Two congregations in the Pacific Northwest District are welcoming new ministers this fall that were arranged through the PNWD Outreach Ministry Program.

Heather ChristensenVashon Island Unitarian Fellowship (WA) is delighted that the Rev. Heather Christensen (left, with dog Brady) and her family have moved from Girdwood, AK, to Vashon Island, where Rev. Heather officially began as VIUF Minister on October 1.

Rev. Christensen compiles the Interdependent Web weekly column for UU World magazine on-line, providing a weekly roundup of blogs and other user-generated web content about Unitarian Universalism. She also publishes a widely read personal blog, Nagoonberry.

Originally ordained as a Presbyterian minister, Rev. Christensen was awarded Unitarian Universalist Ministerial Fellowship in 2012. She says, “We are at an “all hands on deck” moment in the history of the planet. For me, ministry means equipping individuals and congregations to do the work we are called to do in the world.” Her new position with VIUF is half-time, and follows the congregation’s two years of outreach ministry with the Rev. Carmen McDowell, who recently began a full-time settled ministry with the Evergreen UU Fellowship.

 

Elizabeth Greene 2014Magic Valley UU Fellowship (Twin Falls, ID) began shared ministry with the Rev. Elizabeth Greene on August 1. Rev. Greene will travel once a month from her home in Boise, ID, to serve the congregation in a one-quarter-time position, and will be otherwise available by phone, email and video conference.

Rev. Greene served 25 years as minister of the Boise UU Fellowship and was named Minister Emerita upon her retirement in 2013. She was elected by the Pacific Northwest District to the UUA Board of Trustees in 2005, and served two four-year terms. She also served several years as President of the UU Ministers Association (UUMA), Pacific Northwest Chapter.

The Twin Falls Times-News has begun featuring Rev. Greene as a regular contributor to its column, The Pastor’s Corner, appearing on August 23 and October 4. Rev. Greene continues to be a prominent religion columnist for the Idaho Statesman as well, having written for the Boise newspaper for several years.

FINALLOGO

The PNWD Outreach Ministry Program is an experimental initiative in the Pacific Northwest District. Its purpose is to support smaller congregations in experiencing shared leadership with a skilled Unitarian Universalist Minister, recognizing the strong correlation between professional ministry and congregational growth (numbers, depth, meaning and mission impact).

James GrinerJames Griner has joined the UUA Congregational Life Staff in the Pacific Western Region (PWR) as Interim Youth Ministry Specialist.

James fills the position vacated by Jennica Davis-Hockett in mid-August, when she was recruited by the UUA office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. As Interim Youth Ministry Specialist for the PWR, James’ primary focus will be on supporting the existing youth ministry programs of the PNWD and the Mountain Desert District. The Rev. Nancy Bowen, Pacific Western Region Congregational Life Staff Lead, anticipates that James’ interim service will continue through the busy summer youth program months, and allow some overlap with the successor position.

James brings solid experience as a UU youth and young adult advisor since 2007 for his congregation, First Unitarian Church in Salt Lake City. He has been an adult sponsor at numerous Youth Cons, has facilitated workshops, and has served on camp staff for Mountain Desert District’s QUUest Camp for youth, 2011-2014, including supervising the camp Deans.

In addition to youth & young adult ministry for his congregation, James has been a Small Group Ministry facilitator, OWL teacher, Adult RE facilitator, Coming of Age mentor and co-leader of the junior high heritage trip to Boston. He’s also a 2007 graduate of Russell Lockwood Leadership School, which lead him to develop and produce a local Young Adult Leadership Conference, to serve as a member and then chair of his church’s Lay Service Committee, and then to appointment as a member of the church’s board of directors.

James has pursued his interests in youth development, communications, conflict resolution, and media through a variety of academic endeavors, too. James earned a BA in Communications from Baylor University (1997) and was awarded a Master Level Certificate of Conflict Resolution in 2007. He earned his MSW from the University of Utah in 2012, and passed the Clinical Social Work Exam in the State of Utah last year. This Interim position comes at an opportune time for James, as he looks towards a career shift to pursue his interest in social work. James anticipates PhD study is potentially on the horizon as he visions himself serving as faculty at some point in the future.

James is passionate about youth development. Some key objectives he has identified in working with youth development include “developing healthy adaptive ways of managing conflict, setting clear boundaries, awareness of self and environment, practicing self-awareness and humility, and building respectful relationships…to contribute to cultivating thoughtful, respectful, grounded youth and future leaders.” Youth ministry is of utmost importance for James, and he regularly is advocating for the tremendous value UU programming provides in the development of youth because it provides “a listening ear, a non-judgmental perspective, and a safe, respectful space to explore ideas.”

In addition to church leadership and graduate school, James has worked as a computer technician with the University of Utah since 2005. To allow him to transition smoothly to his new position, he’ll start with PWR at 3/4-time for the time being.

