In her final service to UUFKC, Intern Minister Alison attended Unitarian Universalist General Assembly (all online) as our delegate, proudly voting for Rev. Sam Trumbore for Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Board of Trustees, as well as for the Statement of Conscience and Social Witness Statements passed by General Assembly.
Statements of Conscience come as the result of a multi-year process of study on an issue voted on by General Assembly. Following the study period the UUA Commission on Social Witness drafts a Statement of Conscience that is voted on by the General Assembly and articulates a mandate for the UUA to focus their efforts and put resources toward achieving its aims. This year’s Statement of ConscienceUndoing Systemic White Supremacy: A Call to Prophetic Action, passed with 93% of the vote despite small but vocal opposition to the idea that white supremacy is a problem in our nation or our Association. This is a victory and a mandate for the anti-racist efforts of our denomination. Let’s stay active in this faithful work at UUFKC by reading the statement and continuing to implement it in our congregation!
Actions of Immediate Witness (AIWs) are non-binding statements of the will of the General Assembly at which they are passed. However, they express important priorities shared by our fellow UUs representing congregations across the nation and the world, and must be passed with a 2/3 majority of the vote. This year’s AIWs include some issues near and dear to the heart of our congregation:
On Solstice night, I realized I’d spent most of my day inside, offering my last worship service with you in the morning, followed by RVUUF’s coffee hour and a Father’s Day celebration at my dad’s house. So I set off for a walk, on the longest day of the year, with the sun still bright even at 8pm.
The first thing I encountered as I stepped outdoors was a small bush of yellow flowers, the kind I had woven into a sun wheel on the first summer solstice I celebrated as a solitary pagan, not yet a Unitarian Universalist, 18 years ago. Those first few times I celebrated the turning of the earth felt joyful and maybe a little silly, like I was playing make-believe somehow, even as I was honoring the very concrete, scientifically demonstrable change of seasons. In the beginning, my pagan practice definitely harkened back to the imaginings of my childhood, and while my logical mind at first found this suspect, I’ve come to see that this simply meant I was tapping back in to a way of knowing that I had left behind. Believing in magic, in the power of ritual, of words, of intention-setting, doesn’t feel silly to me anymore, but rather a return to a truth that has lived in my heart, even when my head was taught to discount it. As I walked this solstice night, I plucked a yellow flower and carried it with me.
Later on my walk, I encountered a blackberry bush, many blackberry bushes, mostly done with their flowering, now bursting with fruit, fruit still as green as the plant’s leaves. I was reminded of the theme of the morning’s service, “Coming to Fruition” and I couldn’t help feeling a certain kinship with those little green berries. Yes, they are berries, but they aren’t ready yet. Yes, I am a minister, but still a green one. To have you receive me and affirm me, in all my greenness, has been a gift and a blessing. I can’t help wanting to hurry the seasons of my life along, because it felt so good to work for my purpose and calling, held by and holding this community of fellow seekers on the quest for truth and meaning and lives that express the fullness of our principles. For the first time in a long time, I felt myself living a life that was whole, a life where I could braid family and community and purpose together into my vocation, my ministry. And yet, it is time now for me to pause in being a minister, so I can finish learning how to be the best minister I can be. I want to be a ripe berry now. But instead, I follow the wisdom of the seasons. To everything, turn, turn, turn… And I am still in the season of my learning.
My solstice walk reminded me of the wisdom of my Goddess, the living Earth. She is there for me, as long as I take time to look, as long as I follow Her whisperings in my own heart. She called me outside that night to remind me, yes, I have been on this journey a long time, and yes, there is still a ways to go. Over the next year, as I step away from this community to allow you to take back reigns of the ministry we’ve shared together this church year, I’ll finish my Masters of Divinity at Starr King. I’ll prepare myself to come before the Ministerial Fellowshipping Committee of the UUA and receive their blessing on my ministry, which could happen a year from now, or two, or more, depending on how the journey unfolds. I’ll try not to hurry myself, as the Earth never hurries, but turns at Her own steady pace. I’ll tend my family and my studies, my garden and my calling. I’ll miss tending our community together. I’ll miss you. And yet, I’ll trust the process. When we meet again, I’ll be a ruddier berry, less green, pink even, but still not fully ripe. There is a season, turn, turn, turn…
It is hard to say goodbye from so far away. My thoughts, not to mention my physical body, are planted now in Washington State, the lands of the Duwamish, Stillaguamish, Coast Salish, and Muckleshoot, with Tahoma (aka Mount Rainier) out my window, and my father at center of my care and tending. He’s growing stronger with the treatments and pain management he’s receiving for his cancer, and I’m grateful to be a part of his process of healing, though we are told he will not ever be cured. Even in this season of burgeoning life, Death is always present, and I’m learning to dance with Her as well, to savor the moments She gives us before taking it all away. Being unable to deny that Death is waiting, I’m learning, makes the beauty of life stand out all the more clearly. I cherish these moments with my dad, and I’ll always be grateful to you for giving me space to allow these moments to unfold. I can only hope and pray that as I grow into the fullness of my ministry, I will find a congregation that honors my wholeness as a human being as fully as you have done over these last months. I have found ways to hold you, even as I put my family first. I have found the limits of what I could do for you at this time, and you respected those limits and encouraged me to live within them. You affirmed my ongoing ministry even as I didn’t have as much to give as I had before, or as I had wanted to now. A year ago, I did not expect any part of where I find myself today. After another turning of the wheel of the year, I look forward to seeing who we all become.
At the request of the Board, our Intern Minister Alison represented UUFKC at the recent Pacific Northwest District Assembly. Like our upcoming General Assembly, this was an all-online event, but instead of bringing together congregations from across the country, District Assembly brought together congregations from Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Idaho to vote on the business of our district.
The major vote taken at this year’s District Assembly was a revision to the District’s bylaws that provide for ways of dissolving the district. While it is best-practice for any non-profit to include such a process in their bylaws, there was another reason that the District proposed and voted on this amendment: the ongoing move toward a regional structure rather than a district structure.
When the Unitarians and Universalists merged in the early 1960s, there were around 20 different districts, each with volunteer boards and paid staff to serve the needs of the congregations included in the districts. Now, 50 years later, the duplication of systems represented by 20 different regions has become unsustainable. As wage stagnation worsens, and families must work more hours to meet our basic needs, many districts are no longer able to find the volunteers to staff their boards or the funds to pay their staff. Regionalization, replacing many small districts with five larger geographic “regions,” is being pursued with the goal of eliminating duplication of efforts, streamlining our organization, and enabling our regions to find the volunteers and staff they need to meet the changing needs of our 21st-century faith. If you’re interested in more details on this process, please CLICK HERE for the explanation of regionalization presented to the district assembly by our Regional Lead Rev. Carlton Smith and UUA Director of Congregational Life Staff, Jessica York.
Currently, UUFKC is part of both the Pacific Western Region and the Pacific NW District. However, as the denomination as a whole moves toward regionalization, our district is one step closer to being able to choose to dissolve and participate in the Pacific Western Region alone with the bylaws revision that was passed at last weekend’s District Assembly. If you would like to participate in a district-wide online listening session on Monday, May 24th at 7pm to share your feelings about the regionalization process, CLICK HERE to register. If you want to read more about regionalization across the denomination, CLICK HERE.
Thirty-five years ago, I met two of the most important people in my life: the little boy who would become my husband, Jamie; and the little girl who has been my best friend ever since, Emily. I met these two beautiful people as a result of the elementary school community that all our families were a part of. When times really get rough, Jamie & Emily are always there for me, to this day.
Communities are often built in this way, by good fortune and shared proximity. As Unitarian Universalists, though, we come together to build community on purpose, grounded in principles. And yes, when our UU communities lead us into bonds of lasting friendship, we can count ourselves fortunate. But this is a case where we have made our own good fortune, by choosing to be together, choosing to be vulnerable, choosing to go deeper together. We are co-creators with the Great Mystery, as we participate in the alchemy that transforms a room full of individuals into a beloved community.
