Bending the Arc
– Rev. Jim VanderWeele, Interim Minister
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
I share these quotes (and the picture) with the hope of displaying an “arc-edness” to life. Many of the events in our lives can easily be seen as such an arc.
Now, you may have heard someone say, “Every step I take leads to two steps backward.” This refers to an arc that has tied itself up. For one reason or the other (no vision for the future, conflicts that have interfered, a loss of enthusiasm, of being overworked or overcome with fatigue) the arc of life wraps in upon itself.
By contrast, setting a course and knowing where you wish to go keeps an arc moving forward. A settled mind, that has questioned and tested formulations, then arrived at a conclusion, keeps pointing in a forward direction, and the body will follow the head, no matter the arcs, or their number.
Have you ever spoken about “turning a corner?”, “adjusting your perspective?”, “finding a new way to look at things?” I have. And, over time, I have come to expect that one of these “questions of direction” will roll around every so often. When they do, it is my attempt to attune to my inner wisdom, and my intuition, and work through an assessment of plusses and minuses. These serve as guidelines, and they help set a new course.
If you appreciate the words of MLK, Jr., as do I, please consider that the correlation he addresses is more complicated than it appears. Similar words, from Theodore Parker, show a greater arc within them. Said Parker, “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”
Parker’s vision involved humility (I do not pretend), understanding (the arc is a long one), a limit (my eye reaches but little ways), and an intuition (I can divine it by conscience). All of them, together, point the way toward his conclusion (I am sure it bends towards justice).
As I leave my service to you, it is my prayer that each of you here, as well as this entire community, keep this in play at Northlake UU. There will be no forward momentum—there can be no forward momentum—should the incentive for justice be lost. You are an important spiritual community in this area. You have fought battles and may fight them again. I thank you for your efforts, your ongoing efforts, to bring a greater justice, and a greater sense of justice, back into this world.
There is also another arc to consider. Northlake UU has bent its way through a transition. You have strengthened your footing, rediscovered your course, and feel yourself headed to right relations (an ongoing task, for each and everyone here). Despite these efforts, there will be trials ahead. May you be well prepared for them. May you be ready and willing to be the best religious community you can be. And may you be blessed for all you have done, and for all you will continue to do.
Finally, I am most grateful for the opportunity to have served you. You gifted me with the chance to elevate my appreciation for the beauties of the Earth, and the spirit of life and love here in Seattle.
Passing the Batons at Northlake
– Chris K.
Just as all of us continue to change and transform, so does our Northlake staff. As many of you know, this was our last week with Rev. Jim as our interim minister and Sandy Naranjo as our church administrator and rentals manager.
It is with sincere gratitude, sadness, and joy that we wish both of these wonderful people farewell from the roles they have each held for a while now—two years for Rev. Jim, and six years for Sandy. We have gratitude for how much they have both contributed to keeping Northlake moving forward even in rough times, reminding us through word and deed of our shared UU values and who we are as a congregation. It’s sad to imagine that such key people in the life of our church simply won’t be at Northlake in a week. With joy, we recognize that this is an opportunity for Rev. Jim to enjoy retirement, and for Sandy to seek the next chapter in her evolution and then rejoin us in the months ahead as a member.
It is also with joy that we welcome Rev. Nancy Reid-McKee as our new settled minister in the next week, and Becky Walker as our new church administrator. They each bring a wealth of life experiences, skills, wisdom, energy, and longtime UU engagement that will uniquely allow them to take on their new roles and help us keep advancing forward and upward. Please greet them when you have a chance, show grace as they get up to speed, and offer to lend a hand if the opportunity arises.
Thanks again to Sandy and Rev. Jim for all of their contributions. Thanks also to the teams of people that searched for and found Becky and Rev. Nancy and invited them to Northlake. Together, we will (continue to) do great things and have a positive impact on our world!
$10,974 Donated to Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)
– Fran W.
About ten years ago the Northlake congregation took a special collection to invest in Oikocredit International, a microfinance cooperative focused on providing access to useful and affordable financial products and services to clients who might be excluded by larger financial institutions. These clients are small enterprises headed by low-income people, most-often women. Example entities include a bakery in El Salvador with 12 employees, basket weavers in Cambodia, and fair-trade coffee growers in Honduras.
NUUC members Warren J. and Mary Jane J. learned about Oikocredit at a UUA General Assembly and encouraged the congregation to invest in the program.
