May 2, 2024

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This Sunday at VUU


Sunday, May 5

“Who's on the Bus? Sacred Diversity, Generative Conflict”

Revs. Sam and Sarah bring our work on the spirituality of conflict full circle, sharing some of the places where challenges have led to growth and insight with new opportunities for understanding, relationship and shared reality.  

The service will include New Participant Recognition. The 1-Hour Choir will perform.

Stay for the Congregational Conversation after the service.

YouTube Link - Sunday Service
Zoom Link - After the Service



  • 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

See 2023-2024 Curriculum Here


8:30 am Meditation

9:00 am Discussion  

In person, in the board room, and

Via Zoom here


There will be a very important Congregational Conversation immediately after the service. Join the Board and others to hear what's going on and be part of the planning for our next program year! Pizza will be served.

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 and 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


Paz de Cristo


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Thursday,May 2

  • Ukester Friends 6p

Friday, May 3

  • FLP Zoom meeting 12p
  • Border Support Spring Fling 1p
  • Rev. Sarah Listening Session 3p

Saturday, May 4

  • Social Suppers 5p

Sunday, May 5

  • Dalai Lama and Friends 8:30a
  • 1-Hour Choir 9a
  • Sunday Service 10:30a
  • Faith Formation Classes 10:30a
  • Congregational Convo 12p
  • Burrowing OWL class 12:45p
  • Parents of Burrowing OWL 12:45p

Monday, May 6

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

Tuesday, May 7

  • EastVUU Women's Group 1p
  • I-HELP Shelter 5:30p

Wednesday, May 8

  • DnD game 5:30p
  • VUU Voices Choir 6p
  • New Participant Class 6p

Thursday, May 9

  • East VUU Meeting 6p
  • Ukester Friends 6p
  • Spirit of Life Reading Cir 7p

Friday, May 10

  • Singles Lunch 1:30p
  • Paz de Cristo Meal Prep 4p

Saturday, May 11

  • Erik Gajate Memorial 11a

Sunday, May 12

  • Dalai Lama and Friends 8:30a
  • Sunday Service 10:30a
  • Faith Formation Classes 10:30a
  • Immigration Action Meeting 11:45a
  • Voices Lifted 12:15p
  • Burrowing OWL class 12:45p
  • Parents of Burrowing OWL 12:45p

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

Desert Notes from Rev. Sarah

What does it mean when a position is an “interim” position?

Watch this video instead of reading, or while you read.

Many people think of interim work as a placeholder while a congregation conducts a search.

Nothing could be farther from the case, if the interim work is done right.  

Interim work is developmental work that prepares a congregation to be in search for a settled minister, faith formation director, or music director. This work focuses on five tasks:

  • engaging institutional history, 
  • discovering congregational identity, 
  • managing shifts in power and authority, 
  • maintaining linkages to Unitarian Universalism, 
  • and developing new leadership.

Engaging institutional history includes looking at how the position has evolved in time, who has held the position and how they served the congregation within that position, and some of the challenges and successes of the position. It also includes understanding how the position has been impacted by the larger congregational context–changes in other staff positions, finances, theological perspectives, issues in the larger community, etc.  

Discovering Congregational Identity includes developing an understanding of the unique mission, vision, and values of a particular congregation and identifying where these may be changing or needing review. Often the role of the interim is to help congregations reflect on how they may have changed, be changing or want to change. What worked in the past that might not be working as well now? What needs are emerging that need to be accounted for?

Managing shifts in power and authority includes understanding how changes in size and membership demographics might be impacting how decision making is engaged as well as how differences in leadership style and skill sets might change how a position fits in the organizational structures. Shifts in who is serving in other leadership roles also impact these understandings.  

Maintaining linkages to Unitarian Universalism includes tracking denominational changes and trends, research, events, activities, publications, professional development opportunities, and relationships with other UU congregations and professionals. Interim staff help the congregation understand themselves inside of the larger denomination and access needed resources to implement programs and activities as well as to orient themselves around ideas and strategies.  

