Revs. Kristen and Christian SchmidtFrom the Ministers

Dear UUCB members and friends,

This month’s worship theme of abundance reminded me of our first few holiday seasons as a married couple. Having moved to a part of the country new for both of us, what I noticed most during those early holidays together was what was missing. I was sad that we couldn’t go to the holiday craft fair I’d gone to since I was eight, or my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, or drive around the neighborhoods in DC with the best holiday lights and decorations. But once I was able to let go of all of the things I was missing, I began to discover the abundance of blessings in my new city, my new home, my new family.

It is easy to journey through much of our lives noticing mostly what’s missing. Whether it’s people, places, or things we’ve lost, moved away from, or never had in the first place, it’s easy to spend a lot of energy focusing on how to fill up the empty parts of our glasses. And injustice calls us to work to make a world where everyone has access to enough. I believe we are also called to savor every bit of goodness, beauty, and blessing that fills the world around us.

Talk about the cost of deferred maintenance to repair and improve our buildings has begun to heat up at church lately. While figuring out how best to work towards financial sustainability will be a challenging process, it is not an insurmountable one. It will require us to change, to make some different choices than we’ve made before, but ours is a community with an abundance of generosity, commitment, and promise. The ministry we share is vital not only to us, but to many people in our wider communities. And as your co-ministers, we have faith in this congregation, faith in our shared ministry, faith in the wisdom that emerges when the many are gathered into one.

Our work to discover who we are as one gathered congregation and what we are being called to be and do into the future continues this month with the next phase of our mission/vision process. In September we celebrated our roots and discovered who we’ve been when at our best. Now we transition into “Taking Stock of Our Blessings” and discovering who we as a congregation are today, in this time and in this place. There will be two opportunities for face-to-face conversation, one on Thursday, November 2 (after dinner and evening worship) from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. and the other on Sunday, November 19 from 12:15 to 2:00 p.m. I hope you’ll join us!

In this season of abundance, may we do as poet Laurel Sheridan writes, and

Take from life its coals, not its ashes.

Fan the flames of love and justice;

join hands and hearts in common endeavor;

and there will be no limit to what we can achieve together.

In faith,

Rev. Kristin Grassel Schmidt

Sunday Worship Services in November

Sanctuary, 11 am

Theme for Month: Abundance

November 5 (Daylight Saving Time ends) – Remembrance Sunday, Intern Minister Amanda Weatherspoon with the Reverends Kristin and Christian Schmidt. This Sunday we honor and remember those we have loved and lost. Everyone is invited to bring a picture or other small item that represents someone you wish to remember for the remembrance table.

November 12 – Music Sunday, Rev. Kristin Schmidt, with Jim Gasperini, Worship Associate. What lets your soul take flight? For many, music does, and today will focus on music that lifts the heart and spirit, with selections ranging from Bach to Irving Berlin. And don’t forget to bring your food or financial donation to church because this Sunday is Food Drive Sunday!

November 19 – Thanksgiving Service, Intern Minister Amanda Weatherspoon and the Reverends Christian and Kristin Schmidt, with Melissa Rosales, Worship Associate. Join us for this service for all ages including the story of Stone Soup, harvest hymns, a sermon, and sharing cornbread as we give thanks for all manner of abundance in our lives.

November 26 – The Path to Choose, Rev. Lidia Emese Bodor, Balasz Scholar, preaching, with Ann Riley, Worship Associate. A short journey from Jesus’s world and words through daily Transylvanian life and reality.  How do we make our decisions and commitments? Please join us in welcoming this year’s Balazs scholar at Starr King School for the Ministry, the Rev. Emese Bodor, to our pulpit. Rev. Emese grew up in Kolozsvar, studied at the Protestant Theological Institute, and has served as the Religious Education teacher at Janos Zsigmond High School, a 450 year old Unitarian school.

