May 9, 2024

Click here to view The Happenings in full

This Sunday at VUU



Sunday, May 9

Beyond Acceptance, Beyond Relativism: the Spirituality of Pluralism and A Mother's Day Reflection

This Sunday Rev Sarah is out of the pulpit and in her absence Worship Associates Joel Sannes and Barbara Face will explore the theme of the month: Pluralism - what it is, how it differs from and yet builds on diversity, tolerance, and relativism. We'll discover how pluralism is aligned with UU values and goals and can be a deeply spiritual practice. We'll honor Mother's Day. We'll honor the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. There will also be an OWL (Our Whole Lives) graduation for 17 of our youth! Music presented and led by VUU Music Director Katie. Hope you can join us!

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



The Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation will hold it's Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 9, 2024, after the Service. The Meeting will be held in the Sanctuary and on-line . Elections will be held to fill open positions on the Board of Trustees, the Leadership Development Committee and the Special Funds Committee. The Congregation will also be asked to vote on proposed changes to the VUU Bylaws regarding use of electronic ballots for absentee voting and the addition of the Seven Principles and Sources to the VUU Bylaws. The VUU Budget for 2024/25 will also be presented for approval by the Congregation. All persons who have been registered Members of the Congregation for at least 30 days are eligible to vote. Please plan to participate in this critically important Meeting.


The VUU Board of Trustees

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


Follow us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram


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

Monday, May 13

  • Pastoral Care Team 6:30p

Tuesday, May 14

  • EastVUU Women's Group 1p
  • Special Funds Meeting 6p

Wednesday, May 15

  • DnD game 5:30p
  • VUU Voices Choir 6p
  • Men's Group 7p

Thursday, May 16

  • Finance Committee Meeting 5:30p
  • Ukester Friends 6p
  • Worship Associates Meeting 6:30p
  • Page Turners Book Club 7p

Friday, May 17

  • Rachel Smith Celebration of Life 11a

Saturday, May 18

Sunday, May 19

  • Dalai Lama and Friends 8:30a
  • Sunday Service 10:30a
  • Faith Formation Classes 10:30a
  • Marci's Retirement Party 12p
  • VUUJAZ Coffee Conversation 12p

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

Desert Notes from Rev. Sarah

There’s a lot going at VUU!  

  • If you missed last week’s worship that included deep sharing around our learning with Rev. Sam, I encourage you to watch the video and also to check out the recording of the congregational conversation. Important information about next year’s budget, pledging, and other topics like bylaws changes were covered. We engaged difficult conversations and passionate perspectives with respect and care. A new VUU participant told me they experienced these as deeply authentic and meaningful. I hope this is the case for you.

  • You’ll be getting specific updates from the board/finance team on budget, but the good news is that lots of people have increased their pledges and have made new pledges. The needle is moving. If you want to make or change a pledge, you can do this online. Thanks so much to everyone who is able to do this.  I am working with the board to change the priorities for refunding the budget to center faith formation. 

  • We know not everyone has the same resources or circumstances–we are grateful for everyone that is part of this community and the many ways you gift us with your presence and participation. Stewardship is more than money.  

  • Some folks met with me last Friday to talk about concerns they have. I am always willing to be in conversation with you. Sometimes I ask others to join us to help us create a container that will hold difficult conversations. I am out of town this Friday through next Thursday (May 10-16) for my daughter’s college graduation. Email me if you want to get on my schedule. 

  • There’s still a few spots in our TCC process with Rev. Sam to work through music program conflicts.  You can learn more or register here.  

  • Going away party and last worship with Marci is May 19. There’ll be a photo booth, fun activities for kids (and adults), refreshments, gifts, some crying, lots of hugs, and lots of chances to say goodbye. Don’t miss it! We’ll also be bridging our seniors.  

I hope a takeaway for you is that we can have hard conversations and share what’s on our minds and in our hearts–and when we listen to each other we have the opportunity to be changed, to see things differently, even if we still disagree. Agreement isn’t a requirement for belonging or respect.  

