By Rev. Kathleen Owens, LeadMinister
Unitarian Universalism is a covenantal faith. This means we don't follow a fixed creed handed down from a religious authority; we create a covenant for how we want to be in relationship with each other in this faith community. In 2008, this congregation created a church-wide covenant. As I mentioned in my May 23, 2021 "Real Community: Messy, Imperfect and Needed," this covenant hangs in every room at both our Hillcrest and South Bay campuses. It's also on our website - under the About menu tab, click on Governance; under Guidelines, you?ll find our Covenant of Good Relations.
Our experiences with small group meetings are going well. No major issues have arisen, and we feel more confident about how other meetings may go. Any other small groups that wish to begin to meet on campus should apply for permission through Robie Evans. Church groups are free to meet off campus. Vaccinations are recommended. Mask wearing should continue. Of course anyone with symptoms should not participate. Each group leader should keep track of those who attend. Larger groups, up to about 30 people, will now be permitted to meet on campus. Please apply through Robie Evans to get the okay. The on-campus mask "mandate" continues, along with the other recommendations set out for small groups. The church has acquired a portable sound system which could help facilitate large group meetings.
Our virtual annual meeting will be held via Zoom on Sunday, June 20 at 11 am. Please plan on attending to hear about and vote on important issues and learn about how things are going in our church. More detailed information about meeting URL and virtual voting process will be coming soon. See you there!
Dear Members and Friends, This month marks my 14th anniversary serving this congregation. I’ve always held the thought that when my gifts, skills and talents no longer meet the needs of the congregation, that would be the time for me to move on. A while back, before the pandemic hit, I began to feel and think that my ministry here may be coming to a close and then the pandemic hit. I knew I needed to continue on to see the congregation through the crisis. There is now a visible reality of the crisis coming to an end though we will continue to live with this virus. There have been several costs of this pandemic, especially the loss of life as well as the long-lasting health issues of those infected. And many of us, including myself, have experienced effects, though without being infected. I feel I am at less capacity than before and for a while now, have been struggling with my own mental and physical sense of well-being.
As vaccines begin to roll out and we mark the longest nights of the year, many of us are celebrating our first hints of future light and hope at the end of what has been a long and lonely ten months. Your re-opening committee has been meeting regularly to discuss not how to open our church – our church community has always been open – but when we might be able to see one another in person and how we can best do that safely.
The Reopening Team has been researching and responding to your questions as our region continues to experience fluctuating and sometimes confusing COVID guidelines. As San Diego is currently in Tier 1 (Purple) on the state's infection scae, gatherings of any size are considered unsafe. However, we have been sharing ideas and we invite you to read the questions and answers so far. Steve H. sent in this one "I agree that we cannot get back to “normal” for many, many months, maybe years. But that does not mean that we must have no in-person activities. Please tell me if you think this suggestion is not advisable, and why."
By Pat Gordon, First UU of San Diego Board Member
Our UU camp, Camp de Benneville Pines, located in the San Gorgonio wilderness, has been repeatedly hit hard this year and is in trouble. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all on-site events are canceled through April 1, 2021.The aftermath of the El Dorado Fire damage and the seriousness of the pandemic could require even further delays before we can consider re-opening. If we're to have a camp to bequeath to our children's children, then preserving what we have now is imperative. We almost lost our camp in the El Dorado Fire, this fire, and had it not been for the work of our staff and volunteers performing fire clearance duties throughout the summer, we would have. And yet, we'll still need more help during the spring and fall to rake pine needles and trim ladder fuels in camp- live or dead vegetation that allows a fire to climb up from the forest floor into the tree canopy. Please continue to send healing thoughts and good words of appreciation to our devoted staff, as they navigate through all the added responsibilities that come with the fire aftermath. We must now address the newest threat to camp's existence - flooding.
The team is studying how and when we might safely come together again in person. The following is an example of the thinking we believe is worth sharing. Here is the beginning of a recent article by Aaron E. Carroll, a physician in Indiana: "Stop Expecting Life to Go Back to Normal Next Year: Americans will need to take pandemic precautions well into 2021 — yes, even after a vaccine arrives by "Dr. Anthony Fauci warned us last week that Covid-19 is likely to be hanging over our lives well into 2021. He’s right, of course. We need to accept this reality and take steps to meet it rather than deny his message. Many Americans are resistant to this possibility. They’re hoping to restart postponed sports seasons, attend schools more easily, enjoy rescheduled vacations and participate in delayed parties and gatherings. It is completely understandable that many are tiring of restrictions due to Covid-19. Unfortunately, their resolve is weakening right when we need it to harden. This could cost us dearly".
We are less than three months away from the General Election on November 3, 2020. All California voters will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot with prepaid postage for the General Election. To make sure that you get your ballot, double-check your voter registration at voterstatus.sos.ca.gov.
As Unitarian Universalists we must speak and act to stop the frequent, state-sanctioned violence committed against members of our shared community. The murders of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Tony McDade in Florida, and George Floyd in Minnesota, among so many others, were all committed by police or former police. Here in San Diego, we also see police brutality such as that perpetrated against an individual walking her dog on the beach as well as in La Mesa when a police officer had an altercation with a black man at a trolley station. This is not about a few rogue officers. This isn’t about the need for more training. This isn’t even about a change in leadership. Replacing one police chief with another is not enough if the pervasive racist system that empowers them is unchanged. The work of transforming our law enforcement and justice system into a true JUSTICE system will be long and difficult, messy and painful. We commit to that work, in solidarity with our partners. Violence against Black and Brown bodies, committed by officers of the law, demands this system must be remade.
On Saturday, May 2nd, 2020 we enjoyed a very moving and beautiful online ordination for Reverend Everett Howe. Press the play button to watch the recorded live stream go to our Facebook or YouTube pages to watch and see comments (and add your own). Go to our Facebook page | Go to our YouTube Channel | Download the Ordination Order of Service | Traducción al español .
Our virtual annual meeting will be held on Sunday, June 28th at 1 pm. Please plan on attending to hear about and vote on important issues and learn about how things are going in our church. More detailed information about meeting URL and virtual voting process will be coming soon. See you there!
Hillcrest: bring your food donations to the Hillcrest parking lot every Saturday from 8am-9am. Deliver bags and boxes to the bed of Dana Tomlinson’s dark grey Ford pick-up truck with camper shell.
South Bay: deliver donations directly to the food pantry from 9:30am - 10 am. Get directions to either location.
Peanut butter is our most frequently requested food! We cannot buy it in bulk, so your individual donations of 1 or 2 jars makes a difference! Our other frequently requested items are:
Please join us on the First UU website home page on Saturday May 2nd, 2020 for the online Ordination of Everett Howe. Many UU ordinations include a laying-on of hands, where the people present give a blessing to the new minister and their ministry by a physical connection. The physical connection part is not going to be possible due to the need to stay safe through social distancing so instead, Everett has requested that anyone who is inclined can write a one- or two-word blessing for his ministry in large thick highly-visible letters on a piece of paper and take a selfie with the message. Messages can be anything from "Good Luck" to "We're With You" to whatever you like. When finished, email the photo to EverettsOrdination@gmail.com by midnight on Monday, April 27. We'll make a slide show of the photos we get and show it as part of the online service. As Everett says, "Seeing your friendly faces and your blessings will be a gift to start me on this new phase of ministry with a sense of the loving community that has supported me throughout. Thank you!" Remember to email your photo in by midnight on Monday, April 27th.
It’s time for preparation and submission of your Ministry Team / Affiliate Group / Committee reports for our 2020 Annual Report. Click here for your report instructions and template. Refer to our 2019 Annual Report here, and submit your reports and pictures no later than Friday, May 15 to Rose Riedel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We know this is a time of anxiety and uncertainty. As a community, we can stay connected in Love, even with physical distance. We want to know how you are doing. A team of callers has already been reaching out and spoken to many of you, but it is possible that we may not have your contact information. If you have been attending our church and haven't received a call or email in the last week, please reach out to us with your contact information so we can add you to our outreach list. We are here for you, we can remain connected even with physical distance. Please email email@example.com to provide us your contact information.
