Food for Our Souls:
Opportunity for Good

Perhaps during this holiday season, you too have been deluged with requests for donations from political, charitable, and arts organizations. If you are planning end-of-year donations, consider our many local organizations that serve individuals and families up and down the coast who are vulnerable due to financial difficulties, mental health issues, or discrimination. Three core service agencies serve the Coast: Pacifica Resource Center for the Pacifica area, Coastside Hope for the Midcoast, and Puente for the South Coast. 

Additionally, many other organizations serve specific groups. Among them are Abundant Grace, serving the homeless population; ALAS, serving Latino members of the community; the Boys and Girls Club, serving Coastside youth, Coast Pride serving those who identify as LGBTQ+; and Senior Coastsiders, providing a range of services for the elderly. 

And if you read this newsletter after December 31st, what better way to start the New Year than to support Coastside non-profits that make a real difference in improving the lives of your friends and neighbors.

UUCC First Sunday Service, January 7th, 11am

The Touchstones Theme for January is Justice. On January 7th, we warmly welcome back Ron Ahnen, PhD to the UUCC pulpit with a sermon entitled "The Challenge of Peace."

As we begin a new year, we acknowledge the pain of the on-going conflict in Gaza which has seemingly spilled out into the rest of the world. How is peace possible? How does this conflict touch our lives? In our New Year’s service, guest minister and Starr King student Ron Ahnen will reflect on how our UU values of pluralism, transformation, and love give us hope for creating a just and lasting peace in our lives and the world.

We will also hold a New Year's Ritual (a flame-free Burning Bowl Ritual) where we're invited to reflect and release unskillful patterns and behaviors from the previous year. We'll write these reflections on a special type of paper which instantly dissolves in water.

Beautiful music is to be provided by Diedrik and Kaj Edholm and Vera Vanderschalk. And count on some lovely hymns led by Tom Devine.

Ron Ahnen is a 4th-year part-time student at Starr King School for the Ministry, pursuing a Masters in Divinity degree with a strong interest in UU history and especially the development of religious natural humanism. He is currently a Professor of Politics at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA, where he teaches courses on Human Rights, Just War Theory, and the Politics of Imprisonment, among others. In a few years, Ron is looking forward to retiring from college teaching to take up pastoral work in a UU Congregational setting.

This live in-person service takes place at Odd Fellows Hall, 526 Main Street, Half Moon Bay, CA, 94019. Mask wearing is no longer mandatory but we encourage this added protection as a courtesy to some of our elders. Odd Fellows Hall is quite spacious for social distancing and includes a new high-circulation air ventilation system. An option to watch from home is also available on the day of the service.

For the Order of Service, click here

UUCC one-click Zoom link

or Meeting ID: 661 775 5196 Password: 416762

Please join us at 11:00 am Pacific, 2:00 pm Eastern

UUCC Holiday Service Photos, December 17th

UUCC hosted a highly successful, community bonding, holiday service on December 17th which included funny stories, original poetry, and the poem "Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem," by Maya Angelou. Below are some photos from our holiday gathering as we filled the room with laughter and song.

Phil's homemade chalice sugar cookies.

A warm gathering of friends for the holidays.

We sang a mix of traditional and secular holiday carols with Tom and Vera.

Tom's mother's Snowball Cookie recipe and Joanne's gingerbread cookies.

Many delicious offerings, including healthy salads by Nathan and Mariel, Gary's homemade apple cider, Rita's cheese plate, Chip's super delicious Christmas log cake, plus more.

Carlean and Noreen's homemade tea sandwiches: pimento, egg salad, and cream cheese.

One of the highlights of the service was a stand-out Christmas memory by Regina Wiegand. With her permission, we have reprinted her story below:

The Magic of Memories

I can neither walk past a pine tree without crushing some needles between my fingers to inhale the strong fragrance nor glance at an old photograph of a pine forest without recalling—vividly—Christmas of 1946. Whatever faith in the survival of the human spirit and sense of mystery lie in me, they were born that December many years ago.

A very brief fragment of a Christmas memory...

When I was six, my mother rode an old rusty bicycle into the forest two hours away, furtively cut down Douglas fir and noble pine branches, stuffed them into gunny sacks, tied them to her bicycle and coaxed them back through the frigid and mountainous roads to our kitchen. When she returned, cold air and hope walked through the door with her. Her massive bounty was transformed into works of art that she sold. Then I was not aware of the physical strength it must have taken for her to do this. I was aware only of the hunger and cold.

What kept my mother going? I never saw her give in to despair. From May of 1945 until Christmas of 1946 she had lost her home and country, had walked eight hundred kilometers with her children, her sister, and her mother through a war-ravaged Eastern Europe to West Germany, and found ingenious ways of earning money to keep us abreast of starvation.

My five-foot, emaciated mother was stronger than a war, stronger than prolonged starvation, stronger than temperatures of twenty-one degrees below zero.

That Christmas of 1946, my mother, grandmother, sisters, and I sat in our kitchen, knee-deep in Douglas fir and noble pine boughs, pine cones, green crepe paper, and floral wire. The scent of pine was almost tangible. Unspoken love united us as we all helped my mother make advent wreaths. I watched her small, delicate hands, stained black with pine resin, feverishly dissect large branches into small workable segments. These she wove deftly and swiftly around variously sized hoops constructed from stripped branches. Fascinated, I watched as these skinny hoops became plump, scent-laden, three-dimensional wreaths from twelve inches to eight feet in diameter. Once sold, they were suspended horizontally -- like floating rings -- from home and store ceilings with four colorful ribbons. Four candles and decorative pine cones completed this festive addition to many homes and stores. For us, they were the difference between eating and not eating.

My mother's strength, caring, and ingenuity were accepted as 'normal' along with the difficulties of life. Like so much else, it is in retrospect that seemingly insignificant events from a distant past take on their deserved greater meaning.

Whenever I inhale the scent of pine needles or view a photograph of a pine forest, memories of my mother's strength and love flood my being.

UUCC Gallery View Sunday, Sunday, January 21st, 11am

Continuing with the January congregational theme of Justice, on January 21, Bill Heavlin offers a reflection entitled "Darned Socks: A Knitter Contemplates Justice."

In the name of justice, our criminal system follows a Biblical formulation, punishing the guilty for misdeeds—no longer exactly an eye for an eye, but proportionate punishment nonetheless. And this same justice framework implicitly undergirds the current war in Gaza. In this third Sunday service, Bill Heavlin contemplates justice through the fingers of a knitter darning a sock, repairing a sock, seeking to give a worn and torn sock a fresh future. Inspired by the research of historian Nicole Eustace, he strives to widen our perspective about what outcomes might constitute justice, and which frameworks might inspire hope.

Following the Gallery View Third Sunday format, this is a Zoom-only service.

Deeper Conversations, January 27th, 1:30pm

For this past Saturday's "Deeper Conversations on the Coast" at Cafe Society, we had nine people. The acoustics were a bit loud so we have decided to meet next time at the Half Moon Bay Coffee Company, 20 Stone Pine Rd., on Saturday, January 27th, at 1pm. We'll be using a new card game called "We're Not Really Strangers." Some sample questions include: "What is the best compliment a stranger ever has given you?," "What is something you wouldn't want to change about yourself?," and "When was the last time you surprised yourself?" Join us as we set aside the small talk and continue bonding more deeply as our UU Coastside beloved community.

Save the Date: Congregational Meeting Feb. 18, 2024

Please mark Sunday, February 18th, 11am on your calendar for next year as UUCC holds our annual Congregational Meeting to discuss some format changes for Zoom-only Third Sundays and check in with our regular attendees on how our social action outreach, community building, and service programming shaped up in 2023. There are very few congregations broadcasting Zoom-only services anymore and our attendance has been down for these Zoom-only Third Sundays. Look forward to receiving a survey in our next newsletter that will outline some of the format changes we are considering for Third Sundays.

Poetry and Reflection Corner

I Am Afraid of Nearly Everything

I am afraid of nearly everything:

of darkness,



children mutilated.

But most of all, I am afraid of what I might become:

reconciled to injustice,

resigned to fear and despair,

lulled into a life of apathy.

Unchain my hope, make me strong.

Stretch me towards the impossible, that I may work for what ought to be:

the hungry fed,

the enslaved freed,

the suffering comforted,

the peace accomplished.

— Anonymous

Call for Peace in the Gaza & Israel Conflict

Volunteer Jobs Needed for In-Person Services

Now that we are meeting in person on First Sundays, we need help in different ways. Can you commit to helping out in any of the following ways?

  • Photograph our January 7th Service
  • Bring flowers!
  • Greet people as they come in
  • Set up chairs before, and/or put them away after, the Service
  • Help unload and load video equipment for hybrid service
  • Assist with setting up video equipment for hybrid service
  • Pass out the orders of service and distribute hymnals
  • Clean up of the hall before closing

To tell us how you can help our Beloved Community come together again, please contact us at And thanks to all who have or continue to volunteer!

Compassionate Caring Committee:
The UUCC Compassionate Caring Committee volunteers are often able to support our members during life events such as post-operative, illness, or being homebound. Do you need food delivery or an errand run? Are you feeling loneliness, loss, or grief that a call might help?
Please if you’d like support or if you want to volunteer.  
We Appreciate Your Support:
For supporting UUCC financially, we have two options:
(1) Donate by Check
If you prefer to donate by check, please make your check payable to UU San Mateo, and write UUCC on the memo line. Please mail your check to:

Nancy Palmer
506 Willow Avenue
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019-1648
(2) Online with Stripe
Food for Our Souls:
Unitarian Universalist Coastside Community
Half Moon Bay, California
Bill Heavlin, UUCC Planning Committee
Dave Rokosky, UUCC Planning Committee
Noreen Cooper Heavlin, UUCC Planning Committee
Bruce Rafnel, UUCC Technical Director
Nancy Palmer, UUCC Treasurer