Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

Associate Minister’s Weekly Message to the Congregation April 26, 2012
April 26, 2012, 12:12 pm
Filed under: Becoming and Being Part of a UU Congregation, Special Events

Weekly Ministerial Message:  The “Big Weekend” Edition!



Meg Barnhouse:  Concert Saturday 7 PM: Music, Stories & Laughter

Hunger Banquet dinner hosted by our Youth Group, Sunday, April 29

Shape Note Sing Sunday afternoon

Maypole/Beltane Ritual Sunday afternoon

Auction Item—seats still available at a member’s lunch table

Summer Camp early-bird registration ending—Chalice Camp!

Artist Reception Friday evening, May 4

Capital Campaign Feasibility Study—Sunday, May 6

Meet UUSS candidates for elected leadership Sunday, May 6

Operating Budget Proposal for 2012-13 to be explained  May 6

Congregational Conversation workshop #3 Sunday, May 6

Dear Members, Families, Friends, and Visitors,

Greetings!  The rest of the staff and I are really excited about Meg Barnhouse’s concert this Saturday night at 7:00 at UUSS.  Four of us are coming back early for it (from the UU Pacific Central District’s annual assembly in Oakland).  Meg is a humorist, therapist, southern lesbian pastor (pretty humorous in itself!), spiritual writer and songwriter, and UU icon.

More about Saturday’s Concert

You may ask:  Why come to Meg’s concert if you are coming to church the next morning?   Sunday you’ll hear a great sermon.  Saturday night you will hear many more songs and stories, and get to know Meg more intimately.  Also, her partner and collaborator, Kiya, will be singing with her.  If you are over 21, you’ll get a free glass of wine.  (Other refreshments too.)  Tickets are $10, available at the door at 6:30 PM.  If you are under 21 and would like a free ticket, there are a few left.  Write me ASAP!


Thanks to the committee that is making such good use of the restricted bequest of a late member, Prof. Betty Ch’maj, for this year’s Ch’maj Event (pronounced sh-MAY).  That’s why tickets for this event are only $10!



Sunday Services – April 29

Services at 9:30 and 10:15 AM.   Religious Education at 9:30 AM

“Tales of the Tribe” is the sermon.  Religious Education program:  Sunday is a community garden day for Spirit Play (grades 1-5); Junior High Youth Group will help to make scare crows for our UUrthsong Garden.  Dress for the garden!  We ask for your newspaper donations by Friday at 2 for stuffing scarecrows!

Senior High Youth Group will plan for the April 29 Hunger Banquet. They will sell tickets after the first service, on the patio.  Every Sunday our childcare staff is on duty from 9:00 to 1:00 PM, so folks with babies can attend either service.  If you need sign language interpretation for a service, the Office needs 10 days’ notice for the later service (14 days for the 9:30 service) in order to let our interpreters know.

This is the last Sunday for April’s Shared Offering, which supports the UU Legislative Ministry (CA).  Spring Connections Fair—stay after service to meet people from activity groups, committees and ministries who will be at tables on the meadow and patio.  Find out what’s happening at UUSS.

* * *

Hunger Banquet—Let’s support our UU teenagers as they host this important event:  raising awareness of global inequities in food distribution.  Bring a canned food donation and buy a $2 ticket.  Thanks to the Senior High Youth Group, parents, volunteer advisors and staff for making this happen.  This Sunday, April 29, 5:30-7:00 PM (The program may go till 7:30 but if you need to leave early for the Beltane ritual, that’s okay.)


!  *  !

May Day/Beltane Ritual–CUUPS holds a Labyrinth Walk, potluck supper and May Pole Ceremony for Beltane this Sunday, April 29.  Labyrinth 4 pm-5:30 pm, pot luck 6-pm-7pm, and May Pole ritual: 7 pm-9pm.  In case of rain, ritual is inside.  Free, but donations for defray UUSS overhead costs appreciated.  Open to the public, including children.  RSVP helpful.  Laurie Jones  or Diane Kelly-Abrams,


Cost Updates on Summer Camp –We have several kids signed up for Chalice Camp!  Don’t forget to register your incoming 1st – 6th graders for the all-day camp– at UUSS,  August 6-10.  We’ll have a fantastic time getting to know each other, playing games, preparing a play, creating art and playing with water.   Attendees will also deepen their identities as UUs and be able to better articulate their faith.  The cost for an additional child from same family is now only $100!  Early bird $200 deadline extended to Sunday, May 6.  Scholarships are available for financial need; check with Miranda or Rev. Roger to apply.  Limit of 20 kids.  Chalice Camp is open to Pledging Friend or Member families.  Contact Rev. Roger to inquire.  Register for the June 5 & 12 Orientation to Membership class at the Sunday Welcome Table.  Child care is provided during the Orientation (by advance request when you register). To learn more or sign up, visit the Religious Education page on our website or contact camp director Mary Howard or registrar Carrie Cornwell, whose son looks forward to going.  Others involved:  Ginny Johnson, Miranda Massa, Roger Jones, and selected Senior High Youth as counselors!  Don’t miss out!


Exciting and Important UUSS Issues and our Future

Spring Connections Fair—this Sunday—after services, stay to meet some of the several activity groups, committees and ministries who will will be at tables on the meadow and patio.  Stay after church to find out what’s happening.  This is a great way to learn how to get connected here, find out ways you can put your gifts to use in service of UUSS or the local community.  Hosted by Program Council and several committees and activity groups.  Sunday, April 29, after the 9:30 and 11:15 AM services.


Congregational Conversations—Sunday, May 6–

Lance Ryen and Judy Bell invite you to the last of 3 experiential workshops designed to expand and deepen the UUSS Conversation.   The workshops have reflected our mission, vision, and covenant – who we are, how we deepen our lives, and how we can be a force for healing in the world.   This third experiential workshop is entitled “Being a Force for Healing in the World.”  You do not need to be a church member or to have attended the other workshops in order to benefit from this one.  Please join us for this installment of an exciting adventure.

During June, July and August we will not be holding Congregational Conversations.   But we plan an exciting program of Conversations starting in September – held the first Sunday of each month.  We hope you will mark your calendars and join us.   (Editor’s note:  I heard great reviews from folks leaving an earlier Conversation!)   Sunday, May 6, classroom 7/8 from 12:45 pm to 2:45 PM. 


Capital Campaign Feasibility Study starts–and ends–next weekend!The Capital Fund Campaign feasibility study will assess how much of the architectural Master Plan we can realistically fund complete in a first phase over the next couple of years.  The first weekend in May we will survey everyone who comes to Sunday services.


Capital Fund Campaign consultant Bud Swank will lead a focus group with the board and program council.  In addition, anyone who wants to speak with him  about your feelings, thoughts and hopes for UUSS can sign up for a 30 minute individual or couple interview Saturday, Sunday, or Monday (May 5,6, & 7)  Contact Carrie Cornwell, Mary Howard, or Ginger Enrico. [contact info left out of this blog for security.  contact them through the Office if you do not have a UUSS Directory]


*  ^  *

Meet our Nominees for Leadership next Sunday—Our Nominating Committee is pleased to invite you to meet the volunteers who have accepted nomination to elected positions of leadership in the church.  Come to a brief reception on the patio after the 9:30 service, Sunday May 6.

$   (-:   $

Yet Another Pledge Campaign Update—many of you have mailed in a 2012-13 pledge form or brought it to a Sunday service.  As of Sunday: 274 pledges totaling $418,310.  Thank you so much!

Sorry to say, UUSS still has about 80 pledge forms outstanding, with about $89,000 of pledge commitments to fund all the goals and commitments to support our denomination, keep improving the security, look and cleanliness of our building and grounds, and be a UUA Fair Compensation employer.


