November 30, 2023

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This Sunday at VUU



Sunday, December 3, 2023

A Theology of the Stars

With Rev. Sarah and Amanda Schneider. As we begin a month exploring “mystery” we look at the relationship between science and religion and ask ourselves where theology, cosmology and astronomy meet. What can we learn at this intersection about our own purposes and possibilities? Music from the VUU choir and Family choir.  


Join Progress Arizona after the service to learn how to use their Megaphone app to amplify progressive voices across Arizona!

Article and registration link below.



  • Preschool (3/4 yr olds)
  • Kind/1st Grade
  • 2nd/3rd Grade
  • 4th/5th Grade
  • Middle School (6-8th)
  • High School (9-12th)

Haven't registered yet this year? Use this link

No children in Sanctuary, Pageant Rehearsal

See 2023-2024 Curriculum Here


8:30 am Meditation

9:00 am Discussion  

In person: Board Room

Via Zoom here

Join Us on YouTube 10:30 Sunday
Join the Zoom discussion after service here

Building Closure

The sanctuary will be closed beginning December 27 for Sanctuary Transformation Part Two! We anticipate about 3-4 weeks.

Plans for Sunday services beginning December 31 are TBD - watch here for details.

SAVE the DATES for UU Christmas services and activities:

December 6, 2023 6:00 p.m. Join the choir and DECORATE our Sanctuary. Of course we’ll sing while we decorate. We’ll have treats to share (calling all bakers and candy makers!) Have some decorations that need a new home? Bring them!  

December 10, 2023 Christmas Pageant featuring VUU kids!

December 24, 2023 Christmas EVE ****NO MORNING SERVICE******

3:00p Family Friendly Christmas Eve service “Stories, Songs and Santa!” Hosted by the Seiferth, Oglesby-Dunegan, and Beaudoin families. An intergenerational early service oriented toward families with younger children who have earlier bedtimes, shorter attention spans, and whose theology is one of cookies, Santa and stories about Santa, and fun songs. Wear your “holiday funware”–holiday pajamas or special outfits. Bring some cookies to share. We’ll have Santa and a beautiful spot to take a family photo (with or without Santa!) after the service. We’ll also have an exchange of stuffed animals for your child to choose a lovey to take home (bring one, take one and of course we’ll have extras in case someone forgets!)

7:00p Service Led by Rev. Sarah and an ensemble of singers, directed by Beth Wyman. A service oriented around adults and older children celebrating the beauty and magic of this season through classic music and messages that remind us of the connections between liberal Christianity and Unitarian Universalism through the traditional Christmas story. Of course, we also share a theology of pretty lights, cookies, and hot drinks (coffee/hot chocolate).  

Christmas Eve Help!

Looking to add one more thing to your holiday to-do list? Lucky you! The Coffee Team really needs your help in the VUU Kitchen on Christmas Eve.

Before the 3:00p Santa's Coming service: Help make hot drinks and set out snacks. Help clean up after the service.

Before the 7:00p Traditional Christmas Eve service: Help make coffee and set out cookies. Help clean up after the service.

To volunteer, click here. Questions? Contact Barb.

To help with Sunday morning hospitality, click here.

VUU Happenings

Love is our doctrine · Service is our prayer · Justice is our calling

See Articles Below For

Desert Notes

VUU Updates

Faith Formation

Joys & Concerns

Fellowship and Social Activities



Music Ministries

Children/Youth Faith Formation

Adult Faith Formation

Caring Ministries

Social and Environmental Justice

Sunday Morning Teams



UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association)

Submit to the Happenings

Prior Weeks' Newsletters

Partner Organizations

UU Justice Arizona

Valley Interfaith Project

Adams Elementary


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Thursday, November 30

  • VUU Board Meeting 5:15p

Friday, December 1

  • Lunch with FLP 12p

Saturday, December 2

  • Social Suppers 5p

Sunday, December 3

  • Dalai Lama and Friends 8:30a
  • Family Choir Rehearsal 9am
  • Sunday Worship Service 10:30a
  • Faith Formation Classes10:30a
  • Progress AZ 12p
  • Parent Spotted OWL 12:45p
  • Parent Burrowing OWL 12:45p
  • Spotted OWL 12:45p
  • Burrowing OWL 12:45p

Monday, December 4

  • Communications Team 5p
  • Scout Pack 6p
  • I-HELP Shelter 5:30p

Tuesday, December 5

  • EastVUU Women's Group 1p
  • STT Meeting 5p
  • Men's Group 7p

Wednesday, December 6

  • Choir Rehearsal 6p
  • Policy Group 6:30p

Thursday, December 7

  • Spirit of Life Reading Circle 7p

Friday, December 8

  • Paz de Cristo Meal Prep 4p

Saturday, December 9

Sunday, December 10

  • Dalai Lama and Friends 8:30a
  • Sunday Worship Service 10:30a
  • NO Faith Formation Classes
  • Immigration Action 11:45a
  • Voices Lifted 12:15p

Click here for the most current calendar, to view locations, contact information details for above events

Desert Notes from Rev. Sarah

Rev. Sarah's Desert Notes column will return next week.

VUU Updates

Progress Arizona

Progress Arizona will host a Progressive Messenger Training with us on Saturday, Dec. 2 (10am, on zoom) and Sunday, Dec. 3 (12:15p in the Sanctuary).

Be an EARLY ADOPTER! Come learn how to use their super-easy Megaphone app to amplify progressive legislative information now and throughout the 2024 election cycle.

DeeAnne McClenahan attended this training and says, "What an easy way for us to get the right messages in front of people! It's fun and Progress does 99% of the work!"

Register here:

This Saturday, on Zoom

This Sunday, after service in person

Book Banning in Chandler

Rev. Sarah was recently featured in an article in the SanTan Sun News regarding book banning in Chandler. You can read the article here.

Restorative Practices/conflict engagement work with VUU

Hello VUU! I’m excited to share with you this video introducing our “Special Care Congregations” Tool and Impact of Ministries Survey. Both of these resources are part of our work together, exploring the dynamics, conflicts, needs, and hopes at VUU.

This tool was shaped by my nineteen 1:1 conversations with your congregational leaders in September, as well as my gatherings with them during our Kick Off Weekend. The tool invites you to explore a couple different “metaphors” about the needs and dispositions of a community experiencing a leadership or organizational transition. 

My invitation:

  • Watch this video. The video is about 30 minutes long, so get a cup of tea. 
  • Read along with the PDF of the worksheet, “Special Care Congregations,” adapted by Rev. Sarah and I from the work of Rev. Robert Latham. 
  • Then, when you’re ready, fill out the Impact of Ministries Survey this month (before the end of November) to share your reflections about what needs appreciating, gratitude, grieving, healing, tending, or accountability in this congregation’s history of ministries and leadership.

At the end of November, I’ll begin reviewing your responses with Rev. Sarah to explore themes, patterns, and possibilities with your Board and Committee on Shared Ministry. Your responses will guide our reflections and next steps together! 

You are welcome to email me if you have questions – I am grateful to learn and work with you! 

With care, Rev. Sam

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is a global movement to unite people in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Since 1988, communities have stood together on World AIDS Day to show strength and solidarity against HIV stigma and to remember lives lost.

Medical advances mean people with HIV in the UK can expect a long and healthy life and that we have the tools to stop HIV transmissions for good. But HIV continues to be highly stigmatised and misunderstood. At National AIDS Trust, the UK’s HIV rights charity, we are contacted weekly by people experiencing discrimination because of HIV, including in work, education, housing and even healthcare.

World AIDS Day exists to shine a light on the real experiences of people living with HIV today, while celebrating the strength, resilience and diversity of the communities most affected. It is a moment to inspire the leadership needed to create a future where HIV doesn’t stand in the way of anyone’s life.