When he is not traveling to attend youth ministry events and work with youth ministry leaders in the PWR, James will work out of his home in Salt Lake City. He can be reached via email to jgriner@uua.org.

Learn more about the Pacific Western Region at pwruua.org and meet the PWR Congregational Life Staff at the “About Us” page on the PWR website.

board 2013-14The Pacific Northwest District Board (left) has sent an update on “Regional Collaboration in the West” to leaders of PNWD congregations and religious professionals who are members of the local chapters of the UU Ministers Association (UUMA) and the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA). The Board’s message is currently featured on the front page of the PNWD website.

The article contains a link to a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document that provides brief responses to the issues and concerns the Board has heard to date related to regional collaboration.

PWR staff 2014-15Recent actions have included the UUA’s implementation of a Unified Staff Plan in the Pacific Western Region (PWR), which includes the four western districts: Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southwest, Pacific Central and Mountain Desert. One result of this plan is the discontinuance of the “District Executive” title, in favor of the common title of “Congregational Life Staff” for all UUA field staff in the region. Janine Larsen has filled the District Executive position for the past ten years in the PNWD, and will continue to serve the district and region, along with the eight other Congregational Life Staff members in PWR.

Questions or comments about regional collaboration in the Pacific Western Region and its current and potential effects in the Pacific Northwest are encouraged to contact the PNWD Board via email, at board@pnwd.org. The Board notes that the recent communication is one of several that will be distributed to congregational leadership and religious professionals over the coming months.

The new church year launches with an opportunity to help a growing, dynamic congregation install an elevator to make their three-story building fully accessible. Since 2009, Seattle’s Westside UU Congregation has grown from 150 members and 80 children, to 233 members and Westside125 children. Adding an elevator to their three-story building is key to opening all resources of the church to everyone. It will also eliminate a steep and dangerous walk from the handicapped parking spaces to the sanctuary. A Chalice Lighter grant will be just the lift they need for their lift!

If you are already a Chalice Lighter, donate

Each individual Chalice Lighter pledges to give at least $15 per call to no more than three calls each church year. If you are not already a Chalice Lighter, sign up now!

Gifts of any amount will be accepted for Westside UU Congregation through November 24.

The two remaining Chalice Lighter calls for 2014/15 are currently being determined. Has your congregation considered proposing a project for Chalice Lighter funding? You have the opportunity to receive encouragement and financial support from your fellow UUs. Grants are typically in the range of $12,000 – $16,000. Click here to see how to apply for a grant!

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The PNWD Addictions Ministry Project provides education and resources to Unitarian Universalist congregations to help them support individuals and families affected by addiction and other mental illness.

If you have a passion for recovery, some background knowledge or experience in the field, and want to be part of a team of laid-back, compassionate, and productive folks who do important work in the district, this is the group to join. Program goals include breaking the silence around addiction and mental illness, ending the stigma, and giving people tools to manage situations in their congregations and to thrive.

The team recently presented a workshop at PNWD Discovery Day, reached out to youth at one of the district youth cons, and will be presenting a webinar on addiction and youth for the adults who work with youth. In March 2015, they will host their fourth annual conference.

Most team meetings are by phone or video conference, although once or twice a year they gather in Olympia for a face-to-face meeting.

If you would like to be a part of the Addictions Ministry team, contact the Rev. Barbara Stevens at barbaras@aracnet.com or 503-734-9634.

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As PNWD congregations launch their new church year, we want to remind you of registration deadlines for some upcoming training opportunities. Take a look at the links, there’s something for everyone — from greeters to youth advisors, parish nurses to canvassers, and worship planners to social media users.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE SEPTEMBER 10
Jump Start Youth Advisor Training: designed for new advisors, but this is also a great refresher for seasoned advisors; September 20 in Portland, OR. Program questions, contact Dana Regan, PNWD Lead RE Consultant, REconsultant@pnwd.org.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE SEPTEMBER 10
Discovery Day – Workshops and Peer Learning: a full day (September 27) of 75-minute workshops led by peers and professionals. Registration fee is only $15 for the entire day. Check out the variety of innovative offerings at the link and plan to attend the workshops that will have the most impact in your congregation. Can’t make it to Bellevue, WA to attend in person? See the link for selected workshops that are also available for remote participation. If you have questions, contact Lori Ragona, Pacific Western Region Training & Communications Specialist, lragona@uua.org.

REGISTRATION DEADLINES SEPTEMBER 24/OCTOBER 8
2014 Fall Youth Con: October 24-26 at Camp Cispus in Randle, WA. Details and registration are online at the link. Get your registration in by September 24 and save money. Final date to register is October 8.

NEW WEBINARS POSTED
Check out this fall’s line-up of Pacific Western Region Webinars. Don’t miss these virtual learning opportunities. The cost is only $15!