Catch you on the flip side…. Rev. Sarah

VUU Updates

By-Laws Amendment Vote: Principles and Sources

VUU members will vote on several By-Laws amendments at our annual meeting on June 9th, and the Board would like the Congregation to weigh in on a Sources and Principles Amendment in particular. This summer at GA, UU congregational delegates will vote on a rewrite of the UUA's Article II, which currently contains the Sources and Principles UUs are familiar with. Some members of VUU would like to add the Sources and Principles to VUUs By-Laws. The Board does not take a position on this amendment, but would like to support the democratic process in our congregation by allowing the Congregation to vote on this By-Laws change.  

During the Congregational Conversation on May 5th, there were calls for an amendment process for this proposal, partially regarding bullet 4 of the Sources section. The Board is evaluating the best path forward.

Section II.03 Principles

We, the members of the Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation, covenant to affirm and promote:

● The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
● Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;
● Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
● A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
● The right of conscience and the use of the democratic
process within our congregations and in society at large;
● The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
● Respect for the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part.

Section II.04 Sources

The living tradition which we share draws from many sources:

● Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
● Words and deeds of prophetic people which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion and the transforming power of love;
● Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
● Teachings of World Religions which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves; Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
● Spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As a free congregation we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.

VUU Preliminary Draft Budget

There is no doubt more interest in our FY 2024-25 budget since our congregational conversation last week.

Finance is providing a preliminary draft of 2 budgets, minimum and “model” budget that contains the deep cuts that can be funded so far. These preliminary budgets are working tools not usually released beyond Board/Staff/Finance. As such they represent where we are; they are frequently updated and are works in progress. The final budget presented to the congregation in June WILL BE DIFFERENT and depends on you.

With these understandings please examine the budget numbers in detail here. Contact any Finance or Board member if you have questions or concerns.

Also please note: Our pledge year is the calendar year; our fiscal year is July 1 – June 30. This operational year is what the budget and most programs are aligned to.

The Final budget will not be available until the Board approves it.  The budget vote will occur at the June 9th Annual Meeting.

Between now and then please use the link above to see where we are and pledge what you can; every dollar pledged is a staff position or program that will not be cut.


-Submitted by David Sheh, Finance Chair

General Assembly (GA) is Coming!  Call for Delegates!


June 19th – 23rd the annual gathering of UU’s from around the US and around the world will be held on line, this year is a virtual GA. VUU is entitled to several voting delegates, so if you are interested and have the time please let us know us know as soon as possible at


The main event: this year we will be voting on the adoption of the final Article II revisions.

To take a look at what is being proposed and a comparison between the current Article II and what is proposed:

Article II Proposal

Article II Proposal Comparison to Current Article II


For more information, follow these links:

UUA General Assembly Registration

UUA General Assembly Schedule

Input Wanted

On June 16th, VUU is going to have a service on the theological diversity of Unitarian Universalism and we'd love to have your input. If you would like to speak on being a UU Buddhist, a UU Jew, a UU Christian, UU Pagan, etc. please send me a shout on We are envisioning 3 speakers on different faiths going for 5-7 minutes. Questions to consider: What do you find beautiful about your theology? What speaks to your soul? How does it flourish within UUism?

-submitted by Mary Kate Eckles

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.


Ain't We Got FUUNd?

VUU Chooses You! Pokemon Party – Tickets are Available!

Do you have Pokemon fans in your family? Are they (and you!) for FUUNd now that school is out? Why not by them a ticket to an afternoon filled with 4-5 Pokemon games, activites and a light snack? Each ticket holder will leave with some Pokemon loot and new trainer friends. Parents are not required to purchase a ticket or to stay, but we appreciate your consideration in advance. Maria W. and Amanda L. and their boys will be your hosts.

FUUNd’s VUU Chooses You! Pokemon Party will take place at VUU in rooms 1 & 2 from 2-4 pm on June 6th. Click here to purchase tickets; email for more information.