Developing new leadership includes identifying new leaders, offering training and learning experiences, replacing outgoing leaders, connecting new programs with new leaders, and building relationships. In an interim period some leaders will move on to other activities or interests or lose interest because of changes in the program, its focus, or needs. This is a natural shift, and sometimes includes tending grief, disappointment, or confusion when change is happening.  

This work is very important–especially when the position has been held for a significant amount of time by the same person. This is true no matter what the relationship with the last person was. The interim person is asked to be a teacher and an experimenter–someone who asks questions, offers new ideas, and reflects on how programs and activities are going. As they develop “answers” to the developmental issues of interim work, they offer the congregation suggestions about what the future of this role and program might look like and will need from the settled professional They help a hiring team discern any changes to a job description, where other changes in resources are needed, and what qualities to look for in a future candidate.  

VUU has struggled, as many congregations do, to engage successful interim work for any professional position. The pandemic made this work nearly impossible. Many congregations don’t even try to do interim work outside of ministry positions, thinking it's better to get someone in to do “the job.” The problem is… “what job?” The interim position is designed to help uncover assumptions about “the job” and identify new opportunities to develop the job. To this end, we are seeking an Interim Director of Lifespan Faith Formation.  

Rev. Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan

VUU Updates

Time to talk? 

Friday, May 3 from 3:00-4:30pm -ish

in the Board room

Rev. Sarah invites you to join her for a listening session (she’s the listener). Who should come: If you are mad at Rev. Sarah or VUU, sad about something, upset about something related to VUU or the UUA. If you’ve been talking to everyone except Rev. Sarah about your upset, you are invited! If you’ve been scared to talk to Rev. Sarah, you are invited! If you have a burning question about something that’s happening and you’ve been afraid to ask it, you’re invited.

It's my goal to just make space for you to share with me how you're feeling, what you need, and what you want. We won't make decisions. We will make space and grace for each other. Would be helpful to know if you're coming but last minute decisions to come or not are valid too. Small group session, with some support from Rev. Sam and some Board/CSM folks.  Come, come, whoever you are.  

The Bigger Picture, by Claudette Wassil

I want to tell you why I increased my pledge this year. I have been a UU for more than 50 years. My first UU church was in New Jersey, where I was born and grew up. When I was 25, I moved all on my own to Albuquerque, New Mexico where I did not know a soul. I was starting my life over, and the first place I went was to the UU Church there. To make a long story short, I subsequently moved to Berkeley, CA; Tucson, AZ; San Bernardino, CA; West Virginia; Ohio; back to New Jersey; and then here to Chandler, AZ. Everywhere I went, the first thing I would do was go to the nearest UU church because these are my people.

I have been so grateful that there has been a UU church everywhere I’ve landed. I didn’t care who the minister was, who the music director was, who the RE director was, or who the church administrator was. I didn’t care about the internal politics because I am a UU, and this is where I belong. I want a UU church to be there wherever people find themselves and no matter what life is throwing at them that minute. I want a UU church to be there for fallen-away Catholics, fallen-away Baptists, fallen-away Mormons, fallen-away Jews, fallen-away Muslims, agnostics and atheists. When they are lost and looking for community, I want a UU church to be there for them to stumble upon.

I want this UU church to be here for the next lost soul, anyone starting over, anyone who needs a place to take their children when the neighbor children tell them they are going to Hell, and anyone who is just seeking a community where they feel like they belong. That is why I am increasing my pledge this year. Because right now, right here, this is the UU church that I belong to, and these are my people.

Director of Faith Formation Interim Committee


As our current Director of Faith Formation, Marci Beaudoin, is retiring, Rev. Sarah has created a committee to select an Interim replacement who will fill the position for 2 years.

Besides making sure current programs run seamlessly, the Interim will help us evaluate the entire Faith Formation program and prepare us for our next permanent Faith Formation Director.

The committee is currently taking applications and will begin interviews in the latter part of April to fill the position for our next fiscal year. Please feel free to contact any of the committee members if you have questions.

Committee Members are:

 Chris Sar

Janet Nash

Sophia Peñate

Katie Hurstwicker

Carl Anderson

Rev. Sarah

Nancy Harrell (representing the Personnel Committee)

Let's SprUUce Up our Sanctuary! - POSTPONED UNTIL JUNE

The cleanup planned for Saturday, May 11 has been postponed until June due to a scheduling conflict. Please read future Happenings for updates!

-Mikaela Foote, Facilities Committee

New Participant Class Change

The class on April 20 was canceled due to the Congregational Retreat. The new meeting date is Wednesday, May 8, 6:00-8:00 pm

Meet in Classrooms 1/2. Register here.


Ain't We Got FUUNd

The emphasis this April has been on having FUUNd creating! Here are a few pictures of VUU members and friends enjoying workshops on fused glass, torn paper collage, and reading an artwork.

Wish you could have been there? Well, you can still get in on other FUUNd events scheduled in May and June. Click here for details and to place your “buy it now” bid.

Walking Tour of Phoenix’s Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District (Saturday, May 18, 9:00 am-2:00 pm) Hosted by history buffs Tricia and Bobbi; lunch included.

Healthier Living Through Chair Yoga (Saturday, June 1, 11:00 am) Join yoga instructor Noell H. online for a relaxing one-hour chair yoga class.

And especially for younger VUU’s — VUU Chooses You! Pokemon Party (Sunday, June 2, 2:00-4:30 pm). Join Maria, Amanda, and their children for an afternoon filled with Pokemon games, activities and snacks. Children of all ages are welcome. Everyone will leave with Pokemon loot and some new trainer friends!

Email for questions or assistance.

Music Ministries

1-Hour Choir

Sunday, May 5, 9:00 am in the Sanctuary

Join the 1-Hour Choir this Sunday, May 5, and learn an easy song or two to sing in the service. Contact Katie Seiferth for more.

  • VUU Voices Choir - Wednesdays 6:00-7:30 pm (childcare available)
  • One Hour Choir - First Sundays 9:00-10:00 am
  • Chalice Ringers - contact Katie Sieferth if you are interested.
  • Drum Circle - contact Katie Sieferth if you are interested.
  • Play with the Band! - contact Katie Sieferth if you are interested.
More About Music Ministries here

East VUU Meeting

"What to Expect When a Dear One Approaches the End of Life"

Save the date: Thursday, May 9, 6:00 pm.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 739 743 734

Join Melissa Bush, Hospice Nurse Practitioner, in a discussion of what to expect when a dear one approaches the end of life. Hopefully, this will help us all in times of distress and confusion as we support our loved ones and family. All are welcome.

East VUU Social Night

Save the date: Thursday, May 23, 6:00 pm

Location: M.V.Pita

1066 N Power Rd, Ste. 103, Mesa, AZ 85205

Environmental Action Team

Environmental Action Team (EAT) Meeting

Monday, May 20 at 6:30 pm

Join us on Google Meet (not Zoom). 

Since the April meeting didn't take place,

we'll open with a similar query to the one we planned for April:

"Tell us about your most memorable Earth Day"

We'll also discuss upcoming plans for UU the Vote (surely of the utmost importance to many of us), as well as FLP (Food for Life and the Planet), updates on VUU's Solar goals, and our next Environmental Action events.

ALL Are Welcome!

-Submitted by Linda Stenholm

Food for Life and The Planet

Brown Bag Lunch: Make a Pinky Promise

“As soon as we admit that humans possess the enormous power to change the climate

of the planet, we automatically own the enormous responsibility to stabilize it and

maintain it on behalf of all creation.”

-Dr. Sailesh Rao

At the VUU service on April 21, Dr. Rao provided a sermon that extolled the enormous, time-sensitive crisis of our planet, while humbly presenting a solution within reach of every single one of us: to recognize the impact of our eating habits and to go vegan. He spoke of a “pinky promise” he made to his granddaughter to make the world vegan by 2026 in order to save us from six “fires” that may ultimately lead to the demise of life as we know it.

The time is NOW for all of us to make a Pinky Promise to someone we love—a

child, a grandchild, a spouse, a friend. We need to promise that person that we are

going to do everything in our power, including changing our eating habits, to save the

earth and the beautiful creatures we share with her.

Please join FLP to learn how to transition to a vegan lifestyle. Joan Dickason, a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, will discuss ways to transition to optimize success and FLP members will share practical personal experiences.

Date: Friday, May 3

Time: 12 Noon


This meeting will be recorded.

In preparation for the meeting, please revisit Dr. Rao’s VUU sermon.

Additional viewing/reading:

This Speech Will Change How You See Everything

How To Go Vegan: Getting Started

How To Go Vegan: 5 Lessons from a Meat-Eating Midwesterner

Hope to see you then.

Denise McLeod and Linda Ruehlman

Faith Formation

High School Seniors Bridging

Sunday, May 19 the High School seniors in our congregation will be celebrated as they Bridge into Young Adults. 

Anyone who identifies as a Young Adult is welcome to be on the receiving end of the bridge as the youth cross. 

As is our tradition, we will end the ceremony by singing "The Circle Game" by Joni Mitchell (there are dance steps included!) Please plan to join us for this celebration!

All High School seniors should be in touch with Marci to be added to the schedule.

Prescott Retreat

We had a great time at the 2024 Valley UU Prescott Retreat on April 19-21. Over 50 people from VUU made the trek to Friendly Pines camp. Former nursery provider, Reba Hagen-Ashe and her family came for a day visit (they now live in the Prescott area.)

We kicked off the weekend with a roaring bonfire and s'mores on Friday night. Saturday we Ziplined, shot arrows, had team building activities, played at a playground, created cyanotype prints, made Galaxy bandanas, molded pinch pots, and so much more!

Saturday after dinner we had an outdoor worship service followed by many talented folks entertaining us in the UN-Talent show. Great Fun!!

Megan Kimball and Chris Sar have already begun the process to reserve space for the 2025 VUU Retreat. Feel free to send them your feedback and ideas. Watch for news in early 2025!

-Submitted by Marci Beaudoin

Joys and Concerns

Upcoming Memorial Services 

We have some upcoming memorial services and need some help with setting up and cleaning up, if you have some time available:

On Saturday, May 11, 2024 for the service celebrating the life of Erik Gajate from 11:00 am-12:30 pm (set up at 10:00 am, clean up at 1:00 pm). This is a rental and will be officiated by another UU minister. Nick Carr will be leading the set up.

On Friday, May 17, 2024 for the service celebrating the life of Rachel Smith from 1:00-3:00 pm (set up at 12:00 pm, clean up at 3:00 pm). Please reach out to Rev. Sarah if you can help.

Rachel Smith Memorial

Our dear EastVUU member Rachel Smith will be remembered in a Celebration of Life at VUU on Friday, May 17 at 1:00 pm. All are welcome!

Please consider giving a gift to VUU or the Huntington’s Disease Society of America as a tribute to Rachel and how she inspired us.

Please note your gift is “In Honor of Rachel Smith.”

Thanks for your generosity!

Janice Miller

Share your Joys and Concerns here.

Fellowship and Social Activities

Singles Lunch Bunch

When: Friday, May 10, 1:30 pm

Where: Republica Empanada, 204 E First Ave, Mesa (Downtown Mesa by the Arts Center). We’re hoping for weather suitable for outdoors.

Bonus: After lunch we can visit the Mesa Arts Center which has all sorts of marvelous art for sale, or just for looking at!

RSVP to Claudette by phone or text 973-768-6047. (Text STRONGLY preferred. Not all the emails have been getting to me.) But if you must, RSVP to

-Submitted by Jodi Freeman

Spirit of Life Reading Circle

This is a reminder that we are NOT meeting at our regular time on May 2, but are meeting on Thursday, May 9 at 7:00 pm.

Here are the readings for May that Anne, Rebecca, and I chose from a series Anne Lamott has done for the Washington Post. We all three loved them and hope you will too!

Zoom Link

Meeting ID: 873 2837 4910

Passcode: 480822

We look forward to seeing you on May 9 at 7:00 pm on Zoom to check in and discuss these readings!

-Submitted by Mary Rothschild

Page Turners Book Club

The Page Turners Book Club is open to all members, visitors, and friends of VUU who enjoy reading and discussing a variety of books. The next meeting isThursday, May 16 at 7:00 pm; we will meet at the home of Johnnie Godfrey in Tempe (near Baseline Rd. and the 101).  The book is Fer-de-Lance, a mystery by Rex Stout.

As any herpetologist will tell you, the fer-de-lance is among the most dreaded snakes known to man. When someone makes a present of one to Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin knows he's getting dreadfully close to solving the devilishly clever murders of an immigrant and a college president. (This is the first book in the Nero Wolfe series.)

For the meeting address or questions, please contact Johnnie at 480-231-8381 or email Amy.

VUU Scouting

The VUU scouts had an amazing camping experience at Riparian Park on April 6-7 alongside their families. We spent quality time bonding, cooking camp meals, sharing stories around the campfire, indulging in delicious s'mores, and sleeping under the stars in tents. Surrounded by lush wildlife, we savored an "unplugged" weekend with fellow campers. To learn how you can get involved, email

Ukester Friends

Join us Thursdays at 6:00 pm in a VUU Classroom (usually Room 1) to play your uke, or another instrument, with friends (and soon to be friends!) All levels, all instruments, and singers are welcome!

-Submitted by Maria Wildflower

Giving / Volunteering

May Donation of the Month

Diapers (size 3–5) & feminine hygiene products

Please support our focus charity, Paz de Cristo, by bringing in a donation of feminine sanitary products and disposable diapers (sizes 3–5) at any time during the month of May. Drop your donation in the designated container in the foyer of the sanctuary. Your generous support helps Paz with the vital resources essential in its mission to Feed, Clothe and Empower. Thank you!

Shout out to Frank Quijada for getting a dollyit makes transporting donations to the car much easier! That was so thoughtful of you!

-Submitted by Megan Kimball

Immigration Action Team Border Support:

Spring Fling Work Project

Greetings, Refugee Aid Volunteers. You are invited to a Spring Fling Work Project

What: A clothes-sorting event to assist asylum-seeking families seeking aid at our partner churches 

Where: The Fountains United Methodist Church

15300 N. Fountain Hills Blvd. Fountain Hills, AZ 85268

When: Friday, May 3 from 1:00 to 3:30 pm 

How: We will gather for a fun event with an opportunity to sort LOTS of clothing and help stock the churches before the summer lull in activities. 

Bring a homemade treat to eat if you’d like! Donations of large white trash bags and black sharpies are also welcome.

Please RSVP to if you plan to attend. We hope to see you there! 

-Submitted by Sharon Kopina

Partners in Education (PIE)

Call for Bilingual Volunteers! Opening of Rumbo al Exito/Path to Success! Rumbo al Exito is off to a running start!!! We have a corps of volunteers from VUU, students from Westwood High School, and volunteers from the community, coming together to provide afterschool homework assistance to the English Language Learners at Adams Elementary. As the word gets out, we have more students so we need more volunteer tutors.

Please let us know if you would like to join in this important effort. Sessions are Mondays and Wednesdays, 4:00-5:00 pm. Participation on one or both days is possible. Contact Randall Casillas, ( or Perii Skolnick, (

-Submitted by Perii Skolnick

Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation |