“A cheerful heart is good medicine…”
— Proverbs 17:22
There is much to be cheerful about in this season of giving thanks. The Lakers won their 17th NBA Championship. The turbulent election season came to a conclusion. History was made with California Senator Kamala Harris–the first female, Black, and Asian American–being elected to the White House. The Dodgers won the World Series. Multiple highly effective COVID-19 vaccines appear to be on the horizon. The light at the end of the tunnel seems to draw nearer with each passing day.
After months of a seemingly unending pandemic that completely transformed life as we know it, dramatic outbreaks of civil unrest, and heated displays of political animosity in this nation, it seems “the storm is passing over,” and there is much to be hopeful about in our world. Despite the many things we have to celebrate, we are likely headed into the worst months of the pandemic, and this isn’t a time for relaxing our guard or not taking appropriate precautions–like wearing masks and avoiding unnecessary travel or gatherings–to keep ourselves and others safe and healthy.
Our ministry theme for contemplation this month is healing. At its origin, healing denotes “returning to wholeness” or restoring balance. We’ve been exploring this theme on Sunday mornings and in the many meetings and activities in the life of the church. It is a fitting topic for contemplation in this time of so much illness, death, and division in our culture. Developmental ministry is also a period of healing that invites us to practice living by our liberal religious faith and moving from a place of woundedness to greater health as a congregation. Our community has made great strides in that regard, and the journey of healing continues. My experience is that the pandemic has brought our community closer together and has helped us to set aside many of the differences and divisions as we face a common threat and prioritize what really matters in a beloved community.
Our congregation is moving forward with many of our plans for the year as we continue to adapt to learning how to minister to each other and our world in this unique time. We’ve established our Intersectional Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Commission, launched our Chalice Circles small group ministries, are forming a Bylaws Refresh Committee, and are continuing to build out a more comprehensive model of pastoral care, in addition to a multitude of other congregational initiatives. We practice what we call shared ministry because we understand that ministry is the work of the whole congregation. We need your involvement and commitment to be as successful as possible this year. There are three important upcoming opportunities for service I’d like to highlight this month:
Reimagining Religious Education Together
Sunday, December 6th, Noon-3pm
Help us Reimagine Religious Education with this lively and interactive workshop, where Cleo, Rev. Jeremiah, and religious exploration leaders and volunteers will join together to engage the congregation’s mission to set a path forward for religious education and family support at UUSM. We will explore how, in these unprecedented times, we can draw on our abilities for deep care, abounding creativity, and a shared commitment to community in our religious education. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet our new UUA regional partner, Dr. Messlia James, who will help to facilitate this program. Please email Cleo if you would like to participate or have questions.
UUSM Fundraising Committee
Thank you for your generous financial support of our beloved community. These are particularly challenging times as we are losing significant regular income due to our inability to serve the larger community as a rentals center or to host our major annual fundraiser, Dining for Dollars. If you’re able to provide some additional financial support beyond annual pledges, we truly appreciate it. We’ve already had to make some significant changes to our staffing to offset our losses and adapt to changes in our staffing needs during this pandemic. We are in the process of organizing a Fundraising Committee to develop creative ways for us to raise funds in safe ways to support our community in this challenging year. If you have experience in fundraising or are inspired to explore serving the congregation in this way, I invite you to contact me about possibly joining this group of committed community leaders.
Hunger Task Force
From Lois Hutchinson and Jacki Weber
Are you seeing hunger all around you, but you don’t know what to do? Join a newly re-forming Hunger Task Force and put your values into action, helping families and others who don’t have enough to eat. UUSM Members have been working independently to support needy households, but there’s so much more that could be done. And we could have more fun in service together (at a safe social distance, of course). You can offer food, time, or money and make a real difference. To learn more, please email Hunger@UUSM.com today.
As always, if you or a loved one is in need of pastoral support, please contact our Pastoral Care Team at email@example.com.
Hope is on the horizon.
Yours in ministry,
Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae
Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica