Rev. Bethany Russell-Lowe
This comic came across my social media feed recently. In this comic, a line of people are walking down a paved road in a barren desert. Off the path are animal bones and even a saguaro. In the middle of the comic, the road forks. Above that fork in the road is a sign that says “ANSWERS” with two arrow shaped signs under it. The arrow to the left says “SIMPLE BUT WRONG.” The vast majority of the people are following this path, walking directly off a cliff. The arrow to the right, which has a bookshelf under it, says “COMPLEX BUT RIGHT.” Many fewer people are following this winding path off the edge of the comic, each with their head buried in a book.
I’m sure it was one of my Unitarian Universalist friends who posted this. We are a people who are drawn towards complex answers. And books. And beingright. But, to be fair, it is only human to feel right.
I love complexity. I wouldn’t have pursued Unitarian Universalist ministry if I didn’t. And I wonder: Are Unitarian Universalists too quick to dismiss simplicity? Often, when our religious educator, Jamili, asks a question in our Time for All Ages, I think, “I could write a whole sermon on that!” Inevitably, one of our children quickly pipes up with a simpler answer than I could ever muster. And when I am, emotionally, in a barren place and near the edge of the cliff, as depicted in the comic, I need a simple answer to ground me.
Is the simplest answer always wrong? Is the complex answer always right? Who does this dualism benefit, anyway?
After some time sitting with these questions, I am more curious what community lies beyond this comic. Where do those who chose the journey of “Complex But Right” end up? How does that newly formed community address the complexity of claiming they are always right? Do they acknowledge that complexity can come from something other than book-learning? This simple comic seems to privilege that over other types of learning…
I am more curious about where the winding road of complexity leads. Because I believe that it is in diverse community, not in isolation, that we encounter the type of complexity that challenges the universality of what is “right” over and over again. Rumi described this complex, and breath-awakening space, when he wrote: “Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, / there is a field. I’ll meet you there. / When the soul lies down in that grass, / the world is too full to talk about.”
Don’t give up on complexity. Don’t give up your books, if you love them. But do question the speed at which you claim to be so right, so often.
My hope for us is that we can become a people who are slower to claim right-ness, and also quicker to seek to understand complexity. That is the only way we will have a chance of glimpsing Beloved Community.
Covenanting Workshop on November 9thfrom 9 AM – 12 PM
All members and friends of UUCT are encouraged to attend a workshop where we will begin to re-create our congregation’s covenant. In this workshop, we will think together about what our congregation values, collect our individual and collective ideas, and then send a group off to wordsmith and later present a covenant which reflects our shared aspirations and agreements. Childcare will be provided, contact Jamili if you will need childcare. All are welcome and encouraged to attend!
Introducing…your Healthy Congregations Team!
At last year’s Annual Meeting, you voted to temporarily take the conflict resolution task away from the Committee on Ministry. The Board proposed forming a Healthy Congregations Team whose specific task is to engage in conflict resolution and transformation work. The Board has found five (!!) willing volunteers: Aston Bloom, Bob Gordon, Burt Meek, Carolyn Cooper, Marsha Newcomb. Come meet the team, learn more about their role, and ask questions of the team and the Board of Trustees at the Town Hall on November 17that 12:15 in Holland.
JD Garcia - VP Finance
This month, we had a total income of $81,805 and total expenses of $54,123, for a net inflow of $27,682. But, as usual, these numbers are transitory as they include such things as a payment in advance of $30,373 for future wages for our NMD Ministry, income from our Community Life Utah trip, with expenses yet to come, etc.
Thus, If we want to get a feeling for trends, the year-to-date (YTD) numbers in the attachment may provide a better sense of direction, though the same cautions apply. It is a little too early to have numbers that indicate what is in store for us financially.
Pledge income continues a bit sluggishly. We have had a couple of vandalism and accidental events which have added expenses that were not budgeted on the order of $8,000 - $10,000, but all in all we seem to be in relatively good condition (or at least recoverable).
The Finance Committee (FC) met on September 7th. Heather Reed was present, has asked to be a member of the Committee and FC approved.
The FC is recommending going forward with the electrical repairs in Goddard and recommends the funds be taken from the Donations Funds. The repair of the eaves in Holland Hall are nearly complete, also taken from Donations, in the amount of $3,750. We have two such funds, for a total of $19,462.
See the Recommendations from the Facilities Group for the electric repairs. The Facilities Group also asked for guidance on the lower limit for expenditures that should not just go into the operating budget, but needed to be brought to the FC for a recommendation for funding sources. The budget is relatively tightly set, so the FC recommended $1000 as the starting point.
Why We Host Mata Ortiz Pottery Sales
Julia Mehrer and
Perhaps you have wondered why UUCT holds an annual Mata Ortiz pottery sale. For this church it is a matter of economic justice that becomes very clear once you know something of the history and background of this pottery-making village located in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, known as the village of Juan Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua
The town was originally established as “Pearson” during the Porfirio Díaz
presidency in the late 19th century after
a British-owned corporation
opened a rail line from the town to El Paso, Texas. The community’s economy was based on agriculture, timber and cattle. A sawmill opened, attracting workers from many Mexican areas looking for jobs.
After the Mexican Revolution
much of the land was redistributed to the people who worked it under the ejido
system of communally-held land and the town’s name was changed to honor Juan Mata Ortiz, a local hero.
Rail work ended in the 1960s when the repair yard was relocated to Nuevo Casas Grandes
, and the sawmill ceased to function, leading to the town’s decline, which continued until the 1980s. Workers who had relocated to Mata Ortiz were now unemployed and earned a scarcely
livable wage by working in the orchards of the nearby Mormon community, or gathering firewood to sell.
There were no restaurants, no banks, no supermarkets, no hotels and the community remains the same today.
One young man named Juan Quezada fed his family by gathering wood from the nearby mountains. But he was fascinated with the ancient pottery and shards he found in the hills and began trying to create pottery in the style of the ancient “Casas Grandes” culture as was seen in the nearby archaeological ruins of Paquimé.
He found a source of clay in the nearby hills, and began an attempt at creating low-fired pottery. He would put the semi-finished pot on top of dried, burning cattle dung and invert a metal pail over it to serve as an oven.
The rest of the story is legend. He became successful and shared his knowledge with not only his own family, but all the other unemployed citizens of the community, who began making decorative pots from the 3 colors of clay found in the hills.
The pots kept getting more and more elaborate and highly decorated and included the imagination of the potters.
Juan Mata Ortiz became a successful village of over 400 potters. The pottery allowed the residents to provide necessities like electricity, plumbing, vehicles and better education to the inhabitants.
However, when violence erupted along the Mexico/southern US border, the US government issued a travel warning and suddenly nearly every wage-earner in the community was out of work and searching for ways to feed their families. Some went back their old ways or moved away.
However, some of the potters struggle on.Today women of all talent and expertise levels run a women’s pottery cooperative in the old train station.
These are the families who make the pots that Ana Trillo and Julio Mora and their families bring to UUCT to sell.
At one point it was decided by UUCT that our aiding these families in the sale was a mission of economic justice. We do not charge them a commission to aid their community in this way. Nevertheless, each of the 2 families who transport the pottery donates a hand-thrown pot to the church, which we normally sell at our auction for the benefit of the church.
We have been having one sale a year of their pottery since about 2007. We took a TUUR down to the town in 2008, and look forward to doing that again when the restrictions on travel ease.
Our next sale is December 8, 2019. Please help spread the word to everyone you know who might want to see a demonstration of how the pots are made and painted.
This pottery is sold in museums and gift shops throughout the U.S. and internationally, but the best prices can be found at UUCT where you are able to buy directly from the potters.
Please help support the talented artisans of Mata Ortiz!
Book Club Thursday, November 21st
The next UU Book Club will meet Thursday November 21st at 9:30 am at the home of Margo Newhouse. The group is readingMy Time Among the Whites: Notes From an Unfinished Education by Capo Crucet.
November Worship Services
Nov. 3 Rev. Bethany "When Walls Crumble" WA Brenda Lundt
Nov.10 Jamili Omar "Rest as Resistance" WA Bert Meek
Nov. 17 Rev. Bethany "Truthfulness as Kindness"
WA Preston McMillan
Nov. 24 Rev. Bethany "Our Hearts Broken Open"
WA Howard Tolley
What is an 'Alternative Worship'
Our year-long experiment in offering a worship service in the evening kicked off on Oct. 24 with a service called “Heart Space!" We gathered on the patio for thoughtful reflection on the question “How is your heart?”
Please join us in future months in this dynamic, all-ages space. Our theme this year is “the body” and each month we will reflect on questions about how we relate to a different body part – as a metaphor for our internal, spiritual, emotional lives, of course!
Each service begins at 5:30 pm with a Bring Your Own dinner to eat with friends. At 6 pm, we will start a 45-minute service with a dessert potluck after. When the weather cooperates, we’ll drag out the fire pit and toast marshmallows!
Our tentative and evolvingschedule is:
· Nov 14 –Stomach Space: Feeding our Hearts and Bodies
· Dec. 12—Listening Space: Storytelling Session
· Jan 23 - Lung Space: Take a Breath
· Feb 27 - Spleen Space: You Are Not Alone
· March 26 - Bone Space: What’s Your Core?
· April 16 - Brain Space: What Do You Think?
· May 21 - Empty Space: How Do We Say Goodbye?
More from Jamili...
Dates and Details for2nd HourEvents
In this year of experimentation, 2nd Hour is an answer to the call to offer more opportunities for adults to learn, grow, and deepen in understanding, community, connection, and service through community-led workshops.
Offerings will vary every month, so watch the weekly email for details including descriptions and age restrictions.
Thank you to everyone who is helping to make2nd Hoursuch a success. From those teaching to those attending, we couldn’t do this without you! To help you plan a little bit, I’m including all the dates for the rest of the year.
If you have a skill, hobby, personal interest, knowledge, or even just a line of inquiry you want to discuss with others, we’ll add you to the schedule!
* Do I hear that someone wants to talk about the sermon topic?Do it during 2nd Hour!
* I know you have a craft you love to help others with!Do it during 2nd Hour!
* What about that TED Talk you’ve watched a dozen times and want to finally have the chance to discuss?Do it during 2nd Hour!
We LOVE our teaching volunteers!
· Nov. 10, 2019
· Dec. 8, 2019
· Jan. 12, 2020
· Feb. 9, 2020
· March 8, 2020
· April 12, 2020
· May 10, 2020
Deepen faith. Strengthen connections. Serve others.
Welcoming and MembershipTeam
We welcome you to join our congregation as a member!
An official opportunity to join will occur November 17 in the minister's study immediately after church. Please see a member of the Welcoming and Membership Team or Rev. Bethany if you plan to join.
Calling all Newcomers
UU Orientation at UUCT
The next New to UU Breakfast and Orientationwill be held on Saturday, November 16th from 9 to 11:30 am in the sanctuary, Holland Hall.
All folx new to the UUCT community are welcome to attend. There will be a light breakfast, time to meet new people and opportunities to learn about UU and UUCT.
Social Justice Council
Opportunities and Events
Leaders of twenty nonprofit organizations offered information, inspiration, and volunteer opportunities at UUCT’s first annualOpportunity Sundayfair on Oct. 24. Judy Jessing, Joan Feldman, Sue Watts and Leslie earned rave reviews for the well-run event. UUCT’s Share the Plate recipients attended, plus others. Some comments:
- Not only are we meeting so many different UUCT people but we are networking among ourselves and seeing how we can support each other in the future.
- Really impressed with UUCT and Rev. Bethany and plan to come back on a personal level and maybe even join.
- Thank you for the nice invitation from the kitchen folks for inviting us to snacks and beverages.
Holiday card campaign
Members of the Social Justice Council will be hosting a holiday card party to help those in detention who may feel forgotten. UUCT members will fill out the cards with messages in Spanish that say:
· Keep fighting for your dreams.
· You are not alone.
· You are brave.
· God bless you.
· I hope you feel God’s presence during this difficult time
Casa Mariposa will deliver the cards received by Dec. 10 to people in the Eloy Detention Center.
Eloy Visitation with UUJAZ/Puente Project
UUJAZ Jeanine Gelsinger is coordinating with UU congregations in Tucson and Phoenix to visit people in the Eloy Detention Center. We UUs will be trained and guided by leaders of the Phoenix-based Puente Human Rights Movement.
Maria Castro with Puente said her group has reunited 463 families. Arizona UUs will be involved in one Eloy visit per month.
About 100 Arizona UUs learned from social justice leaders with the UUA and the UU College of Social Justice at a 1-day workshop at the UU Church of Surprise (AZ).
In the photo, from left, Dorothy Reynolds, Vince Pawlawski, Margi Magruder, Rev. Bethany Russell-Lowe and Rex Graham attended workshops on relating UU theology to justice work, Outlawing Dirty Money, climate justice, the Puente Human Rights Project at the Eloy Detention Facility, and much more.
ART SHOW OF
"HOPE AND HEALING"
The church is pleased to present a special show in Holland Sanctuary, beginning on November 10. You will be surprised when you arrive by the transformation of the space, with a show of art curated by Valarie Lee James and Gale Hall.
The artworks, made by migrant children mostly from Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico, are amazing, and are displayed as simple drawings or on quilts made by the Esperanza Quilters.
The day of the opening there will be a reception after the church service, and Valarieand Gale Quilts will lead a brief tour of the show.
Building the World We Dream About...
Is a curriculum to help us navigate racism that is built in to our world.
The first 8 weeks have been a wonderful experience of encountering ideas in covenanted relationship, and we heartily invite new participants to join us for the next 8-week session as we continue the 24-week journey.
Bring a friend, too! We ask that you attend an introductory workshop to offer some of the materials and concepts we have already explored on Thursday October 31 from 6-8 pm, in the Emerson room.
The 8-week session actually begins on Thursday Nov 14, and continues Nov. 21, Dec. 5, 12, 19, Jan. 2, 9, 16. The final 8-week session will follow.
I first came to UUCT in the fall of 2010. Years before I had participated in a UU Fellowship in North Dakota but had never attended a Sunday Service at a UU Church.
My wife found UUCT after we moved to Tucson. I was terrified, but I went. I didn’t want to stand up when they asked for first time visitors to stand, but I did.
It was hard to say “hi” to those around me when we were asked to “turn and greet your neighbor." I got through that part too.
I still remember where we were sitting in Holland and I’ll never forget being moved to tears as the sermon somehow validated my views and healed a wounded part of my soul.
I don’t remember what the service was about but I do remember a vivid feeling that I had found a spiritual home.
In the years since I’ve taught RE classes for preschool, served as Usher and Worship Associate, helped lead a mini capital campaign and worked alongside other members in support of church activities.
As one of your newest Board Members I’m learning about the work it takes to serve in a new way.
As we began the new church year one of our Board priorities was to create a Board Covenant, a commitment or agreement of how we want to treat each other. As a group, we spent about two hours on this at the August Board Retreat and another 30 minutes at the September meeting. We finalized it at the October meeting.
This was time well spent as we prioritized our ideas and values going forward. Our Board covenant will help guide us forward in everything we do and especially in times of potential conflict where we can refer to this to help everyone have a voice in a way that respects individual opinion. Below is what we developed for this church year.
We, the 2019-20 Board of Trustees agree to covenant to:
- Be courteous to one another
- Listen in order to understand
- Honor differences of opinion
- Keep confidentiality
- Stay on topic
- Discuss ideas, not people
- Bring concerns forward
- Speak directly to one another
- Assume good intentions
- Be open to criticism that is well-meaning
- Share the work and follow through on our commitments
- Maintain healthy boundaries
- Respect Board decisions
- Focus on goals for our congregation
- Remember to share appreciations for the congregation
On Saturday November 9th, from 9 am to 12 pm Rev. Bethany will facilitate a Congregational Covenant Workshop to help us more clearly define how we will approach working with each other and serving our community.
Please plan to attend and contribute your ideas about what we value as a community and what might be important to consider.
Arts andCraft Fair
Susan Call and Margot Garcia
This is the month of the Arts and Crafts Fair. All you creative persons, we are looking forward to your contributions, including authors. There are a few places left for your creations.
SHOPPERS, We need YOU! Come and support our local creativity.
On Saturday, November 23, the doors open at 9 am to 4 pm for shopping.
Remember to be there early for the best offerings. These are all unique, one-of-a-kind items and when they are gone, there is not another one just like it.
Here is the routine. You find what you want and take it to a salesperson who has a receipt book. They write up a ticket and keep the item. You go to the cashier with two copies of the sales slip and pay. The cashier marks the sales slip paid and hands you one copy. You take it back to where your items are, show it to the person and retrieve your goods.
Sunday, November 24, the fair opens at 9:00 until 1:30 pm.
UUCT Care Team
Need a 'virtual' Hug?
Do you know someone who is ill, alone or
would appreciate a visit or call?
Care Team Seeks a
Recently, there has been an uptick in the number of people asking for rides to church on Sunday morning.
There are many reasons why someone needs a ride to church: they don’t have access to reliable transportation on Sunday mornings, they have chosen to stop driving, and more.
The Care Team is looking for a volunteer (or two!) who might be willing to create, implement, and run a rides program so that those who need a ride to church can be matched with people who live in their neighborhood who can give them a ride to church.
Once again we plan to decorate the sanctuary for the holidays with beautiful poinsettias from Green Things Nursery. These healthy, lush plants are grown here in Tucson and so do well in our climate. Many last for more than a year and can be planted outdoors in a protected location. But because of cold snaps, they do better as house plants.
Large 6"plants will cost is $10, and can be ordered on November 3rd or 10th to honor or remember loved ones. They will be on display in Holland throughout the month of December, and you can take your lovely blooms home after our Christmas Service. Each order will earn several dollars for the church, so be generous and buy lots of flowers. If you do not want to take your plant (or plants) home, they will be delivered to a nursing home.
If you have questions, contact Nancy McKean at
What a great time twenty-four members and friends of UUCT had on the recent
At our first stop in Arcosanti we learned about a visionary work of architect Paolo Soleri to build the "city of tomorrow," and the work that is being done to sustain his dreams of improving urban conditions while minimizing their destructive impact on the earth. Little know fact: UUCT once had an Arcosanti bell in our tower next to Holland that was stolen! The bells are still cast on site to fund the Arcosanti project.
As we traveled onto Zion (yes, the spiritual impact of this beautiful park warrants the biblical name given the area by the early Mormon settlers), some of us spotted one or two of the four California condors that roost under Navajo Bridge which spans the Colorado River. Later at a ranger talk in Zion National Park we learned much more about thes amazing birds and the remarkable story of their comeback from the brink of extinction. We also spotted another mother condor on one of our hikes in the park encouraging her offspring to fly.
Our bird watcher Janet Moore had to bring Connie the Condor home with her from the Park gift shop.
We saw amazing scenery everywhere we went, so it is hard to say which was best--Zion or Bryce Canyon! But probably the most amazing place we visited was Antelope Canyon on the Navajo reservation near Page, Az.
After Antelope Canyon, we toured the Glen Canyon Dam, and then headed to Gone West, a fun restaurant, for a farewell dinner and a birthday celebration for one of the group, Nancy Polster. Again thanks to all who traveled with us. It was a great trip!
Editors note: The edges of the newsletter and many of the photos throughout were submitted by Carolyn Saunders from the trip.
STAY TUNED - THERE IS ALWAYS MORE AT UUCT!!
Social Justice Council
Opportunities and Events
Sign up for Dec. 11 trip to Agua Prieta, Mexico
UUCT's Social Justice Council is leading a field trip to the Cafe Justo coffee-bean-roasting facility in Agua Prieta. The church sells this superb coffee every Sunday as a way to benefit growers in Chiapas, Mexico and to enjoy their shade-tree, USDA-certified organic, sustainably grown coffee.
Consider buying coffee as Holiday gifts for friends and family.
for online registration, or sign up at UUCT coffee table on Sunday.
Passport or Travel ID required. Coverage with most U.S. car insurance covers claims up to 50 miles south of the border.
Here is the schedule:
· Leave UUCT via carpool at 8 a.m., on Dec. 11
· Arrive in Douglas about 9:45 a.m.
· Caravan to the roasting facility in Agua Prieta
· Tour the roasting facility 10-11 a.m.
· Carpool to the Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee, AZ
· Lunch noon-1:30
· Return to UUCT by 4 p.m.
Wondering what to do with your kids over Rodeo break in February?
We have a great idea for you.
Bring them to Chalice Camp!
We are planning an 8:30 to 5:30 program for children from kindergarten or 6 years old through 5thgrade or 11 years old on February 20, 21, and 22.
The program of story, music, activities, games, and food will be based around a study of Jesus, the Carpenter’s Son on Thursday and Friday with the story of Joseph and his Coat of Many Colors, the focus of Saturday.
Here is the opportunity to have your children experience and learn about important figures in the Judeo-Christian culture that permeate our culture and literature.
Those in 7thgrade or 11 years and older are invited to be junior counselors with an extra half day on a Saturday for training.
Watch this space for more details as they develop!
Jamili Omar, DRE