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Big Faith - No Borders!
Janine Larsen, District Executive
Archived 9/15/2012
Big Faith - No Borders!
Janine Larsen, District Executive

Fall is nearly upon us, and your newly expanded UUA Pacific Northwest staff is ready to support your start to a great church year! 

You may be aware that District staff and Boards around the UUA are beginning to reflect on resources and governance, considering whether regional strategies might not yield better service to congregations and greater effectiveness or efficiencies in operations. Through these discussions among elected board leaders and employed staff leaders, a movement to experiment with regional initiatives has begun in earnest.
 Checklist for the New Church Year
August is traditionally “church shopping” month, as those new to the area or just ready for a new community of meaning explore congregations in their extended neighborhoods – and wherever their travels take them. In the flurry of back-to-school preparations, last minute vacations, and planning your September In-Gathering Service, don’t forget to set out the fresh coffee, cream and summer treats for your guests on Sunday.  

Take advantage of this link for a quick Checklist for the New Church Yearcourtesy of the UUA Interconnections Tipsheet, to make sure you’re at your best as you welcome visitors. Most importantly, relax and give yourself the gift of time for your own Sabbath, too.

Here in the Pacific Western Region, our four districts (Pacific Northwest, Mountain Desert, Pacific Central and Pacific Southwest) have adopted the theme Big Faith * No Borders to celebrate our distinctly western expression of Unitarian Universalism. In fact, it’s the theme for the shared Regional Assembly we’re trying out this spring in San Jose, CA, instead of our usual District Assembly. Take a peek at the advance info, and stay tuned for more details! 

We are very excited to enter fall with an experiment in shared staffing. In early July, we introduced two new UUA employees who will serve PNWD congregations directly, and also provide services to congregations throughout our region.

I hope you will take a moment to “meet” Jennica Davis, Lori Ragona and the rest of your PNWD staff at the “About Us – Your District Staff” page. Please call upon us whenever you need specific advice or help in finding UU resources!  

I wish for us the many blessings of innovation, exploration and partnership in this year of new staff and new approaches! Now, here are similar wishes and helpful invitations from Jennica and Lori.

Jennica Davis, Youth Ministries Specialist

I am so thrilled to be working in the beautiful and boisterous Pacific Northwest! After a rigorous and fulfilling week at Goldmine Youth Leadership School with our best and brightest young UUs and a week of meeting many of the lovely people I'll be working with this year, I have been dreaming of what this year can bring.

My biggest dream is that the PNWD and the Mountain Desert District (MDD) take every opportunity to cross-pollinate in creative and meaningful ways. Each district has its own strengths and standards as well as some growing edges in Con (youth conference) culture and local youth ministries.

This year will certainly be a learning year for both districts, and I will rely heavily on our leadership teams -- the PNWD YES team (Youth Empowerment Services) and the MDD YAC (Youth/Adult Cluster) Representatives, religious professionals and volunteers -- to guide our way. I've already been collecting dreams from these teams about possible Con exchanges, youth group exchange programs and pen pals, Skype ministry, small group ministries for Advisors, a webinar series and online youth advisor coaching.

These are wildly big dreams! Luckily we are in the land of Big Faith, No Borders! I’m looking forward to meeting you and hearing about your dreams, too – you can reach me at, or give me a call at 801-201-6260.

Lori Ragona, Training & Communications Specialist 

I love our Pacific Western Region’s ‘Big Faith, No Borders’ motto! It means something different to me every time I ponder it. Fresh ideas to explore and engage us more fully in our world abound. My wish for you, dear congregations, is to find your borders, that place that holds you back from your visions, then imagine what training events or technology would move you forward.

Perhaps it’s a gathering with other congregations to dialogue about Beloved Community, or Living the Welcoming Congregation, or Circles of Trust. Or maybe you’d like to learn about Deepening Your Spiritual Practice, Social Justice in the Kitchen, or Social Media in Church Life via a one-hour webinar. Or perhaps it’s an online course meeting over several months that you want support to create. Let me know, I can help.

Maybe you want to try that social media stuff. Maybe your website needs a facelift. Maybe you’d like to have a room set-up at your church so your members are able to access webinars from the PWR and beyond. Or maybe you are not sure how to make your computer even access the webinar! I can help with that too.

In our congregational technological world we no longer are defined by our websites alone. We have social media, we have virtual meetings, we have blogs, we have podcasts and we have live streaming and all this must work on our mobile devices. No borders indeed.

And no worries. There are many resources on the UUA website to help you out with social media such as Facebook for UUs, promoting your congregations with podcasts, and using blogs and Twitter for your congregation. The more I look the more I find. Step out! These avenues are how folks share nowadays, and it’s good, relatively simple, and free! And I can help.

When I look at this picture of Pacific Northwest District staff and volunteers in 1985 posing proudly around their first computer like a family around their new baby, I totally get it! Wow, a way to make our jobs easier, more efficient, faster! Way cool. They were expanding their borders. And if your church office computer still looks like this, call me, I can help.

And if you are one of those tech savvy congregations who have it all together, I’d love to hear from you too! Spread your good news. Tell us what’s worked for you. Be a resource for us!

For me, I could use a dedicated group of volunteer webinar tech hosts. If you think you’d get a kick out of tech hosting, please contact me! It’s a great way to learn a little something by listening in on the presentation and a great way to share your own skills. I’ll train you in the finer details of our webinars and we can support each other as a team.

Everyone, let’s work together on meeting your border expanding desires. I want to hear from you. I have email, lragona@uua.organd I still use a phone: 425-272-5443.
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