Budget Forum–Our Treasurer  will present and explain the proposed 2012-13 operating budget to you in a brief session after the first service next Sunday, May 6, in a classroom to be announced.   The budget proposal is based on pledge commitments made now for the coming budget year.   Read Cathy’s report on page 2 of the May Unigram.

Every pledge is valued and appreciated, and we thank you.


You may contact Michele to ask her to fill out a form for you or to mail one, or you may download one at this link.  Or we can mail one to you.


If you can make a pledge, please do it today.

Every pledge makes a difference!


*  **

Artist Reception–The next art reception will be Friday, May 4 from 5:30 to 7 pm in the Main Hall.

Photographers Donald Satterlee and Dianne Poinski share their beautiful work with us in this exhibit that focuses on subtle tonality and the luminosity found in nature.  Don’s work evokes mystery and mood, Dianne hand colors her black and white images.  All welcome!

Chanteuses Concert—Our own Mary Howard, Barbara Lazar and guest artist Eric Stetson invite you to hear “Radio Hour,” the spring concert of this great women’s choral group.  $15.  Free up to age 16.  Sunday, May 6, 4:00 PM at UUSS.  Also:  Friday, May 4, 7:30 PM, United Methodist Church, 9849 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks.  See


Luncheon Opportunity–There are a few places left at the table for lunch on May 15 at the home or garden of Vivian and Larry. This auction item sold at the Harvest Fest for $18, and Vivian will welcome you for a similar donation to UUSS. [Pastor Cranky is unhappy that he cannot attend!]

The menu:

…Butternut squash soup

…sourdough French bread

…mixed green salad with walnuts & feta cheese

…Four-cheese baked shell pasta casserole [OMG!]

…Apple Pie a la mode and coffee or tea.  [You’re killin’ me, Vivian!]

Send an e-mail to Vivian to book your place at the table.


Adult Enrichment Courses and Related Programs


UU Readers Book Discussion— May 29:  Angle of  Repose by Wallace Stegner.  (1971 Pulitzer Prize; one of the best novels about California.)  The last Tuesday of every month, 6:30 PM.  Jim Glidden facilitates.


Beginning Tai Chi – for All Ages and All Abilities – Wear comfortable clothes, flexible shoes and your sense of humor.  No pressure, just fun, movement and a chance to explore something new.  You can practice standing or seated as needed.  Donations help with UUSS overhead.

Yoga Classes — Paige  invites you to try a first class for free.  Sign up at Sunday Connection Central.
  Complete contact information is not included on this blog.  Please contact the Office by phone with questions or email me.  Register on Sunday at church.


Chair Yoga — a gentle form of yoga, practiced sitting in a chair, or standing using a chair for support.  Classes include eye exercises, breath exercises and meditation.


Easy Yoga —  Pranayama (breath work) as well as  Asana (posturing).  Aside from benefits such as increased range of motion, strength, balance, and flexibility, Yoga also assists in stress release, developing attention skill, and cultivating an awareness for the moment.  Both moving and still meditation are part of the process.


Women’s Group —  Open to women of all ages, members, non-members, and visitors.  You are invited to bring a poem, reading or just yourself to meet new friends and share in a discussion.  Please contact Lynn [via the Office] to get a weekly notification of the meeting.


The Power of Now—Eckart Tolle discussion group starting soon.   Introduction to the Mormon Religion—guest scholar June 3.  Sign up for both at the Adult Enrichment bar at Sunday Connection Central.

“UU Living Legacy” Civil Rights Pilgrimage—discount registration ends May 15– The next UU Living Legacy Civil Rights Pilgrimage will be October 6-13, 2012.  This unique bus trip is much more than a Civil Rights history tour through Alabama and Mississippi. We will be visiting historic sites and meeting veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, and but will also be spending time together and with guests exploring what racism, white privilege, and barriers to equality look like today in Southern towns we visit—and in our own hometowns.  Beyond experiencing first-hand the civil rights legacy, our goal is to develop commitment, vision and mechanisms within our group to work on issues of race, injustice and inequality that still bedevil our congregations and our society. The Living Legacy Pilgrimage is hosted and organized by the Reverend Gordon Gibson and Judy Gibson; the Reverend Hope Johnson; the Reverend James Hobart; Janice Marie Johnson; Annette Marquis; and Donna Sequeira, and co-sponsored by the UUA’s Southeast District.  For more information or to register, visit  Register early – costs are discounted for those who register before May 15. (Editor’s note:  I took the first of these trips in 2000, and it was moving and inspiring.   Good food, good lodging, new friends!)


In case you forgot…


Two days till we have  Meg Barnhouse in concert!  Wine, women and song!  Saturday, April 28 at UUSS.  Read more on page one of the April Unigram.


*  *  *


Volunteer Opportunities—Easy Ways to Make a Difference


Coffee & Tea Making on Sunday—My first hug of the morning at church every Sunday goes to the coffee maker.  (Not the Bunn-O-Matic, the person who is hosting for the day.)  Fun and fulfilling! Contact Tom Lopes for info.

Sound Board/Audio Monitoring at services—It’s easy once you know.  Contact Eric if you have questions.

Welcome Team Welcomes You to Welcome Others!—

Do you enjoy meeting new people?

Do you attend the 11:15 service? (Even just one of them a month?)

Consider joining the 2nd Service Welcome Team as a greeter one Sunday a month!   Our mission is not difficult: you give a warm greeting to visitors and make them feel welcome here. If this sounds like a fun way to volunteer, please contact Sally Campbell, coordinator,for for more information.

(This is a really important ministry at UUSS.  Everybody is new once!)

All-Ages UUSS Church Camp— June 15-17 at Camp Norge in Alta, CA.

This is for families, singles, toddlers, elders and all the rest.  At the Game Night I met with Fran and Anne to start planning.   We and Ruth invite additional, new team members (adults or youth) to help plan and promote this great event.  Let me know.


Thanks to each and every one of you for the ways that your presence makes this congregation a wonderful place to serve.  See you Saturday at the concert or Sunday at church, the Hunger Banquet, Shape Note Singing, or May Pole celebrating.

To see my Pastor Cranky weblog, click:

In addition to more about Doug’s retirement announcement, our May 20 Congregational Meeting and our nominees for elected volunteer positions, you can find important information, much food for thought, and great color photographs in the brand new Unigram for May.


Yours in service,


Politics and Policy Advocacy and Religious Communities–questions about church/state separation

A member recently asked about materials displayed at our Social Responsibility Network table after church.  The question:  What about the separation of church and state?

A good and important question.  The constitutional prohibition has to do with restricting government rather than religion.  The government can neither interfere in the free exercise of religion nor establish or support any particular religion.   The restriction on religion in this regard is that it cannot get the government to favor its theology or promote its message.

Churches, and all other not-for-profit organizations, are prohibited from using tax-deductible funds from advocating for candidates for office, political parties, or any partisan political issues.  They may, however, raise awareness about civic issues and governmental policies, including explicit advocacy for or against particular policy actions:  abortion rights (pro or con), gay rights (pro or con), civil liberties (pro or con), capital punishment, funding of military aid to Israel or Colombia, budgetary priorities regarding food or medical care, and the many, many ballot initiatives.

Hence, our Social Responsibility volunteers legally may gather signatures at church for a proposition to end the death penalty, raise taxes, etc.   The church bylaws do make it clear that this must be in the name of the committee and not in the name of the church–unless and until the proper procedures have been followed for taking an official stance.  On some issues, our denomination’s General Assembly delegates have debated and taken specific positions, and often a church will get involved in that issue, such as immigrant justice and marriage equality.

A limit:  The amount of a church or other not-for-profit organization’s budget that may go toward policy advocacy is limited to a small percentage of the total budget.   If spending goes above that limit, then the organization risks losing its nonprofit 501(c)3 status.

I think this limit is now 15%.  Our congregation and our denomination spend well below 5% of resources on policy advocacy.  We spend most of our budget on personnel, who spend their time serving the needs of our members and friends, holding Sunday worship, hosting a community garden, paying utilities, playing music… having fun!

To learn more, check out The Real Rules.

Chanteuses Concert

The women’s choral group, Chanteuses, will be at UUSS on Sunday, May 6th at 4pm for their spring concert,” Radio Hour”.  UUSS members Mary Howard and Barbara Lazar are members of the group, which will sing contemporary and traditional selections during the fun-filled, musically pleasing concert.  Our own Eric Stetson is the guest artist, complete with ukelele!  Local performer Martin Beal will be the MC.  Tickets are $15 for everyone over 15 and can be purchased from Mary or Eric, as well as at the door.  If May 4th doesn’t work for you, the concert is repeated Friday night, May 6th at the Fair Oaks United Methodist Church in Fair Oaks.  Don’t miss this unique experience!  Hope to see you there.

Go with us to the UU District Assembly in Oakland
April 14, 2012, 11:01 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Four of us on staff and two volunteers from the congregation will attend.

Pacific Central District Assembly (DA), April 27- 29: great programs, workshops, entertainment, inspiring speakers, and the chance to connect with UUs from Northern California, Reno and Honolulu. In addition to fine programs for adults, children and youth, this year’s assembly features the Rev. Peter Morales, UUA President,  and the Rev. Dr. Robert Latham, PCD-UUA Interim District Executive.

A UUSS member  is on the slate to be elected to the District Board at this meeting!  Our delegates can vote for him!

Delegate or not, we hope that you will go and bring what you have learned back to UUSS! If you’re interested in carpooling or sharing a room, let the church office or me know.

Deadline for registration is April 23.

To learn more and register, click here.

Events Thursday morning, 3 entertainment events: Friday night open mic & headliner musician, Vagina Monologues Saturday

Alliance Program—the Alliance is longest continuously running discussion and fellowship activity in our church (since 1898!).  Meets Thursday, April 12, 10:45 AM in the Fahs Classroom.  Come for coffee. Guest speaker is introduced at 11:00.  Bring your lunch and visit with new and old friends after the discussion.

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT!—3 events to remember

1–Open Mic Night–SHINDIG at the HEX.  UU headliner Jim Scott!

Friday, April 13—7:00 PM for an open-mic portion.  Sign up Sunday!

Then, at 8:30 PM, acclaimed acoustical guitarist Jim Scott performs an evening of his songs of peace and the environment.  A composer, guitarist, singer and ecological and peace activist, Jim was a member of the Paul Winter Consort for years.  He wrote many pieces the Consort recorded, including choral works in their celebrated Missa Gaia/Earth Mass.  In his world travels, Jim has performed concerts or led services at more than 300 UU churches.  His latest project is The Earth and Spirit Songbook, an anthology of songs of ecology and peace.  For more about Jim Scott, click his name above.

To sign up as an open-mic act for the first half of the show, please contact Music Director Eric Stetson at

Tickets are $10 general, $5 for performers; children 12 and under are free.

2– The Vagina Monologues—in Sacramento now!

Do you love good theater?

Passionate about ending violence against women and girls?

Have we got an event for you!

The V-Day Sacramento 2012 Community Production of Eve Ensler’s

The Vagina Monologues takes place next week.

This year’s production features a number of CHURCH members in key roles. Janet  Lopes and Julie Heston are cast members. Kristen Vedell is

Production Assistant, and JoLane Blaylock is the Producer. Come show your

fellow UUs your support and enjoy this amazing show.  It will make you

laugh, gasp, cry, and then laugh some more!

