ISSUE 42                                                                                                                                                                                   DECEMBER 2019
About Five Blocks
Whenever possible and no matter where we have lived, once a week, my husband and I take a walking adventure. We figure out where we want to go, the path we are going-  I ask him how far we are going, and he tells me, "About five blocks." We smile at each other and head out on our way. I can't remember a time that it hasn't been a lovely experience. It might be with the sights we see or the people we meet, but we are always left with a sense of awe.

Our adventures weren't always like this. Years ago, when we first started these weekly outings, our process was quite different. We would decide where we wanted to go, the path we would take, but when I would ask how far we were going; my Dear Heart would tell me the exact distance. Sometimes the answer would be a mile and sometimes more. We would start our adventure the way I described above; enjoying every step and every sight but then, apparently, at about five blocks into our walk, someone might have started to get a little impatient. They may have even begun to wonder exactly how far away the destination was. There may have also been a few sighs and a whine in their voice that could have been misinterpreted as complaining - just a little bit. 

What changed about how I experienced our adventures together was that one day before we left, I asked my usual question about how far we were going but instead of telling me the exact distance, I got a bit of a sideways look and was asked, "What if I told you about five blocks?" With this single question, my experience of our time shifted from a focus (and sometimes impatience) of getting to our destination to embracing the textures of journeying - taking in the awe. 

Recently, I have been asking myself what areas in my life need the reflection of "about five blocks." Where in my life might I be getting a little cranky because I am too focused on merely getting there? Have I missed the view in my peripheral because my vision is too hyper-focused? Is there beauty I have overlooked, dismissed opportunities of grace, and pauses I have not taken to appreciate because I am three steps ahead rather than as close to this moment as possible? Where am I missing the opportunities for awe?

Now is the time of year where we are waiting for the holidays, where the nights are the longest in the year, and love may be strong but patience can be short. In the hustle of all things we might wish for, may we pause to connect with ones who bring us closer to love, reach for the textures that color our lives, commune with the holy or the very scientific secular spectacles around you. My prayer is that we all hold close to as many "about five blocks" moments of awe as we can. May we sometimes get pleasantly distracted by something spectacular that you must stop and simply stare or listen to because awe calls your name. 
Welcome Our New Members
Tracy Fields
Dan and Sara Matlock
Joel Milgram and Victoria
Andrew and Natalie Goff
Jana Mohrman and Cher Bunnelle
Steve Goldman
Ira Ehrlich
Nate and Stephanie Denzin
Lucinda Duncan
Shannon McKinney and Jim Walsh
Nancy Working
Rhea McCulley
Charlotte Williamson
Eric Atonna and Lisa Doelger
Mary Overington
Board of Trustees News
In November the board continued our group discussion based on "White Fragility" by discussing when we first noticed our own race. We also reviewed the promising news from our financial feasibility study and continued the update of our standing rules.
Attention and Planned Giving
Attention is the practice of making things conscious.  If there is anything that it is easy to remain unconscious about, it is end of life planning. 

We care about our loved ones, friends and institutions that have been dear to us. By paying attention to them and your inner self, you can express your love by letting your desires be known for your medical care should you be incapacitated and unable to do so for yourself, designating a financial representative and plan for the distribution of your assets.

We invite you to include JUC as a beneficiary to your estate plan. Your gift will give your love to the generations to come.

Contact JUC's planned giving coordinators: Bud & B.J. Meadows , Mike Kramer or Carol Wilsey
Extra, Extra, Read the EMGT Annual Report!
The Directors for JUC's Endowment and Memorial Gift Trust recently posted their Annual Report for fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. 

Highlights of the Annual Report include the growth and performance of the investment trust fund, description of grants made to applicants, and notes on historical information. Do you have a grant idea to support JUC's mission? Get ready to apply in Spring 2020 for a grant to help 'be the change you want to see.'
The Theme of Awe in Religious Education

Experiencing Awe From the Change We Can Create: 

Exploring the awe we can create in the world when we work for change supported by our 2nd UU Principle ~ Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.


The Awe We Can Explore from a Quiet Place: Practicing experiencing awe from a place within ourselves supported by our 4th UU principles that each person is free to search for what is true.


The Awe of the Universe that We are All a Part of: Engaging with awe through looking to the stars and our place in the universe inspired by our 7th UU principle ~ the interdependent web of all existence of which we are apart.


The Awe of Hanukkah & Christmas Celebrations: Celebrating the awe in the teachings and story of Hanukkah and Christmas supported in our Sources of the Living Tradition of Christian and Jewish teachings.


The Awe of Beginning Again in the New Year: Discovering awe in the New Year celebrations around the world and dreaming of what we can create in 2020 for ourselves and others supported by our 6th UU principle ~ the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.

Upcoming Events to Support our Guatemalan Partnership
Even though it is still 2019, the UUSC Task Force is making plans for future trips to Rabinal, Guatemala, to grow our partnership with our scholarship students. We are planning a trip for adults September 29  - October 8, 2020. Our next trip for teens and their adults will be in July 13 - 22, 2021.  It's not too early for families to start saving funds and time for this amazing trip.

Lisa Bickford, our trip coordinator, will be holding an information session Sunday, December 8  at 12:30 p.m. Yummy Guatemalan food will be provided as we discuss the trip and how you can participate. If you can't make the Sunday event, there will be another information session on Monday, December 9  at 7 p.m.  Since Lisa now lives in Costa Rica, this is a great opportunity to talk with her.

Another way to learn more about our Guatemalan partnership is to attend I Heart Xmas, a Christmas concert that supports our scholarship students. It will be Sunday, December 8 at 6:30 p.m. and we will have information available about our connection to the wonderful people in Rabinal, Guatemala.

"Grief" by Stephen Dobyns

Trying to remember you
is like carrying water
in my hands a long distance across sand. 
Somewhere people are waiting.
They have drunk nothing for days.
Your name was the food I lived on;
now my mouth is full of dirt and ash.
To say your name was to be surrounded
by feathers and silk; now, reaching out,
I touch glass and barbed wire.
Your name was the thread connecting my life;
now I am fragments on a tailor's floor.

As we enter this darkest month before the light returns, many of us carry a sense of loss along with our anticipation of gathering with family or friends. The bittersweet poignancy of rituals of leaning into the darkness and welcoming the light can remind us of the people who are no longer with us or other losses we have suffered.

For many years, JUC has held a Holiday Healing service for people who are grieving during the holiday season. This year, we continue that tradition by coming together to acknowledge the unpredictable ways that grief can manifest itself. We remember that there is no wrong or right way to grieve, no pattern, and no standard. We come together to hold space for each other and to remember to be gentle with ourselves. 

Some folks have recently lost a family member or friend, others have older hurts that are tied in with the holidays. Sometimes the grief isn't over a person or people who have died, but instead over a divorce or other loss. 

If you are feeling the tenderness of this season, or if perhaps you are just looking for a contemplative and healing space, please join us in our Holiday Healing Service on Tuesday, December 10 at 7 p.m. We will spend some time together in beloved community, sharing music, ritual, and readings, and taking some time out to heal our hearts.
JUC's Making Room "Posse" 
Perhaps you've heard that JUC has a posse and wondered -- what the heck is that about? Here's the deal. It's all part of the Making Room effort to find a larger property for JUC.

It became clear early last year that our efforts to find, analyze and recommend buying a larger property would require many, many hours of work - including detailed property evaluation, planning for fundraising, and communication. Since Rev. Wendy already has a rather robust schedule, she was encouraged to enlist a project management team to do some of that work. Trendy minister that she is, she named this team "The Posse". You may be relieved to know she did not issue them badges.

Debby Bower is the project management team lead. Professionally, she works in strategic engagement with individuals, organizations, governments and businesses. She holds an MS in Development Management from the London School of Economics. A JUC member since 2011, she's been an active volunteer in programs such as SOUPS and Lifespan Education, has been a small group facilitator, and served as the Boulder-Denver Regional UU Cluster Representative for four years.      

Dea Brayden is the Posse's fundraising lead. A member since 1996, she's served as Board president ( 2002-2004 during two interim ministry years, capital campaign and most recent remodel). She's chaired the canvass a time or two and has been on multiple committees. After helping former JUC minister Peter Morales get elected as UUA president, she worked as his special assistant for nearly 8 years. Her portfolio included close collaboration with the UUA's Stewardship and Development, everything from communications for snail mail campaigns to planning major events, from cultivating the President's Council to joint fundraising appeals with partner organizations.

Chris Sealy is the Posse's communications lead. She's been a member since 1992, and has chaired and served on approximately a zillion committees. She was on the steering committee for the last capital campaign, and has done publicity for countless programs, events and stewardship campaigns at JUC. Her first professional life was as an award-winning radio reporter and anchor in Denver and Los Angeles, and she now is a producer/writer at Denver Film & Digital, the video production company she co-owns with her husband, Steef.
Family Promise and JUC
There are many great success stories, but volunteers might remember Teshawn, LindseyByris (6) & Brysin (3)

JUC has partnered with Family Promise to host families experiencing homelessness for over a decade! Four times a year, families move into the Mills Building and call it home for a week. Our members provide meals, transportation, support and friendship to these families while they work towards stable housing. Over the past few years, Family Promise has adapted to the changing needs of their families by proving additional programs and has grown to the point where they served 196 families last year in their 4 programs. The statistics are impressive: 82% o f families obtained or maintained stable housing by engaging in a Family Promise program!