I don’t recall the details of Northlake’s investment. I believe there were matching funds up to $2,000 from UUSC. Northlake met that challenge and more. Northlake opted to have earned interest reinvested in additional microcredit loans.
The program ran smoothly for years. Then Oikocredit underwent some reorganization and details become even more hazy. Oikocredit International decided to accept investment money primarily from European countries (as I understand it). Northlake’s invested principle and accrued interest were returned with a recommendation to reinvest through Oikocredit US. More confusing circumstances followed, and the reinvestment didn’t happen.
This money had been collected to promote social justice and needed to be put to good use. This spring, Northlake’s Board, working with Mary Jane, decided to donate the money to UUSC. In late June 2019, Northlake donated $10,973.94 to UUSC.
I was delighted to learn of this donation and hope you are too. If you have clarifying information, please share it.
The “Thank You” letter from UUSC highlights some of its current programs:
“With Northlake UU Church’s support, UUSC is working to build a world free from oppression by putting local voices and values first. Hand-in-hand with more that 70 grassroots partner organizations, UUSC is offering protections for families fleeing violence in Central America, empowering grassroots efforts to respond to discriminatory policies in the United States, protecting the rights of communities displaced by climate change, and working with refugees fleeing war and violence. Together, we are supporting people under siege and promoting the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”
Preemptive Radical Inclusion: Behaviors of Welcome Workshop
To register, please email Director of Lifespan Religious Education, Margaret Rogers
Inclusion is frequently (mis)understood as an outcome, a destination, a goal. CB frames inclusion as a move in a process toward justice.
Preemptive Radical Inclusion (PRI) takes seriously the agency people have in a given situation and calls upon us to preemptively and radically create the conditions for inclusion. The successful outcome of this process will be increased justice and equity.
To practice preemptive radical inclusion is to accept the ethical and justice imperative to prepare for a welcome, to be accountable to all those who are not yet among us, and are not yet experiencing equity in the world. When we practice preemptive radical inclusion, we do not wait for someone to say they have a particular need or identity—we accept the responsibility to anticipate and prepare. We always behave as if everyone is already and always in the room. We recognize that if done well, it is we who will change.
CB will help us explore the idea of PRI and help us examine our commitments, our openness to intentionally create a community of welcome, and our willingness to put down past assumptions, habits, and beliefs in order to risk being relevant. We will use dialogue, storytelling, video, music, and reflection in the course of our time together.
This workshop will involve:
- a basic introduction to the idea of preemptive radical inclusion as a movement toward increasing justice in the world and in our congregations;
- opportunities to explore with one another how to make it meaningful within your own congregational setting;
- opportunities to practice behaviors of welcome and interrupt behaviors that are not welcoming;
- and an invitation to identify your own next move in your personal learning.
CB has asked that we invite/encourage people to bring handwork, comfortable chairs, or whatever else is needed in order to be present and comfortable in the room.
All Northlakers are encouraged to attend the workshop!
About the Facilitator
CB specializes in facilitating learning experiences that involve issues of marginalization, oppression, and privilege; helping participants hold the complexities of our lives in perspective, and co-creating a safe[r] brave[r] space within which people can be challenged to learn and grow.
They are a frequent presenter and consultant in congregations and schools on Preemptive Radical Inclusion, safer communities/congregations, and supporting LBG and gender creative and transgender/non-binary children.
Previous to full-time consulting, they served as the full time Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence for 16 years after holding several different educational and training positions in other fields. CB is this year’s recipient of the UUA’s Angus H. MacLean Award for Excellence in Religious Education https://bit.ly/2GVbzol
CB is a white, non-binary, queer, sometimes able-bodied person.
For more information, visit JusticeandPeaceConsulting.com
Scents: Please be inclusive and respectful of one another by avoiding the use of perfume or scented products.
Potluck: Please provide labels that list all of the ingredients in any dishes you provide, and if you bring purchased foods, e.g. cookies or chips, keep them in their original bag. We will practice Preemptive Radical Inclusion in our meal planning and preparation.
* if you forget, we will have ingredient cards available for people to fill in when you arrive.
Location and Accessibility: Woodinville UU in the Sanctuary building. The Sanctuary is wheelchair accessible, on the main floor of the main building. There is air conditioning, and gender inclusive restrooms are located near the nursery on the same floor with the sanctuary.
There will be a sound system in use, and a slide deck will be used to provide visual learning points.
Service animals are welcome. Woodinville UU has a policy of no pets on campus without specific authorization.
It’s Registration time at Northlake! Please help us plan for the coming church year by registering your children and youth for Sunday morning classes and Our Whole Lives (OWL).
Children’s Religious Education (CRE) Registration 2019-2020
Our Sunday morning classes for children and youth will begin mid-September. We are looking forward to having your children and youth join us! You can pick up a paper registration form on Sunday morning, or register online here. The registration materials have more detailed information about the classes offered this year.
Our Whole Lives 8th-9th grade Registration
Registration for Our Whole Lives classes for 8th-9th graders is also open! We are teaming up with Woodinville UU, and we anticipate classes will be held Sunday afternoon after church services, with a parent orientation September 22, and classes running from October to May. Please register here. For more information, please email Director of Lifespan Religious Education Margaret Rogers.
We anticipate offering Elementary OWL classes for levels K-1st grade and 4th-5th grade in January 2020 as well. Registration will begin in October for the elementary level.
What is Our Whole Lives (OWL)?
Our Whole Lives is a lifespan sexuality education curricula for six age groups: grades K-1, grades 4-6, grades 7-9, grades 10-12, young adults (18-35), and adults.
Grounded in a holistic view of sexuality, Our Whole Lives provides accurate, age-appropriate factual information while also helping participants clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of sexuality. Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior.
Northlake supports the OWL program and offers these classes because we believe in the values OWL teaches: self-worth, sexual health, responsibility, justice and inclusivity. We believe that our children are safer and healthier when they have developmentally-appropriate information about sexuality and relationships presented in a way that aligns with our Unitarian Universalist values. Most importantly, the OWL program supports parents as their children’s primary sexuality educators. Whether or not you choose to enroll your child in the OWL class, you may find the resources and materials useful for your family. Please contact Director of Lifespan Religious Education Margaret Rogers by email or by telephone 425-822-0171 if you would like to view the curriculum.
Board Reports | August 2019
Thanks for the great Farewell Party on July 12th. It was a good time for all who were able to attend.
It has all been about transitioning recently.
During these last few weeks I have handed off items to Rev. Nancy, filling her in on many details of Northlake’s life. She joined our staff meeting yesterday—a great opportunity to show her how these have worked. She and I will meet several additional times during the next few days, once for a focus on pastoral care concerns, another for tea with East Side UU colleagues.
We have also welcomed Becky onto the team during this past month. She is carefully studying many aspects of the church administrator/rental leader role and appears to be doing very well with that effort. Pleased that she was hired. Kudos to the HR team for their efforts.
It has also been good to see Mary Ellen’s efforts to reshape and improve our office space. Mary Ellen and Margaret have looked at a variety of possible furnishings, always keeping an eye on storage. I have occasionally asked a question or two—not much; yet concerned that any related items will not be overlooked.
These last few weeks have included visits to several people who are hospitalized or are under the care of Hospice. I have tried to maintain a close connection to those ailing and whose health is failing during the entire interim, but especially so during these past few months.
As this interim era is nearing its end it feels right to remind you that there will be trials ahead. You lead an institution composed of many different people and you can expect that one or the other of them may someday get a bee in their bonnet. I am immensely pleased with your effort to draft a Covenant of Right Relations. It is my hope you will keep it before you. In addition, your 5-year plan needs to be revised and updated. Once designed, it should help keep your rudder pointed in the direction you and your members desire.
With best wishes,
– Rev. Jim VanderWeele
WORSHIP TEAM REPORT
The worship team has been focused on filling the pulpit and all service roles over the summer, giving a fond farewell to Rev. Jim, and preparing for Rev. Nancy to join us. We’ve been preparing for our Ingathering and Water Communion service, and thinking about how to move forward with the AV booth project.
|Aug-11||Transformation||Rev. Jim||Wishing You Well|
|Aug-18||Transformation||Vincent Lachina||Title TBD
[helping us through transition]
|Aug-25||Transformation||Rev. Nancy||Poetry Transforms Us|
|Sep-1||Expectation||Carl Schwartz||Title TBD|
|Sep-8||Expectation||Rev. Nancy||Title: “What Will You Bring?” Ingathering/Water Communion: A Multi-generational service|
DIRECTOR OF LIFESPAN RELIGIOUS EDUCATION REPORT
Margaret’s Office Hours for Summer 2019
Tuesdays 10 am – 3 pm (staff meeting 10-12pm)
Sundays 9 am – 3 pm
Meetings by appointment.
Work from home:
Hours not set. Some hours will be for personal study, some for planning for 2019-2020.
OWL training in Bellevue August 30-September 1st.
Summary of Activities
- Continued support of Adult RE covenant group.
- Attended monthly professional development meeting (LREDA); and PNWD LREDA monthly board meetings.
- Monthly update of bulletin board for Soul Matters Family Resource Packet “Soulful Home”
- Prepared Resource Packet for Soul Matters Small Groups and facilitated monthly meeting.
- Continued work with Rentals team , Sandy N. and Becky W. on resetting spaces throughout the sanctuary building and office, with MaryEllen’s awesome organizational help.
- Attended LREDA Professional Retreat in Olympia, WA, with presentation and workshop by Rev. Susan Karlson of the UU Trauma Response Ministry, July 29-31 (https://www.traumaministry.org/)
- Organized Raspberry Picking and scheduling other Summer Fun events for community building.
- Currently in process of organizing OWL classes and regular RE classes for 2019-2020.
- Registered teachers for OWL training over Labor Day weekend. Continued logistics planning for OWL classes.
- Worked with Robin, Lauren and Activities team to honor Sandy’s service to Northlake after July 28 service.
Our LREDA (Liberal Religious Educators Association) professional retreat this summer focused on learning about the resources available to congregations through the UU Trauma Response Ministry. In addition to being available for assistance and support after a critical incident, the UU Trauma Response Ministry has resources to share and guidance for supporting people through difficult periods in their lives. Rev. Susan Karlson, who presented the workshop, also shared information about recognizing signs of trauma to watch for in children at different developmental stages. Northlake’s Caring Team and Safety Team may also be interested in reviewing the UU Trauma Response Ministry’s website for additional relevant resources.
EASTSIDE INSIGHT MEDITATION REPORT
Eastside Insight Meditation on Thursday, Aug. 1, welcomed Ajahn Ritthi, the abbot of Atammayatarama Buddhist Monastery in Woodinville. Nearly 40 people attended, including Rev. Jim, and Ajahn Ritthi gave an insightful talk about “dhamma in daily life.”
The group also just finished a six-week introduction to meditation class, which attracted several people from the region to the Northlake campus.
– Steve Wilhelm
ACTIVITIES TEAM REPORT
The Activities Committee is collaborating with the Worship Team, Seamsters, Religious Education, and others to ensure Rev. Jim receives a warm good-bye this Sunday, August 11, and Rev. Nancy receives a sunny hello on Sunday, August 18, during the Board-sponsored BBQ.
We are still looking for a couple of volunteers for some small final touches for this Sunday and some decorations for next Sunday. Contact Des P. to learn more.
Thank you to Robin, Margaret, Tracy, Lauren, and all the other folks who worked hard to make sure that Sandy had a lovely farewell party.
Robin continues to oversee the Coffee Hour program with assistance from Betty, Diane, Minnette, and others.
August / September items to look forward to:
Rev. Jim Farewell Aug 11
Board BBQ and Rev. Nancy welcome Aug 18
Labor Day Camp Out Weekend – Contact Cyndy for more information
September Circle Supper – Contact Janelle for more information
Autumn Family Game Night or Similar Gathering – more details soon
Small group gatherings to continue to welcome and get to know Rev. Nancy – more details soon
– Desiree P.
MUSIC COMMITTEE REPORT
The music team is fairly quiet during the summer. We have organized a few small groups to perform to add a different dimension to services. Tracy Y. will be taking over leadership of the music team in the fall. I will trade her for the music librarian position, which is much more to my strengths. The available choir members are putting together special a song for Rev. Jim’s final Sunday. We have also spent quite a bit of time working on organizing the sheet music files.
– Cathleen B.
MEANINGFUL MOVIES REPORT
Meaningful Movies Kirkland will return from our summer hiatus in September with “Harvest of Empire: a History of Latinos in America.”
We will offer a new option that I’m very excited about that will make it more possible for families to join us. With Margaret’s help, if a family makes a reservation, the children will be able to watch a children’s film downstairs while we show a documentary upstairs. Jean G. is pursuing films that entertain and are meaningful for children.
Howard and Barbara, our longstanding refreshment team will be stepping down which I understand but saddens me although I am very grateful for their dedication and thank them profusely. We are looking for a new team or we may simplify to just offering water and popcorn. Anyone with any interest or questions please contact me.
The other good news is that so many people have suggestions for documentaries it is a challenge to pick what we will show for the rest of the season.
– France R.
MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE REPORT
Membership is looking forward to the fall and the next set of classes.
– Cyndy J.