ISSUE 1                                                                                                                                                                                           JULY 2016
Among the rites of summer for me is our annual road trip to General Assembly. While others may be bored with Kansas or Nebraska, I find something terribly nurturing about being on the vast land of our country. Admittedly, I find some of it deeply troubling as I witness billboards, huge unrelenting billboards, advertising things that weigh on my soul. One of the billboards that I saw in several places had the outline of what I believe to be an AK-47. It was surreal.

Summer means so many things for so many of us. We travel or we don't. We see things that worry us or give us hope. And still, we come together to make sense of the things that trouble our souls, to celebrate the places we find help, and to companion each other on the journey.

This summer, at JUC, we wondered what to do with the two months in which we do not have monthly themes. As a staff, we reflected on the gift of summer and how we look forward to it in the colder months. Summer passes so quickly and we wanted someway to savor it. In this fast-paced world, how do we learn to savor?

Author E.B. White spoke of this many years ago when he said upon waking he was often divided in what to do with his day: serve it or savor it?

It seems to me, a meaningful life requires us to do both. Perhaps not in the same moment, but in understanding that both are essential to living in ways that sustain us and others.  

Thus we thought about qualities which help us live such a life. And so it is, that throughout the months of July and August, Rev. Eric and I will alternate Sundays speaking of a different quality. By the end of each service, you will hear a question with which we invite you to wrestle throughout the week. The question will ask that you bear witness to how this quality appears in your life. The following Sunday, you will be invited to an electronic interaction to share your experience. 

We are really so excited. We think the qualities that we have chosen will enhance our ability to live both a serving life as well as one worthy of savoring.  We hope each message will help equip us to deepen the conversation within and among us.  

Volunteer Spotlight
Many thanks to the team of volunteers who made April's Golden Circle Luncheon a great success: Beth Fleming, Lark Birdsong, Clancy & Caron Cottman, Heather Hagemann, Mariska Hamstra, Jill Bishop, and Marge Petersen.

Golden Circle is a special worship service and luncheon for those who are 70 and better, and it wouldn't be possible without younger members taking part in the opportunity to bless our elders. The next luncheon is coming up on Thursday, July 14 and a handful of new volunteers are needed. Please contact Beth Leyba if you are interested in helping out.

Sunday, August 7, our Time for All Ages will include a Blessing of the Backpacks.

Unitarian Universalists, hold lifelong learning in very high regard. In fact, our fourth Principle states: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning. We want to highlight this important principle for our young people while giving them our love and support as they begin the next school year. It will be an opportunity for adults to reaffirm our commitment and support for education for all people.
Students, bring your backpacks to the service for the blessing and receive a Unitarian Universalist token to attach to it. 

PrideFest Parade 2016
Thanks to the nearly 40 JUCers who made a fantastic UU presence at the 2016 PrideFest on June 19.

The group included infants to elders and beautifully demonstrated our UU values of love, acceptance, and passion for social justice. We marched with representatives from every other congregation in our area, forming a UU contingent of well over 100 people. The morning was beautiful and HOT, the route along Colfax was lined with hundreds upon hundreds of celebrants, and it was such a joy to hear our UU churches announced over the loud speakers.  

NAMI Thanks You
Your Mental Wellness Associates group would like to thank everyone for an outstanding turnout of 21 walkers for NAMIWalks in Centennial Park this year, raising over $2,030 for folks with mental illness, education and fighting stigma. Our JUC plate in April  also raised over $1,814 for this cause. Thank you for this support!

Year Round Pledge
We are wrapping up July pledges. If you are a July pledger and have not yet replied to our letter or email, please do so as soon as possible or pledge here. August pledgers will begin receiving information very soon.

Planned Giving
Please read Carol Wilsey's article, "The Ultimate Gift," about two significant planned gifts to the church.

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Belonging and Connection
I definitely lucked out in finding JUC and this job. Belonging and Connection are two words that sum up what I believe life to be all about, or really, what I believe everyone needs in order to thrive in this life.
In other words, I found a job that aligns with my personal mission: loving people and creating an authentic, inclusive community where we grow together and support one another through life's ups and downs. I know not many are lucky enough to have a mission-driven career, and I am grateful.
I read not long ago that the opposite of addiction isn't sobriety; it's connection. Johann Hari puts forth this radical idea t hat what we are yearning for when we become addicted to substances, objects, or activities is not the thing we become addicted to, but human connection.
"Human beings have a natural and innate need to bond. And when we're happy and healthy we'll bond and connect with each other," Hari explained. "But if you can't do that - because you're traumatized or isolated or beaten down by life - you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief."
I have been traumatized and beaten down by life in recent years, with the loss of my 22-year-old stepson, Josh, in a car accident almost two years ago, my partner losing his job just two months after such a horrific loss, my beloved grandmother suddenly dying shortly after that, and then the loss of my grandfather, two uncles, and my kids' great grandfather - six deaths in nine months.
While I look back on that time and think in wonder, "How did we survive?" I know the answer: c onnection . We were never isolated and our family and friends stepped up in major ways to care for us, from just showing up and sitting silently with us in our sorrow, to making meals, and erring on the side of saying something despite not knowing what to say. I don't know what would have happened to us without their support.
Scientist Matthew Lieberman, author of the book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect , stated in an interview for Scientific American :
"Across many studies of mammals, from the smallest rodents all the way to us humans, the data suggests that we are profoundly shaped by our social environment and that we suffer greatly when our social bonds are threatened or severed. When this happens in childhood it can lead to long-term health and educational problems. We may not like the fact that we are wired such that our well-being depends on our connections with others, but the facts are the facts."
So how do we let this inform our efforts to build our sense of belonging and connection within the community that is JUC? What I love about it is that we are all here because we want to be - it's an opt-in society, and what we get out of it is directly proportional to what we put in.
The level to which we each deepen, connect, and engage is entirely up to us, yet when we do opt to go deeper, be it through volunteering within the congregation and/or the world outside our walls, committing to a small group and practicing deep listening and hopefully radical authenticity, singing in the choir, teaching the children, or whatever it may be, we reap the emotional and spiritual benefits and cultivate our sense of belonging and connection.
So happy to love, learn, grow, and thrive with you all. 