November Good Neighbor (sharing our offerings): The Richmond Emergency Food Pantry is a 100% volunteer organization. The Pantry’s only administrative expenses are rent, insurance and the cost of a once-a-year fundraising mailing. Every penny beyond that is spent on the food operations, putting food into the hands of more than 40,000 hungry people in our local community.

Personal Theology

Sundays, 9:30 am, Fireside Room

Nov. 5: Rabbi Harry Manhoff, a superfan and collector of comic books, is a Congregational Rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom in San Leandro, a lecturer at St. Mary’s College, and an author. He has a doctorate on the New Testament and Christian Origins. Why I Love Sukkot.

Nov. 12: Jeanne Foster, UU minister, UUCB Worship Associate and Choir member. She is also Professor Emerita of English Literature and Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College, co-editor of Appetite: Food as Metaphor, an anthology of poems by women (BOA), a poet and author of several books, the latest of which are Goodbye, Silver Sister and The Living Theater: Selected Poems of Bianca Tarozzi. Jeanne will share some thoughts on how what you love can be a pilgrimage in Doing What You Love as a Pilgrimage.

Nov. 19: Rev. Kristin Grassel Schmidt, UUCB’s Senior Co-Minister, long-time UU member, singer, and Star Trek enthusiast. A mother of two, Rev. Kristin will share some of her thoughts and experiences in Holy Chaos: Spirituality in Parenting.

stromer richard RBG

Nov. 26: Dr. Richard Stromer, a longtime student of mythology as a pathway for both psychological and spiritual development. He has a doctorate in Mythological Studies from Pacifica Graduate Institute, home of the Joseph Campbell Library and Archives. Joseph Campbell and the Religious Function of Myth.

Humanist Connections

Sundays, 12:30 pm, Re Building, Rooms 3 & 4. Format: A 10- to 15-minute presentation followed by moderated, timed discussion. All are welcome!

November  5:   Decoding Disney, Ray Nelson

November 12:  Dreams and the Subconscious, Earl Williamson

November 19:  What Makes Us Moral, or Not, Don Anderson

November 26:  Iceland:  Who Knew?,  Sherry Fuzesy

Humanist Connections explores human flourishing and the transcendent in the absence of the supernatural. Our discussion topics include issues relating to morality and ethics, human development, evolution, the nature of the universe, love, the capacities of the brain, the role of art and poetry in our culture, free will, the latest scientific research and discoveries, and other topics of interest. We include humanists, agnostics, devout atheists, freethinkers, religious naturalists, interested theists, everyone. Unitarian Universalism is an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, multi-cultural denomination. All are welcome. Wheelchair accessible. Topics and readings are selected by vote of those present on the second Sunday of the month for the month after next.  Your ideas and participation are welcome.

2 pm   Humanist potluck in the Social Hall/Fireside Room.  All are welcome.  Discussion, fellowship, friendship.  Bring a dish to share or donate $5.

Annual Food Drive

Alejandra Robins, Youth Adult Team member

It’s that time of year again where we give thanks for what we have and share what we can with others. Please bring non-perishable items like rice, beans, peanut butter, baby food, sugar, salt etc. to church by Sunday, November 12.

We will also be collecting money donations if that is an easier way for you to help those in need.

If you are willing and able we would love volunteers to help load the truck. (Please email Alejandra Robins or Logan Stump-Vernon if interested in helping out.) We look forward to seeing how our UUCB community can come together to feed the hungry.

Family Ministry

Suzette Anderson-Duggan

November is when we do a dance with time to turn back the clock and usher in the season of gratitude and giving. Of course the traditional celebrations with their requisite trimmings come to mind, but before these events is our very own Youth Adult Team’s annual food drive. It is truly awe inspiring to see our youth lead this effort, which collects food and money for the Richmond Emergency Food Pantry. More than ever this year, our spirit of generosity is called to expand a bit wider to provide whatever we can afford to support those in need. Let us live and give by the weight of our generosity.

