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UUA Top Stories

President's Perspective

Ann Kleinsasser

Saturday
Nov012014

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to give thanks to a few people in our midst whose good works may go unnoticed. 

As you may know, our church is responsible for serving dinner to residents of Ascencia homeless shelter each month that has a “fifth Monday”.  A small group of helpers has been faithfully doing the shopping, preparing the dinner in our church kitchen, and transporting and serving the food to Ascencia residents.  THANK YOU to Celia Eiben, Frances Kuraoka and Jerry Buchanan for their commitment and energy!  Thanks also to Howard Richman who often joins them at Ascencia to help serve the dinner.  If you are interested in helping too, please contact one of these special people! 

We take many things for granted around our church building.  Light bulbs burn out and get replaced.  The plumber is called to clean out the drain.  Paint gets touched up.  Things break and get repaired.  Special facilities requests are handled.  Who is doing all this work and more?  THANK YOU to Paula Hallowell for patiently and tirelessly keeping our building beautiful and operational!  Not to mention, all the set-up and beautiful exotic décor and lighting she provided for Summer’s Ordination!

Speaking of the Ordination ceremony, I would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to Celia Eiben for coordinating the reception buffet and clean-up, ably aided by Vickie Guagliardo.  Did we really serve dinner to over 150 people in our little kitchen?  What a party it was!

I am certainly thankful for our wonderful church community, and I hope you will find many things to be thankful for during this season.

Ann Kleinsasser

Wednesday
Oct012014

“Where do we come from?  What are we?  Where are we going?”  Do you recognize these words from our September song of the month?  It was brought to my attention (by a scientist I know) that they come from an interesting and unusual source:  a painting by Paul Gaugin.  Try googling the words and check out the Wikipedia entry to see the symbolic painting and its background.  Knowing the source adds an extra dimension to the haunting melody and thought provoking words.

So…Where do we come from? (i.e.:  what’s been happening around UUCVH)

It was wonderful to have such a good turnout for our guest speaker, Sam Morris, on Sunday, August 31.  And those who attended his full presentation in September enjoyed an educational and inspiring evening!  Thanks to Terresa Carson-Jones for arranging for these presentations and getting the word out.  It was also good to be together at our ingathering service and water ceremony, and to share stories of summer times.  At this writing plans are taking shape for the Ordination ceremony of Summer Albayati-Krikeche.  We are excited to welcome her back to our church as she becomes a full-fledged minister.

And…Where are we going? (i.e.: what’s coming up)

As you may know, our UUCVH board and committee chairs met for a “retreat” toward the end of the summer to make plans and discuss our visions for the coming year.  The giant chart paper and markers came out and we brainstormed ways to continue to inspire members of our congregation, and also to make UUCVH more visible and accessible to the surrounding community.  The result was a long “wish list” which we have tried to prioritize and narrow down to several doable goals.  What are they?  To find out, be sure to join us at the Salad Luncheon after the service on Sunday, October 5. 

We’d love to share our goals with you and get your ideas and feedback.  I look forward to seeing you all there!

Ann Kleinsasser

Monday
Sep012014

There are many ways to be involved at UUCVH, beyond our Sunday morning services.  As we begin a new church year, I hope you will find fulfillment in participating with other congregation members in ways that enrich not only your life, but also the life of our congregation and our community. 

I thought that this time of year would be a good opportunity to highlight several groups that play important roles at UUCVH.  In thinking about each of these groups, I was struck by the many opportunities for creativity they provide. Please talk to me or other congregation members to find out more about these groups, and let us know if you are interested in becoming involved—we welcome fresh faces and ideas!

The Worship Committee plans Sunday morning services for dates when Rev. Betty will not be in the pulpit.  Work includes finding outside speakers or planning “in-house” programs, and providing a Lay Leader/Worship Associate who prepares the elements of the service.  Our Ministerial Intern, Debbie Rice, will be providing a brief training/orientation for congregation members interested in serving as a Lay Leader.

The Membership Committee greets and follows up with visitors, helps interested visitors along the path to membership, participates in New Member Welcoming Ceremonies, keeps track of membership numbers and directory information, and supports congregation members with notes and cards.

The Religious Education Committee supports the RE Coordinator; assists as needed with RE planning and programs, and provides classroom volunteers when necessary.

The Outreach Committee helps increase our visibility and exposure in the surrounding community.  This is a perfect opportunity for “think-outside-the-box” UUs (what other kind are there?).

The Social Action Circle organizes and supports projects to help others in need in our community and beyond, and works to increase social justice locally and globally.

I look forward to seeing all of you at our Ingathering/Water Ceremony service on September 7!

Ann Kleinsasser

Friday
Aug012014

I usually think of the summer months as a quiet time at church, but plenty has been happening around UUCVH.  Our interior spaces have received a beautiful new coat of paint thanks to Paula Hallowell, our Aesthetics Committee, and all of the volunteers who helped move wall décor and furniture in preparation for the painters (and put everything back!).  We are welcoming Elizabeth Schenck as our new RE Coordinator--if you haven’t met her yet, please introduce yourself and find out what plans are in store for our children!  And July finished with a bang with our annual summer picnic, sponsored by the GNU UUs, party-planners extraordinaire.

As we move into August I hope you are all making plans to come to the Roy Zimmerman concert on Tuesday evening, August 5.   Get ready for a fun-filled evening of political satire and great folk music--and please invite friends, neighbors, and anyone else you think would enjoy the evening!  Later in the month we will have an inspirational guest speaker, Sam Morris—watch for notice of his special presentation.  Also in August, the board and committee chairs hold their annual “retreat” to vision and plan for the coming year.  If you have any ideas for us to consider, please contact me or one of our board members.

Last, but not least, remember to be collecting a small amount of water from your summer activities or travels for our Water Ceremony in September.  It is always wonderful to witness how effectively the simple act of sharing of water and stories from our separate summer adventures brings us together as a community at our “in-gathering” service. 

Ann Kleinsasser

Tuesday
Jul012014

How did you become a Unitarian Universalist?  Are there others who may find us in the same way you did?

I was lucky enough to be brought up as a Unitarian, so I did not need to “discover” this faith as many of our members have done.  But no matter how we each found our way here, I think it feels like “home” to all of us.  As I begin my first term as President of our congregation I would like for us to think about ways to help potential UUs in our community find us.  How can we be more visible to neighbors, to people searching for a spiritual home, to families looking for a unique religious foundation for their children?  Think about your own path to our door—how can we make that path available to others in our community?  Let me know your thoughts!

Looking ahead on our calendar, I’d like to encourage all of you to plan on attending Roy Zimmerman’s concert on the evening of Tuesday, August 12!  And be thinking of friends who would enjoy a wonderfully entertaining evening of his clever and humorous satire and fabulous music.  If we each brought just two or three friends we’d have the full house he deserves!

I hope summer finds you doing enjoyable and fulfilling things, whether it is traveling to exotic places, pursuing a favorite hobby, volunteering or simply enjoying our beautiful Southern California weather in your own backyard or garden.  Whatever your plans, I hope to see you on Sunday mornings (when you are in town) as we gather in community and fellowship for spiritual inspiration and growth.

Ann Kleinsasser

Sunday
Jun012014

UUCVH President Howard Richman befriends a fellow creature with a witty smile!I am completing my second and last year as board President.  It has been my honor to serve in this position.  We have had many successes along with some failures.  I hope the membership sees this as a positive year.  I can say that no matter the outcome it was not a failure of effort by many people.  This is my second two-year run as President of UUCVH, and the reason I agreed to be President is because of the people that comprise this Church.

I want to personally thank Deane Phinney, Gary Clark and Alan Kleinsasser for their support, great ideas and hard work.  We all knew that every officer had the best outcome for the Church as their prime aim in all decisions made.  I hope the membership always had confidence that we were doing what we thought best.

I want to thank Rev Betty and her Wife for their support for this Church.  I wanted to thank them together because they are a team.  I think it is a inspiration to many when two good people get together and make a even better couple.  I want to thank Rev Betty for becoming our full time minister, I think this will have many benefits to the Church going forward.  I am also happy that we didn't pay her hourly.  We would be broke!

I will not go through the membership list and thank everyone individually.  I would just like to thank everyone for stepping up when asked and not asked and helping this Church.

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you as President.

Howard Richman

Thursday
May012014

I would like to devote this column to information about our Church calling a new minister.  Since Rev. Betty's contract is up the summer of 2015 and commuting from Thousand Oaks has been difficult, we will sadly be losing her and will need a new minister.  The board has decided to have a nationwide search for a minister.  There are many reasons for this choice among them is that we will be the only Church in southern California searching for a ministers during this period, so we will have a much larger group of minister to choose from.  Another plus is that after the very cold winter in the rest of the country, our weather will be a great recruiting tool.

We will have Kenneth Collier to speak to the congregation at the Sunday service on May 4, 2014.  He is a retired minister from the UU Church in Santa Barbara.  He works for the UUA to help churches in southern California that are calling ministers.  I believe he will give much better information then I will be able to give.

At this time the search committee is comprised of Deane Phinney, Jerry Buchanan and myself, but we need two more members.  The Church needs your help in filling these two positions.  The committee will be taking surveys of the membership to give prospective ministers a view of the congregation.  We will also be putting together a PDF showing every aspect of our Church.  The better job the committee does in putting together a true picture of our Church, the better chance we have of a good match.  If you have questions, please e-mail me or save them for Kenneth Collier.

