Tucsonitarian Home Page

December 2018

The monthly newsletter of the

Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson

4831 E. 22nd Street, Tucson, AZ 85711, 520-748-1551, www.uuctucson.org.

To view previous editions of the newsletter, click here.

Newsletter editor: Craig Rock at newsletter@uuctucson.org.

Send us your editorials, stories, poems and photos.

Sculpture Gardens, Joslyn Museum, Omaha

December Worship Schedule

Sculpture Gardens, Joslyn Museum, Omaha

Dec.2 Rev. Matthew Crary, "The Season of Dark and Light" (Baja 4 pulpit share), Worship Asssociate (W.A.) Kat Nickola.

Dec.9 Rev. Bethany, "When Mysteries Become Miracles: Resistance and Resilience and Other Themes from the Hannukah Story, W.A. Bob Gordon.

Dec.16 Rev. Bethany and Jamili Omar, Solstice/ Intergenerational, W.A. Betsy Mcmillan.

Dec.23 Rev. Bethany, "Blue Holidays: The Emotions of the Holidays, Especially Sadness," W.A. Celeste Rogers.

Dec.24 5:00 p.m., Rev. Bethany and Jamili Omar, "Each Night a Child is Born Is a Holy Night." Children/family service. W.A. Kat Nickola.

Dec. 24 7:00 p.m. TBA, W.A. Brian Moon.

Dec.30 Rev.Jordin Nelson Long, TBA, W.A. Bert Meek.


A Guide to Helping

Asylum Seekers and Others

by Craig Rock

In this issue of the Tucsonitarian, you will find several articles and resources providing background information on humanitarian efforts to assist asylum seekers who have passed their "credible fear" interview with immigration authorities. They are waiting for a court date and a final determination, often two or more years in the future. They stay at various Tucson churches for a few days awaiting travel funds from their sponsors, often family members who live around the country. A dozen UUCT members have volunteered to assist local churches in caring for these guests at shelters set up on their church grounds. This is one way in which church groups assist in what's been termed "accompaniment programs." See the article of page 4 on ways you can help asylum seekers through our UUCT team working with local church programs.

"Credible Fear"

A "credible fear," is legally based on a fear of persecution by asylum seekers because of their race, religion, nationality, political views, or membership in a particular group. The asylum seeker and sometimes family members often apply for protection at our ports of entry or apply when they surrender or are arrested after illegal entry into this country.

According to the UU group Love Resists, "Accompaniment programs can make a real difference in our immigration and criminal justice systems. Accompaniment helps stop deportations, reduce bond fees, and keep families together.....More and more congregations are looking for ways to do this effectively; to resist the current administration’s racist actions and to stop unnecessary deportations. ICE and court accompaniment programs enable supporters to journey alongside people fighting for their own freedom and dignity, and hold the system accountable. In our immigration and criminal justice systems that often results in unjust outcomes, accompaniment programs can make a real difference. "On page 4 of this newsletter, you will find other ways to become involved in programs recommended by UUA's Love Resists.

In addition to this newly created UUCT team, our congregation is the fiscal agent for No More Deaths (NMD), whose volunteers have been providing desert aid to lost border crossers, and to Keep Tucson Together, a subgroup of NMD which provides legal assistance and citizenship training to local residents who are threatened with deportation. No More Deaths also monitors the U.S. Border Patrol, documenting such practices as excessive force, interfering with humanitarian aid, and separating family members. Information and links to the work of No More Deaths and the Samaritans are also on page 4.

From the UUA website:

A Cause for Thanksgiving?

by Reverend Daniel Gregoire

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.”

—Marcus Garvey

Living in the beautiful hill country of central Massachusetts, in the very heart of New England, it feels like history is very close to the surface: ever present and alive.

History is very present with me now, as we approach an anniversary in our national and religious history: 2020 will mark the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower at Provincetown, and then Plymouth, here in Massachusetts.

The mythos attached to that fateful day serves as the basis for the Thanksgiving holiday many of us will celebrate this week — although others will rightfully mark the holiday with mourning, and with tributes to the peoples who were nearly wiped out by imperialism.

All of this converges into history that is still present and impossible to escape. Most of us are not Pilgrims, Puritans, Colonists or even Christian, yet the legacy of those traditions are still with us. They compose the roots of the institutions we have built up and sustain.

Still, too many would prefer to ignore certain aspects of Thanksgiving. Why mar the image we have of ourselves as blameless, as good people, by bringing up this complex and tragic chapter — one of far too many — in our history?

This intersection of history and culture leaves me with ambivalence and discomfort, but it feels generative. I’m strangely excited about this particular moment of discomfort, because something new could come out of it; something like healing. This is our opportunity to reimagine what Thanksgiving could be — and by extension, who we could be.

What would it mean to mourn with those who are mourning? What would it mean to jettison the mythos of Thanksgiving, and even replace the traditional meal with a vigil in Plymouth led by the United American Indians of New England? (If you can’t join me in Plymouth, perhaps you’ll join me in spirit by asking these questions.)

Our knowledge of the wrongs of the past, and the knowledge of the unearned benefits that inevitably come from those wrongs, might help us to build true, lasting, and more authentic relationships both today and in the future... and that will be a cause for thanksgiving.


Spirit of Life, God of roots and branches, we don’t know how we’ve come to this place, but here we are. Help us to be wise as well as compassionate, persevering, and courageous in this moment, so that we might be worthy of the challenges that lay before us, and grateful for the communities we are called to restore. Amen.

About the Author

Rev. Daniel Gregoire is the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Grafton and Upton in Grafton, MA. He loves being a guide to those on spiritual journeys and a companion to all in life transitions.

PREVIOUS: The Kindness of Others

Daniel Gregoire

Newsletter Contents

Page 1 - Worship Schedule ; Messages from Reverend Bethany and Frank Valdes; A Guide to Helping Asylum Seekers; A Cause for Thanksgiving; Prayer for Accompaniment.

Page 2 - Finance Report; Funding Dreams; Announcements, Owl Schedule of Classes.

Page 3 - Maya Ortiz Artists for Hire; Toy Drive; Balkan Peace Group.

Page 4 - UUCT Groups Helps Asylum Seekers; Volunteers needs ofNo More Deaths and the Samaritans; Borders Fair; Love Resists Strategies; Creating Sanctuary Everywhere.

Reverend Bethany's Message

Our theme in worship this month is “mystery,” which is a fitting topic to consider this month across many world traditions.

In Christianity, the season of Advent is about to begin. This is a season of waiting. For the birth of Jesus, traditionally. And also for whatever it is we are waiting for in our lives. Mystery lies ahead, Advent reminds us. Lean into that mystery.

In Judaism, the miracle of Hannukah reminds us each year of the potential for mysteries to become miracles. How does a small amount of oil last for eight nights? It could remain a mystery, or it could become a miracle. A miracle is not something that happens against science. A miracle is an unknowable thing which we turn our attention towards because the very mystery of that thing gives us hope.

In pagan traditions, around the winter solstice, we contemplate the balance of light and dark. We encounter mysteries in the darkness. These mysteries remind us of that which brings us hope.

What mysteries are you leaning into these days? What mysteries have become miracles for you? What is mystery teaching you about hope in this turn of the Earth?

SAVE THE DATE for the Installation of Rev. Bethany Russell-Lowe on Saturday, January 19th at 2 PM

This important event will take place on in Holland Sanctuary. UU clergy and laity from Tucson and across Arizona will come to celebrate this occasion. In congregations, an installation is a worship service which happens near the beginning of a new settled ministry to mark that new relationship between minister and congregation, and to celebrate the potential for the shared ministry. Rev. Sunshine Jeremiah Wolfe, who was a member and on staff at UUCT 15 years ago, whom Rev. Bethany worked with in Syracuse, will be preaching. Please RSVP to Mary (office@uuctucson.org) if you plan to attend and if you need childcare. We hope everyone can join us for this event!

Our Executive Board and Hot Topics

by Frank Valdes, UUCT's President

What are the hot topics for your Executive Board? Wait. First, what is an Executive Board? Every third Wednesday your elected Board of Trustees meets to plan, discuss, and make decisions. But we do not meet in isolation. We include your minister, administrator, and religious education director, who participate in every way but official Board motions. We are a team of various portfolios and areas of ministry and administrative expertise.

How should we refer to this team? It becomes tedious to always spell out the Board, minister, administrator, and RE director. So I have come to refer to this governance team as the Executive Board. I know that those of you that have been around for three years or more remember our previous governance model of an "Executive Team" and the concerns this raised. The Executive Board is different in that it is a much larger team with the primary authority within your elected Portfolio Board, but with your called minister and staff who all make this church work. The important points I'm raising here about governance are that we should not be afraid of the word executive and we need to recognize the reality that planning, decision-making, and governance are shared endeavors.

So back to the hot topics for the Executive Board. We have talked about our top strategic focus with a consensus that religious education is a very high priority. We are considering a broad range of options for dealing with a growing congregation, especially with regard to Sunday attendance. We engaged in a dialog about our philosophies over fear and the reality of bad actors in our current social climate. And at our mini-retreat during the Start-up Workshop we worked on understanding the roles and responsibilities within our Executive Board and all the other stakeholders such as our Music Director, committees, and the congregation. (By the way, the attendance at the Start-up Workshop was excellent and people tell me that it was a wonderful experience. Thank you for making this a success and welcoming and helping to bring Rev. Bethany into the shared experiences of our history and unwritten rules.)

All of these topics are ongoing and we will engage you later in the process. These are, of course, not the only topics we address and a short mention includes finances and stewardship, our work with No More Deaths, and being an even more inclusive faith.

Our Board meetings are open to all, but remember the 3rd Sunday Call to the Congregation forums where you can hear more about what is being discussed, ask questions, and raise new topics. As always, you can talk at any time to your Board members, the minister, and staff about your thoughts and concerns.


The following poem/prayer by Reverend Elizabeth Nguyen expresses her feelings about helping those in distress and being helped herself in the past. "Rev. Nguyen roots for the Wisconsin Badgers, lives in Boston, and is learning about courage, singing, cowardice and prayer. She is the senior strategist with UUA's Side of Love. She is queer Vietnamese-American and proud Midwesterner."


Prayer for Accompaniment

by Reverend Elizabeth Nguyen

Spirit of alongside, right there with you, in this thing together

Remind me of a time when I was struggling.

When I was sick or lost or in shock or exhausted or in grief.

And someone came to accompany me.

I remember what they did and whether it

soothed me,

centered me,

pissed me off,

wounded me,

Whether they wanted details so they could judge me or

tell stories of how they helped.

Whether they left when it got really messy.

Whether they had more pity than love.

Or whether they knew how to cut through it and

be a tender, solid human beside me.

Accompany is a fancy word for what we would do for friends, family,

a co-worker's cousin, a kid's best buddy.

When I go with someone -- to court, to an ICE check-in, to jail, to the hospital,

to the school, to meet with the probation officer or lawyer or the social worker.

May I accompany others, knowing how I wish to be accompanied.

May I accompany others how they wish to be accompanied.