I made this choice on purpose as soon as I became a mom. I knew somehow that I needed UU — that I needed YOU — even though then I’d never heard of Klamath Falls, and would never have imagined myself as a clergyperson. The beloved communities that are our UU fellowships had something that the nuclear family I was creating desperately needed. Humans are meant to be together, but our US culture of individualism, capitalism and white supremacy undermines our ability to meet our need to be art of strong, connected communities. The more I participate in beloved UU communities, the more I see that the act of community care is a radical act that helps us reconnect to our shared humanity. We’ve seen this prominently in the last year as the model of mutual aid has flourished in response to the pandemic.
It is in this world that I am becoming a clergyperson, and I’ve been so honored to be YOUR clergyperson for the last eight months. At the same time, I continue to be just another human held in this beloved community. Just last week, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, and I was able to fly up to Seattle (so grateful to be fully vaccinated just in time!) to be with him as we begin to negotiate what comes next. Every one of you in the UUFKC community who I have spoken with about this challenging time have affirmed the importance of me being with my father and participating in his care. You’ve held me in your prayers, even as you too are struggling, after a year of isolation and now a time of both rising vaccination rates and rising COVID cases. You’ve offered me grace as I make mistakes because there’s too much on my mind. You’ve given me space to be human. And, together, we keep moving forward, slowly but surely, to get the work of community done.
I’m back in Southern Oregon, and I’m still here for pastoral care, administrative support, and of course, Sunday worship, even as I help coordinate my dad’s care from afar. I’m not sure what the future will bring, but I do know that your support is what makes it possible for me, and for this fellowship, to flourish, in the midst of it all. Thank you for holding me. I, too, am holding you. That is the work of beloved community.
On Wednesday, March 31st, we gathered together for an interfaith worship service to celebrate the lives, work, dreams, and contributions of trans, non-binary and gender-nonconforming siblings in Klamath Falls and around the world. UU Fellowship of Klamath County & Klamath Falls Friends Church hosted Rachel Crandall, founder of TDOV, to share the origins of this holy day. Pastor Anthony of the Friends Church will led us in the ritual of Waiting Worship. In this sacred space, we honored the image of the Divine in which trans people are so beautifully made.
Our worship on Wednesday was a testament to trans joy, made all the more powerful by the fact that the US president recognized Trans Day of Visibility for the first time on that very day! Rachel shared with us her excitement that a project she had started because she couldn’t wait any longer for it to come into being grew so broadly. One participant in our worship service Zoomed in from Indonesia, and shared that they too had held an interfaith Trans Day of Visibility service, emphasizing the global impact of this sacred day and Rachel’s important work.
Thanks to all who attended and shared. Our hearts are filled with joy.
Did you ever wish for a chance to share more deeply during Joys & Sorrows? The SOUUP Community Care Group might be just what you’re looking for.
When the SOUUP communities gathered with the UU Trauma Response Ministry last October to help us debrief the experience of living through last September’s wildfires, many of us expressed our desire to see some similar, ongoing space for sharing and holding our collective joys and sorrows in community. Growing out of that conversation, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and new UUGP member Jerry Allen and SOUUP Intern Minister Alison Duren-Sutherland are pleased to announce a new project open to members and friends of Rogue Valley UU Fellowship, UU Fellowship of Klamath County and UUs of Grants Pass.
Alison & Jerry will facilitate a Zoom Drop-In Community Care Group twice each month, on the 2nd Saturday at 5pm and the 4th Wednesday at 3pm. Registration is required, which means you need to enter your name and email address to be emailed a link to the meetings. This helps us track interest and participation, communicate with participants by email, and also keep our Zoom room a safe place for open-hearted sharing. You are welcome to attend both Wednesday and Saturday meetings, so if you think you might like to come on both days, make sure to register for both session by clicking each of the two links below and following the prompts:
Each time we meet, we’ll light a chalice, review and agree to our ground rules, get an opportunity to check in, sharing our joys and sorrows with the gathered community, and as time permits, we’ll share a practice you can take home with you to use in daily life to help withstand the impact of the ongoing traumas of these difficult times we are living through. Feel free to attend this group regularly or whenever you are able.
One of the key ground rules is that we will create a safe space to share. All sharing will be confidential to the group present. Everyone will agree not to share other members’ words or stories with anyone outside the group. Kindness will prevail and no one is required to share. It’s all voluntary, and there is no cost for this gathering. We hope to see you there, to give and receive support from this beloved community of Southern Oregon UUs.