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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.

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Send us your editorials, stories, poems and photos.

Photo by Craig Rock
Analysis and Opinion
Justice News on the Borderlands
by Craig Rock

First, I want to thank everyone for making the Seattle Peace Chorus (SPC) performance so successful on January 31. More than $2,100 was raised for Tucson church shelters that house asylum seekers. Special thanks, of course, to the Seattle Peace Chorus, for adding the event to their Borderlands tour, which included performing, volunteering, and raising awareness about important human rights issues. In addition to Tucson, the SPC's tour included San Antonio, Texas, and Riverside, California. (Photos on page 5.) The program included original pieces created by their music director, Frederick West (We are the Future and the Past, There's been a great injustice and Requiem for Felipe Gomez Alonzo and Jakelin Caal Maquin). Many of the songs related to the plight of the stranger, the traveler, the migrant. For example, chorus nember Doug Balcom's Bridges Not Walls:

They tell me you’re too different;
They tell me, “Be afraid.”
They tell me you would threaten
This lovely home we’ve made.

But all of us are different;
It makes our country strong.
Embracing all the difference,
We welcome you with song:

You are my sister, you are my friend;
Your right to stay here I will defend.
My Haitian brother, now hear my call:
It’s time to build bridges, not walls! 


Lyrics to this and other songs they sang can be found by clicking here. Their press release describing the tour and their philosophy can be found on page 3 of this newsletter.  

Pablo Peregrina's opening set was a moving performance, especially the song about Josseline Quinteros, a 14-year-old Salvadoran girl found dead in the Arizona desert in 2008. Try to support Pablo's personal quest on human rights issues by attending his local performances and/or buying his CD. Email me if you want to order it or if you want more information (newsletter@uuctucson.org). Another local musician, Larry Worster, added to the event significantly with his bass. He often performs in the Sahaurita/Green Valley area. We hope they all come back again.
Near Capacity Audience in Holland Sanctuary

Our church and MVUU co-sponsored the event after our social justice council group proposed it. Some of us were involved in getting the word out to nearby churches and Casa Alitas. A good number of UUCT members volunteer at a local church shelter and that church was successful in selling just as many tickets as we did. It was a great partnership. I toured the local Benedictine monastery on Country Club Road (now a temporary shelter), helping to set up volunteer opportunities for the SPC chorus members. Many volunteers from local shelters were in the audience as well. All profits from the evening are going to the shelters that participated in the event.  My opening remarks covered what UUCT and other volunteers do when they volunteer at churches hosting asylum seekers:

We facilitate the travel of asylum seekers, usually one parent and one child, who have passed their “credible fear” interview with ICE. They must have a sponsor, friend or family member, somewhere in the U.S.   While waiting for the sponsor-paid bus tickets, usually for a day or two, we cook dinners, wash laundry, clean up the living quarters, explain travel plans, take in and help distribute donated clothing, chauffeur guests from one local transportation point to another, sleep overnight in the shelters, and many other tasks.  Speaking Spanish is not required.

I asked the audience to keep in mind the many people affected by violence and poverty in Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and other countries: 

think of the asylum seekers who are on both sides of our southern border, some in shelters, some in U.S. detention camps, some in transit to a new life, many awaiting a court date that often results in their in being deported;

think of their families who were left behind;

think of the many who perished in the surrounding desert because of our government's policies.

Why Get Involved?

Volunteers work in the shelters for different reasons. I shared some of my history and involvement:

Thirty-five years ago I worked for Amnesty International. The saying in those days among staff was that the best thing that could happen to the organization was that it went out of business as soon as possible. The same could be said about No More Deaths, the Samaritans, Derechos Humanos, the Kino Border Initiative, and other human rights and environmental groups working on borderland issues. Unfortunately, with the current climate in Washington, especially in the White House, we see our country taking steps backwards in our struggle for Universal Human Rights.


We see it quite close to home now with the prosecution of aid volunteers of No More Deaths. There are yard signs available after Sunday service in Goddard if you don’t have one already. It reads Humanitarian Aid is Never a Crime, Drop the Charges.

The bigger picture, in my opinion, is that our country has been supporting foreign dictators in Latin America and around the world for way too many years.  Generations of concerned citizens of these countries have been murdered, tortured, imprisoned, or silenced if they wanted to live any semblance of normal life.  Public officials, journalists, women, and indigenous rights leaders are often the targets of violence. Corrupt leaders and drug lords have become entrenched in their societies.


And that’s one major reason why we have so many people at our borders. And that’s why we gathered at UUCT on the 31st. And that’s why we -- our churches, our non profits, and our people -- need to work more closely with each other. We need to share our vision and our resources when possible.

I explained to the audience that our newsletter is open to carrying people's articles, volunteer opportunities, and event notices, no matter what church they attend. I should have added that many of our ministers and lay leaders are working together on a vision statement and possible activities and actions.

In closing, special thanks to Howard Tolley for his advice and help on publicity. And thanks to the following people for their help last night and/or getting posters up around town: Aston, Carolyn, Georgia, Jan & Gregg Mulder, Lee, Lolita, Margi, Rex, and Rick. Thank you to all those who hosted the choir members in their homes.  Thank you. Kathy Hueser, for taking photos. And thanks to Mary in the office and Jesus for their help.

Suggested Reading: UU Minister Marilyn Sewell's article on radical hospitality. Here's an excerpt:

Radical hospitality. Radical means “out of the ordinary,” “revolutionary,” even. So what would it mean to receive someone—a stranger—with a presence that was not just polite, but to receive them with revolutionary generosity?

Hospitality is a word with a spiritual history, as a matter of fact. Monasteries grew up around the 5th century. Strangers in need could come there for care. The first primitive hospitals, in fact, began there. Hospital, hospice, hospitable, hospitality—all from the same root word, meaning generous, caring, sustaining. The most famous of these monasteries was that of St. Benedict. Benedict created a book of rules to live by, called The Rule of Benedict, which is used still today by many monasteries. The foundation of the rule is listening. “Listen with the ear of your heart,” Benedict writes.



Newsletter Contents

Page 1 - Messages from Reverend Bethany and the Board; Worship Schedule & Notes; Justice News on the Borderlands.

Page 2 - Stewardship Drive; Finance Report; Membership Report; Announcements from Groups (Leadership Positions Open, LGBTQAI News,  SAZCUUPS Updates, UU Day at the Legislature, Auction Dinner, Balkan Peace Group, and Open Mic)

Page 3 - Kitchen Ministry; Justice News (continued); Snippets and Links: War on Immigrants; About White Supremacy.

Page 4 - Traces of the Trade (Free Showing YWCA); UUJAZ Director Job Open; Farewell from Reverend Lisa.

Page 5 - Photos of Reverend Bethany's installation and the Seattle Peace Chorus presentation.


Let it Bloom
by Reverend Bethany Russell-Lowe


Photo by Kathy Hueser, More photos on Rev. Bethany's installation on page 5.


“Let it Bloom!” That is the theme of our stewardship campaign this year. And what a good theme! See page 2 for details.

There is so much in bloom here! From our growing membership to our overflowing nursery and preschool classrooms; from our newly formed Racial Justice Study Group to our UUCT members supporting hospitality for refugees and asylum seekers at a local shelter…! So much growth, and we are dwelling in the possibilities that might emerge from further growth. 

I am beginning to wonder about what would happen if we focus on the small blooms, in addition to the big growth. The smiles on Sunday mornings, the flowers which now adorn our Sanctuary, committees serving lunch once a month to relieve our Kitchen Ministry, the previously broken relationships which are put on the road to healing… 

In addition to my ask that will come later this month,* I have one request of you this February: think of someone who has helped grow something small in our congregation this year. And I mean small, because I want us to focus on the tiny buds of growth, in addition to the towering plants. Because blooms, while smaller in size than trees and cacti, feed bees with their pollen and sprout seeds that grow new plants. Blooms are the beginning of new growth, new life. That person who has sprouted a small blossom in our congregation this year… Will you thank them for what they have done? Will you thank them because it is a small thing? Thanking them is another bloom which will seed further appreciation and generosity, which all of us could use more of these days. 

If you take on this challenge, let me know how it went. I’d love to hear from you. - Rev. Bethany

* That other ask will be for your financial support through our stewardship campaign. If you believe in the transformative power of this community as much as I do, I know you will give as generously as you can. 