Friday, January 10, 12 pm, Meeting House. Hailed for his "powerful and eloquent" playing (New York Times), as “a gifted musical presence with a high sense of pianistic fantasy” (Salzburger Nachrichten) and “capable of the utmost in virtuosity” (Fanfare Magazine), John Blacklow is a pianist of unusual versatility, as a soloist, as a collaborator with many ensembles and recital partners, and as an interpreter of repertoire both past and current. The concert will be approximately one hour long. The program will feature the works of famous classical composers, including Bach, Chopin, and Rachmaninoff. The concert is open to the public. A suggested donation of $10 per person will be gratefully accepted.
For people who worshiped at our Hillcrest campus on 12/22/19, we apologize that the names of the read poems were not included in the order of service. Here they are in the order they were read in the service:
Rhiannon Smith read “Starlings in Winter” by Mary Oliver
Rev. Kathleen included these in her sermon:
"What Can I Say?" by Mary Oliver
"Eagle Poem" by Joy Harjo
"Anacostia River" by El’Jay Johnson
"Yes! No!" by Mary Oliver
For people who worshiped at our Hillcrest campus on 12/15/19, we apologize that the authors’ names of the read poems were not included in the order of service. Here they are in the order they were read in the service.
“A Ritual to Read to Each Other” by William E. Stafford
“For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in its Human Feet” Joy Harjo
“Between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, Today” by Emily Jungmin Yoon
“Shaking Hands” by Padraig O Tuama
This year has seen a great deal of work from our Journey Towards Wholeness (JTW) team, Board of Trustees, and Ministerial team as we continue to address the concerns we have around inclusivity. Some of this work has been behind the scenes including a budget review to align with centering our anti-racism/anti-oppression work, and creating a Staff Hiring and Management Process that centers inclusivity and includes an inclusion competency tool for staff and lay leader awareness and growth just to name a few pieces of our work. Some of the work has been visible, including more intentionality of worship co-leaders within our worship services and including more reflections from people within our congregation.
Brian is a computer programmer with roots in California and Tennessee. Before coming to San Diego, Brian attended UU congregations in South Carolina and Atlanta. Brian is the father of a one-year old daughter Esther, who is often seen wandering around the patio after services offering fist bumps. Brian, Esther, and Becca have lived in San Diego since 2015.
Welcome new Board members!
Vice President/President Elect FY18-19 / Past President FY20-21: Rhiannon Smith.
Treasurer (1-year term): Sue Marberry.
Trustees (3-year term): Kathleen MacLeod, Angela Garcia-Sims, James Long.
The Planned Giving committee and First Church are deeply grateful for this outpouring of support that will help build our Endowments for years to come. 28 new members joined Sustainers of the Flame in 2018. Through the UUA's WNOV campaign, $73,000 of funds will be coming to First Church in 2019!
Summer Worship Attendance Report.
This summer we experimented with having one worship service at 10:00 a.m. and then an engagement activity at 11:30 at our Hillcrest campus. Our South Bay campus continued its regularly scheduled worship service at 9:30 a.m. and then also had an engagement activity starting around 11:00 a.m. Regarding the experience at Hillcrest - it was great to see such a full Meeting House on Sunday mornings. There was certainly a lot of excitement and a sense of energy on the campus. People enjoyed seeing one another in the summer when they normally wouldn’t during the rest of the year because of our two services. Many people expressed appreciation for the one service. These were some of the benefits of going to one service this summer.
Dear Members and Friends,
I want to share with you that Abby Koch, our Executive Administrator and Office Manager is leaving her position with us to take up a position at another institution to become the Pool Manager for two pools in the San Diego area. Abby has been an important part of the staff for ten years and we will miss her a great deal. However, she will still be a member of First UU Church and looks forward to engaging in programs and events as a church member. Abby’s last day in the office will be July 30, 2015. The Ministers and Executive team are re-imagining the responsibilities of this position and will post a job description later this week with the hopes of hiring someone that Abby can train before July 30th.
The First UU Church of San Diego blog is your resource for upcoming events and past event recaps. Leave us a comment to let us know what you think!