ISSUE 51                                                                                                                                                                                   SEPTEMBER 2020
Board of Trustees Report
The Board is considering new policies and initiatives for this church year to deepen, connect, and engage at JUC through accountable actions that dismantle racism and other oppressions, in ourselves and our relationships.
The Board is exploring options for the format of the JUC Fall Congregational Meeting, and potential Bylaw changes to support our current remote status. 
Fear and Planned Giving
We are living in a time when it is easy to feel fear. Certainly, estate planning evokes fear of the process itself. More consuming may be the fear of who will care for the children if we die, suffer a long terminal illness, disability and even death itself. These are real fears that we can ameliorate by courageously looking within and drawing on our inner wisdom that we share with all living beings. You may enlist professional help to plan and work that plan. We encourage you to include a financial legacy gift to JUC in your plan. Let JUC's ministerial staff know how JUC can be of service to you in making your memorial celebration a special one for your friends and loved ones.

Contact JUC's planned giving coordinators: Bud & B.J. Meadows, Mike Kramer or Carol Wilsey
Pastoral Care Team Update
In the spirit of RENEWAL our Pastoral Care Team is renewing its commitment to support our JUC community. There are many ways we care for each other, and we continue to welcome members to join in our efforts.
Behind the scenes we have Connectors and JUCeHelpers who take care of members who face a variety of challenging situations. Our Connectors reach out to the member, "connecting" them to our JUCeHelpers email group. This group fulfills requests for rides, meals, medical equipment and other short term needs. Since this time last year we have served the needs of over forty families and individuals. Our card writing team has offered encouragement, sympathy, and congratulations to around 200 hundred members.
Other groups on our team will continue their work to greet new babies, advocate for mental health, and host memorial receptions.
We are also working on ideas for workshops we can do virtually. We will keep you posted via the Weekly Connection.
For those of you who have answered the call to support our families this past year, we are deeply grateful. As I said, we welcome anyone who wants to join our work. We are especially in need of Connectors and JUCeHelpers. That work can be done easily by computer or phone.
If you need or know of someone who would benefit from Pastoral Care support, don't hesitate to call Pastoral Care at 720 CHURCH9 (720-248-7249).  If you would like to join JUCeHelpers, email Rev. Eric Banner, and he will invite you to our email group.
UUSC: Loving People, Serving People
During this time of uncertainty, the UU Service Committee has dedicated themselves to five key principles:
  1. Global solidarity
  2. Dismantling patriarchy
  3. Abolishing white supremacy
  4. Minimizing displacement
  5. Supporting equal access to social services and resources
The UU Service Committee has responded to the pandemic fueled crises in the marginalized communities served by their partners around the world and they have forged new partnerships to better act on these principles. You can read the full document here.

Sunday, September 27, Mary Katherine Morn, President of the UU Service Committee, will be delivering the virtual sermon for JUC. This will be an exciting opportunity to hear directly about the strengths that the UU Service Committee brings as they respond to intersecting crises in this very trying time. You can read Mary Katherine Morn's statement about the systemic injustices revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic here and about the work they are called to do in response to white supremacy culture here.

For years the UU Service Committee has been at the forefront supporting effective sustainable change for communities threatened by injustice and human rights violations. We can join their work as they pivot to respond directly to the gross injustices revealed in the past few months. We strongly encourage you to join the service on Sunday, September 27 to hear Mary Katherine Morn's sermon.
Renewing Hearts
How is your heart? I ask because it sure feels like every day brings news of something more we need to adjust to, changes we must fit into our lives or just a gnawing feeling of uncertainty about what is on the horizon. In this time of the unfamiliar, yearning to be with one another, and trying to understand the distress of the world around us, our patience, endurance -- our hearts -- may feel stretched and strained. When I feel that stretch, I try to return to Parker Palmers' words: "Then there is the supple heart, the one that breaks open, not apart, the one that can grow into greater capacity for the many forms of love. Only the supple heart can hold suffering in a way that opens to new life."

How do you renew a supple heart? One of the best ways I know of is through a journey of faith formation. Unitarian Universalism guides us in how to respond to the world around us and offers us ways to renew our own hearts and the hearts of others. Jefferson Unitarian Church's focus is strengthening faith formation for all ages, to support you and your families in the growth, care, and the nurturing of your minds, bodies, and spirits -- with a special focus on those supple hearts.

Religious Education classes for children and youth begin Sunday, September 13. For detailed information about programming and to register your child(ren), click herePlease contact Jules Jaramillo for teaching team opportunities in K-5th grade classes or if you have music, art, or movement experience you would like to share with classes as special guests.

This year we will be offering numerous opportunities for adults to participate in their own faith formation.
  • Monthly Gatherings 
    • Reflections on Race 
    • Family Support gathering and Families of Color support and sharing
    • Going Deeper Groups
  • Adult Faith Formation Classes
    • UU Pocket Guide
    • Adult Coming of Age
    • The Heart of Social Justice
    • Anti-Racism & Racial Justice workshops
Yes, our hearts may feel stretched and strained. And in this time, let us hold to our supple hearts, hold our discomfort in a way that opens to the renewal of our hearts everywhere we can. Let us all learn, grow, and renew our hearts together.
As you know, since the middle of March our church building has been closed to all non-essential activities, and our programs and services have gone online. We want you to know that the Safety Team has been periodically reviewing the situation and reevaluating. As of now, we continue to be closed indefinitely.

Several requests have come in from groups that would like to begin meeting here. We are not able to accommodate these requests at this time -- inside or outside of the building. You can request an online meeting using this formIf you need assistance with online meetings, please contact Carol at 303-279-5282 x11, or email her.

We would love to be together in person again, but know that it is not the right time to take that risk. We need to care for each other by staying apart...for now.
Engaging with Music and Justice
September Sundays provide a number of online opportunities to engage with Music, and with Justice, in collaboration with two Colorado UU groups. You are heartily invited to these events!

Melanie DeMore, SONGLEADER
Sunday, September 27, 2-3:30 p.m.
$10, scholarships available (indicate on registration)
Register hereSponsored by Colorado UU Music Leaders.

For over a year, Colorado UU Music Leaders (of which I am a part) has been planning this singing event, which is open to all ages. Melanie DeMore is a "vocal activist," and we at JUC have sung some of her songs including "I will be your standing stone." She'll be leading inspiring and energizing music at this afternoon session. I was inspired by Melanie's leadership at the Association for UU Music Ministries conference two years ago, and am honored and delighted that she will be leading Colorado UU congregation members in an uplifting event. If you find yourself in need of connection and music, this workshop is not to be missed! See Melanie's personalized invitation here

Black, Indigenous, People of Color Speaker Series
Each Sunday evening in September, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

We will hear from a variety of nationally known UU Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPoC) Religious Professionals and exploring what it means to be a BIPoC in the UUA and larger community. The goal of the speaker series is to create energy around and inspire BIPoC people to build connections and begin the conversations to create such a space. Each of the speakers will spiritually provoke us to rethink, reimagine, and create a new BIPoC space the night of their presentation.

There will two distinct Brave spaces for our participants:
Speaker Nights
Sunday, September 6: Rev. Sofia Betancourt, Associate Professor of UU Theologies and Ethics, Starr King School for the Ministry; Former UUA Co-President 
Sunday, September 20: Joseph Santos-Lyon, Consulting Minister, Diverse Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries; Community Minister, Church of the Larger Fellowship

The "Speaker Nights" will be open for all to attend with several considerations and boundaries.
  • BIPoC & Family Space. This space will be for BIPoC and family members to engage directly with speakers and be centered in the space. For connection, conversation and question and answer.
  • White Ally Space. This space will be for White allies to be in attendance to be informed but not to inform the conversation. It will be space for Allies to bear witness to the needs of BIPoC but not to inform or shape the conversation.
Discussion Nights
Sundays, September 13 & 27
The "Discussion Nights" will be designated for Front Range UU BIPoC only who are interested in working together to create this space for the future of the Front Range/Colorado. 

If you are seeking leadership from national UU BIPOC leaders, if you are a person of color looking for a place to connect with other Colorado UUs of Color, if you are looking for connection during this time in our society's conversations around race and identity, you are warmly welcomed to these events. For more information, check out the Colorado UUs for Racial Justice Facebook page.
Case Collard, President

Our new church year is underway. Your board held regular meetings in July and August and two (virtual) retreats on top of that. I'm honored to serve as your board president this year. In our meetings I have been awed by the enthusiasm of your board representatives. There is energy to do more than just get through this difficult and unusual year. Your board is working to find ways to deepen, connect, and engage while holding space for all the challenges this year brings.  
As Wendy noted, we are in the middle of many crises beyond this unprecedented pandemic: economic, climate, political, and a reckoning with our history of racism. In those moments when these crises begin to overwhelm me, I focus on the next 24 hours and, in a sort of reverse gratitude practice, I remind myself of the ways that it could be worse. Sometimes, getting by is enough. But a crisis can also be an opening, creating opportunities to do things that may not have been possible before.  This year, the board hopes to strike a balance between working together through a difficult year but also finding ways for our congregation to grow. I'm excited to see what this year brings.
"There is deep power in taking a break, honoring your body and actively participating in your deprogramming from grind culture. We have been brainwashed to be violent towards our own bodies by pushing it to exhaustion... Rest is a form of resistance because it disrupts and pushes back against capitalism and white supremacy."

As we approach the cooler days of Autumn, it's a good time to consider September's theme of  "Renewal." If you are like me, even your "play" time is busy. I took a break from work and study for a couple weeks this summer, but filled that time with family camping adventures, cleaning the garage, fixing things, and more busy-ness.

My equally busy friend Ana, a schoolteacher, and I have a pact that we are going to take more time for "squirrel watching." It's been about ten years now that we have been promising each other and rarely have we done it. There are chairs on my front porch and a hammock in my backyard, but they are rarely occupied. 

I remember when I was a little girl, my neighbor Mrs. King would sit quietly on her front porch step and paint her toenails in the evenings. Our block was pretty quiet, so there wasn't much to look at. I was fascinated as I had never met an adult who would just "be" unless there was a t.v. turned on in front of them. I used to go and sit with her sometimes and we didn't even talk that much. Is it strange that forty some years later I still remember her just because she took some time to rest and do nothing?

What am I modeling for my children by forgetting to sit down and look at them and listen to them with my full attention? How could taking a breath and a mindful slowing down help us connect with people around us?

As I approach my 50th birthday next spring, I can feel the effects that a half century of trying to prove something by being super busy has had on my body and soul. It's a curse and a blessing to find that I don't have the stamina for physical and mental work that I used to. Now, I am finally learning to plan for some breaks, a consistent bedtime, and some fun or else my mind and body say, "nope." 

Life is not a race to the end, but an opportunity to experience ourselves as whole beings. It's not a competition to see who can have the most degrees or the tidiest house. It's a spiritual journey of learning who we are and how we are connected to others. Spiritual journeys take some discipline and hard work and they also take some time to rest and contemplate, to simply "be." 

May we use this time of quarantine, of being at home more, to rest and renew ourselves and to listen for what our bodies and our hearts love. As Mary Oliver, in her poem, "Wild Geese," reminds us, "You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves." 

I recently took a job cleaning a neighbor's horse barn and feeding the horses. It makes me stop my other work to go sniff the horses and connect with them, and because the people count on me to come twice a week, there is no excuse to keep working and not go. Once I get there, I enter horsey time and the animals remind me to stop rushing and "be" with them. 

Maybe you love to sip your coffee in the morning or chat with a neighbor. Maybe you forgot how much you love to bake or put a puzzle together. Maybe you haven't been noticing how much you love the people and pets around you or the sunshine or the birds. This month, may we remember to take a breath and notice. Let us use this month of Renewal to take gentle care of ourselves in order to cultivate a renewed presence and our inner peace.
Jessy Hennesy

This election feels momentous. Not only is there a presidential election, but Senate and House races, and now almost a dozen Colorado ballot initiatives. I have struggled with feeling stuck, especially knowing that door knocking for candidates or issues is a much different proposition this year than most. 

When I feel overwhelmed, I come back to the Fifth UU Principle: The use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large. To me, that doesn't just mean voting in our congregational meetings, or turning in my own ballot. It means that I should work to ensure as many people as possible can participate in that democratic process. 

Rooted in that principle and other UU values, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) founded UU the Vote in advance of the 2020 election. We at JUC have started a local group to join the efforts of the national organization and other groups, and to focus on state ballot initiatives in ways that align with our values.

UU the Vote is non-partisan, and is focusing on reducing voter suppression and increasing turnout. Phone banks are scheduled for Wisconsin and Florida, two swing states (with significant voter suppression) where we can have an impact. 

We at JUC also know there are Colorado ballot initiatives where our support or opposition is needed. We can be more effective as a group than we can individually, and we plan to have representatives of our team networked into the efforts to pass or defeat those issues. 

If you want to make a difference in this election, join us. There will be plenty of one-off opportunities to join phone banks to fight voter suppression or write postcards to turn out voters, and also ways you can be involved in a more sustained way. We plan to keep this team after the current election, since we know voter suppression won't let up. 

Watch for Member2Member email updates, join our JUC UUTV email list, or join us every-other Thursday evening at 7 p.m. (via zoom - September meetings are on the 3rd and the 17th). It's an easy way to impact the election, both here and nationally. If there's a (non-partisan) election issue you care about, we'd love to hear from you. Maybe you'd even like to be our point person on that issue!
Whether you are a seasoned veteran or just beginning to get involved, we encourage you to join our cause and be a positive factor during this important election season.
Please visit our webpage for more information or to sign up for our email list or email us for additional information.
Judy Douglass

In other times, JUC volunteers would be giving hands-on care to four families experiencing homelessness and housed in our Mills Building. Instead, thanks to the generosity of JUC members and friends and the amazing Family Promise staff, families are staying in a motel with full kitchens. Everyone is doing well over at the motel, and they are all very grateful for the support they're receiving. Here is some information about the families we would otherwise be seeing.
  • Theresa, Christopher, and their son are staying strong after being in the program for a few months. They are working hard on housing applications and have a couple of promising opportunities. Chris is working at a restaurant, and he is grateful that it has now opened back up. Theresa is also working part time.
  • Amanda and Isaias gave birth to their first child on the fourth of July. They are small business owners who have been able to run their business remotely from the hotel.
  • Latisha and her three children are newer additions to the program. Latisha is looking for work and starting to apply for housing.
  • Anthony and Nicole are another new addition. They just had a baby girl who is currently in the NICU. We hope that she keeps growing and stays healthy! They are working on gathering documentation for a promising permanent housing opportunity. 
Additionally, seven families have moved from shelter into housing since March!
If you would like to continue to get up-to-date information about Family Promise, you can sign up for their monthly e-newsletter here. Here you can find information about many ways you can continue to support the program. At JUC, we always welcome donations of money and grocery gift cards.
The families also need quarters to do laundry and the nationwide coin shortage is making this difficult. Perhaps you have a stash of quarters hidden away in your car glove box or JUC kids might help by digging into their piggy banks. JUC is hosting a drive-in event Sunday, August 13 12 - 2 p.m. There will be buckets set out then where you can donate quarters. Or you can mail or leave quarters at JUC. If your quarters have been handled recently please disinfect first.
The staff at Family Promise has completely revamped the program and added much personal support to keep families without housing safe and fed. This includes a grant from Arapahoe County to pay motel costs through the end of 2020. The staff is looking for other opportunities including finding empty homes or buildings that could be used to house families economically until the pandemic ends. They are also looking for landlords who can take families on limited income.
Rev. Ruth Rinehart

Friends, this pandemic has been hard on all of us ... many of us members of JUC, of course. Let me tell you, it has been devastating on people in recovery, or trying to climb out of addictions to alcohol and/or recreational drugs and/or prescription drugs.  It appears JUUST Living itself will survive COVID-19! We weren't sure, in early spring. Many of you have been part of our wider community support, even while volunteers onsite have been curtailed.

Our residents know they have a wider community of support, people who love them, even while they might never meet them. Our wonderful kitchen has a plaque on it, honoring the volunteers of Jefferson Unitarian Church who contributed in so many ways.

One of our guiding principles is "You can't do it alone. But only you can do it." This is the quandary of so many wrestling in addiction - they isolate themselves from the community that can save them.  

The bright news is that some folks are thriving at JUUST Living, getting off probation, celebrating milestones in recovery, discovering community they've missed their whole lives. A parole officer recently called JUUST Living "a place of peace." We have become "felon-friendly housing" this year, and are seen as the one place for certain people leaving incarceration, especially if they are in the LGBTQ+ community. Thank you for all the ways you have already helped JUUST Living.  If you aren't on our Facebook page, here are two videos of two residents:  
How can you help?  
  • We definitely need volunteers in the gardens, and that is a safe opportunity for physical distancing. Some of our best moments are in the shade, beneath the spruce tree, after some weeding or mulching.
  • One or two of you might be the perfect people to sit on the JUUST Living board. We are "young, scrappy and hungry," as Hamilton said over and over (I have been so sustained by those words), a start-up board.  Think 6 hours a month, being on the board, but not the Executive Team.
  • One or two of you might also be perfect for my Committee on Ministry, which I need for Renewals of my Preliminary Fellowship, from the UUA Ministerial Fellowship Committee. Perhaps one of you who attended my ordination in 2016!! Wow, almost 4 years ago.
How can I help?
  • Please call me if you are struggling around addictions, and need some pastoral care. My number is 720.290.5715. You can call or text. I will get back to you. The wider culture in our country has created more and more disconnection, more and more dysfunction - we all feel it, and those who struggle with addictions directly, or in their circle of family and loved ones. AND, as we all struggle with the disconnections this pandemic has brought, many of us are suffering, alone, in our homes. You can reach out to me.  
Right now, I am breathing deeply with love for you. If the pain of addiction has entered your home, as it has so many of ours, know that you are not alone. You already know this, because this congregation reaches out and holds you in so many ways. Congregational life offers the deep connection we all need, to be loved, to offer ourselves in service to those around us, to walk together through this complicated and glorious path of life, in all its triumphs and sorrows.

May you find peace this day. Grace in small moments. May you care for your lungs and your breath. Mindful of your breath and respiratory system, and all the ways you can reach out, in love, this day.