Caring Ministries Program

December 11 - 6:30p

Coping with Grief During the Holidays

Join us in the Board Room for a talk provided by a Hospice of the Valley speaker. The holidays can be very difficult. Hospice of the Valley shares strategies for grieving families who are trying to move through the

holiday season. 

“Coping with Grief During the Holidays” recognizes why grief is so important, helps us understand how grief affects us, discusses ways to survive the holidays, and learn ways to create new memories.

The program will be livestreamed; details to come.

Music Ministries

Drum Circle

Do you or someone you know, have interest in helping Katie lead the drum circle? If so, please contact Katie at

The VUU Voices Choir

Rehearsals are Wednesdays in the Sanctuary from 6-7:30 pm. To see the 2023-2024 schedule please click here. To access sheet music and vocal tracks for songs we are working on, click here. Contact with any questions.

The 1-Hour Adult Choir - Dec. 3 and the Kids' choir "Angel Choir" - Dec. 10

Have you and/or your child wanted to sing in a choir, but mid-week rehearsals don’t work for you? Join the 1-Hour Choir. We’ll learn an easy song or two on the Sunday morning we perform. This allows for flexibility - you do not have to be committed week to week. All ages are invited, children and adults. The adults will meet in the Sanctuary and the kids will meet in the Flex room, in the Sanctuary both from 9am -10 am. Both the adults and the kids will then lead music in the service, with the kids singing before they go to their classes.

A rehearsal and performance are held every first Sunday of the month. Next is December 3. However, please note that an Angel choir will be taking the place of the 1-hour kids' choir for the month of December. The kid's choir will not be meeting Dec. 3 but rather be singing for the pageant on December 10. All kids are welcome to sing in the Angel choir. Your kids can also be a different character than an angel AND still sing in the Angel choir. Contact Katie for more information such as videos of the songs and lyric sheets that the Angel choir will sing:

The Chalice Ringers – Interested in ringing?

If you or someone you know has an interest in playing bells in our bell choir the Chalice Ringers, please contact Katie Seiferth at I have a director and now need to collect who is interested in participating. Yay!


December 14 Monthly Meeting 6:30p

Our 2024 planning meeting to decide how our EastVUU group can grow and prosper. Suggestions welcome before our meetup. Email us and we will compile a listing to present and discuss. Suggestions also welcome the night of meeting!

Join Zoom Meeting

Stay Updated: Click here for the EastVUU Facebook group.

Save the Date: Social Night December 28 6:30pm

Once again at Barbara Peter's Home. Plenty of inside room and outdoor fire pit area to enjoy fellowship after a busy Holiday Season! More info will follow.

Partners in Education (PIE)

Keep an eye out for our AZ tax credit donation request. Tis the season to consider contributing to Adams Elementary EAC. You may deduct up to $200 individually or $400 jointly from the taxes you owe Arizona. This is your opportunity to direct your tax payment to a program that is aligned with our VUU values! Look for more details in the folllowing weeks. For more information, contact Perii Skolnick.

Faith Formation

Faith Formation Holiday Class Schedule:

  • Dec. 3 - MS & HS classes meet, Pre-K - 5th grade NO class  Pageant Rehearsal (assistants assist with pageant.) OWL classes meet
  • Dec 10 - NO classes, everyone attends Pageant, 10:30 am OWL classes do NOT meet
  • Dec. 17 - ALL classes meet, OWL classes do NOT meet
  • Jan. 7 - Everything is back!! All classes and OWL meet.
  • Jan. 14 - ALL classes meet, OWL classes do NOT meet

Creativity Matters

Interested in a curriculum focused on exploring topics through creativity? Join Rev. Sarah and Kelsie for an Adult Faith Formation program on the first Saturday evening of every month, starting January 2024. Fill out this form to indicate your interest.