SAVE THE DATE
And don’t forget to make plans to attend the 2015 UUA General Assembly, June 24-28 in Portland, OR. Take advantage of the opportunity to attend GA in our own backyard!

 

 

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The UUA staff is dedicating the new Headquarters with a powerful live streamed worship service on October 4, 2014. For this to be a truly inclusive and global Unitarian Universalist celebration, they are asking congregations to participate.

Send a photo blessing from your religious home to be included in an original music video for the dedication service. All it takes is a few minutes and a camera. So gather in a place that means “home” with your UU family and friends and snap a few.

Three important things to know:blessings to uua
1. Landscape images – not portrait – are the way to go.
2. It’s not mandatory, but nice to include the word “Blessings” in a creative way.
3. Submit by Monday, September 8 to be included in the video.

Go to the submission form to send your picture and to view sample photos.

In addition to being a part of this original music video that will be live streamed as part of the worship service on October 4th your photos might show up on uua.org, on one of the UUA’s many social media channels, or in UUA printed materials.

Questions? Contact Dea Brayden at president-assist@uua.org.

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Leaders in UU congregations throughout the Pacific Northwest share their passion and experience with those eager to discover how to live our faith more deeply, meaningfully and effectively. “Discovery Day” will be a chance for UUs to learn from one another through 75-minute workshops led by peers and professionals.

Check out the variety of innovative offerings below and plan to attend the workshops that will have the most impact in your congregation.
Click for the PDF Flyer to download, email and post to your congregation. Spread the word and invite a friend!
Questions: contact Lori Ragona, Pacific Western Region Training & Communications Specialist, lragona@uua.org.

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Military_MinistryIs your congregation ministering or considering outreach to active duty military personnel, veterans and their families? Do you, other staff, or lay leaders want to make a safe, welcoming space in your community for sharing members’ stories of involvement in war or military life? These are not just questions for UU congregations near military bases — reservists are a big part of today’s military, and they live everywhere.

The UUA Faith Development Office now offers the Military Ministry Toolkit for Congregations online (PDF, 54 pages) at no charge to congregations. The toolkit provides six one-hour workshops for adults in Unitarian Universalist faith communities that seek to become more intentionally open and inviting to military service people, veterans, and their families.

Included is a 23-minute video, Embracing the Unitarian Universalist behind the Uniform, which can help begin a conversation in your congregation about why and how to explore military ministry. Schedule an event to watch and discuss the video in order to inspire support for deepening and strengthening this aspect of the congregation’s ministry.

The workshops are intended to be used as a series with a committed adult group. Study, reflection, and discussion guide participants into questions such as:

  • How do we support families who have someone serving in the military?
  • How can we be welcoming to military personnel who are discovering Unitarian Universalism?
  • How can we invite stories of veterans and their families into congregational life?
  • How can we hold honest and faithful conversations about war and peace that make room for multiple perspectives, experiences, and truths?

The Rev. Lisa Presley, chair of the UUA’s Committee on Military Ministry Task Force points out, “The military is the largest young adult multicultural institution in our country, bar none. And many serving our military would love to find a home like ours—one that supports them in the work of being moral, brave, courageous and alive in the midst of situations that threaten to tear one’s moral center and fiber away from them. Who else needs us as much as these folks do?”

The Military Ministry Toolkit can help your congregation wrestle with all of these issues, and respond with moral compassion, generosity and sensitivity.

UUmilitary-blockThe Military Ministry Toolkit is a revision of the Bridgebuilders program which was created under the auspices of the Church of the Larger Fellowship. The revision was written by Rev. Dr. Monica L. Cummings and Gail Forsyth-Vail of UUA staff and Rev. Seanan Holland, a Unitarian Universalist military chaplain.

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relaxDiane Brinson, Pacific Northwest District Administrator, returned to work July 7 after a 14-week Sabbatical.

She shares her reflections on her time off after 20 years of service to the PNWD — and emphasizes the necessity and value of intentional time for sacred “rest and relaxation” (recuperation? recreation? Yes!), as a pastoral message on the front page of the PNWD website.

There are always forces trying to keep us from relaxing,” she notes. “The key is intentionality.”

Her advice when you are “Overwhelmed with new emails each time you glance at your computer or phone?” is “Change the settings. Retrieve the messages only when you intentionally go get them; don’t have your new mail automatically retrieved. TV chattering away in the background? Turn it off until that show you really, really want to watch is on. I hear people complain of being inundated by Facebook posts. Can’t refrain from constantly checking? Cancel your account. As hard as it is to believe, life still goes on. (Trust me on this.) Be intentional.”

DianeBrinsonCongregations in the Pacific Northwest District have had the benefit of Diane’s assistance and wise guidance for two decades. This article provides more of the same.

Welcome back, Diane! Thanks for all you do for us.

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