Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Service - November 29th 2009

Connecting With the Muslim World
Huseyin Hurmali

Huseyin Hurmali is a leader in building bridges toward peace and international understanding between the west and the Muslim world. He is a part of the Gullen movement in Turkey that is based on values UU’s would love: aspirations for interfaith respect and dialogue, and international collaboration based on love, unity, service and the dignity of every person. These progressive Muslims offer a refreshing perspective on the Muslim faith and a series of impressive efforts to serve humanity with fellowship.

Huseyin has led many study tours to Turkey which have developed personal connections and friendships between westerners and Muslims. With the spirit of thanksgiving in this holiday season, it is time to us to reach out to strengthen mutual understanding and collaboration. Huseyin will provide us with perspective, values, and possible strategies for the work we must engage in as UU’s.

Monday, November 16, 2009


A new, colorful birthday poster has been put up in the Narthex. Please check it out and pick a child whose birthday is coming up in November, December or January. These gifts are a very important part of our commitment to the children helped by us through the Alliance for the Care of Abused Children. Remember also to put your gifts in a gift bag and include a cake mix, frosting, candles, and “Happy Birthday” napkins are a nice addition. We add a card that tells the children that “Your friends at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Studio City wish you a happy birthday.” Please give the gifts to Donna Mae Pitluck, or anyone on the Social Action Committee: Theresa Journeau-Collins, Christine Levine, Lee Lipinski, or Gil Shorr.

Thanksgiving is also just around the corner. We would like to have our baskets ready the week before Thanksgiving. We appreciate your generosity and feel like we are constantly begging for money and stuff. Try to remember how important our show of concern and love is to these children who have only known foster care most of their lives.

Which brings me to Christmas…We will be displaying our traditional tree with names in the narthex the week before Thanksgiving. There will be FIFTY! names this year because we are adding Shauna Blakely’s caseload to Karla Vasquez’s. We would like to be able to get the gifts to Karla and Shauna at least one week before Christmas. So please pick a paper ornament with a child’s name on it, sign your name, and purchase a gift for that child. Please bring the gift unwrapped in a holiday bag. This is always fun and makes the season brighter for all of us.

Thank you for all you do.
Social Action Committee


The next book is The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. The group will meet Thursday, Dec. 3, 7:30 pm at the home of Pat Erickson. Call the office for contact information 818-769-5911 if you are interested.

Mission and Vision Statement Approved

At the Congregational Meeting on November 15th, the congregation approved our new mission and vision statements:

Mission Statement:
Ours is an inclusive religious community
that inspires personal and spiritual growth.

We care for one another.

We strive for social justice,
a healthy environment
and a peaceful world.

Vision Statement

We commit to being an inclusive, loving, thriving community that promotes spiritual growth and offers emotional support to the congregation and the larger community.

We are an open-minded, liberal community that is part of a larger religious Unitarian Universalist movement that draws on the wisdom and insights of the world’s religions and philosophies.

We dedicate ourselves to creating a spiritual home and a peaceful refuge where we:
foster a sense of personal responsibility to this community and
encourage each person to use and develop her/his individual gifts through multiple ways of expression, learning and interaction.

We celebrate rituals and traditions that both ground us and open us to deeper experiences.

We provide intergenerational activities based upon our shared values of social justice, environmental stewardship, celebration of beauty and wonder and our desire to deepen our relationships and connections with each other.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

From our Minister

The Deep Roots of Faith and Belief
Last Sunday about ten people returned to the sanctuary after our social hour for a QUEST encounter in which I invited people to share their own experiences of the deaths of loved ones and the ways that those experiences lead to ideas and beliefs about the meaning of death and what may or may not come afterward. The conversation was quiet, respectful, and deeply moving, as people tearfully spoke of a wide range of death experiences, from the delivery of a stillborn child through the dying process of those who had lived full lives.

This conversation embodied two important realities about our religious lives as individuals and as members of a community of lifespan religious exploration. The first reality is that personal faith and religious beliefs come most immediately from our own experience, especially in moments when we feel deeply and meaningfully connected to another person or to some more em-bracing source of being and power. The second reality is that our ability to understand the meaning of such experience is enriched when we engage with one another in sharing similar experiences and speaking about the ideas and understandings that grow out of those experiences.

Our QUEST program (for both adults and children) is designed to build upon this basic recognition that one of the most important ways in which we pursue our mission of inspiring and nurturing religious growth is to provide structured opportunities for us to be mutual teachers and learners. It is in smaller groups, such as the one that gathered last Sunday, that this mutuality can be most meaningfully exercised.

QUEST stands for “Questioning, Understanding, Exploring Spirituality, and Theologizing.” All those activities represent the essence of what it means to a member of a religious community in the liberal tradition—a tradition that calls each of us to take personal responsibility not only for our own religious growth but also to engage with others in a process of sharing the insights that we harvest along the way.

In the near future our QUEST sessions are scheduled for the first Sunday morning of each month. As before, there will be separate sessions for adults and children, with the adult session (led by me) taking place in the sanctuary after the worship service and social hour and the children’s session (led by DRE Emily Carroll) taking place simultaneously in the Fellowship Hall.

But there is talk of additional opportunities for adult religious exploration in the air. Just in the last week I have been in touch with people who are interested in leading courses in women’s spirituality (“Cakes for the Queen of Heaven”) and in conscious-raising on gay-lesbian issues (“Welcoming Congregation”). I’ve also heard a few people talking about reviving a pagan ritual group in our church. Finally, I am hoping that we can gather a study group around the book, A Chosen Faith, that Max Brenner was instrumental in encouraging many of you to buy and read.

All these possibilities speak to our vitality as a community of people on lifelong religious quests. This is one of the most important reasons for the existence of liberal religious congregations. It is a ministry to ourselves and to the wider community, and I am encouraged to see so much interest of this kind “bubbling up” among us.
In faith for healing
ourselves and our world
Jay Atkinson, parish minister

PARC (Pause... Reflect...Connect) A Gathering For Young Adults

New friends are always welcome to join these biweekly mini worship services and discussions, aimed at spiritual growth and building community. Next session: Wednesday, Nov 18th at 7pm, upstairs

Contact Emily at with questions or to be added to the email list, Facebook group or Google calendar.

A Reflection on Music, Gene Hurd

These past two Sundays (October 3rd and
10th) have demonstrated that UU music can come from
another direction. The Youth Choir sang a beautiful folk
song from the Joe & Eddy songbook, and then, Francis
Goff sang accompanied by Pat Erickson, flute; Bob
Mintzer, Soprano sax; and Rob Meurer on the piano. We
were asked to visualize the UU church of tomorrow. I
visualize our church as a true people’s church. Eliminate
all of the choir’s show tunes and cliché religious
songs. Use only folk, world, gospel, jazz and songs of
humanity. A unique people’s choir in a people’s church.
Yes we can.