addressed: 1) Animal Policy, 2) Letters-to-the-Board Communications Policy, 3) Musical Instrument Policy, and 4) Financial Privacy Policy. The Animal Policy is in effect as an interim policy. The Letters to the Board Communications Policy was approved. The Financial Privacy Policy is pending review with Rev. Greg. The Musical Instrument Policy is also pending. Once policies are approved, they will be added to the UUCCSM Policy Document. It was pointed out and acknowledged by the board that any actions regarding policies should include the text of the policy.

Rev. Greg, unable to attend the board meeting due to his Ministerial Fellowship Committee commitment in Boston, requested board support for the Stewardship Team, whose schedule is imminent. The board acknowledged and approved the possible themes for this year’s pledge drive: Healing and Growing Together, and Moving Forward Together. The board, as the visionary lead for Stewardship, endorsed the following possible “vision points” that Stewardship can go forward with as talking points: 1) unifying the congregation and learning the benefits of covenant, 2) exploring our history and healing our past, and 3) increasing the efficiency and transparency of our organizational design.

The board approved a target for the 2018 stewardship campaign to raise 15% more than “what we raised last year.” This was an expression of board support; details to be forthcoming.

At the request of the board, James Witker gave a brief update on resources to combat potential white supremacy action. Going forward, a working group/task force will be created to share resources and create a plan.

The board approved a motion to enter into executive session. The board approved a motion to come out of executive session. No actions resulted.

The meeting adjourned at approximately 9 pm following check-out by board members.

Patricia Wright


RE News: 

A Message from the Lifespan Religious Education (LRE) Assistant Fund / Spirit Grant Committee

What is so important about lifespan religious education?

Our LRE programs are the backbone of our congregation. The programs are essential to attracting new members (including young families, who are the future of a growing and vibrant liberal religious community), as well as nurturing and retaining current members. The programs encourage our congregation to seek personal growth and more knowledge about our religion, and support our mission and purpose as part of a liberal religious movement that believes in freedom and justice in our local communities and in the wider world.

What does the Director of Religious Education (DRE) position do?

Plenty! The DRE position implements programs for children, youth, and adults, including OWL and Heart to Heart Circles. S/he reviews, plans, and prepares curricula; recruits, develops, and supports volunteers; manages the religious education budget, expenses, keeps files and records; meets with the minister, staff, religious education committee, and governing board; develops and presents UU education and worship opportunities for children and youth; plans celebrations and intergenerational events; attends district and area religious education conferences and workshops; maintains resources, supplies, and equipment; supports and assists youth programming; offers parent education and support; advocates for and publicizes the religious education programs; supports Adult RE; leads adult education courses, and much more.

Why do we need an assistant for the LRE program?

The addition of an assistant position is the most logical step in growing an attractive program. By transferring some of the time-intensive administrative and clerical work to the assistant, the DRE will be freed to focus on the more professional aspects of the job: growing the program and developing new programs, strengthening relationships with families, better supporting volunteers, coordinating OWL, etc.

We have never had an assistant before, so why now?

The LRE program has needed an assistant for a number of years. The Board of Directors acknowledged a value in creating the position back in 2007; however, because of the ensuing economic downturn, the position was placed on hold until things stabilized. We have a wonderful opportunity now to fulfill this position for 3 years with half of the cost already paid for by the Spirit Grant…IF we can raise the remaining funds!

Why can’t we rely on volunteers?

A consistent staff person would provide fluency to the program and would be trained to handle privacy and nondisclosure issues of the community. We want our congregation to keep growing and to support our mission of a liberal religious movement that believes in freedom and justice. Please consider how important this is for our church, and contribute to our campaign to hire an assistant to the LRE program. Thank you!


Adult RE Offerings for October

Last Conversations - LOVING AT THE EDGE

“Cassandra, when it gets close, will you be there and talk me through it?” I know exactly what Carlene is asking. My mind goes cold; how can I say “No” to this woman, my patient, my dear, new friend? There were stern warnings in my becoming a registered nurse, that I must keep a professional distance. It is the time before Viet Nam, the woman’s movement, and the flower children of San Francisco. What could I possibly say during the actual dying? But I say, “Yes.”

Four days a week, I drive down from LA into Whittier’s summer heat for my 12-hour nursing shift, up the stairs to a tiny onebedroom apartment. Carlene’s high, iron hospital bed has replaced the dining table. Overhead an old, brave fan tips back and forth with the momentum of trying to do its job.

In the weeks I have been her private duty nurse, when insurance companies still paid for care in the home, she and I have shared so much:, her stories of the romance of her new marriage, her wild struggle to beat the cancer, and the abandonment of her now grown son when he was two. We laugh a lot, sing silly songs, and shiver in the pain of her death soon coming.

It does come. The body too ill to support life gradually winds down. The “letting go time” comes. I lean in close, my hand supporting hers. There is no longer any response. I sit easy, my eyes soft, observing, allowing my slow thoughts.

I think, “What must she urgently need to hear?”

With simple words and touch, it is important she feels safe and deeply cared for. I speak as though she hears every word I say and is gentled.

In that last hour, her grown daughter, Francis, her new husband, Carlos, and I are an enclosing circle of warmth, telling her, “You are so loved. We are here.” And, “When you are ready it is OK to go.”

At last she takes one last petal-soft breath and is gone. It is almost beautiful. So many families say those very words to me.

Most of us will have this powerful opportunity to be present for someone at the transitional moment of death. Having skills and understanding to apply at that time helps everyone involved.

Friday night talk, October 27, 7 to 9 pm
You are invited to an evening of warmth and inspiration. Come learn very specific things to say and do. Gather information, hear heartwarming stories, be moved that you, too, may be there for another

Saturday workshop, October 28, 10 am to 4 pm
Interactive, hands-on exercises and sharing to deepen your comfort and understanding.

For information or to RSVP, call or email Cassandra Christensen, or sign up during the coffee hour after church Sunday at the table in Forbes Hall.

You will need to RSVP for the workshop. It is highly suggested that – in preparation for the workshop – you come to the evening talk, presented by Beth Rendeiro and Cassandra Christensen.

Parking will be provided in the UCLA lot at 16th and Arizona. Childcare will be provided with prior notice.

Cassandra Christensen

Open Meditation Group

You are cordially invited to a new monthly 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. At its root, meditation 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, one 25-minute period 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 one of us at coffee hour, or give us a call.

Friday, October 20 and every third Friday in Forbes Hall, 7 pm to 8:30 pm Facilitators: Beverly Shoenberger and Carol Ring  

UU History

Written by Alison Cornish and Jackie Clement, “Faith Like a River” explores the dynamic course of Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist (UU) history–the people, ideas, and movements that have shaped our faith heritage. Faith Like a River invites participants to place themselves into our history and consider its legacies. What lessons do the stories of our history teach that can help us live more faithfully in the present? What lessons do they offer to be lived into the future?

Each Sunday in October from 1 to 3 pm, NW Cottage Contact: DRE Kathleen Hogue

Monday Night Monthly Meditation

An Enjoyable Dive into Who and What We Are 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.

October 2 and November 6, 7 to 9:30 pm, Room 1 Contact: Bill Blake

Music News: 

Annual Choir Retreat: Requiem Vespers Nov. 5

Our Choir held its annual retreat at Throop Church in Pasadena in August. Led by our Director of Music, Dr. Zanaida Robles, the choir made plans for the coming year and began practicing to sing our annual Requiem. This year the choir will sing Mozart’s Requiem at the annual Remembrance Vespers on Sunday, November 5. The choir is looking forward to an exciting year of music.

Music Committee -You Are Welcome

Members of the congregation are welcome to join the Music Committee, which will hold its first meeting of the year on Sunday, October 8 at 12:30 pm in the choir room, upstairs.