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UUA Top Stories

President's Perspective

Ann Kleinsasser


It’s finally here!  This is the month that we formally “install” Rev. Gordon as our settled minister, with a very special ceremony on Sunday, February 21 at 4:00 pm. It’s been a long and exciting road, beginning with our year-long search process, then candidating week, “call to ministry”, and bringing Rev. Gordon and Lisa to California.

In UU tradition, an Installation Ceremony is held for a settled minister during the first year of service to the new congregation, and that time has arrived for us.  Since September, Rev. Gordon and Lisa have become a dynamic and beloved part of our community.  Now we get to CELEBRATE this long-term commitment and relationship ceremonially with ministers and representatives from the wider community.  We will be especially honored to have Rev. Gordon’s friend and colleague, former UUA President Rev. William G. Sinkford, deliver the Installation address.  Please plan to attend, and watch for further details and information on how you can help.

As we begin our journey with Rev. Gordon, please be thinking about your vision for our church.  Our Canvass/Pledge Campaign this year will include small focus groups where you can share your thoughts on what this church means to you and what you wish for the future, while you consider how you can support this vision financially.  Everyone will be invited to attend one of the groups, and Rev. Gordon and the board look forward to learning about your hopes and dreams for our future together.

Speaking of the board, I would like to let you know that our board this year has been giving serious consideration to many important issues, both financial and organizational, in order to ensure a long and thriving future for our congregation.  If you have a chance, please thank each of our board members for their dedication, thoughtfulness and productive work.

Let Valentine’s Day remind us of the love shared among members of this beloved community, and help us remember to share that love with others in the larger community and beyond.

Ann Kleinsasser

President of the Board of Trustees


What do you find at UUCVH?  Does it feed your soul?  Stimulate your mind?  Bring you peace?  Provide companionship?  Spiritual fulfillment?   The experience is different for each of us, but we all find meaning and inspiration here. 

Whether it is sitting in our beautiful sanctuary on Sunday mornings, rolling up your sleeves in a social action project, bringing gifts for children, donating food for those in need, meeting with others to find ways to make our world a better place, or simply helping with tasks around our church, I hope that your connections here bring you fulfillment. 

The beginning of a new year may be an opportune time to reflect on how we choose to spend our time.  In our increasingly complex and busy world, let’s seek to spend time on meaningful activities that bring us joy and inspiration.  Being and working with all of you brings joy to my life.  I look forward to our continued fellowship, and send best wishes for much happiness in the coming year!

Ann Kleinsasser

President of the Board of Trustees


For only the second time since we returned to California 20 years ago, we will not be taking our annual Thanksgiving trek to Alan’s parents’ home in Reno, NV.  As our family grows and ages, a one-car trip with one stop-over has become a multi-car affair with four days of driving, so we have decided to forego our tradition this year. We will miss the breathtaking views of the Sierra range, golden aspens along the highway, the tufa towers of Mono Lake, and travelling alongside the churning Walker River.  And the very special shared times we have enjoyed will be remembered as we celebrate Thanksgiving in new ways this year. 

I enjoy this season in which we consciously reflect on the things we are thankful for in our lives; family is right at the top of my list.  And I think our church community is something for which we all feel deep gratitude.  I am thankful to see all of your shining faces on Sunday mornings and for the many ways in which you all create and sustain our congregation.  This may be a good time to thank each other for things small and large such as providing inspiration and leadership, maintaining our building and outdoor space, preparing goodies for coffee hour on Sunday mornings, cleaning up, managing our church office, shepherding our finances, welcoming visitors, making connections within and beyond our church, nurturing our children, providing music and technical support, organizing social gatherings, preparing delicious food to share, decorating and beautifying our shared space…surely we have many things to be thankful for.

Ann Kleinsasser


What does being a UU mean to you?  We all know the difficulty of trying to create an “elevator speech” in which we could describe Unitarian Universalism to a stranger.  Sometimes it’s hard even to describe it to ourselves!  But there are reasons each of us is here, and even though we do not “evangelize” or have salvation or eternal life to offer, we wish that many more people could know the comfort and joy that belonging to a UU congregation can bring.

If you want to be re-inspired about being a UU, I highly recommend the video “Voices of a Liberal Faith” found right at the top of the homepage on our website:  It may help you find your voice in sharing this faith with others.  I guarantee you’ll be inspired!

I am thrilled that Rev. Gordon chose to focus on “Relationships” in his sermons during the month of September. How appropriate, as we begin our relationship with our new minister and his wife.  I feel that one of our strengths as a congregation is our sense of community, filled with treasured relationships among us.  Visitors often comment on the warm and welcoming atmosphere they find at our church.  It is good to continue to consider our relationships, not only with each other and newcomers, but also our relationship to denominational life as UUs and our connection to the surrounding community and beyond.  Let’s shine our light out into the world!

Ann Kleinsasser


Our new “church year” starts off with a bang, as we welcome Rev. Gordon Bailey and his wife, Lisa, to UUCVH!  During their visit in May we got a glimpse of the energy and inspiration they will bring to our congregation.  We look forward to having Rev. Gordon in the pulpit starting on Sunday, September 6!  Please plan to join us as we welcome Rev. Gordon and Lisa on that Sunday with an Indian themed potluck luncheon celebration.

We have been talking for years about creating an outdoor play area for our children, and now the opportunity has arrived!  You may have seen the photos, or maybe even taken a walk out behind our church building to admire the work done by Dustin Hunt and his fellow Boy Scouts for his Eagle Scout Project.  They cleared weeds and debris and created a stepping stone path lined with potted succulents leading to the area west of the Sanctuary.  We are now considering ways to make use of this area as a play/gardening space for the children in our RE program.  They have already taken on the weekly task of watering the succulents.  The board is now investigating what else we can do to create a safe and useable area for our youngest members.  We welcome your input!

I look forward to seeing all of you at our traditional Ingathering/Water Ceremony this month and hearing your stories from summer activities.  It doesn’t matter whether the water is authentic, symbolic or virtual—most important is the sense of community we feel as memories are shared!

Ann Kleinsasser


We now find ourselves in the midst of an unusual time, having just said farewell to one minister in June, and waiting to welcome a new minister in September.  So what is happening on Sunday mornings during this summer interim?

We are fortunate and happy that our former ministerial intern (and now graduate of the Claremont School of Theology), Debbie Rice, has agreed to fill several of our Sunday services.  And, we will have two other guest speakers this month.  But, on several of our summer Sundays, we are hearing speakers from within our own congregation.  This is such a wonderful way for us to get to know each other better, hearing original writings, poems, opinions, viewpoints--even when we take turns sharing the works of others, we are brought closer together through the reading and listening process.

During a service last month congregation members read the opinions of local clergy from the “In Theory” column in the Glendale News Press.  It is enlightening to find areas of agreement as well as disagreement in these writings, and helps us gain insight into how others approach issues of the day.  We’ve also heard from members of the congregation who shared original creative works and favorite poems as well as thoughts on the merits of our country; this month one of our younger members will share a bit of Western philosophy on the “understanding of the self.”

These collaborative services always seem to spark thought and conversation, and possibly some questions to ponder together.  Sounds like a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning!  After all…thinking, discussing, questioning…aren’t these the things that we UUs love best?

Ann Kleinsasser



While living in the sleepy town of Croton-on-Hudson, New York just after the birth of our daughter, Lisa, Sunday mornings meant breakfast in the warm and cozy Country Breadboard with snow swirling outside.  For the next several years, after moving to Putnam Valley, we were Sunday morning regulars at the locally famous Grandma’s Pie Shop, where Lisa got treats while we waited to be seated, and the host knew her by name. 

But then, as Lisa got to be school age, we wanted something more meaningful for our Sunday mornings.  We began attending the nearby Unitarian Fellowship where we found a warm and inspiring group of people of all ages, with a large and active Religious Education program.  Sunday mornings became a respite from the pace of the week, a chance to gaze out the wall-to-wall windows at the surrounding woods and enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons, while being inspired by the varied and interesting programs.  Of course, not every moment was peaceful bliss, as we became actively involved in the workings of church life and often spent potluck Sundays corralling children from straying too far into the woods.  Even so, attending fellowship and connecting with other UUs was a special time that we looked forward to each week.

Today, Sunday mornings mean enjoying the beauty of our UUCVH sanctuary as morning sun illuminates the beautiful stained glass window graciously donated by Charlotte Dufresne Holley in memory of her husband Jacques Dufresne.  Sharing the ritual of the service, hearing inspirational words, listening to music, feeling a connection with people of shared values is a special time I treasure.  I hope that you find Sunday morning in our congregation to be a renewing experience each week, as I do.  Gathering together in this way is an integral part of the many ways we support and benefit from UUCVH.

“See you at church!”

Ann Kleinsasser


From the very first time I met Rev. Betty, I could feel the energy and enthusiasm that became such a vital force for our church.  She is a born leader and her presence among us has brought us together and energized our congregation in so many ways!  And now, how do we say good-bye?  With appreciation for all she has brought to us.  With the knowledge that we have been enriched by her words and actions.  With happy memories of puppets, laughter, parties and all the fun we have shared.  With visions of purple in our dreams.  With sadness that we will not have weekly contact, but with gladness knowing that she will be entering a new and exciting stage of her life (and spending less time on those long freeways!)

And although Rev. Betty is the one who has been our minister, we have an equal attachment to the man who calls himself “the minister’s wife”.  Tom immediately became an integral part of our church, making connections with each and every one of us.  He has a knack for cordially greeting newcomers and integrating them into our midst.  We have benefitted from his expertise in financial matters as well as participation on various committees.  He’s also a crucial participant at game nights; and no party or friendship dinner would be complete without his legendary brownies!

Although we will greatly miss you both, we send you off with all good wishes and the knowledge and happy anticipation that our paths will continue to cross.



We have had the joy these past two years of having Debbie Rice as our Ministerial Intern, and it’s hard to believe her time with us is almost at an end!  It has been a pleasure for me to get to know her, her husband Orlando and daughter Chantell, as I’m sure it has been for all of you.  They have been a bright spot in our congregation!  I have appreciated Debbie’s calm and thoughtful presence at board and committee meetings.  Her commitment to our faith and our values shines through in all she does.  We have enjoyed her heart-felt sermons and careful attention to the details of all aspects of our worship rituals.  Hearing her children’s stories, it’s obvious that she was a wonderful elementary teacher in her “previous life”.  But I’m delighted that she has chosen to share her commitment and talents within Unitarian Universalism.  Debbie, we will miss you and your family and we wish you the best as you continue on the next stage of your journey!

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our Search Committee:  Deane Phinney, Terresa Jones, Howard Richman, Roy Lopez, Jerry Buchanan, and Vivienne Payne (who replaced Jerry when he had to resign), for their diligent work throughout this past year.  Many hours and much thought went into the rigorous process of finding a “called Minister” for our church.  As their work draws to a close, we are very excited to meet and learn more about the candidate they have chosen!  We will have an opportunity to hear him speak on two Sundays, May 17 and 24, and to get to know him during the intervening week, as he attends committee and group meetings with us.  After the service on May 24, we will have a congregational meeting and vote on whether to accept him as our called Minister.  I sincerely hope that all of you will be able to attend these two very important Sundays, and be a part of choosing our future!

Ann K.


April is shaping up to be an exciting and festive month for our congregation.  I hope you will be able to participate in all that we have in store!

I always look forward to our Easter service which promises, again this year, to feature the “Flower Communion” ceremony.  Started in 1923 by the founder of the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia, Norbert Capek, this ceremony provided a symbolic ritual that would bind people more closely together, without alienating anyone who had forsaken other religious traditions.  I love this part of our UU faith that honors and welcomes people from diverse religious backgrounds.  I hope you will be able to celebrate with us on Easter Sunday.  And I’m sure there will be some special activities for the children in our midst as well.

A little later in the month you will be invited to a fun and festive “Canvass Dinner”.  What is the Canvass you may ask?  Come to this party and find out!  This will be a time to enjoy some great food and entertainment while learning about your financial role in supporting our church and all the wonderful things is provides for us and the larger community.  Our canvass chair, Cindy Lopez (aka “party planner extraordinaire”) has a magnificent Mexican-themed evening planned.  Watch for further details, and I hope to see you all there!

We have a special outreach opportunity on Saturday, April 25, when UUCVH will have a booth at the Crescenta Valley “Hometown Country Fair” at Crescenta Valley Park.  This is an all day event featuring carnival rides, a car show, live entertainment, a dog parade, pie-eating contest, a wide variety of vendor booths and much more.  Our booth will be an opportunity to let people know about our church while providing some fun activities for children and families.  The Sidewalk Astronomers group has agreed to set up their telescope as an attraction for our booth.  What we will need from you is ideas for activities and displays, and volunteers to take shifts at the booth throughout the day.  Watch for sign-ups and please let me know your brilliant ideas for our booth!

I love the sense of community in our congregation, and this month will give us multiple opportunities to celebrate our connections with one another and the larger world.

Ann Kleinsasser