(It will make your family minister blush.)

Monday April 9, 6:00 PM—SOLD OUT!  Sneak Peek with Panel Discussion following, at The Guild Theater.

TICKETS AVAILABLE!  Saturday, April 14—Premier Performance, with Silent Auction before, 7:00 PM The Crest Theatre. For ickets and more information, visit  April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and we are proud of our UU women for bringing this production back to the community.


3—Save the date and buy a ticket:  Meg Barnhouse in concert!  Saturday, April 28 at UUSS.  Read more on page one of the April Unigram.

*  *  *

UU Readers Book Discussion–Our book for next month is The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht.  It is a novel by a young writer about her memories of a grandfather living in the Balkans.  Tuesday, April 24, 6:30 PM in Classroom 12 (way back there).  Get reading!

Administration or Ministry? Part 2
April 9, 2012, 3:32 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

How much of my time is “ministry” and how much is “administration”–some ask.

The answer is that it’s all ministry.

It is artificial and harmful to assume there can be “silos” in congregational support and leadership.  Everything touches on everything else.  We are a not-for-profit business, to be sure.  We have personnel policies, employees, finances, buildings and grounds, utility bills, computers [grrr!], renters, publications…

But we are also a community of all ages, a religious institution, a mission-driven organization.  We are  a network of learners, leaders, volunteers, visitors, donors, and many stakeholders of many different perspectives.

In this community, we are all consumers and producers of ministry.

All the above shows why it can be complicated and challenging to be a church lay leader, staff member or minister.   Whatever your role here, once you are working in a church, that role becomes “Job Title” plus Ministry Provider.

A key ingredient in this ministry of administration– as in all kinds of leadership:   communication.  Communication matters among staffers, and between the church staff and our members and volunteers.   Communication is the linchpin of any large or vital organization, especially a congregation.  Most frustrations or catastrophes in church life come from bad communication, wrong assumptions, and  misunderstandings.

As is normal in an active and changing church, I devote about six days a week to most areas of congregational ministry and leadership.   A big chunk of this is in supporting our office and program staff.  I also support the program council, board of trustees, treasurer, finance committee, and property management committee; and have conversations with personnel committee leaders.  Again, communication is key.  Listening, following up, speaking, and following up.

I meet once or twice a month with each direct report for a 60-90 minute conference.  I set the agenda and lead staff meetings biweekly; I thank our Music Director for attending so we can build better understanding and mutual support among key members of the whole team.  I also hover around the main office and RE office a lot, so I can be present to staffers, tuned in to what’s going on, and handy for quick questions.

This is on every staff meeting agenda:

UUSS seeks to promote an environment in which ministers and staff support one another as members of a team whose primary purpose is serving, supporting and encouraging the members and volunteers.

I appreciate the talent and dedication that our staff members bring to their work here, and I appreciate them:  from our part-time child care providers to our custodians, from our music staff to our office staff.

I hope you do too, and that you remember to say Thank You to them.  We want to say Thank You to you also.  You are why we are here!

April 8, 2012, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This blog about being part of both Jewish and Christian traditions strikes me as significant for many UUs and UU families. Happy Easter and Happy Pesach!

On Being Both

This year, I am fielding calls from reporters wanting to know how we handle the dilemma of Passover starting on Good Friday. I know that, especially for young couples just starting their interfaith journey, this convergence of important holidays may create stress. Say, for instance, your in-laws are expecting you for a raucous Passover seder featuring four glasses of wine and glazed brisket: this could be an alienating experience if you are also commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and avoiding meat on the solemn Friday of Holy Week.

As interfaith families become the norm in our culture, rather than the exception, all of us must learn to empathize, to see our own practices through the eyes of the “other.” And as each interfaith couple learns to listen deeply and to support one another, I can imagine that serving salmon, rather than brisket, might be a reasonable accommodation in some families…

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