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President's Perspective

Gary Clark

Wednesday
Nov302016

December 2016 

The UUCVH Board adopted a slightly revised Mission Statement at the November Board meeting.   It continues our efforts toward our own health, development of Religious Education, and enhancement of spiritual growth.  Rev. Gordon noted that a Mission Statement should be consistent with s strategic plan that goes along with it.  Our strategic plan is being developed and revised.  How do we translate this into specific actions, noting that we are a voluntary organization with many different individuals?  And of course, it includes continuation of our normal activities. 

November was a month of an election whose outcome was surprising to many people on the West Coast, but less so for people who reside in Eastern Idaho or West Texas.   I think the recommended approach is to keep our eyes on our objectives, and undertake or support actions which manifest those objectives and values.  Many of our Congregational objectives and goals are internal, yet some may be external (such as community outreach).   A step toward accomplishing our goals is to make them more specific and concrete.

Some recent trends, in the context of election results, evoke recollections of past similar constellations of similar trends and forces.   William Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich comes to mind.  I think it is a good book, and it may seem more timely during this period.  And every period has its opportunities for creative engagement and response.  

Sociologists have a concept called “memorial space.”   Roughly, it is the common or community space allocated to memorials, statues, or monuments. Who owns it and how is it occupied?   And who decides?   So who do we memorialize in Two Strikes Park?  Should there be space for opponents of the Vietnam War, or people that went to Canada?   I was disappointed and displeased to see the County work to erase the name of Hindenburg Park from Hindenburg Park, as were many non-anti-Semitic local citizens who felt a shared ethnic and cultural heritage.   Should there be a plaque at Verdugo Hills Golf Course to note its role in Japanese internment during WW II?   Or anything else dealing with local “memorial space”?  Influencing or initiating allocations of community memorial space is one way UUs can manifest and communicate their principles locally.

At UUCVH, R.E is growing, under the leadership of Elizabeth and Rev Gordon, and the future looks bright.   Howard is doing well organizing children’s Christmas gifts.  I regret that I missed the most recent movie night, and look forward to the next one.   UUCVH will continue as a place of change and growth as we continue into the holiday season. 

Respectfully,

Gary N Clark

Congregational President                                                                                      

 

 

Monday
Oct312016

An important election is occurring this month.   Democracy and elections are a timely topic this year.

Unitarian-Universalists support the principle of democracy, and elections are an important component of the democratic process.   In some places, this may be an issue.  Some tactics may seem to transparently favor or suppress one group or another.   Are the votes counted honestly?  There have certainly been instances of miscounting or additional magical votes since LBJ’s Senate election victory in 1948, when 20,000 votes magically appeared.  Fake ballots were in existence long before 1948, and they probably did not end in 2012.  Are there longer lines in some precincts rather than others, and is the distribution of long lines random?   The study of statistics, including clustered sampling, has advanced a lot in the past fifty years.   Many Unitarians have professional or other experience applying their analytical abilities.  Election results would be a good place to apply those abilities, and I believe UUs should support the scrutiny of election results.   Many think voting machines are great.  Others think that, just because they are electronic does not mean they cannot be altered.  Can electronic voting both 1)  be anonymous and 2) produce an audit trail?   Can a central processing unit be changed a couple of days before an election?  Do voting results seem to be close to predicted results in precincts that use voting machines, compared to precincts that count ballots optically, when statistically corrected for other factors?  Are there close ties between management of a firm that produces voting machines and one of the candidates, or their backers?

A new mission statement is in under consideration.  Rev Gordon noted that it is good for the vision statement and mission statement to be congruent – that is, to point us in the same general direction.  So I invite all to look at the proposed statement in Fellowship Hall. 

As we think about all of the things that are wrong with the world, this is traditionally a good month to think about all of the things that we can be grateful for. 

 

Respectfully,

Gary N Clark

Congregation President

Wednesday
Apr272016

OCTOBER 2016

Our Minister is back from the summer, and we are officially into Fall.    As we began the new year and completed our first Fall Board meeting, I am grateful to all the volunteers who participate, which, at our church is practically everyone other than visitors.  I am personally thankful to the Board.  Paula, Celia, and Betsy also merit special recognition and thanks.  While the numbers still are not large, R/E has increased by large percentages, and it continues to grow under Elizabeth’s guidance.  