This lively and resilient family struggled with health problems and had many ups and downs but managed to push through and eventually move into housing. Teshawn was employed sporadically throughout their stay, but he had trouble maintaining employment due to Lindsey's health issues. Luckily, FP was able to refer them for a voucher for people with disabilities, so their rent will be covered during periods of unemployment. This family continues to work with FP through their Aftercare program now that they are housed.

Our next Family Promise hosting week occurs over Christmas, December 22-29. This is a magical time of year for many, but perhaps not so magical if you can't be in your own (or any!) home. We will need many volunteers to complete our Hosting Week, including on Christmas day. The day site is closed on Christmas Day and JUC will be hosting the families all day. If you would like to volunteer, please sign up! We know what a busy time of year this is with family, friends and travel, but, if you have a few hours to spare, please give us a hand...let's give these families our attention!

Habitat for Humanity Update

Turning Pumpkins into Houses

For the past twenty years, Jeffco Interfaith Partners, a coalition of churches of which JUC is a member, has sold pumpkins during the month of October to raise money for the sponsorship of a Habitat for Humanity house. This year's pumpkin patches were a mixed success. Considering the unseasonably cold and snowy weather, we sold a lot of pumpkins. But we could have sold a lot more had the wintry conditions held off until winter. Twelve inches of snow and 107 hours of sub-freezing temperatures kept the pumpkin patches closed for five days. An even bigger impact of our abbreviated autumn, however, occurred in New Mexico, where the pumpkin crop froze at the 
Navajo farms soon after we received our first two shipments, preventing the receipt of our third shipment. Nonetheless, total sales and donations were $68,000, 40% of which goes to our sponsorship of next year's H4H home.(The other 60% goes to the Navajo growers.)

Thank you to all the volunteers who staffed the pumpkin patches in Lakewood and Arvada, often on frigid, blustery days. Likewise thanks to all who showed up to unload the trucks and helped tarp and un-tarp the pumpkins to protect them from freezing.

Special Plate / Donations

Kudos to JUC members for the special plate collection back in September which went to Jeffco Interfaith Partners and, by extension, to Habitat for Humanity. Your generosity (almost $2,400), and donations from other congregations and individuals, means we will still be able to sponsor a home next year, in spite of the less-than-expected fundraising results from the pumpkin patches

Reminder that Tuesday, December 10 is "Colorado Gives Day." If you're considering a donation to Habitat for Humanity, it will be partially matched that day from an Incentive Fund. You can schedule your gift at by choosing "Habitat Metro Denver" as the organization, choosing "Faith Coalition" under Donation Details, and entering "Jeffco Interfaith Partners" under special instructions.

Family Selection and Home Dedication

Habitat Metro Denver has selected a family (a single mother with two kids) for the house we worked on this year.  Mom is still completing her 200 hours of "sweat equity," so stay tuned for details on the home dedication. Home dedications are always uplifting events. There is nothing like meeting the people who will live in the house you've helped build to realize the benefits which home ownership provides. Everyone deserves a decent place to live, and Habitat for Humanity's mission is to make that possible.
Choosing Generosity
Linda Cobb-Reiley and Tom Reiley

Linda:  Whenever Tom and I talk about generosity in our lives our memories, like so many of yours, return to our upbringings, the example of our parents. Both his parents, Fran and Trev Reiley, and mine, Jane and Orv Cobb, demonstrated generosity and selflessness in providing our basic needs during our childhoods, later in supporting our educations, and in midlife with emergency loans when we erred in our finances. They chose to be nurturing and supportive of us due to the hardships and opportunities they'd experienced growing up during the Depression. Despite tight finances, our parents also gave tithes to their churches, our churches.

Early in our lives our parents' support was unconditional, except when my grades slipped one semester of excess bridge playing at Purdue. Their support for our educations reflected their belief in the opportunities my parents were denied and that Tom's parents knew to be true from having attended college. After college Tom and I began to learn painful life lessons. Parental and grandparent loans to us in those times of our financial errors were accompanied by payback conditions that began to shape our current financial habits, constraints and giving.  

Tom:  Linda and I met at my parents' alma mater, Purdue, during our Junior year, in 1965. She had grown disenchanted with Methodism, I with Presbyterianism, and shortly after falling in love we began attending West Lafayette's Unitarian church, also falling in love with Unitarian views on social justice and an expanded understanding of our place in the cosmos. No more eternal damnation, original sin, prayers for forgiveness. This was a church, different from what we had grown up with, that we could believe in and support. During career moves we joined the Unitarian fellowship in Durham, and, with our then little girl Nickie, UU churches in Salt Lake City and Tulsa before moving here and to JUC in 1984. Within a few years, however, we stopped attending, consumed by our careers and the balking of our then teenage daughter.
Our core beliefs led to our support of public radio and television, Planned Parenthood, local theater and Guatemala student scholarships. But it wasn't until we became socially acquainted with JUC members through our neighbors Marcy Mustoe and Jim Harvey that we recognized our need to return to our church. Our commitment to and support of JUC was strengthened when we learned about the recruitment of new minister, specifically Wendy Williams. We formally joined the church in 2011, were in Wendy and Betsy's Path to Membership class, and since then have felt, as Wendy puts it, gathered in.  

Linda:  Giving to JUC, both as a regular tithe and as special gifting, is for us an opportunity to follow our parents' and grandparents' examples of giving, and, for us, of supporting our core beliefs:  fairness, care, forgiveness, justice and love. JUC is where we find all five in one place, comfortably, gathered in fellowship with you.
Talking Climate at the Holiday Table
Martin Voelker, Green Task Force

Being German in America has its benefits, especially on Thanksgiving and Christmas, because my family is celebrating with hand picked friends and don't have to deal with the infamous "Uncle Bob" who gets his "information" on Breitbart and Fox and isn't shy about sharing what he thinks he knows. Having such a guest at the dinner table could quickly turn ugly because arguments about facts are hopeless when one side has wedded their deeply held values with an issue where they simply have their facts wrong.

Luckily, the guest list doesn't always contain an Uncle Bob but even so there will likely be a variety of opinions. Chances are high that climate change will come up because what starts out as small talk about the weather may soon be about the impact of mega storms, catastrophic wildfires, drought, and clear sky flooding in various parts of the nation.

So let me share some thoughts for guiding controversial dinner table conversations on climate:
  1. First of all, no one has ever changed their mind due to a single conversation. Therefore you primarily want to keep the peace and to strengthen your relationship with each other, and that starts with respect and active listening. 
  2. What you'll be hearing will allow you to understand people's deeper values, and that opens the opportunity to establish common ground in shared values and concerns - after all, don't we all want to preserve a livable world and wish the best for our family? 
  3. There are valid concerns where people's livelihoods are threatened, either in the boom-and-bust fossil fuel sectors or where tourist destinations lose their appeal and economic viability due to heat waves, toxic algae blooms, or terrible air pollution from unprecedented wildfires.
So before the conversation turns gloomy or confrontational be sure to bring up the many win-win solutions now at our disposal. 

Solar panels have become extremely cheap, and together with storage they can protect a home from rolling blackouts while reducing the dependence on fossil fuel. In Georgia and Florida, clean energy advocates joined with Conservatives in the "Green Tea Coalition" to fight against utilities for their right to install solar, and here in Colorado a new coalition between Clean Energy Action and the Libertarian Independence Institute is forming to push for microgrids. Once people understand they have shared interests they will put their ideological differences aside. 

Apartment dwellers now have options to buy into community solar or tell their utilities to source their power from renewable sources. Wind power is scaling up, and new transmission lines connect it to population centers while farmers and ranchers make substantial new income from leasing space for wind towers without losing much land.

And most importantly, unsubsidized wind and solar now beat coal and natural gas on price by a lot. (Nuclear is great for carbon but its cost is beyond good and evil, and those supposedly cheaper and safer modular nukes you may have heard about remain mere promises which may or may not come to fruition decades from now.)

The discussion around transportation and electric vehicles can be a little dicey because fossil lobbyists spread a lot of disinformation, and frankly because many people remain madly in love with their oversized gas guzzlers. That said, one ride in an affordable Tesla Model 3 or Nissan Leaf with their superior acceleration, quiet ride, top safety ratings, massively lower cost of ownership is often all it takes to make a convert. 

Taking personal responsibility for improving local air quality and reducing emissions - both for carbon and toxic exhaust - has to start somewhere, and given that many of us only buy a car once a decade you better make that decision count.

A much less sexy but most effective climate solution is to reduce the footprint of our homes with better insulation all around. It pays for itself, and some credit unions offer lower cost "RENU" loans for efficiency upgrades or solar. 

The overall solution points to one thing: We need to electrify everything, from transportation to heating to appliances. The reason is because anything running on electricity can be powered by clean renewable energy. Secondly it greatly reduces our primary energy needs because whereas fossil fuels turn the vast majority of primary energy into waste heat, electric systems convert almost all of the energy into productive work - more power to us!

Finally if there's one thing to lift up it is this: 

We're in a crucial transition now where sticking to 'business as usual' is simply not going to happen. Denying this won't serve us. We need to adopt a forward looking attitude, identify ways to make a difference, and commit to an active role.  That, and we need to finish that piece of pumpkin pie: you put it on your plate, now eat it!