Howard Richman

Tuesday
Apr012014

By Rev. John Wolf

"There is only one reason for joining a UU Church!  That is to support it.  You want to support it because it stands against superstition and fear.  Because it points to what's noblest and best in human life.  Because it is open to men and women of whatever race, creed, color, or national origin.

"You want to support a UU Church because it has a free pulpit.  Because you can hear ideas expressed there which would cost any other minister his or her job.  You want to support it because it is a place where children can come without being saddled with guilt or terrified of some 'celestial peeping Tom,' where they can learn that religion is for joy, comfort, for gratitude and love.

"You want to support a UU Church because it is more concerned with human beings than with dogmas.  Because it searches for the holy, rather than dwells upon the depraved.  Because it calls no one a sinner, yet knows how deep is the struggle and how great is the hunger for what is good.

You want to support a UU Church because it can laugh...because it insults neither your intelligence nor your conscience, and because it calls you to worship what is truly worthy of your sacrifice..."

Howard Richman

Saturday
Mar012014

A letter from Bill Schulz, UUSC

Dear Howard,

When I first saw the news I couldn't believe it:

Since the Great Recession ended in 2009, Americans' average income has increased by a healthy 6 percent.

How could this possibly be?  With millions looking for work, and most folks lucky enough to still have jobs struggling to take care of their families?

Because 95 percent of those income gains have gone to the top 1 percent.

It's been a great four years -- a fantastic four years -- for the wealthiest Americans.  For the rest of us, not so much.

Anyone working a minimum wage job for the last four years has seen his or her real earnings drop by 8 percent -- and if she's a single mother of two, for example, she's now living below the poverty line.

A job should keep you out of poverty, not trap you in poverty.  That's why UUSC is pushing so hard to replace the minimum wage with a living wage.

And that's why I'm asking for your support with a special contribution to support these efforts and all of our work to advance human rights.

For those earning the least -- the people who bring us our food in restaurants, who care for our sick and elderly relatives, who clean our office buildings -- it's been a day-to-day struggle to survive on a federal minimum wage that, adjusted for inflation, is one-third lower than it was in 1968.

Narrowing the enormous wealth gap in this country is an economic and political challenge -- but it is, above all, a moral imperative.

Please join our campaign.   Donate at  http://www.uusc.org/donate. Thank you for putting your values into action today.

Sincerely,

Bill Schulz

President and CEO

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Saturday
Feb012014

Howard Richman submits a recent news article for your consideration.

Richest of the rich ponder how to level the field” by CNBC's Jeff Cox

With the global economy slowly getting back on its feet, 2,500 delegates gathered in Davos face a vexing question this week: How to spread the wealth.

As much as any other issue income inequality will tax world leaders in the years ahead.

Aggressive policies from central banks have helped stem the liquidity drain that sent the U.S., Europe, and other countries reeling in the latter part of the last decade. Wall Street banks have come back to life, equity markets have soared and even debt-laden countries like Ireland and Greece are finding their way back into the capital markets.

But the main problem now will be those left behind.

"The kind of people over there (in Davos), other than the professors, are making a great deal of money more than their predecessors were a generation ago," University of Maryland economist Peter Morici said in an interview. "This is a growing embarrassment. The differences in income between Wall Street and the rest of America are astronomical."

Dangers surrounding income inequality are not lost on those attending the World Economic Forum.

In a survey of members, the issue ranked near the top among global economic concerns.

"It raises concerns about the Great Recession and the squeezing effect it had on the middle classes in developed economies, while globalization has brought about a polarization of incomes in emerging and developing economies," the forum said in a statement. "This is true despite the obvious progress in countries such as Brazil and lower levels of poverty in several developing countries in Asia and Africa."

The negative effects of globalization will be especially problematic this week for its advocates, particularly President Barack Obama, for whom one of the key platform tenets in the 2008 election was a pledge to redistribute income.

"In the United Stated, people in the middle and bottom are shrinking and people on the top are rising. That's not what globalization was supposed to do for them," Morici said. "For President Obama, it's very troubling because he's been a big advocate for globalization."

Recent studies have shown American wealth disparity at its highest level since the Great Depression.

Unemployment in the U.S. has been vexing as well. While the headline rate has dropped to 6.7 percent, that's come as the labor force participation rate has hit a 36-year low.

In Europe, youth unemployment in some areas is around 50 percent and about 12 percent overall in the euro zone.

Concerns over inequality "should act as a wake-up call" to Davos attendees, Philip Jennings, general secretary of the labor group UNI Global Union, told media members last week.

Morici, however, said he doesn't expect much to come it, at least at the four-day World Economic Forum.

"This is the biggest problem of our time," said. "We need to have more balanced growth across the globe."