Beacon on the Hill July 2017
From the Ministers
Dear members and friends,
As the regular program year draws to a close and church begins to enter summer-mode, we can’t help but think about all we have shared together this year. It was a year ago this month that you voted to call us as your Senior Co-Ministers, and since then we’ve grown together with you in spirit, commitment, and service. We’ve also grown in pride and affection as we’ve watched this community hold one another through the year’s national political turmoil, the changes in the leadership of our Unitarian Universalist Association, and the ongoing revelation of just how deeply racism and other oppressions are rooted in the systems in our lives. In times of high anxiety and conflict, whether at a national, local, church, or even individual level, covenant becomes even more important.
As we’ve written about before, a covenant is a promise, or set of promises, that people make about how they will be with one another. Many faiths are rooted in specific faith statements, and our tradition certainly includes particular and very deeply held religious beliefs. But at its core, Unitarian Universalism is a covenantal faith. In other words, what binds us together is a promise about how we will be and behave with each other rather than a list of theological beliefs we share. In 2007 this congregation voted unanimously to adopt the following covenant of right relations:
We covenant to build a religious community guided by love and sustained by respectful relationships. Believing that building healthy relationships is a spiritual practice, we aim to listen appreciatively, speak with care, express gratitude, honor our differences, and assume good intentions. We endeavor to communicate directly, honestly, and compassionately, particularly when we are in conflict. When we hurt one another, we will try to forgive, make amends and reconnect in a spirit of love. In celebration of the common purpose that unites us, we will do our best to abide by this covenant.
While our tradition prizes reason, personal experience, and individual opinion, our covenant counter-balances that with the reminder that it is more important to our community that we behave with kindness and care than that we “be right” or have our opinion become the majority. It’s not always easy to take responsibility for our own feelings of disappointment or upset while being kind to those who voted a different way than we did about something important to us. And yet that is exactly what allows us to support and empower one another and the ministries we are each called to serve in our corners of the world. And while it’s an inner skill we can develop as part of a Chalice Circle and in many of the upcoming “Learning to Serve and Lead” gatherings beginning in September, it is a skill that will serve us well in all areas of our lives, not just church.
We hope you have a great summer, whether you’ll be working or vacationing, staying around town or going somewhere exciting. Whatever your plans, we wish you space this season for rest, renewal, and recharging. And we hope to see you on Sunday mornings for the great lineup of summer worship and forums that lie ahead.
Reverends Kristin and Christian
Sunday Worship Services in July
Theme for Month: Journeys
Please note: Worship Services now begin at 11:00 a.m.
July 2 – Salvation Translation, Rev. Stefanie Etzbach-Dale, with Ann Riley, Worship Associate. The word “salvation” has heavy theological overtones. It’s been used to divide people into good/evil, worthy/unworthy. Today we explore how this word helped shape Unitarian Universalism as it exists today. Rev. Etzbach-Dale is minister to the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Santa Clarita Valley. Her book, “From Headlines to Heartlines,” offers a Unitarian Universalist perspective on current events.
July 9 – The Search for Self, Rev. Dan Schatz, with Dave Roberts, Worship Associate.
The Unitarian Universalist search for truth and meaning can take us in many directions – including inwards. How do we begin the “search for self”? Rev. Schatz is the minister of the Unitarian Congregation of West Chester, Pennsylvania. He is also a Grammy-nominated folk musician, author and producer.
July 16 – Expectations, Cordell Sloan, with Jim Gasperini, Worship Associate. We all have expectations, and often our expectations have us. We move through life sometimes not reflecting on or questioning our expectations and where they may be leading us on our journeys. What if we composed our expectations like an artist endeavoring to express a more beautiful reality?
July 23 – Into the Water, Rev. Christian Schmidt, with Jim Gasperini, Worship Associate. Take a journey to Japan and back with Rev. Christian, learning about culture, religion, and what it means to be faithful to yourself.
July 30 – Faith for the Journey, Sue Magidson, with Kathryn Jay, Worship Associate. How do you keep on keeping on when things get rough? Does faith play a role? What the heck does faith mean for a UU, anyway?
July Good Neighbor (Sharing Our Offerings):
Bay Area Community Land Trust. A non-profit organization to support community ownership of land and community improvements — with a vision of permanently affordable, resident-owned cooperative housing communities to benefit workers, families, students, seniors, disabled, low and middle income folks from diverse backgrounds, now and forever.
Summer Social Action Forum in July
Sunday mornings at 9:30 in the Fireside Room
July 2: Documentary short film, “4.1 Miles.” Nominated for an Oscar. Syrian refugees escape to Greece. Introduced by Mac Lingo, chaplain.
July 9: Rev. Craig Scott, “Vietnam, 52 Years Later.”
July 16: Julie Rogers, therapist, “The Origins of Whiteness.”
July 23: Edward Burgess, Senior Manager, Strategen Consulting, and Ellen Zuckerman, Senior Associate, Southwest Energy. “The Science of Climate Change and Progress Towards a Clean Environment.”
July 30: Dr. Frederick Shaw, “My Work with Developing Indigenous Resources in Chandagar, India.”
For August programs see website.
Humanist Connections in July
Sundays at 12:45 pm, followed by a potluck at 2:15 pm. Check kiosk in Atrium for location.
Format: A 10-minute presentation followed by moderated, timed discussion. All are welcome!
July 2: Building Poems: The Tricks of the Trade, Ray Nelson
July 9: Natural Highs and Deep Meaning, Lee Lawrence
July 16: Youth Rising: The British Election, Stuart Sugden
July 23: Visionary Artists and Dream Artists, Diane Rusnak
July 30: How the Trump Campaign Really Did It, Marcia Bates
July 30 – Fifth Sunday Potluck Lunch and Activities
Stay after the service on July 30th for an all-church potluck lunch! Sign up on the table outside the office or here.
You can also sign up for an art and architecture tour of the building and grounds, led by Ann Harlow. The first tour will start at approximately 12:30 and the second one at about 1:15.
Like to sing and/or play an instrument? Join others after lunch in the Fireside Room for favorite folk and pop tunes.
Merrin Clough, Director of Family Ministry
Dear sweet UUCB community,
As I prepare for maternity leave and the birth of my baby I feel so grateful for the love and gifts you have shared with me. It is a real pleasure to work for such a loving community. My husband Jared and I have delighted in the wonderful stories, children’s books, helpful hand-me-downs, and snuggly toys that so many of you have given. Thank you!
My time away begins July 9. I will return to work part time on November 12 and resume a full-time schedule on December 10. While on leave my whole focus will be on my family. Know that you will be in my heart as Jared and I treasure these precious first months with our little one. When the baby is born we’ll send an announcement and pictures, but aside from that you won’t hear from us. I will be totally out of contact with the church. In November, it will be so exciting to bring our little one to meet you all.
At first the prospect of preparing to step away from my job for a few months, during the busiest time of the year, was daunting. Our Family Ministry program is ambitious, with a full schedule of activities and many committed volunteers to coordinate. But rather than being daunting, I have discovered, this time has been inspiring. My impression now is that my stepping out of the picture for a while has created an opportunity for others to step up. And, wow, how blessed we are with an amazing team of intelligent, caring and wise leaders to guide Family Ministry. Meet them here. With their leadership, I am confident that things are in good hands while I am away. More so, I get the impression that a deep caring and commitment to this church’s ministry with families is growing even more real during this time. What a gift! What a joy!
About our Summer Program:
Exciting times are in store for Family Ministry this summer at UUCB! Using the arts, drama, music, and media we will explore how our UU principles can come alive through activism. Click here to see detailed session info.
This summer project is inspired by our Faith in Action task force, whose goal is to:
- Joyfully celebrate Unitarian Universalist values
- Hold up those values that feel at risk during the Trump presidency
- Transform concern into action and practice justice making skills
- Draw inspiration and learn from our UU legacy of service and justice work
Children and youth of all ages are invited to participate. All projects, games, and activities will be multi-age accessible. Traveling this summer? Not to worry, children and youth can drop in on any Sunday!
The summer program began on June 18 and will continue through August 13 from 11 am to 12 pm each Sunday. Childcare will also be provided each Sunday from 10:45 am to 12:30 pm. We are looking forward to what will be an engaging season of learning, growth, and fun!
Thank you to Ida Poberezovsky, our special project leader. Ida is excited to join our team of assistant teachers to provide an exciting program. Thanks, too, to Alice Lemieux, a UUCB parent who is coordinating the summer programming, ensuring that all needs are met during this time.
Rev. Sue Magidson, Affiliated Community Minister
Has someone ever offered you their undivided attention, listening so intently and compassionately that you felt completely heard?
This was one of the questions that opened a Pastoral Associates training that Rev. Kristin and I led last April. UUCB is blessed by a wonderful group of warm and caring individuals who serve as Lay Pastoral Associates: Lynne Cahoon, Barbara Cullinane, Lynette Delgado, Kay Fairwell, Mac Lingo, Kay McArthur, Judy Sam, Marta Tobey, and Anne Wardell. These big-hearted folks are committed to supporting members of this congregation when times get rough.
Our training that day focused on compassionate listening. We talked about how powerful it can be to have someone listen thoughtfully and caringly. Compassionate attentive listening can help us to hear ourselves more clearly, to access inner wisdom we didn’t realize we had. But because this type of listening is in such contrast to our typical fast-paced, highly interactive conversations, it takes some training and practice.
We discussed some basic listening strategies, such as
- not interrupting
- making space for silence
- checking our understanding by mirroring back what we think we heard
- choosing our questions carefully (e.g. asking open-ended questions rather than leading questions)
- no fixing, advising, problem-solving, or platitudes!
Supportive compassionate listening is something we all can learn how to do, whether we’re Pastoral Associates or not. You might try it with a friend, taking turns being the talker and the listener. Who knows – you may find, as I do, that the act of compassionate listening is joyful, connective, and transformative.
Dispatches from New Orleans
Jack Duggan, President, Board of Trustees
Reverend Christian, myself and a number of other congregants from UUCB are here attending the 56th Annual Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly in New Orleans.
It is very busy and very tiring. I’m surprised how quickly I run down, but I tell myself I’m not a wimp so much as not used to such hot weather where the temperature and humidity are nearly equal. When we first arrived a Hurricane turned Tropical Storm named Cindy was coming ashore in Louisiana. It seemed to be no big thing for the locals, but I told them we weren’t used to storms with names in California or air that fogged my glasses when I stepped out of the air conditioning of the Convention Center or the Hotel.
At the General Assembly itself I was struck by how many Unitarian Universalists there are. There are a lot of us and we come from all over the country. It’s gratifying to see so many UUs from places we think of as red states. We are the future. I am surprised by the diversity of the gathering. Somehow I had the impression that with all the recent controversy that nationally UUs weren’t that diverse. If anything the association is more racially diverse than our own congregation, so as we struggle with White Supremacy and implicit racism, we do it with a variety of perspectives and the discussion is the more for it. Diversity, like justice, once experienced demands more.
I myself have been ambushed by discussions of classism. I wasn’t expecting to be so personally affected by discussions of class. I am beginning to understand intersectionality and with that perspective I’m learning more about the intersection of racism, classism, genderism and populism. It seems we have a long ways to go yet. Yes, I am very pleased to have had in the course of my life my mind opened on these issues as far as it is. I am a liberal progressive and we’ve come a long ways, but . . .
We have a long ways yet to go. We can and we will be better together and it’s not always comfortable. The work we’ve committed ourselves to can’t be done from our comfort zone. In the general sessions and the discussions in smaller rooms afterwards truth is being spoken and real issues being addressed.
We also were able to celebrate with Maryann Simpson and Cynthia Asprodites the installation of their daughter Aija into Permanent Fellowship with the UUA. I got stopped by Laura Bogle, who was the interim director of family ministry when Suzette, Paloma and I first arrived at UUCB. Laura is doing well in Tennessee and has three girls now, most recently twins. She also was installed in Permanent Fellowship.
When I return home we will be well into summer and vacations and the summer doldrums will be going on. I expect the activism and work of UUCB will continue to be strongly needed and done during the summer as we do. The planning and the congregational work that supports us will begin in earnest again as we all gather at the end of summer and the beginning of fall. I look forward to bringing what I have learned, the inspiration I have felt, the interconnectedness I have realized and sharing those at UUCB. We have work to do and fellowship to build and enjoy.
And no, I don’t know yet who I am voting for for President of the UUA, but I am listening hard. I know we have three very good candidates and one will be, to my surprise, the first woman to be President of the UUA.
Buildings and Grounds Committee
Larry Nagel, Chair
We are making good progress on having the dead Monterey pines on our campus removed. The first set of eleven trees is out on bid and a contract will be awarded by the end of June so removal should commence in early July. The next set of sixty-three pines is awaiting final approval from Contra Costa County and should go out to bid by the end of June, with contract award by the end of July. Those trees should be removed in early August. We also are making good progress in the specifications for the remodel of the Safir room. The goal here is to have the design ready for presentation at a congregational meeting in September.
If any of these projects fits your interests and your skills, we would love to have you on our team. Please contact Larry Nagel at (510) 558-0842 or email@example.com. Or, just drop in at the Buildings & Grounds Committee Meeting, which is every fourth Monday at 4 pm in the Fireside Room (except for December and May, when it is the third Monday).
Lenore Ralston, Convener; Grace Ulp, Reporter
The Endowment Committee recently welcomed two new members, Ira Nelken and David Lingenfelter. We are looking for a few more new members. Requirements: “works and plays well with others,” interest in money handling.
Recent activities: Worked with the Board of Trustees to revise bylaws concerning endowments; worked with Mary Ellen Morgan and Jan Setchko to increase our institutional memory of gifts to the endowment; hosted a biennial luncheon for the Maybeck Society members.
New! The UUA has started a campaign — “Wake Now Our Vision” — a legacy challenge. A large amount of money has been set aside to match 10% (up to $10,000) of your intended legacy gift to the UU organizations you designate (there are seven of them, including our own church).
Note: There is required paperwork. There will be an information table in the Atrium after church some Sundays for your enlightenment. You can also pledge at http://wakenowourvision.org/.
Coordinating Team Notes
Lisa Maynard, Convener
These are some of the areas we’ve been working on lately:
We are implementing a revised event scheduling process, with new online forms! Church committees and groups will be receiving an information packet once the forms are set up on the website.
- The Coordinating Team is forming a Safety Policy Implementation Task Force; the major work of this group will begin in the fall. The CT will continue work this summer to post the Safety Policy on the UUCB website.
- Please note that animals brought onto church property must be leashed and under control of their owners.
- Beginning August 20, Sunday social hour (after-service) refreshments will be complimentary. Groups or individuals who would like to provide community refreshments will have the opportunity to sign up for specific dates; reimbursements will be provided from the Hospitality budget (a modest amount has been set aside for each Sunday’s refreshments). More information about the process will be forthcoming!
- One Sunday each month will also be available to official UUCB groups for possible fundraising lunches; groups will be given the opportunity to sign up for specific dates after we establish the calendar. If your group is interested in this type of fundraising, please look for announcements later this summer; feel free to email me now (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to get a direct invitation to this opportunity.
The Coordinating Team currently meets twice monthly, at a time chosen by its members (currently on the first and third Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.). If you’re interested in attending, please contact me (email@example.com) to verify our schedule and meeting place. Questions for the CT? Email CT@uucb.org.
Jean Gleason, Interim Convener
Since it is summer, the Program Council decided it is time to remind everyone what they do and why. Below is a description shamelessly cribbed from the official description and then edited down to fit within Beacon guidelines.
UUCB has many committees and groups that are active in fulfilling the mission of this church. The council was formed to improve the connections between our committees and groups thereby enhancing the ability of our congregation to make a difference in peoples’ lives and in the world.
To me, the most important charge to the Council is to foster an anti-oppressive and multi-cultural church. Helping members develop their leadership skills is also part of its work.
The Council is a formal part of the UUCB organizational structure. It:
- Organizes and provides input to the Coordinating Team on major operational issues, administrative policy revisions, and priority setting
- Offers feedback on the effectiveness of our ministry shared by a combination of staff and lay leaders working towards achieving the Ends
- Sets the Church calendar
- Advises the Coordinating Team on priorities for the discretionary part of the budget
- Approves/declines proposed programs and events
- Evaluates the formation and continuation of groups
- Maximizes communication, support and collaboration among groups
- Collaborates on education, leadership, multi-cultural/anti-oppression, outreach, and in-reach efforts
- Advises and develops UUCB website enhancements and other means of communication
- Is actively involved in pursuing and evaluating progress of the Church in fulfilling the Ends adopted by the Board of Trustees
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, July 19, 7:30 to 9 pm (7:15 for social time). Members of the congregation are always invited.
The Council is facilitated by a Convener, who has a two-year term and serves on the Coordinating Team.
Stephanie Ann Blythe, Reporter
As we saw here at UUCB, an interim ministry period can be very challenging. Even some mundane activities become complex processes during the interregnum. Such is the case for sending scholarship money to Homorόdύjfalu. Your donations, Good Neighbor offerings, and bowls of goulash (all for the Village Education Fund) allowed us to recently send $3000 to the village. Except, who would we send it to? For years we sent it to Reverend Arpad, but he has moved on to new ministry, and the interim minister told us that he didn’t want to handle the money. With a few emails and a Facebook post or two, we found someone in the village who is able to receive wire transfers. This came in the form of an email written in Hungarian with an attachment written in Romanian! Our own Susan Toth translated the email for us, but what about the attachment? Turns out that while I was on a cruise in April our cabin steward was Romanian and he gladly translated the attachment.
The good news on June 15 was that the transfer was received and is being disbursed. We will receive an updated list of students once they have all signed for receipt of their funds. The other good news is that two 14-year olds have been confirmed as members of the congregation.
The new minister takes over on July 1. This opens a new chapter in our partnership with Homorόdύjfalu. You can be a part of it too — just ask Stephanie Ann Blythe (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Anne Greenwood (email@example.com), for more information.
I sit here on top of a hill in Sonoma County, the visionary creation of the congregants of this church, a geodesic dome with a wrap-around deck overlooking a beautiful valley that stretches toward Bodega Bay. I hold many happy memories of congregants, families, friends, and people in communion with nature and each other. My eleven acres were once open pasture, but now hold a Meditation Grove of mature redwoods, donated pine and fir trees and native regrowth of bay, madrone, oaks and wildflowers.
I have been closed for over two years now because of the need for maintenance and repairs after forty years of use. My founders wisely set aside additional acreage divided into four lots that the congregation said could be sold to generate the funds for maintenance. But with today’s congregation not being aware of my situation, the complicated sales of the two remaining lots have been delayed.
Sadly, I am not as well known throughout my own “church on the hill” as in the past. My current caretakers from the congregation, the Freestone Committee, are a small group who are getting older and need additional support to restore me to my former glory and care for me into the future. But when new and old hear about my valued part in the mission of UUCB, I am sure people will step up to make that happen.
Please stop by the Freestone table on a Sunday and learn about this very special part of this church and how you can help keep me viable. Freestone is a place where you (and up to fifteen of your friends) can escape the chaotic urbanity of the East Bay for moments of calm and reconnecting with each other and with the “interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”
Social Justice News
Please mark your calendars for Friday, July 21st, for the City-wide RICHMOND CEASEFIRE WALK!! Join us at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church to start the walk — or at any other stop along the way! The East Bay Center for Performing Arts Band will salsa with us throughout the evening! ALL ages are welcome! See www.facebook.com/RichmondCeasefireWalks.
Sharing Experiences: At our June meeting, Beth Jerde asked for comments from Social Justice Council (SJC) members about their experiences meeting/speaking with our Muslim neighbors at the “Dine and Dialogue with Our Muslim Neighbors Dinner.” Members said they were pleased to meet the Muslim attendees and found them interesting and interested. One loved the diversity of the people she met. Another spoke of earlier biases developed from cartoons seen as a child that denigrated people from Arab countries. The presentation about Islam was said to be informative, and hearing the sound of their call to worship was breathtaking. Other SJC members said that working with people preparing the dinner was fun and equalizing. Several participants spoke of being warmly welcomed as they visit mosques. One person liked that the Muslim Mission holds its sermons in English. Several SJC members went to an Iftar event at the Islamic Cultural Center, among people so warm and friendly Kelly smiled at meeting a young man who was both nonjudgmental and a Trump supporter! The possibility of an interfaith potluck later this year is being considered.
UUCB members have gone to Martinez twice and once to Sacramento to stand up against the jail expansion that Contra Costa County Sheriff Livingston supports. The most recent trip, June 20th, was to demand an analysis of the budget. That day, some 15 UUCB members went to the Board of Supervisors meeting, and at least five spoke. But all our efforts (and those of likely over 100 other people) were for naught. John Gioia was the only Supervisor to vote against the jail expansion.
The Good Neighbor for May, Planting Justice, received $1,944.77 from the Sunday collection.
The June 4th meeting of the Literature, Film & Drama Contingent (LFDC) of the Social Justice Council was an afternoon of insights and good vibes! Susan Lankford led the discussion of White Trash: The 400-Year History of Class in America. Julie Rogers and Ralph Nelson demonstrated the “Fishbowl Exercise” that the LFDC will create for ourselves around the issue of “class” in August. For the meeting on July 2nd, we will read Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debby Irving. Anna Fisher will facilitate the discussion. We meet from 12:30 to 2:30 in the Fireside Room. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Social Justice Opportunities and Information
Ceasefire Walks: Friday nights in Richmond at 7 — contact Jane Eisenstark for carpooling.
GRIP: UUCB volunteers prepare and serve lunch to hungry and homeless people at the GRIP Souper Center in Richmond on the fourth Tuesday of every month. Want to volunteer? Contact Ray Westergard. To help with supper at GRIP on fourth Saturdays, contact Ariel Smith-Iyer.
Read-Aloud: Volunteers needed for next school year to read aloud at local elementary schools in Richmond and San Pablo. Contact Judy Sam.
UUCB members are invited to submit poems to email@example.com, to be published when space is available in the printed version. Should we establish a poetry section of our website? Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley Covenant of Right Relations
- We covenant to build a religious community guided by love and sustained by respectful relationships.
- Believing that building healthy relationships is a spiritual practice, we aim to listen appreciatively, speak with care, express gratitude, honor our differences, and assume good intentions.
- We endeavor to communicate directly, honestly, and compassionately, particularly when we are in conflict.
- When we hurt one another, we will try to forgive, make amends, and reconnect in a spirit of love.
- In celebration of the common purpose that unites us, we will do our best to abide by this covenant.
MEMBERSHIP in this Unitarian Universalist congregation is open to all who see this church as their religious home and the principles for which the church stands as their own. People who wish to join participate in a “pathways to membership” session, sign the membership book, and commit to supporting this church through participation and financially. To become a member, please contact our Membership Co–Chairs, Lonnie Moseley or Paul Hudson (email@example.com), or speak with one of the co-ministers.
To subscribe to the email version of this newsletter or “The Week Ahead at UUCB,” email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find both newsletters at the uucb.org website under “News.”
UUCB general discussion list: http://groups.google.com/group/uucb_discuss/about
Email list for families: Email email@example.com
Deadline for submissions to the Beacon is the 15th of each month. Submit items to firstname.lastname@example.org.