The Ultimate Gift
Dave Willard joined JUC in 2004. He recently died and JUC was named as the beneficiary of a substantial annuity death benefit of almost $190,000. More about that later.
I didn't know Dave well, but I attended his memorial service held at his former church (Central Presbyterian). I learned that he was best known there for his participation in a supper club and on hiking trips. Even after he joined JUC because of his growing discomfort with the Presbyterian theology, he volunteered regularly in the homeless shelter that is housed in the Central church basement. One young woman explained that she met him on a bus when he was on his way to volunteer. Her involvement in that church's ministry had its inception because of a random, but meaningful interaction with Dave. He was still remembered very fondly in that congregation, even though he technically left it over 10 years ago.
Dave was most active with the choir here at JUC until, as his health and abilities declined, he was unable to attend. He had no children or other family, so he had a personal representative who took care of his affairs. She calls herself a "professional daughter." Her duties included paying his bills, purchasing necessities for him, and making medical and other decisions, and she came to love him - above and beyond the call of her profession, but so lovely for both of them. She knew clearly that he had a strong commitment to JUC and continued his very generous pledge - even increasing it periodically - though he had lost the ability to make that decision himself.
Dave prepared for his care and death by making important decisions ahead of time, and making sure that his representative knew what he wanted. We are so grateful that JUC was important enough to him to receive such a generous inheritance.
We also just received word that we will be receiving a portion of the Taguchi estate, the value as-yet unknown. For those who don't know who they were, Jim and Til were long-time members and they established the Taguchi Social Action Fund here at JUC in 2003 with a donation of $100,000. See more information here. Jim died in 2009 and Til, just this past February. They continue their generosity to JUC as well as to several other important charities through their will. They made those important decisions while they were both still able to do so like Dave Willard did. Rev. Wendy recently spoke of simplicity being complicated. Dave, Jim and Til were able to do some complicated thinking and planning to create a not so complicated estate plan. Their plans invoked the good will and love of caring people to simplify their lives in their final years and leave their legacy.
Have you made your wishes clear? If you lose the ability to make your own decisions, will someone know what you would have wanted? This is the essence of the message from our Planned Giving Team: Bud & BJ Meadows, Mike Kramer, and me. Please contact one of us if you need additional information about making a planned gift to JUC.
What will JUC do with the inheritances? The Board and Staff are currently evaluating some options that will strengthen JUC's financial health so that these generous gifts will enhance to our Ministries of deepening to our truest selves, connecting authentically with others, and engaging with needs beyond our own. It is such a blessing to have the ability to consider our finances with more abundance! The support received from Dave Willard and the Taguchis will long be remembered at JUC.

Organizing Ministry Update
by Jill Armstrong, Just Neighboring Lead Organizer
Our JUC Organizing Ministry team, along with Together Colorado (our community organizing partner), has completed over 150 one-to-one conversations with members of our congregation to find out what community issues we care about the most. The top issues (in order) are:
  • affordable housing
  • homelessness
  • mental health
  • climate change
  • lack of diversity/segregation
  • gun safety
As we begin the research phase to determine what action we will be able to take, we again would like to hear from you.
  1. Do you have any personal experiences with any of these issues?
  2. Is there a personal reason why you would like us to create an action around one of these issues?
  3. Would you like to put energy into working on one or more of these issues, first doing research to determine what might be possible and then creating that systemic change?
We invite you to reply to Rev. Eric Banner with your input.
Finally, we appreciate all of those who took the time to speak with a member of our team. If you haven't yet, and would still like to do a one-to-one, please contact me and I will arrange for you to have a 30-minute conversation with a member of the organizing ministry.

UUSC Task Force Guatemala Partners News
by June LeCrone,  UUSC Task Force Co-Chair
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee Task Force at JUC supports the mission of promoting fundamental human rights for everyone, and works specifically with people who are denied their rights because of who they are. When JUC became involved with the community of Rabinal in Guatemala several years ago, we became companions to Mayan residents as they worked to recover from the massacre of their families and the loss of their property as a result of corrupt government practices.
One of the most important ways we partner is by supporting a scholarship program for students who otherwise would not be able to attend school. These are students who live in poverty and whose parents do not have the means to see that their children continue in school. Our scholarship assistance provides tuition, books, uniforms, transportation, and the assistance of a tutor. Parents work with staff to ensure student success. The long term goal is to have a community of educated citizens who can thrive economically and independently. 
Why are we involved with a community in Guatemala? The UU Service Committee introduced our congregation to these incredibly resilient people and now JUC has a relationship and a partnership with them. Our faith calls us to reach beyond our community and beyond our borders. When we understand the needs of others who live different lives in different places, we become better able to understand and support the needs of people everywhere. 
We have a new opportunity to enhance these students' success by providing computers to the students in our scholarship program with a special plate collection in August. We hope you will join us in this important work.