ISSUE 37                                                                                                                                                                                                JULY 2019
Welcome Our New Members
Holly Storm  works as a parenting coach, and she has two young children, Forest and River
Summer of UU Heroes
This summer, in our Religious Education program, we are telling the stories of inspiring Unitarian and Universalist real-life heroes. Did you know that Charles Darwin is among them? Or Henry Bergh, who founded the ASPCA? Or Clara Barton, Founder of the American Red Cross, and "The Angel of the Battlefield"? Or Antoinette Brown, the first woman to be ordained as a minister in this country? And there are many more.

As UU's, we have a proud heritage of UU Heroes. Each Sunday, we will focus on a new UU hero, tell their story and discuss it, focusing on the virtue this person embodied. Then, using our Exploration carts (Drama cart, Artist/Maker cart, and Builder cart) our rising kindergarten through 5 th graders will use the inspiration from the stories to guide them in creating works of art. Near the end, we will think about how each of us can become a UU hero, using our own strengths and virtues to make a positive difference in the world!

Member volunteers (and youth assistants) are needed to make this program happen.   Please sign up to teach today!
The Musicians are Coming!  The Musicians are Coming!
Each summer, the professional music leaders of Unitarian Universalist congregations gather for a week of development, education, networking, and resource sharing. This year, the annual gathering of the Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries (AUUMM) is being held in Denver, based at First Universalist Church. 

This year's conference is designed to get musicians outside their heads; to release inner creative energy; color outside the lines and bring a fresh approach to the sacred work that they do. Conference attendees will sing repertoire by composers of color. Featured headliners are Mark Miller (composer of "Draw the Circle Wide" that the JUC Choir has sung), Black/trans/queer poet and educator J. Mase III, and sound painter Mark Harris.

Approximately 250 UU music leaders from across the country will be present at this year's conference, including JUC's Music Ministry Staff: Sarah Billerbeck, Laura Lizut, Adam Revell, and me.

JUC is playing a role in this conference, as our church's Endowment and Memorial Gift Trust (EMGT) awarded the AUUMM $3,200 for scholarships to support musicians of color at the conference. The award supports the JUC Strategic Outcome of serving a s a trusted and visible leader, partner, and advocate for the creation of a just society and sustainable environment. By funding this grant request, the EMGT benefits the larger UU community by helping to bring UU music ministry leaders to the center of dialogue and to the future of UU music ministry.

JUC leadership will also show up in the conference week. Sarah Billerbeck is a member of the Conference Planning Committee and has worked with her team for more than a year, envisioning and bringing this conference to fruition. Rev. Wendy and I will be leading a four-hour session for the UUA Music Leader Certification Program, "Creating Worship Collaboratively." And David Burrows and I will be leading daily Evensong worship services during the conference.

On Sunday, July 28, JUC's worship will be partly led by traveling UU musician and drummer, Matt Meyer. Matt has visited JUC before, and will be sharing in the summer series of Heroes. 

You may not see our music staff around the church the week of July 22, but we will be grounding ourselves in the community of UU musicians and other religious professionals, to help transform ourselves and others through the power of music.
Every Pledge is Important
The operating budget of $1,048,703 for our 2019/20 fiscal year was just presented and approved at the Congregational Meeting on Sunday, May 19. The large majority - almost 85% -  of expected income is from pledges. In order to fund all of the programs, staff and the facility we need money from our members and friends! As you have heard Rev. Wendy say from the pulpit, everything you see, hear, touch or taste at JUC, we pay for. 

Your pledge is an important commitment to this religious community. When you make a pledge, we count on it when we generate the budget, and throughout the year as we navigate our fiscal needs. Every year almost everything costs more, so considering an increase when your time to pledge comes is very appreciated. Your contributions are the "treasure" in the three-legged stool of time, talent and treasure that supports this community, and we are grateful!

If you need to make a change to your pledge, we really want to hear from you. That helps us adjust as we go along. We welcome and understand people in their seasons of bounty or hardship. We aim to make it easy to communicate with us by providing quarterly statements and multiple communication methods when your pledge month comes around. When you get your pledge letter, we really do want to get the completed form back. If something changes, give me a call.

I sometimes get asked how much it costs JUC to have a member here. That is not really a simple question. However, to try to answer it in part, the average annual pledge needs to be around $1,600 per household (we have 560 pledging households). Of course, we have households with much lower and much higher pledges. We have five households with pledges in the range $10,000 up to nearly $20,000, and 20 that are $100 or less. The median is around $1,000. We also have households experiencing financial difficulties for which their pledge is currently waived. No matter the size of the pledge, it takes all of us!

If you are not currently a member or pledging friend, you are more than welcome to make a pledge to support JUC. Give me a call any time or use this form. We are very grateful for your consideration!

As we approach the end of another Church year, I find myself in a reflective mood. Personally, I have just completed my fourth year (I was appointed to finish the term of a Board member who had resigned, and I am now two thirds of the way through my "own" three-year term) as a member of the Board of Trustees. When I began my Board service, the Church was in the process of moving to the policy governance system. As a result, the Board spent a great deal of time during that 2015-16 Church year actually writing policies. It was, one might say, very "nuts and bolts" type of work.  

In 2016-17 the Board spent a significant amount of time and effort implementing and interpreting various policies that had been written previously and contemplating additional policies that still needed to be drafted. I found this second year to be a much bigger picture "Where have we been and where are we going?" kind of experience. The ensuing year was another matter altogether. At the Board retreat that kicked off my third year, the Board adopted new President Kathy Covert's BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of moving the Church to a new facility. That BHAG, of course, led to JUC's Making Room initiative, which has dominated the Board's energies for the past two years.

As I look back, I find myself grateful for the opportunity to have served in the Church's leadership. My personal horizons have been expanded significantly through seeing and participating in "how the sausage gets made." I now look forward to another year as the final installment of my time on the Board during what has been, and what continues to be, interesting times in the life of our Church.
Shoelaces and Heartstrings

It is not an "assault on our country", but merely poor, humble and loving families requesting asylum. Our country has for centuries offered this to other migrants (many of our ancestors) seeking a better life for their children.

Besides surrendering to authorities, they must give up their belts, their medicines, their shoelaces, their rosaries and even their hair ties. They forfeit their dignity by being banded with very tight wrist bands listing only a number, now having also lost their names. But, they continue to hope their sacrifices are worth it for an improved and safer existence.

It shames me to think of the days I agonized over the decision whether or not to go to El Paso and assist with the sheltering of these courageous families. My journey involved only temporarily giving up my home and getting on a plane! A friend of 50 years (we served together in Vietnam), and fellow UU, read the urgent request on the College of Social Justice website. Reuben Garcia with Annunciation House  has been offering shelter to refugees for over 40 years. To encourage/guilt me, my friend reminded me that we answered the call during the Vietnam crisis; this is today's overwhelming crisis. I reminded her that we were in our risk-taking 20s then, not  our cautious 70s. Plus, we don't speak Spanish!! But, Wendy has said, "put fear aside for curiosity and compassion allowing your heart to see." I now appreciate these words.

One of my favorite duties was to cut off those dreaded wrist bands and loudly pronounce, "libre" and enjoy their beautiful, if tired smiles. They wait so patiently to be assisted in making their life changing phone call. Almost all have family or someone that will sponsor them, and help provide transportation to where their new opportunity awaits. They used to be merely released to the streets or dropped at a nearby bus station. Annunciation House provides Red Cross cots, meals, hygiene products, diapers, access to showers and clean clothes. The greatest gift is facilitating the individual connections while providing simple, basic needs until arrangements are complete. During my 15 LONG days, at Casa Del Refujiado (a converted warehouse able to accommodate 500), I worked closely with incredible volunteers to launch over 3,000 of these sweet and extremely grateful people.

Lessons learned and treasured heartstring moments? There is more goodness, generosity and kindness in this world than anger and division which we hear and feel so often. The Abundant Living Faith Center of El Paso pays the $90,000 rent for the warehouse; Salvation Army provides 900 meals a day; college students give up spring break and summer vacations. I assisted dozens of devoted, Catholic sisters who truly LIVE the African proverb, "when you pray, move your feet." I realized you don't have to speak the same language in order to help restore a person's dignity or make an exhausted, confused child smile. Simply hand them their very own toothbrush.

Offering a much needed hair tie to a would think we presented them with a day at the SPA. A local TV camera man filming the facility stopped, put down his equipment and created a paper funnel to greatly expedite my sloppy delivery of formula for dozens of hungry babies. He then had to turn away so as not to show his tears after observing these priceless, joyful, and obviously well-loved children. Probably the most touching gesture was done by my hotel's kitchen worker. She overheard my laments about not having enough hair ties for the hundreds of women. I returned after a particularly grueling day to have the front desk present me with a box FULL of these precious items, a selfless gift from this worker. I met fellow UU volunteers from around the country, united in living the value of service to others with needs greater than our own. I returned with a bursting heart and my spirit renewed. We need to simply welcome, not fear, these resilient, productive and hopeful new residents.

Martin Luther King said, "One comes to appreciate the reality that there can be no we and they in our lives, but only brothers and sisters all sacred and dignified."