RE Events for November

11/11    Cornbread Baking Party with Rev. Kristin; Parent’s Night Out, free childcare in Skytown, 4:30 – 8 pm

11/12    Food Drive; Parent Discussion Circle, RE Bldg. Rooms 3 & 4, 9:45 am

11/17    Owl Retreat, 11/17-18, UUCB, contact Stephanie Kroner at

11/19    All Age Worship Service

11/26    Parent Discussion Circle, RE Bldg. Rooms 3 & 4, 9:45 -10:45 am

Last thoughts

Oh joy – Merrin returns in November! We are so looking forward to seeing her!

Our thoughts are especially with those who have lost their homes, their livelihood, and loved ones to the recent fires.

It’s never too late to volunteer! Contact Colleen Farrell, Megan Hailey-Dunsheath (RE) or Karl Rimbach (Legacy Links) to explore how your interests, skills, and experience can meaningfully shape the spiritual formation of our youth.

Special Events in November

Thurs. Nov. 2 – First Thursday Potluck, Evening Worship, and Mission and Vision: Taking Stock of Our Blessings

Sun. Nov. 5, 3 pmScreening of the film From a Silk Cocoon (see Social Justice News below for details.)

Tues. Nov. 7, 7 pm Combatants for Peace presentation, film and discussion at St. John’s Presbyterian Church. (see Social Justice News for details)

Sun. Nov. 12Annual Food Drive (see below for details)

Sun. Nov. 19, 12:15 pmMission and Vision: Taking Stock of Our Blessings

President’s Column

Jack Duggan

duggan jack

God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can,

and wisdom to know the difference.

                                                Reinhold Niebuhr

Thirty-four years ago when I first learned that prayer it meant coming out of denial for me, accepting my reality for what it was and changing. By the time I changed, I felt like I was at the end of my life, everything was over and I was accepting the inevitable. What I learned was that coming out of denial, dealing with reality, made everything possible.

I am optimistic about the community of UUCB, but there are realities for which most times I seem to be in denial.

Those realities are: that as strong as our congregation is, as an active, diverse, and inspired group of people, the way we are today is not sustainable.

We are a congregation much smaller than the one that built our church in Kensington over 60 years ago.

The hard realities are we occupy a sixty-year-old building that requires considerable maintenance and repairs that have been postponed for way too long.

  1. The rafters are dry rotting and need to be sealed.
  2. The windows and the rest of the building need to be waterproofed; the seals are giving out.
  3. The kitchen floor needs to be replaced; the gaps for bacteria are a health hazard.
  4. The Safir Room and the rooms above it require expensive remediation and repairs.
  5. The doors between the Atrium and the Social Hall need replacement.
  6. The heating system is obsolete and one day will not even be repairable.
  7. The building needs new systems: electrical, water, and lighting.
  8. The bathrooms, chancel and stage are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act for accessibility.
  9. Audio-visual, IT and media are in desperate need of updating.

Just the repairs alone require over $1.5 million in today’s dollars. We don’t have it, and the longer it takes us to fix these issues the more expensive they become. Several years ago it was estimated that we should be budgeting about $250,000 a year for facilities maintenance and repairs.

The Freestone retreat requires upwards of $50,000 to make it habitable. It could be much more. For years we’ve been talking about generating new income for Freestone, but it hasn’t happened.

In the past few years, our regular operating budget has had a running deficit. The congregation is vital, we are attracting new members, but with attrition we are not growing. We are not alone; many congregations, UUs and others, are in the same position.

We are in a predictable downward spiral. Old facilities are in need of repair and maintenance, assets that once were vital are marginal, but require expenditures just to maintain. While we are attracting new members, young families come with lower incomes and higher expenses; housing takes more money than ever just to live within 20 miles of our location.

We’re not a dying congregation—that I am optimistic about—but we are in an unsustainable position. We need to come out of denial about this. It is not going to go away. It is time for a radical transformation. Now is the time to face the realities we need to accept and decide what we can change.

So let’s talk about the hard realities and let’s change together. For me, this is what this process of Visioning that we have begun is all about.


Thoughts from Community Ministry

ramsey jane-C02

Rev. Jane Ramsey

As I write this, the fires in Napa, Sonoma and Solano Counties are still burning. I have never been this close to such a disaster. When I went to work last week the haze/smoke was everywhere. My eyes stung and my throat felt scratchy. We spent Monday and Tuesday tracking down our patients. Setting eyes on them if at all possible. Many had been evacuated to other locations, sometimes out of the area to other parts of the state.

Communication was hampered by the lack of both cell service and land lines, as telephone poles and cell towers were burned. Some people were moved from one location to another only to have to be moved again as the fire spread. Staff was affected as well, as many who lived in the area had to evacuate. All schools were closed, leaving parents to make arrangements.

Our company, Collabria Care, in Napa, has been doing a great job; and, fortunately, the building out of which we operate has not been affected. We have been able to maintain power and use the air- conditioning system to keep the air breathable indoors. Outside we wear protective masks furnished by the company for ourselves and patients. Next week they are offering free onsite childcare for those who need it. I have never seen such devastation. It is a shock, our reality has changed.

I am fortunate to be able to minister to this community.


Coordinating Team Notes

schmidt deborahDeborah Schmidt, Coordinating Team Convener

The work of this amazingly active community continues to go on all around us, taking many shapes and done by many hands.

  • Our Safety Policy Implementation Task Force has been given the go-ahead to proceed with trainings for staff, lay leaders, and congregants.
  • We are looking forward to the November 4th CT/Program Council retreat, facilitated by Linda Laskowski. The focus will be on clarification of roles and responsibilities, especially redefining the Program Council convener role.
  • Larry Nagel and the Buildings and Grounds team have been gathering estimates and specifications for the Safir Room, HVAC system, rafter tail maintenance and electrical system. All of this information will be shared at upcoming meetings.
  • With help from our wonderful staff and editor Ann Harlow, we are finalizing an updated Guide for Lay Leaders.

And there are always more ways to bring your gifts to the life of this church, among them:

  • For years the UUCB Thanksgiving dinner has brought joy to many. Are you interested in helping to make this happen this year? Please let us know ASAP (email or call me, 510-206-2183).
  • The annual Holiday Craft Fair, a significant UUCB fundraiser, will be on December 3rd. Ann Harlow has stepped up to coordinate it once again, but will need your help! See the notice elsewhere in this issue and in your pledge statement mailing.
  • Please also be thinking about whether you would like to work on our Chili Cook-Off, Spring Gala or other fundraising events in the new year, and contact one of us if so.

The Coordinating Team currently meets on first and third Thursdays from 10 am to noon. If you’re interested in attending, please contact the CT Convener to verify meeting time and place. Questions for the CT? Email

Partner Church Committee

Stephanie Ann Blythe, Reporter

Woo-hoo! It’s goulash time again. The Transylvanian Partner Church Committee will be serving a goulash lunch following the service on Sunday, November 12. Whether you like your goulash mild or spicy, with or without noodles, we will serve it up your way. Our cooks have their secret recipes and who knows which style you’ll enjoy. But don’t worry, it’s all good!

The goulash lunch is one of the ways we raise money for the village and its students. We consider this another form of UU social justice action. You already know that the ethnic Hungarians in Transylvania are subject to varying forms of discrimination. Did you know that Romania has a national religion, the Romanian Orthodox Church? Millions have been lavished on an unfinished cathedral in Kolosvar, yet Unitarian ministers receive ever diminishing stipends from the government. The Communist dictator Ceausescu drove ethnic Germans out of Romania and had plans to bulldoze the Hungarian villages. Before his downfall he succeeded in drowning one village in a reservoir. A crumbling church steeple in the lake remains to remind all of his villainy.

Your latest pledge statement included a request for donations to the Village Education Fund. We hope that you will make a donation soon. Education is still the best way to fight prejudice and discrimination. It also keeps our Partner Church village of Homorόdύjfalu thriving. Don’t forget that we are also raising funds for the renovation of their parsonage.

So what is the best way to make a donation for the students and the parsonage? First, buy a bowl of goulash on November 12. Second, write a check to UUCB and put “Village Education Fund” on the memo line. Include a note if you would like your contribution to be for students only or parsonage only. Contact the church office if you wish to use a credit card or arrange for donations on a regular basis. Need more information? Ask Stephanie Ann Blythe or Anne Greenwood for anything you need to know about our long partnership with Újfalu.


Music Matters

baker bryan

Bryan Baker

What lets your soul take flight? Does some music make your heart open and your spirit soar? Music Sunday on November 12 will focus on how music can inspire. “Flight Song” by the young composer Kim Arnesen includes these words: “Songs of lives unfolding fly over head, moving like the rise and fall of wings, music’s fierce compassion flows…”

“Sing me to heaven“ by Daniel Gawthrop is one of the most touching pieces of music composed in the last thirty years and has brought solace to countless people. The choir will share this piece on Remembrance Sunday, November 5.

Looking ahead to December, the ever popular Messiah sing-along is on Sunday, December 17, at 6 pm. This is a celebration of one of the greatest  pieces of music ever written, and a fundraiser for the UUCB general fund.

Yours in harmony,


Buildings and Grounds Committee

nagel-larryLarry Nagel

Work continues on the removal of the remaining sixty-one Monterey pines on our campus. We also have completed the initial design of the Safir Room remodel and have received a cost estimate. We are retaining the services of FARD Engineering to design an HVAC system to replace the system in the Sanctuary, which failed twice last year. We are in the process of retaining a contractor to assess the dry rot damage to the roof rafter tails.

We also have received an advisory letter from our insurance agency, Guide One, advising us to have the electrical system inspected by a licensed contractor to determine if any updates are necessary. We have forty-five days to respond to Guide One, so we are soliciting proposals for a consultant to inspect our electrical system. All of these projects will be presented at a congregational meeting now scheduled for December.

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 We generally meet on the fourth Monday of the month at 4 pm.

Social Justice News

In October, the first Social Justice Council’s Literature, Film and Drama Contingent (LFDC) Fishbowl Exercise went swimmingly! Many thanks to Julie Rogers for facilitating and to our volunteer fish for their stories about class. It was an afternoon of warmth and camaraderie.

On Sunday, November 5, LFDC will have Claude M. Steele present for a discussion of his 2010 book, Whistling Vivaldi and Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us. Join us from 12:30 to 2:30 pm in the Fireside Room. Claude Steele is an American social psychologist and a professor of psychology at Stanford University. He is best known for his work on “stereotype threat” and its application to minority student academic performance.

The October potluck & meeting of the Social Justice Council (SJC) reviewed the sixteen organizations nominated for the 2018 UUCB Good Neighbor program. At the November meeting, SJC will vote on which of the nominations become the eleven finalists to receive UUCB donations next year. The next SJC potluck meeting will take place on Sunday, November 12, at 6 pm in the Fireside Room.

Sunday, November 5 at 3 pm at UUCB, The Social Justice Council invites you to a free screening of From a Silk Cocoon, followed by Q&A with filmmaker Satsuki Ina, immigration lawyer Laura Craig, and Zahra Billoo, Executive Director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations. The film tells the story of Ina’s parents, a Japanese American couple who struggled being incarcerated in Tule Lake internment camp, a maximum security facility which housed those deemed “disloyal” during WW II, and the consequences of resistance. Their story connects US history of the past to US history of the present, DACA youth and the undocumented, and into the future with the possibility of a Muslim registry. FREE but tickets required for head count

Tuesday, November 7 at 7 pm, St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave., Berkeley. The Social Justice Council has facilitated the UUCB co-sponsorship of the showing of Disrupting the Peace, an award-winning documentary by Combatants for Peace. Combatants for Peace was formed in 2006 by Israeli and Palestinian former combatants, people who had taken an active role in the conflict. The egalitarian, bi-national, grassroots movement was founded on the belief that the cycle of violence can only be broken when Israelis and Palestinians join forces. Combatants for Peace is the only organization, worldwide, in which former fighters on both sides of an active conflict have laid down their weapons, choosing to work together for peace and justice. They were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, 2017. The Combatants are for Peace are bringing two speakers: one Israeli and one Palestinian. Each speaker will tell their personal story of transformation from violence to nonviolence, and share the work that they are doing to end the occupation and bring peace to their homeland.