Spirit of Life December 7th Meeting

Hello, Friends, Our next meeting of Spirit of Life Reading Circle is Thursday, December 7th at 7:00 on Zoom. In addition to the readings, we'd also like to encourage you to listen to this song, which was written for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and which I personally love.

We hope this reflects our new year as well and we hope to see you on Zoom on the 7th!

Love, Mary, Anne, and Rebecca

Join Zoom Meeting Here

Anti Racism

Rev. Joan Crawford has offered to lead VUU members in some anti-racism learning opportunities and we'd like to see who is interested and how much time you could commit to this shared learning.  Please let us know your willingness to participate, contribute funds to support this work, and potential availability for this work.   This will help us decide if this is a viable offering.

Anti Racism Workshop Interest survey

Joys and Concerns

Lee Laskowski Surgery

Lee is home recovering from back surgery. The surgery went well. Cards would be appreciated! 5002 E Summer Moon Lane, Phoenix 85044.

Sue Keen, Lee's mom

Fellowship and Social Activities

VUU Gen X and Millennials Winter Cookie Exchange! (With childcare!)

Get festive and join us on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 1:30 to 4 PM for the VUU Gen X and Millennial cookie exchange party hosted by Mary Kate Eckles. Bring a tray of your favorite cookies and take home a variety of everyone else's!

Holiday sweaters are encouraged. There will be a contest with a prize!

Children are invited to a scavenger hunt, cookie decorating, and read comic books on the patio with our babysitter.

More Details and RSVP here

FUUNd Update

The tradition of our Annual Auction is more than 40 years old. The auction, now

named FUUNd, offers many opportunities to mix with fellow UUs while raising money to support VUU. You can browse our online catalog to find activities, meals, parties, crafts, tasty treats and much more. Payment for winning bids is collected using your credit card.

This is the time of year for you to create (or repeat) an activity, event, and/or service for an inspiring price that will be bid on during the FUUNd Auction in February. Your event will be held starting in April of 2024, in coordination with the other events on the

FUUNd calendar. Explore your ideas and sign up at the FUUNd table on Sunday mornings.


Saturday, December 16, 5:30p 

ANNUAL HOLIDAY PARTY at the home of Gloria (2227 W Ironwood Drive, Chandler, 716-819-7622). This is a Potluck so bring a dish to share as well as a holiday gift for the gift exchange. Item should be $15 or less in value. Goodwill White Elephants are a welcome part of this tradition. RSVP to Claudette at 973-768-6047 (texts preferred) or send an email to declare your dish and intentions.  

The Page Turners' 2024 Book Selection Party - Dec. 14 7p

Please note this is the second Thursday in December. The meeting will be held at Pat & Amy Monahan's house near the 101 & Ray Rd.  We ask that everyone bring a snack to share.  Amy & Pat will provide beverages.

If you have suggestions for books for the group to read in 2024, please come with 3 book suggestions.  Be prepared to give a very brief introduction to each book.  We will vote on the 3 options and select 1 for next year. Please keep in mind the following:

  • Books should be readily available at the public library.  So please don't suggest books that came out in the last year that will have long wait lists at the library.
  • Books should be of moderate length.  They can be biography, fiction, or non-fiction.
  • You can bring a spouse, partner, or guest with you to the party if you choose to do so.  

For the meeting/party address or questions, email Amy.

Volunteering and Giving

VUU Environmental Action Team (EAT)

The VUU Environmental Action Team is looking for fresh new energy and leadership.

Sandy Whitley and Denise McLeod have served exceptionally well as our EAT co-chairs for the past couple of years and are ready to pass on the leadership torch by helping to develop and mentor new EAT team leaders.

At our last team meeting Linda Stenholm volunteered to step up as a new EAT committee chair with the request that one or two other EAT members will step forward to share the leadership responsibilities with her as co-chairs.

If you are interested or want to recommend another VUU member) getting involved in our VUU EAT team leadership, then please reach out to Sandy Whitley, Denise McLeod and/or Linda Stenholm to learn how to join us.

The bottom line is that we must continue to re-energize an renew our commitment to the VUU EAT work to bequeath an environmentally sustainable future to our children and grandchildren. Contact Bill Elliott with questions.

RSVP here. Questions, email Arizona Interfaith Power and Light.

Valley Interfaith Project

VIP Delegates Assembly

Tuesday, December 12th 6:30p

 Shepherd of the Hills UCC, 5524 E Lafayette Blvd, Phoenix 85018

VIP will be setting our agenda for 2024. Your input is needed! 

If you are interested in carpooling from VUU, contact Barb Quijada and she will connect you with others who are interested. 

VIP Community Outreach

VIP has been supporting the work of Chandler Unified School District as they work to meet the mental health needs of students in their District in new ways and with more resources. One of the ways you can be involved is to contribute to the Annual Giving Tree. Schools send wishlists for 1 or 2 families and CUSD works with the community to fulfill them. While they have a physical tree located at Bottle & Bean in Downtown Ocotillo (2577 W. Queen Creek Rd.) the tree is also digital! Community members can sign up here to purchase gifts for those families that are needing additional support this Holiday Season. 

Paz de Cristo December Donation of the Month

The December donation of the month is a contribution check to Paz de Cristo. The donation qualifies for an Arizona tax credit, which reduces state income taxes by the entire amount contributed! For more information visit the State of Arizona web site.

Gift cards for groceries and gas are very appreciated and will continue to be collected throughout the year. They can be placed in the lock box on the wall above the collection box. Fry’s gift cards are especially appreciated because they give Paz the flexibility to get either gas or groceries. They use the gas for their delivery truck, or they buy fresh food and other groceries that they need. 

Paz de Cristo - Volunteers needed this month!

Continuing the Tradition… Keeping the Commitment… Living our Principles

2nd Friday, December 8th, 4pm - 7pm

Location: 424 W Broadway Rd, Mesa, AZ

Click here for the sign up link

Families welcome!

Volunteers are urgently needed this month as we are a bit short of the number of helpers needed. Please consider joining us so we can easily meet VUU’s commitment at Paz de Cristo in December.

Please join us as we keep VUU’s 34-year tradition with Paz de Cristo on the second Friday of each month to serve the evening meal to Paz guests. Volunteers gather at the Paz kitchen/dining room from 4 pm to 7 pm to prepare then serve the evening meal. Additional tasks include cleanup of dishes, sweeping and mopping of floors. If you are joining us for the first time, don’t worry, Paz staff and experienced VUU

volunteers make the work easy and the evening goes fast. Seventeen volunteers are needed and can range in age from 12 on up. (As of this writing, we need nine more folks!) Volunteers must be able to stand and participate in all tasks during the entire evening.

Have questions? Contact Joanne at 602-620-3100. Please sign up for this rewarding experience at

UU Justice Arizona

Take a stand for the LGBTQ+ community and our UU values - Join UUJAZ for our Prescott Community Safety and Deescalation Training

Across the country, UUs have been showing up: at school board meetings to assert children's right to access diverse books and historically accurate curriculum, at the state legislature to protest anti-trans bills, and at drag shows and story hours to support all gender expression. We know that we create safety in community, and we can bring joy and connection to places that carry some risk, including our own congregations. We also know that safety training helps us act from a place of love and courage, not fear, because we are prepared and can fall back on our training, while knowing it's likely to never be put to use. Our partners in the LGBTQ+ community need us to come create welcoming and safe spaces at their events, and we need to know how to keep our congregations calm, alert, prepared and focused so we continue to live our values out loud: let's get trained together!

Our training is created by "Safety Dave" of Empowered Safety Concepts, Rev. Brigitta of the SURJ congregational safety team, Janine and Casey from UU Justice Arizona (UUJAZ).

Saturday, December 9th | 8:30am - 5pm | Prescott area

Breakfast and lunch will be provided

Please RSVP here by Dec 3rd

Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation |