January 4, 2024

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This Sunday at VUU



Sunday, January 7

Listening Sessions–Tell us what makes VUU your congregational home and how you experience this community–its challenges, opportunities and possibilities!

The VUU board and Committee on Shared Ministry will facilitate listening sessions designed to make space for members to share their perspectives on what’s important for VUU and for their own spiritual life with VUU. We are maximizing this opportunity by offering three different time frames on that day to give each of you an hour to share and to listen to others talk about what’s most important to you.

Continued 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

See 2023-2024 Curriculum Here


8:30 am Meditation

9:00 am Discussion  

In person, in the board room, and

Via Zoom here

January 7 listening sessions, Continued...

The sanctuary is closed for final construction projects, and we will use spaces on the education side of campus and office building to host these small circles.  

Once you’ve signed up, we will assign you to a small group session of 5-8 people with a facilitator. Three questions will be asked that allow each of you to share feedback on your experience at VUU with the facilitator (and each other). Notes will be taken and a final “wonder card” will be given to each participant to help us consider possibilities for the future that arise from the conversations. 

The time slots are:

9:00-10:00a (72 seats/9 groups); 

10:30-11:30a (64 seats/8 groups)*, and 

12:45 to 1:45a (34 seats/4 groups ).  

Online session 12:45-1:45 (24 places/3 groups, open to anyone). 

We’ll have two coffee breaks/social time between the three sessions from 10:00 -10:30 and 11:30-12:00.  We will need help setting up and cleaning up. 

Please note*, the 10:30-11:30 session slots are for parents with children and youth in Faith Formation classes that will be in session at the same time and participants in the Dalai Lama group that meets 9:00-10:00 a.m. As we prepare to replace our long time Faith Formation Director, Marci Beaudoin (who leaves in May), we really need your feedback at this time.

We have a few slots at that time for new people who make their first visit to VUU on January 7, and if there are open slots still by January 5, we will open these to other members. The 12:45-1:45 slots are being held first for parents with kids in OWLIf there are open slots still by January 5, we will open these to other members. We have 100 kids enrolled in faith formation and in OWL. Thank you for understanding this structure. To sign up, use link below. If you are having trouble signing up, please email Rev. Sarah and tell me your name and the time slot you are signing up for. Please put “Listening Session” in the subject line.

Sign Up Here

Sneak Peak at Upcoming Services

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 or audio lecture:

University Lecture, or a Ted Talk, or Short conversation that went viral about overcoming prejudice to be a better American, or 10 series podcast that follows on the work of her book

January 21 - 51st Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

As our UU the Vote team works with HealthCare Rising, organizer Matthew Yatsayte helps lead a program about the ballot initiative that would create an initiated constitutional amendment securing the right to an abortion in Arizona. Petitions are being circulated to move this initiative forward. Matthew Yatsayte will share about his work with HealthCare Rising and why this issue is important to him. Training for folks who want to join in on this work will follow the program. Location and details TBA. 

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. 


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


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Thursday, January 4

Friday, January 5

Saturday, January 6

  • Creativity Matters 4p

Sunday, January 7

  • No Regular Service
  • Dalai Lama and Friends 8:30a
  • Listening Sessions 9/10:30/12:45
  • Faith Formation Classes 10:30a
  • Spotted OWL Parents 12:45p
  • Burrowing OWL Parents 12:45p
  • Spotted OWL Class 12:45p
  • Burrowing OWL Class 12:45p

Monday, January 8

  • Pastoral Care Meeting 6:30p

Tuesday, January 9

  • East VUU Women's Group 1p
  • Men's Group 7p

Wednesday, January 10

  • DnD Games 5:30p
  • Special Funds Meeting 6p

Thursday, January 11

  • EastVUU Gathering 6:30p
  • Spirit of Life Reading Circle 7p

Friday, January 12

  • Anti Racism Workshop 9a

Saturday, January 13

  • Anti Racism Workshop 9a

Sunday, January 14

  • Dalai Lama & Friends ZOOM 8:30a
  • Faith Formation Classes 10:30a
  • Sunday Service 10:30a
  • No OWL Classes
  • Immigration Team 11:45a
  • Voices Lifted 12:15a

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

Desert Notes from Rev. Sarah

Ministerial Discretionary Fund: On Christmas Eve, I invited you to donate directly to our newly created ministerial discretionary fund, which provides a vessel for me to care for members of our community in need in various ways, while holding their struggles with compassion and dignity. Sometimes in our times of need we find ourselves knocking at doors that do not open and do not have the capacity to help. 

This fund is one way we make room for each other in times of need. I am grateful for the commitment of this congregation and its caring ministries that continue to nurture our shared needs and for your generosity which stretches us to imagine a world where all of us have what we need to live the lives we choose. You can make a donation to this by noting it on your check or through the drop down menu on our VUU Giving link


UUA Seeds for the New Year

As our next few Sundays won’t be normal services in the sanctuary, I am sharing this gift from the UUA of a service created for the new year. Watch when you need something inspiring! –Rev. Sarah

VUU Updates

Signpost with the words important and urgent on a whiteboard. Conceptual.


The holidays may be over, but you can help make sure there are still plenty of FUUNd things to do in 2024 by getting your auction donation in TODAY!

The deadline for donating to the 2024 FUUNd auction is January 14. Last year we auctioned off more than 90 events, parties, hikes, outings, handmade items, lessons, services, vacation get-aways and tasty treats. We currently have fewer than 40 donations.

PLEASE DONATE NOW! Just click on this link and complete the form: Let's Have

FUUNd Together 2024 (auctria.com)

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

Need a co-host or other help with your event? Email fuundtogether@vuu.org.


Sanctuary Transformation Update

This week the contractors completed the ceiling repairs (removed 20 old speakers and refinished the entire ceiling), primed the walls, changed out the kitchen doors, and got ready for painting. The kitchen electric and cabinets come next, and then the bathroom refresh! We look forward to having the voltage to run our new stove, dishwasher, garbage disposal and microwave, maybe all at the same time. And cabinets galore for VUU, IHelp, and Nefesh Soul.


We look forward to completing our work and celebrating together in mid-January when the transformation is complete. Questions, contact capcam@vuu.org.

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


Thanks from the Sanctuary Transformation Team!


New Member Class

January 20, from 9:00 am - 1:00 pm in the VUU Board Room (in the office building on the west side of the parking lot.) Register/RSVP here 

Learn about Unitarian Universalism, Valley UU, and find your own starting point at VUU and the pathway to membership. Anyone welcome. Current VUU leaders and members are welcome to join us. Class led by Rev. Sarah and Beverly McCormick.

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 MusicDirector@vuu.org.

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.

The VUU Voices Choir Wednesdays, 6:00-7:30 pm

Rehearsals are on Wednesdays in the Sanctuary from 6:00-7:30 pm. To see the 2023-2024 schedule please click here. To access sheet music and vocal tracks for songs we are working on, please click here.

Choral Vocal Workshop at Christy Vest’s studio – January 10

Due to construction happening in the Sanctuary in January, choir rehearsal in the sanctuary is cancelled for January 10. However, singers are invited to attend a choral vocal workshop with Christy Vest in Christy’s studio on January 10, 6:00-7:30 pm. Join us as we explore vocal styles, refine techniques, and celebrate the power of individual and collective voices. Contact Christy for address information and any questions at christyruthvest@gmail.com.

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 9:00-10:00 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: MusicDirector@vuu.org.!


EastVUU Zoom Meeting - January 11 6:30p

Where are you growing in 2024? Do you like or hate New Year’s resolutions? In what ways would you wish to grow spiritually? Let’s share possibilities. All UUs and friends welcome!

EastVUU Zoom link 

Sign in # 408915517

Password: 293512

Food for Life and the Planet (FLP)

FLP Brown Bag Lunch on ZOOM

Who doesn’t want life to be a little easier? Double that thought when it comes to cooking! Let’s talk about hacks to reduce the amount of time we spend in the kitchen preparing our delicious and healthy foods.

Date:     Friday, January 12

Time:    12 Noon

ZOOM Link:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88367843970

Below are some articles and videos to get the conversation started. Don’t let the word “vegan” scare you off! It’s all about healthy and environmentally-friendly food preparation.

Please try a few of these to report to the group… or bring your own to share for the benefit and cooking pleasure of all!

19 Vegan Food Hacks That Will Change Your Life (USA Today)

10 Vegan Food Hacks That Will Change Your Life (YouTube Video)

A Simple Hack for Easier Plant-based Meals  (You Tube Video)

17 Cooking Hacks Every Vegan Should Know (BuzzFeed)

Top 5 Plant-based Protein Hacks (The Kind Life)

We hope you’ll join us! For more information, contact Denise Mcleod or Linda Ruehlman.