I recall a history of UUCVH that Deane Phinney presented a few years ago.  There were great people who played a role in the issues of the time (like the 1960s and forward).  Those issues have evolved, and so has technology.  There are many newer member here now, and more newcomers who may become future members. Perhaps our two most visible current efforts are Black Lives Matter and associated social justice concerns, and Ascensia.    We are not a large group.  I am wondering if the is some effort or process  that would leverage our capabilities to have a larger regional or national impact? Twitter and Google were started by smaller groups of individuals.  I think a moderate amount of knowledge about startups and spinoffs has been accumulated.   At the UU General Assembly two years ago there was a session on entrepreneurial efforts fostered by UU congregations.   We already use technologies to accomplish many of our tasks.  Google Calendar aids with Church communication among the congregation, for example.   What else could possibly exist? What would leverage our capabilities?   How would we combine leverage and focus?

The Annual UUCVH Board and Committee Retreat was recently held.  Our current state and direction was reviewed and discussed.  One of the topics discussed was our mission statement.  A proposed slightly revised version appears in Fellowship Hall. Please take a moment to note and consider it, and form a view on whether we should adopt the revision or modify it.  The mission statement forms a basis for our specific UUCVH vision(s). 

May you enjoy a wonderful Autumn. 

Respectfully yours,

Gary N. Clark

 

 

Aug. 2016

 

PRESIDENT’S PERSPECTIVE

Gary Clark

 

August is the serious part of the La Crescenta summer, as the hot winds from the desert are more likely to flow over the mountains and down upon our gardens, yards, and homes.   August is the month that we could celebrate or note the Assumption of Mary, or Tisha B’Av, the destruction of the First Temple and the Second Temple of Jerusalem.  Many will go on vacation, and it is a challenging month to stay and work in your garden.  I think it would be a good time of year for Unitarians to read Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson.  I know that Unitarians have wide-ranging reading interests. 

 

As the fall season approaches, it may be a good time to think about the various ways that we currently reach out to the community.  We lost one of our leaders in the Social Action area, Jerry Buchanan, this past year.  Jerry provided much drive, inspiration, and motivation in this area.  This would be a good time to think about what we would like to do in the coming year. 

 

Ours services tend to be lay-led during August, while our called Minister, Rev Gordon, is back in New York.  Rev Gordon returns in September.  I wish all of us the best during the coming month.

 

Respectfully,

 

Gary N. Clark

Congregation President

 

July - This month begins a new Church year for Unitarian Universalist Church of the Verdugo Hills, and it begins a term as President for me.   I believe that we will continue to evolve in a more meaningful way.  The UUCVH is comprised of a unique group of generally outstanding individuals,  I have often felt pleased, even somewhat proud, to be a part of it, and always intrigued and impressed by the variety of people here, and by what they have done in various aspects of their lives, by their life stories, and by what they have become.  When my wife (Vickie Guagliardo) first brought me here around 2002 or so, I felt at home, perhaps because there were so many other people here who had also traveled through the 1960s, and who shared that nascent idealism of the time, blended with the residual existential reaffirmations of America from World War II.   There are many who helped bring us here, and I have enjoyed knowing some of them. 

So we have a new full-time Minister, who I believe that we have gotten to know over the past year, and will now strongly move forward, leading us into this coming year when he returns in September.   In recent years, I have been grateful to have our membership stable, while I do not expect to convert the entire community to UUs, our membership is growing, and we will be doing new things.   There are many potential paths to have an impact in the community, and I believe we will have more of an impact on the broader community.  And, our Church will be a place that fosters the personal growth of its members.  

Have a good summer, and a good vacation,   some of the next few services will be in the round in Fellowship Hall.  I hope we see each other on Sunday mornings, and enjoy your thoughts and mountain climbing during the summer.  

 Respectfully,

 Gary N Clark

____________________________________________________________________________________

Ann Kleinsasser (2015-2016)

As my term as President draws to a close, I’m thinking back on a busy and meaningful year.  I thought I would share a few of the highlights that come to mind.      

 

Last September we welcomed Rev.Gordon and his lovely wife Lisa who have brought energy and good cheer to our congregation!  With their guidance, we are continuing and deepening our commitment to social justice.  We have enjoyed Rev. Gordon’s lively presence in the pulpit each Sunday.  And what a celebration we had as he was formally installed as our called minister!

 

Members of the congregation have connected and engaged in many discussion groups and adult RE throughout this past year—we may not have solved all the world’s problems yet, but the process has been enriching and thought provoking.

 

I am delighted that we have also welcomed seven new members this year. And it is wonderful to see our RE program thriving and growing. 

 

We celebrated Charlotte’s 100th birthday in December!  We treasure her cheerful presence in our congregation and it was wonderful to honor her on her special day. 

 

We suffered the loss of Jerry Buchanan in March.  His wit and deep commitment to making the world a better place will be remembered and greatly missed.  I was moved by the coming together of our congregation and Jerry’s friends and family to celebrate his life.

 

With regret (and no small amount of panic) we accepted Terresa’s resignation as Congregational Administrator.  She handled all church matters, large and small, with such capability and grace.  We were fortunate (and relieved) to find someone almost immediately who has experience as a UU congregational administrator!  Nancy Watkins filled in seamlessly, with orientation from Terresa, and has settled in comfortably.

 

I am looking forward to our Annual Meeting during Salad Luncheon this month.  In addition to our usual business, we will celebrate our 25th year as UUCVH with pictures and memories of all those who have helped create this beloved community! 

 

I thank each of you for your commitment to our congregation and look forward to our continued connections and work together! 


 

Caring Hands

Have you ever noticed the small stitch of red thread at the corner of the rectangular white table cloths used for special occasions in our Fellowship Hall?  They were carefully sewn on long ago by one of our members to distinguish these tablecloths from the square ones without having to unfold them.

 

Do you ever remark on the beautiful large stones in our succulent garden along the sidewalk on Dunsmore Ave.?  Have you noticed the nasturtiums that occasionally pop up amid the other plants there?  The stones were chosen from a quarry, and their delivery was arranged, by an artist in our midst.  And the flowers are descendants of seeds planted with a former minister and showered with water from our flower communion ceremony. 

 

Where have you seen these words: “service, peace, truth, help, reverence”?  This banner along with the tapestry depicting our garden area and our beautifully quilted UUCVH banner, all hanging in our sanctuary, were lovingly created by our members over the years.

 

Each Sunday morning we enjoy the beauty of the stained glass window in our sanctuary, donated in memory of one of our congregants.  We also enjoy the comfort of soft seat covers knitted or stitched by some of our talented members.  And when you open your hymnal you may see a name plate for someone who donated funds to purchase the hymnal.

 

So many hands have touched our church with love.  Signs of caring are all around us--books and toys donated to our classrooms, decorated walls, flower arrangements for Sunday services, paintings, holiday decorations…It is good to feel the legacy of all these caring people and to be in community with all of you.

 

 

Ann Kleinsasser

President of the Board of Trustees

 

Monday
Feb012016

April Outlook

President’s Column

 

          It has been nearly two years since Terresa Jones rescued us from a sudden vacancy in our church office.  Jumping in without even a job description, she has since created a Congressional Administrator position, with the added responsibilities of Bookkeeper, which she has filled with aplomb, efficiency and good cheer!  Terresa not only fulfills the duties of her job, but often takes initiative beyond her assignments to keep things running smoothly and beautifully.  I don’t think any of us can fully appreciate all of the “behind the scenes” details Terresa has attended to so graciously.  This year has been especially busy as she played a large part in helping Rev. Gordon and Lisa relocate to California, and facilitating all that was involved in our change from “contract” ministry to “settled” ministry.  So it was with much sadness that we accepted her resignation last month, and she will be truly missed!  We offer many thanks, hugs and good wishes!!  We do look forward to her continued presence as a treasured member of our congregation.

 

          I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the person who will be taking Terresa’s place.  We were fortunate to find Nancy Watkins, who was able to begin immediately after Terresa’s last day.  Nancy has worked as part-time Office Administrator for the past five years at Throop Church in Pasadena, and will continue in her position there while working part-time for us.  She has also worked as administrator and bookkeeper at a counseling center in Pasadena.  Nancy was born and raised in Pasadena and graduated from USC.  She has been married 26 years and has four children and a four-year-old granddaughter.  She was a stay-at-home mom until her children were in school and then scheduled her work while they were in school.  Her family enjoys outdoor activities and spends most of their free time outdoors.  She is very excited about beginning her journey with us--please welcome Nancy and introduce yourself if you happen to stop by when she is in the office.

 

 

Friday
Jan012016

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