December 14, 2023

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This Sunday at VUU



Sunday, December 17, 2023

Opening the Gifts of the Season: Mystery Package Service

Led by Rev. Sarah and Ken St. John. Join us as we unwrap the gifts of our shared time together to reveal the mystery of…what will we do next?? Who will do it? Unwrap the gifts that will lead us through the service with surprise reflection questions, songs, stories and more!

***Please remember that COVID and other viruses are abundant right now. Stay home if you have symptoms and mask if you've been exposed.***



  • 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: Board Room

Via Zoom here

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

SAVE the DATES for UU Christmas services and activities:

December 14 - Valley UU will again host a “Longest Night” service this year. A Longest Night service recognizes that, for some, the holidays are a challenging time. Whether you have experienced the death of a loved one or another loss, or are struggling with a season that’s supposed to be joyful, you are welcome to attend a short service of reflection and acknowledgement of all that this time of year can hold. The service will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 14 in the sanctuary, followed by simple refreshments. Please join us if you need some time of quiet reflection and healing. 

Christmas Eve

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. Take spectacular pictures and videos with the Everlasting Pics Photo Booth! 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).  

Sneak Peak at Upcoming Services

December 31 – online-only service led Barbara Face. Details TBA

January 7 – VUU Board starts the new year by hosting Listening Sessions to learn more about what VUU members care about, are concerned about, and wonder about. There will be three time slots to sign up for: 9:00 -10:00 am, 10:30-11:30 am, (priority for parents with kids in faith formation), and 12:45-1:45 pm (priority for parents with kids in OWL and online participants). Sign-up and more information soon! Sanctuary is closed for renovations, no online worship offered this day.

January 14 MLK day Sunday. Sanctuary closed for renovations. Online and In-Person offerings, details TBA.

In case you like homework–we’ll learn together from this book: “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together” by Heather McGhee. 

In case you don’t have time to read but do have time for a video (Ted Talk) or audio lecture (University lecture).

January 21 ”Stories from the Front Porch.” A Storytelling service featuring VUU storytellers telling their own stories from the heart. If the sanctuary isn’t ready yet we’ll meet on the patio and pull up a chair.

SAVE the DATES: January 26 - 28 we will have Rev. Dr. Sam Wilson on campus again to work with us on the topics of resolving conflict and restoring relationships. She’ll offer a workshop for anyone who wants to attend and lead worship on January 28. More details TBA! In the meantime, please fill out this survey if you haven’t already. 

Cookies! Cookies! Cookies!

It wouldn’t be Christmas without COOKIES! You can help make Christmas Eve at VUU extra special! Contribute a dozen of your favorite Homemade or Purchased Christmas Cookies for after the 3:00 PM or 7:00 PM Service on December 24.

We also need help preparing hot cocoa and cider before each service and cleaning up the kitchen afterwards. To volunteer to bring cookies and /or to help that afternoon or evening, go to our special Christmas Eve Hospitality Sign Up here. Questions? Contact Barb.

Submitted by Barb Quijada

To help with Sunday morning hospitality, click here.

VUU Happenings

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

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Desert Notes

UUA Update

VUU Updates

Faith Formation

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, December 14

  • Longest Night Service 7p
  • East VUU Gathering 6:30p

Friday, December 15

Saturday, December 16

  • Singles Holiday Party 5:30p

Sunday, December 17

  • Dalai Lama and Friends 8:30a
  • Sunday Worship Service 10:30a
  • Faith Formation Classes 10:30a
  • VUU The Vote 12p
  • VUUJAZ Coffee Conversation 12p

Monday, December 18

  • VUU Scouts 6p
  • I-HELP Shelter 5:30p

Tuesday, December 19

  • EastVUU Women's Group 1p
  • STT Meeting 6p
  • LDC Meeting 6p
  • Men's Group 7p

Wednesday, December 20

  • Board Meeting 5:30p
  • Choir Rehearsal 6p

Thursday, December 21

  • EastVUU Coordinators 10:30a
  • Finance Committee 5:30p
  • Worship Associates 6:30p

Friday, December 22

  • Singles Dinner Out 6:30p

Saturday, December 23

Sunday, December 24

  • Dalai Lama and Friends 8:30a
  • NO Faith Formation Classes
  • Voices Lifted 12:15p
  • Christmas Eve Service 3p
  • I-HELP Shelter 5:30p

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

Desert Notes from Rev. Sarah

This week we will have had both a workshop on managing grief during the holidays and a “Longest Night” service (Thursday night) for those whose grief makes the holidays a challenging time. The workshop had 14 online participants and 8 in person, and we were glad to offer this opportunity for learning both for our pastoral care team and for those managing grief. We have extra handouts for those who were online or who missed it and will have them at a table this Sunday with Janet Cantley, lay pastoral care associates co-chair. In the New Year we will propose a structure and schedule for a grief support group. If you’re interested, please contact Janet Cantley  or me Thanks to Pastoral Care for sponsoring the Hospice of the Valley, Melissa Bush  

This last weekend we enjoyed an amazing Christmas Pageant and had 205 people attend in person! It was a moving service, and I personally loved hearing the voices of our youth, the costumes, the audience participation, and the jubilant chaos of an intergenerational experience. This was Marci’s last pageant with us, and I know that made it more special for me and for many of you. Someone asked me after service what my benediction would have been (it got lost in the lovely chaos of children, songs and costumes!) and when I shared it with them, I figured this was a blessing we could all use right now, so here it is: 

“May this season be one of love, delight, and whatever it is that you most need–both spiritual and material. Community is sacred because we know we need each other–we need people to welcome us, and friends and families to love us; we need to give and receive generously from the unique gifts and resources each of us has to offer; we need hope when times are tough and we need stories that remind us that being human doesn’t have to be lonely and we don’t have to face injustice alone. May this place and these people continue to remind you that this is so. Blessed be.” 

Tuesday night I was thrilled to join thirteen VUU members who gathered for the VIP Delegates Assembly, which is a meeting where member organizations make commitments to the work of the organization for the upcoming year. We celebrated new member organizations, discussed how our work would connect with election season activities in 2024, and made plans for a Leader training on January 12 and 13 2024. We also made commitments about how many people we would send to that training and fundraising for VIP. In order to broaden and deepen our work, we will need a second organizer working with Sami Mericle and more funds available to sustain our work. This is an important year for us to make sure that the issues we are working on gain the support and attention of local elected officials and folks running for office. If you’d like to attend the leader training to learn more about this work, contact Barb Quijada at Also this week, I will be part of a housing roundtable that includes stakeholders from around the Phoenix metro to discuss housing policy and opportunities to invest in affordable housing.

Rev. Sarah

UUA Updates

The Emerging Adult Ministry (TEAM) - Ages 18 - 24

Do you or have or are you a recently bridged emerging adult (EA)? Plug them (yourself) into our newly minted EA Database and The Emerging Adult Ministry (TEAM)! There they will find resources to connect with other EA's, have access to small groups, local congregations, pastoral care, online hangouts and more!

For more information about TEAM or the leaders who help put all this together (NEAT - National Emerging Adult Taskforce) check out their Instagram = Neat4uu

Eric Bliss, UUA staff

VUU Updates


FUUNd Update

Here are two very recent pictures from the FUUNd “Cut Your Own Christmas Tree” event sold on last year’s auction.

GIVE VUU A HOLIDAY GIFT: You can add a FUUNd Donation "ornament" to this year's FUUNd Holiday Tree. Just click Let's Have FUUNd Together 2024 ( or pick up a donation form on Sundays. We have 20 Donation "Ornaments" so far!

Not sure what to donate? Click here for an inspiring list of last year’s auction items.

Need more information? Stop by the FUUNd table this Sunday or email

Submitted by Debbe Simpkins, FUUNd Coordinator


UU the Vote

Hello Fellow VUU Friends,


UU the VOTE is gearing up for Election 2024! Our democracy is strongest when more people are engaged and informed, and make their voices heard through the power of voting. Towards that end, the former 2022 UU the VOTE leaders are seeking VUU members and/or friends who are concerned about our democracy and who are willing to be part of a new leadership team to plan and execute the 2024 UU the VOTE effort at Valley UU.


Many of you participated in UU the VOTE efforts for the 2022 mid-term election, and we were successful in the effort to become a John Lewis Good Trouble Congregation! This election is even more important. The new UU the VOTE leaders can evaluate what was done in the 2022 election and identify and prioritize what we hope to accomplish in 2024. Reproductive freedom, local and state elections, and new voter registration are topics needing our full attention.


Please consider helping with this important effort. Join our coming strategy session on December 17th in the VUU admin building Board Room, 15 minutes after services. 


Mark, Denise, Karen, Bill and Sandy

Engage with VUU's Social Media

VUU’s Communications Team has been working hard to improve and add to our sources of communication, including a reboot of our social media accounts. The secret to getting social media postings seen by more people, is to have good “engagement.” If you would visit our Facebook and Instagram pages, and engage, we’d be thrilled! Liking a post is engagement. Using one of the other (love, wow, hugs, etc.) emoticons is better engagement. The BEST engagement is commenting on a post. Feel free to engage like crazy so we can help ensure that the most people get to see our posts.


Visit our Facebook page here.  Instagram here.

2024 VUU Pledge Drive

VUU typically runs our annual pledge drive starting in December. The pledge drive is an important piece of the budgeting process as it allows our Board, Staff, and the Finance Committee to make decisions about programming and efforts we can support throughout the coming year.

For 2024 we are trying a few new things, and Rev. Sarah is preparing a video to promote the coming pledge drive and provide information on the process. This will help connect our pledges to the important work that VUU can accomplish.

The pledge drive will occur during March and April, after FUUNd ends on February 28. Please continue/increase the pledge you made for 2023 for the beginning months of 2024.These adjustments will allow us to provide clear details about the budget and our vision for the coming fiscal year as we collect pledges.

We are organizing a new team for this year's pledge drive. Let your Board know if you have fund-raising skills you would be willing to share with VUU! We look forward to another year of fine programming with/for the VUU congregation!

This week you should have received a statement of your 2023 pledge and giving. To date, we have received $385,000 of the $428,000 pledged to the Operating Fund this year. If you can, please get your year-end contributions in to the office before the holidays, so we end the year whole!

Thank you for your support!  

VUU Board of Trustees and Finance Team

Sanctuary Will Be Closed After Christmas

The Sanctuary Transformation Team is happy to let you know that the Phase II renovations of the sanctuary are ready to start!


Our contractors will begin right after Christmas, and we look forward to our grand reopening January 21 (give or take a week). When you join us then, you’ll see even more transformation including a full interior paint, some new furnishings on the stage, new signage, and a fully remodeled kitchen. There will be accessible doors to the sanctuary and men’s room, and a beautiful refresh in the restrooms! The kitchen will have new doors, new cabinets, new appliances and more! 


Thank you to everyone who has contributed with your funds and your talents to making this happen!


Quick reminder that the capital campaign ends December 31, and we appreciate everyone sending your final contributions by the month’s end to make sure we can pay for all we’ve planned!


Thanks from the Sanctuary Transformation Team!

December 26 - Preparing the Sanctuary for More Love

In preparation for the contractors to come to complete our sanctuary transformation, we need some out-of-work elves to prepare the sanctuary by moving holiday things into storage, stacking chairs, and covering things that we don't want to get dusty. The Sanctuary Transformation Team invites you to join us the 26th from 9-noon, after which we'll adjourn to a nearby eatery for lunch, for those who can join. We will plan on 9a-12p; come when you can!


Come if you can help, physically, and come if you can provide moral support and/or sing some carols or hymns and cheer on the others. Many hands and voices make light work!  RSVP at this link.


Lost and Found

We are amassing quite a collection of unclaimed items. See pictures to right. Please claim these items in the Foyer. Thanks!

Submitted by Laura Rohlfing

January 7 Listening Sessions

At the October 22 Congregational Conversation, the Board informed the congregation of the correspondence we received regarding the UUA's efforts to replace Article 2 and a request to take action. The Board outlined our plan to address these concerns which included listening sessions and engagement with the congregation at multiple levels. The Board continues to research this topic and gather feedback. Our next step is to hold a series of small group listening sessions with various stakeholders on January 7, 2024. We look forward to sharing more information on this effort as it becomes available. Thank you for your patience and support in this process.

VUU Board of Trustees

Music Ministries

VUUsica Concert Series – Christy Vest Jan. 20th

Christy Vest, our beloved piano accompanist, is offering a vocal and piano concert that is interactive and performative. Come to the Sanctuary on Saturday, January 20th from 4-5ish pm for an afternoon of live music. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for kids 18 and under. Possible childcare for younger kids - reach out to Katie if needing childcare at

You can purchase tickets online by clicking our online giving link. Once you click the link, simply check the Music Program under "give to Operating" and indicate how many tickets you purchased in the notes, indicating it’s for Christy Vest.

Tickets can also be purchased at the door on the day of the show starting at 3:30 when the doors open.

Interested in Leading the 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 - Wednesdays, 6-7:30 pm

Rehearsals are on Wednesdays in the Sanctuary from 6-7:30 pm. To perform for the Christmas Eve 7 pm service, rehearsal is Dec. 20, same time and place. There will be no childcare for these two rehearsals unless requested. To see the 2023-2024 schedule please click here.

To access sheet music and vocal tracks for songs we are working on, please click here.

Please email Katie at with any questions or requests.

No 1-Hour Choirs (Adults and Kids) in January

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, skipping January. Next is February 4. Contact Katie for more information or with any questions:

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!


East VUU Monthly Meeting

Thursday, December 14 at 6:30 pm

Our 2024 planning meeting to decide how our EastVUU group can grow and prosper will be on December 14. 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.

East VUU After Christmas Party

Thursday, December 28 at 6:30 pm

Barbara Peter's Home, 2114 Leisure World, Mesa

To be let in at the gate: Ask for Barb Peters, 2114. Mention Church Potluck.

Plenty of inside room and outdoor fire pit area to enjoy fellowship and/or games after a busy Holiday Season! A relaxed get together, so feel free to rove around with drinks, appetizers or desserts you choose to bring to share. 

Anyone can participate to bring a wrapped white elephant gift. If you do, you will draw a number and all gifts are in a pile so when your number comes you select. (There might be a twist in the rules at game time!) Anyone wanting, can share their New Year's Resolution(s).

Partners in Education

Tis the season to consider contributing to Adams Elementary ECA (Extra Curricular Activities Fund). 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! All you need to do is fill out this form and send it with your donation to the address on the form. You claim the deduction on your AZ tax form. For more information, contact Perii Skolnick (

Faith Formation

Faith Formation Holiday Class Schedule:

  • 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

Anti-Racism Workshop Interest Survey

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

Click Here for Winter Camp Registration

Fellowship and Social Activities

Singles Holiday Party

Saturday, December 16, 5:30 pm 

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 - POSTPONED

The Book Selection party scheduled for December 14 will be held on January 18. More information to come.

Volunteering and Giving

Immigration Action Team

Thank you so much to Marci whose Children’s Christmas pageant program initiated a fantastic clothing drive of new and slightly used clothing! Our wonderful congregation came together to outfit those crossing the border with a stay at Asylum seeker shelters. Here they will receive clothing to replace what they have been wearing for their long trek after a nice warm shower. They are fed and then volunteers help them with their travel plans to family members, many of them in cold states.

Thank you to Suzanne and Randall for coordinating and delivering a full carload to one of our Latino church shelters who were in desperate need of clothing.

Numbers coming across the border are up with IRC processing 7000 in November and 4 Latino shelters just a few less. Our Latino shelters do not receive government assistance, they depend upon what they receive in kind of food, clothing etc.

VUU Immigration Team Holiday Gift Tree

December 17

Who benefits: Immigrant Families being helped by VUU. They are three families from Columbia with children and one adult couple from Afghanistan. We are also gifting two VUU member families.

Ways you you help:

  1. Choose a GIFT TAG from the Gift Tree on the patio December 10. Go online and order the gift on your tag. Check the box to have it shipped to the Cherington address. We’ll wrap and deliver the gift. (Or you can purchase the gift and bring it to VUU by December 17.)
  2. Purchase a grocery / retail / gas GIFT CARD from Fry’s, Safeway, Food City, Target or Walmart. Bring it to the Gift Tree table December 17.
  3. Donate CASH for the Immigration team to distribute to families to help pay monthly rent.
  • Bring your $ or check to VUU and put it in the Immigration Team Gift Tree Donations box at the Gift Tree Table December 17.
  • Donate $ online at Scroll down from “Give to Operating” to the “Give to Refugee Assistance” link.

Gift Card and Cash donations will be matched by a VUU Special Funds grant!

Border Support beyond the Gift Tree: Place donations in the Refugee Aid bin in the Sanctuary. December needs include lightly used or new winter clothing, especially sweatshirts, sweaters and coats for men and women (S/M/L) and children to teens (all sizes).

Submitted by Barb Quijada

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. 

December 25th I-HELP Dinner

Our Christmas evening meal features tamales with all the trimmings. You can sign up here.

Please deliver ready-to-serve items to the VUU sanctuary between 5:30-6:00 pm. You may also drop off non-perishable or cold items in the sanctuary kitchen on Sunday. If you have any questions, or need to make special arrangements, please contact Laura Rohlfing at 480-249-6287 or

Thank you very much for your generosity!

If you have any questions or would like to be placed on the I-HELP email sign up list, please contact Laura Rohlfing at

Submitted by Laura Rohlfing, I-HELP Coordinator

Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation |