Newsletter for September, 2018

Sep 2018
From Our Minister: 

To the Glory of Life

Dear Friends:
I glanced at the news as I sat down to write this article on “vision” and noticed an interesting headline on my newsfeed: “Church Pastor Struck by Lightning.”
“Okay,” I thought, looking heavenward to the great global newsfeed. “You have my attention.”
Turns out, on August 13, in Alabama, immediately after Sunday services, Pastor Ricky Adams of Argo Church of God was struck by lightning just as he was leaving and locking the church doors. Pastor Adams explained it as “God had his hands on me.”
Suddenly, I was curious. Was this a hoax? “Fake news?” Nope. Corroborated by all the papers and news stations. So, I next wondered how many times this happens. A lot, it turns out.
On July 1, 2003, lightning struck the First Baptist Church in Forest, OH. And it happened during church. DURING THE SERMON. Kid you not. Snopes verified.
“It was awesome, just awesome,” said church member Ronnie Cheney. “You could hear the storm building outside and Pastor Hardman (a guest preacher from Virginia) just kept asking God what else he needed to say.” “God’s voice often sounds like thunder,” Hardman preached. “That’s right, God! We hear you!” And then — KA-POW! — Lightning struck the church’s steeple. From the back row, Erick Smith saw sparks traveling from the belt pack to his head mic on the wireless system. “He was asking for a sign and he got one,” Cheney said.
Later that summer, lightning struck another church close to Forest. That one burned to the ground, which led one local reporter to quip that the memorable July strike on Forest Baptist Church was merely “God’s practice throw.”
Of course, that’s not true. Natural disasters, contrary to claims by fundamentalists as a sign of God, are leverage for neither pastors nor politicians. As much as I wanted to say that lightning would strike a pastor for locking his church or having the hubris to assume God is speaking directly to – or for – them, it doesn’t work like that. God doesn’t strike churches with lightning to make a point any more than God pushed Katrina to landfall.
Why? Because that’s not the way “vision” is transmitted. Unlike lightning, vision doesn’t come in a flash and isn’t usually limited to one person.
Real vision, like lightning, comes from a place that’s charged up. And it seeks to connect with something receptive to that charge. Real vision looks to share energy with what is truly grounded around it. Real vision, like lightning, brightens the landscape and shines light on what were once shadows.
If you’re waiting for lightning to strike here, in Santa Monica, I need you to understand this: in churches like ours, it doesn’t happen that way. In churches like ours, energy comes OUT of the church. And usually not from the pulpit. It comes from the pews.
It’s time UUSM uncovered its lightning in a bottle. Then, throw away the bottle (in a recycling bin, of course). It’s only when we’re grounded and connected and focus on making magic with the world that we will truly harness our vision.
To the glory of life.
The Rev. Greg Ward
News & Announcements: 

Worship Associates Applications

In the past year, UUSM’s Worship Associates have done an amazing job at raising the bar of worship and demonstrating that insight, poise, and articulation are gifts that inspire us. And they are gifts that belong to all of us. The Worship Associates Team is led by Rev. Greg to be a lay leadership development program. Since it began, some people have expressed interest in joining. We invite three to four new members every year with an intentional aim to cultivate and expand the diversity which makes our worship and relational lives richer. We will be accepting applications during the month of October. Please look for an application by the middle of September or ask Rev. Greg how to apply.

October Newsletter Deadlines

The October 2018 issue of the UUSM Newsletter will be published on September 28. Deadline for that issue is Friday, September 14 at noon. Please submit articles to

Welcome Back and Welcome Robin! - Second Sunday Supper in September - Sunday, September 9, 6 to 8 pm. 

Please join us in Forbes Hall to welcome our ministerial intern Robin Stillwater at a potluck dinner hosted by the Board of Directors and the Intern Team. The host groups will provide the main dish. Attendees are kindly asked, if possible, to bring a side, salad, or dessert. To save on waste and promote green living, we also ask that you bring your own plates, cups, utensils, and cloth napkins (we will have extra dishes if you cannot bring your own). Contact: Kim Miller,(we will have extra dishes if you cannot bring your own). Contact Kim Miller for more information.

RIGHT RELATIONS: Back in Action!

Greetings from your Right Relations Team. Although we took a summer break from both the newsletter and staffing our table, we were responding to requests to Right Relations, planning for the upcoming year and integrating the new team members. Please save the date – Sunday, October 14, 12:45 to 4 pm – for our next workshop on living out our covenantal commitments, which will address the first two sections of the Covenant: Caring and Compassion, and Communication. We will resume staffing our table this month and remain available for consultation. Please speak to us in person or contact us through If you would like to assist in the right relations process by joining our support team, do let us know.
Team: Sue Stoyanoff and Vilma Ortiz, co-chairs; Cassie Winters, Linda van Ligten, Aubrey Sassoon, Alicia MacLennan and Audrey Lyness
Support: Steve and Sylvia Young, Patricia Wright, Nalani Santiago, Beth Rendeiro, Margot Page and
Cindy Kelly

Holiday Craft Fair, Sunday, November 18

The Holiday Craft Fair is scheduled for Sunday, November 18. Beverly Alison will have a TREASURE TABLE again this year – you all know how great that will be. If you have catchy and seductive treasures to donate contact Beverly Alison.
There will be a variety of arts and crafts made by church members and guest artists. Pottery, jewelry, cards, fused glass and more. We always have a great selection for you or for gifts - and the church receives a percentage of the money from everything sold.
If you make art or craft things, which you would like to offer for sale at the Holiday Craft Fair, please contact Bettye Barclay for information.

Sign Up Now for Heart to Heart Circles Small Group Ministry

HEART TO HEART CIRCLES are groups of eight to ten people who participate in a structured practice of deep listening and intimate sharing within the safety of a covenant of interaction. Each group meets monthly from October through June, following a curriculum we share with UU congregations throughout the U.S. Sign up at the
Heart to Heart Circles table in Forbes Hall after each service.
Faith in Action News: 

Israel’s Public Relations War

What the heck is happening in Israel/Palestine? Why has the conflict been going on for seven decades with no resolution in sight?
The Peace and Social Justice Committee invites you to watch and discuss Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States, screening Sunday, September 9, at 7:30 pm in the sanctuary—after Second Sunday Supper. We are fortunate to have Estee Chandler introduce the documentary and lead a question and answer period. Estee is the Jewish American daughter of an Israeli father and an American mother. She launched a Los Angeles chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) in 2010 and was recently elected to its National Board of Directors. She is the co-host of the weekly KPFK radio show Middle East in Focus.
According to Robert Jensen, Professor of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, “In the conflict over the land of Palestine, Israel’s overpowering military superiority has produced decisive battlefield victories. But just as crucial to Israeli dominance in that region is its supremacy in the U.S. news media… The film’s analysis is crucial to understanding why—given the longstanding international consensus for a peaceful settlement that would give both Israelis and Palestinians a secure national homeland—the conflict drags on in its seventh decade. Whatever one’s position on how to resolve the conflict, it is uncontroversial that Israel could not continue occupying Palestinian territory without U.S. diplomatic, military, and economic support, and it’s unlikely that support could continue without the backing—or, at least, acquiescence—of the U.S. public.”
Because the film has been repeatedly attacked and misrepresented by right-wing pressure groups and ignored by virtually all corporate media outlets and North American film festivals, its publisher Media Education Foundation is making the film available for streaming at no cost.
Roberta Frye
Splinters from the Board: 

Board Tackles Staff Turnover; Approves Committee Charters

The board met on August 14 after taking a break in July.
Reports from committees included updates on finding replacements for our Director of Music and our Communications Coordinator; the searches are moving rapidly and replacements will likely be announced soon. The candidates for the jobs are very accomplished.
The church has received $100,000 from the Ralph Meyers Estate, and it has been apportioned according to the Committee on Money requirements.
Several committee charters were received and approved, including Worship Associates, Pastoral Care Associates, and Adult Religious Exploration. Such charters will be available on our website under the “Policies and Procedures” section.
Three new members were read into the minutes: Barbara Gluck, Lois Ganner, and John Laslett. I hope you have a chance to welcome them, when you see them.
A very experienced advisory team for our intern, Robin Stillwater, is in place. We look forward to welcoming her in September.
The board will host a “Board Professional Day” on September 8, which will be led by UUA regional staff member, the Rev. Jonipher Kwong, and attended by the boards of several UU churches.
The board retreat will be held in October (specific date to be determined).
If you would like to keep up on board doings, you can find postings in the “For Members” section at the UUSM website, under “Board Documents.””
Rebecca Crawford
RE News: 

From the Director of Religious Education

"...what came to me in the night was the realization that I don’t “do” religious education because I’ve mastered a lot of theory about it, although I have mastered some. I “do” religious education because of experiences which have shaped and transformed me, and continue to do so as I continue to reflect on them."
— Betty Jo Middleton
They teach because they want to nurture their own spiritual development. What better way to learn about your own spirit than to teach others about theirs? They teach because they have a passion for social justice. What better way to change the future than to raise the next generation to care deeply about justice work? They teach because they have a need to connect and find a sense of belonging. What better way is there to connect than to be a part of a community of love and support that is found in our religious exploration (RE) programs? Mostly, I hear that our teachers come back year after year because they are committed to making a difference in our world.
“It is more important than ever, in this particular moment in time, given the current political climate, urgency for social justice and the ongoing struggle for sexuality and gender equality that our children and youth have strong, committed leaders to help lead them soundly into understanding their own spiritual and moral compass!”
— Katie Maedke Hall
I, too, was a volunteer teacher at a UU congregation in Tucson, Arizona many years ago. I remember that first day I attended and stayed with my daughter, Kat, in her classroom. I helped the teacher with activities, snack, singing, etc. The next day, I got a call from the RE director. She said they really needed someone like me to teach. She invited me to join a teaching team. I laughed and informed her that I had never been to a UU church, knew nothing about it, and had no teaching credentials. She told me that made me perfect for the job! I guess she was right because look where I am now.
We need you! We are in need of teachers for our Spirit Explorers class (Grades 3 to 5) and our middle school class. Teachers are trained and supported all year round and all supplies are provided. You will work with a team of four teachers so you would be in the classroom up to two times per month. And…you need not miss a service since we have two of them!
Come teach with us! Email Kathleen Hogue,
Kathleen Hogue

New Class:  "A Year to Live"

This is a class for those who are tired of waiting around for their “real life” to start. It is a class that will jump start us out of our ruts, our avoidance, our fears, our unrealistic fantasies and propel us into more acceptance, more focus, more intentionality, more accountability and surround us with people who will love us into the people we’ve always wanted to be.
This will be a year-long course that meets once a month. Although the end-result for those who see it through will be more love and more joy, make no mistake: it is not about empty promises and feel-good phrases. It’s going to be hard work “getting real” with ourselves and daring to allow people to love us in the process.
We will have a sample up at de Benneville Pines during the UUSM Church Weekend on Sept. 14 to16. The class will start in October on Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8:30 pm. Ask Rev. Greg for more details.

Conversations and Connections

This Adult RE program will provide our church community with the opportunity to develop meaningful connections, two people at a time. Within the context of small group gatherings, we will break into groups of two, encouraging conversation between us that deepen our connections. Each meeting will offer an opportunity for these one-to-one conversations with at least three people. We will meet once a month, in three-month cycles. The third meeting of each cycle will be a potluck for those who have attended one or more of the Conversations and Connections meetings prior. Participants will be invited to discuss two or three questions that relate to the monthly church theme—for example, September is “vision.”
Our guiding intention is to provide structure and opportunities for meaningful connections between individuals in our congregation. We believe that as the number of one-to-one connections grows over time, there will be an expanding web of connections in our community, based on trust and acceptance.
We hope you’ll join us.
Please sign up at the RE Table in Forbes Hall after services. For more information, contact Bettye Barclay or Sue Stoyanoff.
Music News: 

Goodbye to Zanaida

UUSM said goodbye to Zanaida Robles on Sunday, August 26, in an emotional ceremony led by Reverend Greg.