Faith Formation

Spirit of Life Reading Circle - January 11 7p

Readings are available here. Join Zoom Meeting here

Camp de Beneville Pines

SuperHero Academy camp is for grades K through 6 and their families

2024 UU Elementary Family Winter Camp

February 17 - 19


Together we'll harness the forces of confidence, character, and creativity to discover the superpowers hidden inside us all. Winter camp is the perfect way to spend quality time with the family, as well as allow children the opportunity for personal growth and foster independence.




Registration Opens January 13th for three highly anticipated camps! These camps sell out fast so be sure to register early. Click the below to learn more.

Rainbow Family 4/5-4/7

UU Women's Retreat 5/3-5/5

Yoga & Whole Living 5/17-5/19

Joys and Concerns

Share your Joys and Concerns here.

Voices Lifted is a small group of women singers that can provide vocal music at bedside to calm, heal, or uplift. If you or a family member needs comfort at home, in hospital, or in hospice care, please contact Lynn DeMuth via the Pastoral Care team at pastoralcare@vuu.org.

Fellowship and Social Activities

The Page Turners' 2024 Book Selection Party - January 18

January 18, 2024 7:00 PM

2024 Book Selection Meeting

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 is January 18 at 7:00 PM, we will meet at the home of Johnnie Godfrey in Tempe (near Baseline Rd. and the 101).
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.

For the meeting address, please email agmonahan@gmail.com.

Giving / Volunteering

Volunteering 2nd Fridays at Paz de Cristo

Continuing the Tradition…Keeping the Commitment…Living our Principles

January date: 2nd Friday, January 12, 4:00-7:00pm

Location: 424 W. Broadway Rd., Mesa, AZ

Click here for the sign up link

Families welcome!

Please join us as we serve the evening meal to Paz de Cristo guests on the second Friday, January 12. Volunteers gather at the Paz kitchen/dining room from 4-7p to prepare and serve the evening meal.

Questions? Contact Joanne at (602) 620-3100. Please sign up for this rewarding experience at www.vuu.org/paz/.

-Submitted by Joanne McGrath

VIP Leaders' Retreat January 12 & 13

Building leadership skills within its dues-paying member congregations is a key part of Valley Interfaith Project’s mission. The VIP Leaders' Retreat is a chance for VUU members and friends to build our leadership skills—and to build relationships with VIP congregations from around the Valley. Please join us!

Time and date:

Friday, January 12, 5:00-8:00 pm (dinner at 5:00, sessions begin at 5:30)

Saturday, January 13, 9:00 am-3:00 pm (lunch included)


St. Louis the King Catholic Church

4331 W Maryland Ave, Glendale, AZ 85301

Sessions will include:

• How to plan and lead house meetings

• Direction for 2024 leading up to the election

• Building teams to organize in your institution

• VIP budget and raising money

• Updates on Arizona Career Pathways

• Reading and discussion groups

You are encouraged to attend the entire retreat as much as possible. The retreat will be bilingual. To RSVP and for more information (including readings and suggested donation), please click here.

-Submitted by Barb Quijada

Immigration Action Team

Border Support

700 crosses pay tribute to the lives lost along the Rio Grande in 2023.

Students, clergy, and local residents joined The Eagle Pass Border Coalition to set up wooden crosses over half an acre at the city's Shelby Park, each representing a person who perished in their attempt to cross into the United States in search of a better life.

Many of the crosses are painted pink or baby blue in memory of the children who have died on the border this year. "We all have an immigration story to tell and we want people to remember that these are lives. These are families," said Amerika Garcia-Grewal, an organizer with the Eagle Pass Border Coalition. They came together to send a message to the world about the humanity of the immigration issue.

"These are people just trying to survive in a really changing world. And that's something that we can tell just living here, being who we are," she told NPR.

The memorial at Shelby Park was a chance to welcome the community back to the park that was once the epicenter of Gov. Greg Abbott's Operation Lone Star program that has militarized the area with barbed wire, spiked buoys, and thousands of National Guard and DPS troopers. Read the full article here.

Poor People's Campaign Friends & Supporters

In collaboration with the national Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, we are organizing Arizona for a national day of Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers’ State House Assemblies & To The Polls at the AZ Capitol-Wesley Bolin Plaza!

Join us on Saturday, March 2nd

at noon at the Arizona Capitol!

Share this information with your friends, neighbors and other justice organizations that you support. Help us plan, organize and implement this important event. Send us an email and we'll invite you to the next organizing meeting, Saturday, January 6th, 10:30a-12:00p.

Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation | vuu.org