Music Ministries

The VUU Voices Choir – last rehearsal/performance May 19

The VUU Voices Choir’s last rehearsal and performance for the spring season is May 19. We wrapped up our Wednesday rehearsals to embark on the VUU Transformative Community Conferencing (TCC) Process facilitated by Rev. Sam. You can still sign up to participate. Please email Rev. Sam for more info:

After our work with Rev. Sam, we will take a break for the summer and resume in the fall.

1-Hour Choir – June 2

The 1-Hour Choir’s last rehearsal and performance for the Spring season is June 2. We will then take a break for the summer and resume in the fall. You can still join the 1-Hour Choir and learn an easy song or two on June 2. We meet in the Sanctuary from 9 -10 am and then lead the music in the service at 10:30. Contact Katie 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"

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

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.

Joys and Concerns

Michael Santoro

Shari Melton’s 45-year-old son, Michael Santoro, died suddenly and unexpectedly this past Monday morning. His family with four small children live in Tempe and Shari is with them now. She’s not ready to receive texts and calls but cards would be appreciated. The address is 10543 E Palladium, Mesa 85212. Her partner Jerry Martin shares her grief. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of them.

Marion and Mark Hammer

Mark and I have participated and enjoyed worshiping with your community for the last 12 years during our snowbird time in Arizona. We planned to fly home April 12 however on April 11 Mark had stroke. He has made tremendous progress with the help of Banner Rehab and has been discharged with the help of a cane. We flew home on Saturday and are welcomed back to our INUUC church. It has been a difficult time for us but with excellent medical care and helpful neighbors we came out strong and plan to return to Mesa next fall. Hope to see you all then.

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

Gen X & Millennials Pool Party

Calling all Gen X and Millennials! Join us for a pool party on Saturday, May 18th, from 7-10 pm. Please email Kate McGee at for details.

Circle Suppers Group

Would you like to get to know more people from the VUU community? Join the Circle Suppers group and participate in monthly potluck dinners. A purely social event, there are no requirements aside from having a good time. On the first Saturday of each month, small groups of 8 or 10 meet at a host’s house for a meal and conversation. The hosts and attendees are always changing, so each month you will get to meet and visit with new people. Participants are not required to host and most dietary restrictions can be accommodated. Singles, couples, and families are welcome, and you don’t need to be a VUU member to participate. Contact: Nick Carr

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

Note: There will be no Singles Dinner in May due to the holiday weekend. There will be a luncheon on June 14.

-Submitted by Jodi Freeman

Spirit of Life Reading Circle

Our next meeting is 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.

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

Giving / Volunteering

See What Happens To Your Ballot!

Your UU the Vote Team is arranging a private tour of the MCTEC (Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center) so we can become educated on exactly what's happening with ballots after they are cast.

Enjoy a private tour exclusively for VUU members and friends. We will be selecting a date in early June - tentatively set for June 4th at 1 PM pending interest from the congregation - for the tour.

Please sign up at the UU the Vote table before or after services.

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:

We are still asking for small handheld cups of applesauce or fruits, as well as squeeze tubes of same. These are being taken to Sasabe Area where humanitarians pass out after cartels bring men, women, and children looking for safety in our country. These items are low-cost to purchase in Dollar Trees, and Dollar General, etc.

Thank you for your continuing donations of clothing that is needed at the area asylum secret shelters.

-Submitted by Sharon Kopina

Partners in Education (PIE)

This week we are collecting contributions for next Friday's PIE Bash. Last year we provided pies and coffee for about $250. Please let Perii know if you can help! Call or text Perii Skolnick,, 413 429-6937

We need Bilingual Volunteers for our after-school program. Please let us know if you are interested or know someone who might be. We will be happy to arrange a visit to Adams to see this amazing program in action. Contact Randall Casillas, or Perii Skolnick, for more information. 

-Submitted by Perii Skolnick

Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation |