Journeying Together
We’ll Miss You, Yao
Worship Services
Special Events and Announcements
Opening Task Force
From the Executive Director


Social Justice
From the Board of Trustees
From the Treasurer
Humanist Connections
Personal Theology
Partner Church Committee

Journeying Together

Rev. Dr. Michelle Collins

A few weeks ago in our worship service, I talked about four candles representing sources of resilience during difficult times. They were from the words of Unitarian Frederick May Eliot from the first half of the 20th century. The candles were the candle of courage, the candle of service, the candle of fellowship, and the candle of hope. Eliot encourages us to bring in the candles, to bring them into our places of worship and into our minds and beings.

This is good to keep in mind from a variety of perspectives. We are indeed living in difficult times, and it is uncanny how relevant the entire reading sounded despite the fact it was written many years ago. And we need resilience, as a people, as a church community, and as individuals. And we need as many reminders of what it takes to keep at that resilience as we can get.

One of the things that I’ve found to help with reminders like that is rituals, or, if you don’t quite like that word, then regular personal practices. Lighting the chalice in our worship service is one of these kinds of things, and I often interpret it as both representing the light of our community as well as calling back to the courage of the UU Service Committee in their work during World War II when the symbol was first drawn. Many groups at the church light a chalice to start their meetings, and many members light chalices in their homes. How about a new ritual too, one of lighting four candles, reminding us of these four sources of resilience. I hope to begin doing this in our worship services, both our streamed virtual ones as well as once we begin live-streaming from the sanctuary in a new multi-platform setting. Why not bring this into your own home too, trying out the ritual (pets and other restrictions permitting, of course), lighting four candles and reminding yourself of these four sources of resilience and possibly reflecting on which one has meant more for you recently or which you need a little more of in the future. Let us keep together as we continue our shared journey, with courage, with service, with fellowship, and with hope.

Rev. Michelle

We’ll Miss You, Yao

A Great Big Thank You to Yao Chao for His 24 Years of Dedicated Service

Yao Chao began working for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley (UUCB) on September 2, 1997 and has been UUCB’s longest-serving employee, outlasting and supporting dozens of ministers, administrators, facilities managers, music and religious education directors, and more in providing safe and clean buildings and grounds. Yao has been an exceptionally steady, patient, hard-working, and caring Custodian and key member of our church staff.

His many strengths are his dedication, perseverance, and willingness to perform the vast variety of projects and tasks that keep our church running and at its best. Even mountains of wood chips taller than him could not conquer Yao’s spirit nor deter him in his diligent quest to spread them across our grounds day after day after day.

Yao is a fountain of wisdom about every furnishing, plant, artwork, and nook and cranny of our buildings and grounds, sharing how things came to be placed where they are – at times with a quirky history known only to very few. With friendly waves and greetings, he has endeared himself to generations of children attending the pre-schools – bringing happy smiles and notes of thanks his way.

Although Yao is quiet, humble and rather stealthy, the respect and appreciation for him is loudly echoed by his colleagues on staff, Buildings & Grounds Committee members, other congregants, and even renters who have come to know him by name. The lucky ones have seen glimpses of his delightful sense of humor, which served him well in the never-ending-task of sweeping thousands of fallen leaves from the Atrium trees over the years.

We have no idea how we will do without him since he knows what to do and how to keep up the church without being asked.

We wish him and his family health and happiness into the future.

Worship Services in October

Sundays at 11 am on Facebook Live and YouTube Live

Theme for October: Cultivating Relationship

October 3 – Blessing Our Animals. Rev. Michelle Collins preaching. Worship Associate Sarah Ward. This Sunday we will honor the legacy of St. Francis of Assisi and his love for earth’s animals. We’ll celebrate their presence in our lives and share photos of the many beloved pets in our church community.

October 10 – On Grief. Rev. Michelle Collins preaching. Worship Associate Deborah Schmidt. Loss is a something that happens throughout our lives, and grief is the normal human response to loss of any kind. But that doesn’t mean that either are easy in any way. Today we’ll talk about these all-too-human topics together.

October 17 – Journeying Through Gender. Rev. Michelle Collins preaching. Worship Associate Andrea Brown. Gender identity has a long and deep history which is often surprising in many ways. We’ll look at the past as well as present issues and needs and hopefully learn some new sensitivities along the way.

October 24 – Building Bridges Across Political Differences. Ministerial Intern Ken Marino preaching. Worship Associate Cynthia Asprodites. The holiday season is upon us, and it is time for visiting those we love. But what are we to do when divisions are breaking us apart?

October 31 – Topic TBD. Rev. Michelle Collins preaching. Worship Associate Dayana Claghorn. If we’re able to regather in person, then join in wearing a Halloween costume (or other fun cosplay) to church today! We’ll celebrate the holiday and community together and delve into some relevant themes.

Virtual Coffee Hour immediately following worship on Sundays
After worship we invite you to switch over to Zoom for a time to connect “face to face.” The link to Virtual Coffee Hour is listed below, but we will also share it in the comments on the Facebook Live feed during worship.

Click here to join us:
Meeting ID: 332 046 821
Password: 810131

Good Neighbor for October

Greater Richmond Interfaith Program. GRIP is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic coalition of congregations from varied faiths working together as a diverse and inclusive coalition dedicated to helping those of our community in need to transition to self-sufficiency. Our mission statement: “Responding to the Call to Service, GRIP transforms the lives of homeless, hungry and disenfranchised people.”

Special Events and Announcements

  • Oct. 3 – 12:30 pm Literature, Film, Drama & Music Contingent
    Annual FISHBOWL CONVERSATION with Julia Rogers. The 2021 Fishbowl will continue the conversation on “Race.” We will have three “schools” of fish this year: (1) Those who identify as people of color; (2) Those who identify as mixed race or multiracial; and (3) Those who identify as white. Click here for more info.
  • Oct. 31 – Deadline. We need YOUR help to identify local non-profits who might benefit from our donations! We are collecting nominations through the month of October. Are you familiar with any local non-profits that might need some recognition and a monetary boost? Let us know! Contact Natalie Campbell at
  • Board Listening Presence for October: Bill Brown and 831-261-1522

Opening Task Force – Update

The word is “messy.” That’s how our ED Tess Snook O’Riva captured the reopening challenge we face. As the task force works to help us eventually regather in person, our situation is indeed messy. Just when we think the virus is receding and responding to our responsible efforts of getting vaccinated, masking and social distancing, the Delta variant shows up and exposes the risk still present with increased infections and hospitalizations and the continuing need for sound public health precautions to be followed.

Your responses to our recent poll on preferences by congregants at this time for gatherings were most helpful. Thank you for taking time to share your opinions. You can see the poll results here. Once again, a solid majority of us remain cautious and willing to wait a little longer to be truly safe when we gather in person.

The task force remains committed to being respectful of your opinions, to be inclusive in our deliberations, and to stand with the UUA, the CDC, and Bay Area public health professionals in recommended guidance for in-person events. As is always the case, as some doors close others open. The delay in regathering in person has allowed staff to complete preparations for the church reopening in person by having the facility, e.g., bathrooms and ventilation, ready for safe usage and the technology ready for testing to support our desire to have, going forward, multi-platform Sunday services and prime-time programs, i.e., in person and virtual at the same time.

With this important work by staff recently completed, we will be able to do a test run of our systems with the Sep. 25 music event. For this small gathering, advance registration will be required to manage social distancing arrangements, masks and social distancing protocols will be in place, no singing, only lovely string ensembles, and most importantly the option to attend in person or virtually. This event will give us valuable experience and information for when we will regather safely and joyfully in person.

Thank you for your understanding, patience, and advice. Please continue to follow UUCB protocols and share any questions or observations with the OTF at

OTF (Opening Task Force) Members: Patrick Cullinane (Chair), Sheldon Jones, Greg Lemieux, Lisa Maynard, Tess Snook O’Riva, ED, and Rev. Michelle Collins

Tess O'RivaFrom the Executive Director

Tess Snook O’Riva, Executive Director

The theme for this month is Embracing Possibility. I had writer’s block, so I googled it.

Most of the results were around personal improvement, with resources to help people reach their full potential. There were many books for sale, seminars to attend, and TED talks encouraging people to be open to uncertainty. It’s like if Possibility had a weather report, it would be “uncertainty with a chance of awesome.” Of course, there’s also a chance of failure, and that is what holds most people back.

Last month I had one of the most beautiful and inspiring examples of embracing possibility I could have imagined. My family said goodbye to some of our dearest friends, part of our community and extended family for over 15 years. They aren’t just moving. They are leaving the country. Their family of four, with children aged 9 and 7, will be landing somewhere near Rome, Italy and building a new life. Wow. They had a dream full of possibilities, and they are making it happen. I am so proud of them … and inspired!

I have been looking, and finding, many reasons to hope. I have seen more people stepping up and stepping in to help here at UUCB, including some new faces. The personnel changes brought about by Yao’s retirement and Rev. Cat’s departure are being seen as a time to examine new possibilities and ways of doing things. Fixing something in part of the building is prompting us to ask how we use that room and what we really want to get out of it. And the generosity! People are making use of great returns on their stock portfolio and Required Minimum Distributions to fulfill pledges and support needed deferred maintenance, plus giving of their personal time and expertise to multiple projects. I see progress everywhere!

Special thanks this month go out to Lenore Ralston for agreeing to be Treasurer and attacking some BIG financial system projects; Linda Laskowski for helping rein in the “orphan” financial accounts; Anne Greenwood for making the Breeze implementation, well, a breeze; Lynne Cahoon for never forgetting supercards, even in a pandemic; Don Klose for EPIC levels of work and keeping me sane, Michael DeWitt for staying the course in an ever-changing A/V universe, David Rosales for being my tech brain & savior, and everyone else who has helped me embrace possibility, and uncertainty, this past month. I value all of you so much! If you want to hear me say it personally, feel free to reach out ( Be well!

Social Justice Council

Co-Chair’s Message

For the Social Justice Council, October marks the start of our journey with “Widening the Circle of Concern,” a UUCB Board of Trustees’ congregational report on the UUA’s report of the same name, published in 2020.

UUCB’s report makes suggestions for change to develop a congregational place, culture, and experience encompassing the wide diversity of communities making up human society. Our congregation can reflect that human community through this journey. These suggestions are given in the form of recommendations presented in a very interesting format. Each recommendation addresses a topic, such as “Living Our Values,” “Youth,” or “Arts and Culture,” and is structured with an “Objective,” the “Stakeholders Involved,” and initial thoughts “For Consideration.”  This way, the issue(s) or goal(s) – as well as who this effort of change will impact – are made clear, while the process of change is left open-ended for the congregation to create.

The 100+ page report is meant to be part of a process and, as such, requires time and study. The Social Justice Council will do both, and begin our journey to widen the circle this month. For more information, contact Sheldon Jones at:

Good Neighbor Program

The Good Neighbor Program at UUCB is an integral part of our community outreach. Each month we share our offerings from the Sunday worship services with non-profit organizations serving Alameda and Contra Costa communities, particularly those serving people in need. A different group is selected each month to receive these much-needed funds. Each year, through the generosity of UUCB members, friends, and Sunday visitors, around $15,000 is distributed to these organizations.

We need YOUR help to identify local non-profits who might benefit from our donations! We are collecting nominations through the month of October. Are you familiar with any local non-profits that might need some recognition and a monetary boost? Let us know! Contact Natalie Campbell at

Guidelines for any organization you nominate:

  • It must be a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes social, economic, racial and/or environmental justice or peace. The non-profit should not have mainstream support.
  • The non-profit must be a local Alameda or Contra Costa County organization (no national groups).
  • UU or UUCB social justice initiatives or organizations also may be included.

Please contact Natalie Campbell at with your nominations. In your email, please include these details:

  1. Name of the organization
  2. Tax ID # (you can call them to find out)
  3. Name of contact person at organization
  4. Phone number and email of contact person
  5. Website address of organization
  6. Mission statement of organization
  7. Brief statement as to why you feel this organization needs our support.

We will accept nominations until October 31. Don’t delay; please send your nominations today! We will compile the list, and take a vote at December‘s Social Justice Council Committee meeting.

Read-Aloud Program

Reminder: the Read-Aloud Program starts this month, and will be in person this year. Come join church members who are connecting with our young future thinkers, astronauts, and performers! If you’re interested in volunteering as a reader for K-2nd grade students, please contact the program at (510) 237-0735 or go online to  New volunteers can begin and be trained anytime. Questions? Contact Judy Sam at

Caring for Our Environment

Do you have ideas for a UUCB environmental project? Join us as we plan activities for the coming months. Contact Sheila Tarbet at to participate.

Literature, Film, Drama & Music Contingent

Last month, the LFDMC applauded Yusef Salaam’s resilience, spirit, and admonishment to us all to “live full and die empty,” preferably once, as manifested in his book: Better, Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice. 

This month, we will dive into our annual Fishbowl Conversation! There will be three “schools” of fish, and people are welcome to take part in more than one school: (1) Those who identify as a person of color; (2) Those who identify as mixed race or multiracial; and (3) Those who identify as white. For more information, contact Julia Rogers at

The Honoring Indigenous Peoples Group (HIP) will celebrate Native American History Month on November 7. We will end 2021 on December 5 with a fascinating novel – called a remix of Little Women – entitled So Many Beginnings, by Bethany C. Morrow. Contact Camille Parker

Get a GRIP on Lunch!

In addition to offering various supportive services, the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program, GRIP, serves meals every day to hungry, homeless, and other disadvantaged people in and around Richmond, including families living at GRIP. Volunteers from UUCB participate in this program by making sandwiches (usually from 10:15 to 11 am) and helping to serve lunch (from 11:30 to 12:45 pm) on the fourth Tuesday of every month. We always have a greater need for sandwich makers than servers. If you want to participate in one or both activities, contact Ray Westergard at

The GRIP Harmony Walk

This year’s Harmony Walk will be virtual again, so you can participate at your own leisure to raise money for GRIP and all the services they provide to homeless families!

  • Walk anytime on or before October 26th, wherever you like and for however long you want
  • Register ($35) to be counted. Ask people to sponsor you and then they can donate as well here.
  • Take a picture of yourself (or selves) walking and post to GRIP’s Harmony Walk Facebook page! (optional) with #HarmonyWalk2020

Learn more about GRIP at

Can’t walk? Sponsor someone or click here to donate. Select “Harmony Walk.”

Member’s New Book!

Sharing the Journey UUCB by Dorothy Crews HerzbergLong-time and beloved UUCB member Dorothy Herzberg has a new book coming out this month: Sharing the Journey: Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley.

“The book details our Beloved Community over the past 30 years of my membership, including descriptions of activities when the Social Justice Council began, under Revs. Bill and Barbara Hamilton-Holway; Friends Outside; Tiananmen Square; first visit to our Partner Church; 15 years of Summer Forums and Lawrence Lectures; Good Neighbor donations, and two of Reverend Michelle’s sermons. About twenty people contributed. It is a journey shared!”

The book is available on Amazon and, as UUCB is not open, Dorothy is selling the book from her home. Email her at:

From the Board of Trustees

Helen Tinsley-Jones

The future is always beginning now. 
Mark Strand

Hello dear UUCB members and friends,

UUCB is truly a vibrant, visioning congregation. While tending to the needs of the present, we also look to the future.

The Board is pleased to announce that the recommendations contained in the recently-released report of UUCB’s Widening the Circle of Concern Task Force provide recommendations and inspiration as we live into our future. The link to the report is on the UUCB website, and you can also access it here.  The image above is from the front cover of the report—more about that later.

The report itself takes its inspiration from the UUA’s 2020 book, Widening the Circle of Concern: Report of the UUA Commission on Institutional Change, which is an analysis of oppression and white supremacy in Unitarian Universalism on both the national and congregational levels and is a guide for mitigation and change. From August 2020 through August 2021, the Task Force read and discussed the book’s ideas and recommendations and utilized them as a basis for proposing recommendations specific to UUCB as we deepen our own anti-racism, anti-oppression work.

The recommendations in the Task Force report address questions such as:

  • How can we continue to matter in the world? 
  • How can we move with even more vigor and deliberation into our anti-racism, anti-oppression work? 
  • What role does each of us want to take in creating the future of our congregation and contributing to the good for all? 
  • How do we widen our circle of concern? 

The Board encourages everyone to read the Task Force report. It is indeed a hefty volume, so please take whatever approach to reading it that works best for you. While you may read the report in one sitting, you may also find that absorbing it in small chunks is useful. Ask yourself questions like— “What sparked my interest? Where do I fit in?”

At the September 1 Board meeting, members of the Board began a discussion of some of the recommendations. More Board and congregational discussions will take place. Since the work of the Task Force is winding down, the Board has approved the formation of a permanent Widening the Circle of Concern Committee to work on the implementation phase of the recommendations.

The Board will keep you updated as the process moves forward. Please check out the Widening the Circle of Concern link on the UUCB home page, where you’ll find additional information.

There will be opportunities to add your voice and become involved. There is room for everyone in this process, and everyone’s voice belongs in this process.

And the image on the cover of the report—it was designed and donated to us by a generous individual who wishes to remain anonymous. They say it “represents a multifaceted jewel – where there are many different faces & views, but together they make a beautiful whole. Also, the outer triangles represent conversation (the triangles are facing one another) & consensus (the colors are beginning to sync with one another).  Oh, and, of course the inner circles are radiating out in inclusive conversation.”

In Beloved Community,

Helen Tinsley-Jones,

V.P., UUCB Board of Trustees

From the Treasurer

Lenore Ralston, Ph.D., M.P.H.

At the 1 September 2021 meeting of the Board of Trustees, I was honored to have been asked to fill the position of UUCB Treasurer.

My service background at UUCB includes:

  • Endowment Committee
  • Endowment oversight committee
  • Stewardship
  • Board’s Location Committee
  • Finance sub-committee
  • Chalice Circles

Before joining UUCB I worked as a principal systems and policy analyst for the Office of the Chancellor, UC Berkeley; Executive Assistant to the Dean of the School of Optometry, and I worked at various times for the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, the Joint Medical Research Group, the Dean of the School of Library Science, and for various UC anthropologists.

Separately, I was a tax preparer for three years, worked in operations for a small business (including insurance reviews and best practices), and I did a political stint as Vice-Chair of the City of Berkeley Health Commission.

I hope to contribute to UUCB’s already very able team of our Executive Director, Board, and Finance Committee in preparing UUCB for a full audit of its policies and practices with regards to transparent and robust fiscal accountability.

I am deeply committed to offering whatever I can to help strengthen and sustain our community.

Many thanks for allowing me to serve:-)

Lenore Ralston, Ph.D., M.P.H.


Humanist Connections

Sundays, 1 pm, Zoom

A discussion group to explore our humanity, values, ideas. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” (Fourth principle of Unitarian Universalism.)

October 3 – Flow Theory– Paul Ulbrich.

October 10 – Topic Selection and Discussion – Ray Westergard.

October 17 – How Colors Affect Us – Gail Morrison.

October 24 – Boundaries between Religion and not-Religion – Paul Ulbrich,

October 31 – Thoughts on Cyber Warfare – Harold Ogren.

Zoom links are available under the “Calendar” listing on the UUCB website, and are included with each week’s email notice about the upcoming discussion. For additional information contact Marcia Bates, Group managers: Susan Singh, Ray Westergard, Al Kueffner, Lee Lawrence, Kris Homme, Anne Fitzmaurice.

Personal Theology

Sundays, 9:30 am, Zoom

There will be two sessions via Zoom for Personal Theology in October. As the pandemic continues, it is hoped that these two sessions will especially be of interest and helpful to anyone dealing with the stress of having to hunker for another autumn and winter.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future topics or speakers, please let me know at

Anne Wardell

October 10, 2021 – Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox. Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond.

Rev. Matthew Fox, PhD, author, theologian, and activist priest, has been calling people of spirit and conscience into the Creation Spirituality lineage for over 50 years. His 38 books, lectures, retreats, and innovative education models have ignited an international movement to awaken people to be mystics and prophets, contemplative activists, who honor and defend the earth and work for justice. Seeking to establish a new pedagogy for learning spirituality that was grounded in an effort to reawaken the West to its own mystical traditions in such figures as Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart and the mysticism of Thomas Aquinas, as well as interacting with contemporary scientists who are also mystics, Fox founded the University of Creation Spirituality. His recent projects include Order of the Sacred Earth and Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox as well as The Cosmic Mass. His most recent books are: Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond; and The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times. Other books include Original Blessing; The Coming of the Cosmic Christ; A Spirituality Named Compassion; The Reinvention of Work; and Christian Mystics.

The ISBN for the Julian of Norwich book is:  978-1-6632-0868-2

Zoom link:

October 31, 2021 – Sue Ellen Parkinson. The Rudderless Boat—Images that Guide Us.
Sue Ellen Parkinson is a visionary artist who explores the Sacred Feminine through her paintings. Coming from outside the Christian tradition, her work has led her on an unexpected journey that has profoundly changed her life. Her dream-like paintings are interesting from both a spiritual and cultural perspective. Within them, she weaves elements of her own life into the inspiring stories about the Christian mystics. She believes that creativity can be an essential component in transformation. Read more on her website:

This talk and slide show will be about the artist, Sue Ellen Parkinson’s experience as she’s followed the legends surrounding some of the most profound mystics. Through painting these iconic figures, and using the Benedictine practice of visio divina, she has gone on both inner and outer pilgrimages. She’ll focus primarily on Mary Magdalene, but will also include Eve, Saint Hildegard Von Bingen, Saint Clare and Saint Francis of Assisi, the Black Madonna, and more!

She says that each image she’s painted has been like a stepping stone towards her own liberation. Join her on this creative journey!

Zoom link:

Partner Church Committee

Church in HomorodujfaluStephanie Ann Blythe

If we progressive UUs need an occasional reminder of the differences between us and our Transylvanian Unitarian brethren, the following letter is a must read. It has been edited slightly.

Dear Friends of Transylvania, 

Early July saw the Covid-delayed election and installation of the Rev. István Kovács as the 32nd Bishop of the Hungarian Unitarian Church. István, now Bishop Kovács, ran unopposed, which a new rule of the church allows. He follows Bishop Ferenc Bálint Benczédi who served as Bishop for just over twelve years. If precedent for the last twenty-five years is followed, the new Bishop will serve a six year, once renewable term. 

Bishop Kovács served for many years as senior minister of the large Unitarian church in the city of Sepsiszentgyörgy. He is well known and a friend to many North American UUs, having served for several years on the Board of the ICUU, as well as being active in Partner Church activities. 

The election will bring several changes to the HUC headquarters. Dávid Gyerö, former Councilor to the late Bishop Árpád Szabó, and Deputy Bishop under Bishop Bálint Benczédi, has been replaced by the Rev. Norbert Rácz, minister of the First Church in Kolozsvár. Dávid’s departure from Headquarters follows several others in recent years, including former Councilor Róbert Bálint (who continues to serve as minister of the church in Mészkö, the famous “Alabaster Village”) and Mária Pap, former Secretary to the Bishop, who moved to the United Kingdom where she currently serves a British Unitarian church. 

According to one Hungarian Unitarian minister, the new leadership represents the “national” wing of the church, which is more closely aligned with the nationalist political aims of the Hungarian Fidesz party under Victor Orbán. (Ethnic Hungarians in Romania are eligible for dual citizenship, meaning that they can vote in Hungarian elections, where they represent a considerable voting bloc.) In recent years the Hungarian government has spent a lot of money on projects in Transylvania, including among the ethnically Hungarian churches. 

Some North American UUs will find this connection troubling because of Orbán’s regressive policies on freedom of speech, immigration, and LBGTQ rights. However, for those involved in Partner Church activities or with longstanding friendships within the HUC, I would suggest that this is not the time to disengage from those relationships. Our continued presence can send a quiet message of support to those who may be less enamored of the current political and religious situation but who are reluctant to speak up. 

Faithfully yours, 

Harold Babcock 

UUA Ambassador to the Hungarian Unitarian Church 

While this news may not be a shock to Anne and me, how does it make you feel? You can contact Stephanie Ann Blythe at or Anne Greenwood at for further discussion of these issues.