Alternative Worship Experiment 
Once a month for the remainder of the church year, UUCT will have an alternative worship service. These will be participatory and experimental worship services. We will start with a 45-minute family-friendly worship service followed by light snacks and time for socializing and/or deeper discussion of the worship topic. Some will be led by staff and many will be lay-led. Dates are: Thursday February 28th, Sunday March 31st, Thursday April 25th, and Sunday May 19th from 6-8 PM in Holland. Mark your calendars! Rev. Bethany will be kicking off these services on February 28th with a service that will focus on the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism. How did they come to be? How are they connected? And how we might live into them more fully?

Worship Schedule 
February and March

Feb.3    Rev. Bethany, "To Care for Another," focus on pastoral care
Feb.10  Guest speaker, TBA
Feb.17  Rev. Bethany, "When a Cactus Blooms," Stewardship Sunday
Feb.24  Brian Moon, All Music Sunday, intergenerational

Mar.3    Rev. Bethany, "Capital 'L' Love," intergenerational....how we can spread love in the world
Mar.10  Steve Kraynak, "This Is Me: Centering the Stories of Unitarian Universalists of Color"
Mar.17  Rev. Bethany, "Divine Mischief," eco justice today
Mar.24  Rev. Bethany, "To Each Their Own," feminism today
Mar.31  Bob Gordon, Reveille Men's Chorus, intergenerational...LGBTQ voices


Sermon Notes for February

February 3 - To Care for One Another - As the old saying goes, "It takes a village to care for a child." We maintain caring villages as adults, too. At times in our lives, we all need the care of others. How might we grow our caring village here at UUCT? How might we grow our care beyond our own walls? This service will include a ceremony to charge and bless our Care Team for the work they do to care for us. (Reverend Bethany)

February 10 - TBA

February 17 - When A Cactus Blooms - Desert plants were designed to protect their water. Prickly spines and sharp thorns effectively keep animals from taking their nutrients. And, when they are ready, cacti bloom! They offer their sweet nectar to the birds. Their fruit becomes food for humans and animals. People are like that, too. We protect what we need, and we offer our gifts when the time calls for that. How might we learn to offer our best selves to this congregation, and our world? (Reverend Bethany)

February 24 - Music Sunday with Brian Moon

February 28 - (Thursday) Our Seven Principles - Come experiment with us as we explore new ways of worshiping and being together! This service will focus on the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism -- how they came to be, how they are connected, and how we might live into them more fully. Join us at 6 PM for the service, followed by light snacks and the opportunity for both casual conversation and discussion of the topic. (Reverend Bethany)


From UUCT's Board of Trustees
by Brad Weeks, Religous Education Portfolio

Greetings from the UUCT Board of Trustees! You are probably very used to seeing this column penned by our Board President, Frank Valdes. As President, Frank has consistently written this column, chaired our Board meetings, and many other things for several years. At our last Board meeting, Frank proposed spreading these responsibilities among the Board members a bit more evenly, and that each month one Board member would take primary responsibility for chairing that month’s Board meeting and writing the monthly newsletter column. This way, not only can Frank have a well-deserved reprieve from having these responsibilities each and every month, but the rest of us get to learn more and contribute more fully.

When you think about it, this is really what belonging to a community like ours is all about. By sharing our joys, sorrows, and responsibilities, we can accomplish so much more - the sum of the parts is indeed greater than the whole.

In the next couple of months you'll have a couple of big opportunities to share. First, I invite everyone to join us for our annual auction on February 16th. If you have never been to the auction, it’s lots of fun, and in addition to many items, you’ll have the opportunity to bid on spots at dinners where you can be with friends and make new ones. Along with the upcoming stewardship campaign, the auction is one of the biggest opportunities to contribute to the financial care of the church.

There are many other ways that you can share in the work, and the joys, of UUCT, whether it be in Religious Education, Sunday services, or many other areas.  Three Board members have indicated they will be stepping down at the ends of their terms.  Consider volunteering to the Nominating Committee or saying yes if you are asked by them to serve in the areas the church needs.  The more we are all able to participate, the more we can accomplish together.  If you would like to find out more about volunteer opportunities, please contact the office or any Board member. Join us in the work of our community!