Sunday, November 12, Annual Food Drive. Before and after the service, the SJC will, in partnership with the Youth Adult Team, sponsor Food Drive Sunday at UUCB. (See above.)

Other Social Justice Opportunities and Information

Ceasefire Walks: Friday nights in Richmond at 7, contact

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? To help with supper at GRIP on fourth Saturdays, contact

Read-Aloud: Volunteers needed for next school year to read aloud at local elementary schools in Richmond and San Pablo. Contact Judy Sam at

Holiday Fair – December 3 – Call for Help

Let’s see if we can make this year’s Holiday Fair fundraiser our best ever! You’ve been saving gift-worthy items to donate all year, right? And you’d love to host an event for fellow UUCB-ers who would bid in our silent auction to attend it, wouldn’t you? Here’s what you can do during November:

  • Watch for an enclosure in your pledge statement mailing.
  • Pick up a donation form at the members’ information table any time, or at the Holiday Fair table on Sundays. Fill it out and return it to the Fundraising mailbox.
  • Make craft items to donate.
  • Bake and freeze goodies for us to sell.
  • Look around for crafts, gifts, holiday decorations, and holiday clothing you no longer use and set them aside to donate.
  • Email if you would like to help plan this event or be part of the volunteer crew doing setup, staffing or cleanup.
  • Mark your calendar to do some shopping and auction bidding on Sunday, December 3, before or after the service (10:30–1:30).



Autumn in the air,
Oatmeal with cinnamon and apple,
Buttered toast and coffee
On the table

Freeway sounds,
Muted by trees and bird song,
Floats through open windows
As a small spider climbs
Up the wall.

Vinnie rubs his furry nose
On my ankle.
I savor the moment
Smile…and begin the day.

© Gerry Keenan



Here’s to all
fleeting epiphanies
personal, universal

that after they peak
and pass
become stardust.

© Claire J. Baker



Above the sound of marching feet,
I heard a widow crying.
Though it’s the rich who make the wars,
The poor do all the dying.

© Ray Nelson



Maya, whose name has so many meanings,

illusion, wellspring, mother goddess, love,

will you be our light into tomorrow?

Can we become what you are dreaming of?


Bamboo stirs and painted prayer flags flutter.

A child named Maya comes out in the rain.

Under her blue Minnie Mouse umbrella

she wears her red cheongsam, bright new brocade,

with her favorite shoes, a pair of hightops

(her feet are just a little pigeontoed).

She holds an envelope of New Year’s money

and smiles to see the rain fall on the road.


In her world so much hangs in the balance.

We take and take and try to look away

from barren, rising seas, from searing warfare,

from the true costs and lives lost every day.

Yet this aching world breathes out its sunsets,

a tree of heaven grows between gray walls,

against all odds the salmon run, and swallows

return again to wake us with their calls.


Maya, whose name has so many meanings,

illusion, wellspring, mother goddess, love,

will you be our light into tomorrow?

Can we become what you are dreaming of?

Help us learn to keep our sense of wonder,

to honor the old and welcome in the new,

to share this one bright world with all the other

creatures in it, for we are creatures too.


Maya, whose name has so many meanings,

illusion, wellspring, mother goddess, love,

will you be our light into tomorrow?

Can we become what you are dreaming of?


© Deborah Schmidt

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 (, or speak with one of the co-ministers.

NEWSLETTER ITEM SUBMISSIONS: Submit announcements and articles by email to Due to limited space, we do not publish announcements for events occurring outside the church community. The deadline for submissions is the 15th of the month. Questions? Please email



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