Seabeck 2023, our annual Memorial Day weekend retreat, was an amazing success with 165 folks in attendance from East Shore UC, University UC and beyond. I served as Dean, the nominal leader of a team of a dozen or so leaders who organized a weekend full of activities and community building. I wanted to share with everyone a small glimpse of our retreat.
The weather this year was unusually cooperative. We had cool cloudy mornings and sunny afternoons. Each afternoon the lagoon was full of boaters. Each evening we delighted in the lovely social hour spread laid out by Margaret Hall’s team extending out onto the warm Juniper patio. The clear late night skies made for excellent stargazing opportunities through high-powered telescopes each night inspiring exclamations of awe from young and old and ministers alike.
Saturday afternoon Bill Austin led three dozen hikers down to beautiful Guillemot Cove and they all made it back! And Tim Fitzgerald led a trip at low tide to see all the aquatic life at the beach and in the tide pools. Saturday night we basked in the sun-drenched amphitheater singing along to the tunes provided by the Craig Nelsen trio. Warm sunny weather on Sunday meant a spirited game of Ultimate Frisbee led by Nicolo Gelb, a dry and festive UU Olympics, a bird identification walk through the woods led by Barabara Retelle, a contemplative service at the cathedral in the woods, a fantastic salmon bake on the beach, and a cracking fire with s’mores and sing-a-long on the way back.
And Seabeck indoors was just as lively! Saturday and Sunday mornings, Guy Nelson led a creative play workshop which encouraged a gathering of more than 60 to play, be vulnerable and share our beautiful creativity with one another. Sunday morning, Rev. Justin Almeida and Rev. María Cristina led a beautiful worship service with singing, meditation, a life-centric retelling of the biblical creation story, and a sermon on the importance of creating and sharing joy in community. Afternoons were filled with dozens of workshops running the gamut from fun to educational to reflective to justice work. Every night one could find dozens of folks and especially our young adults playing card games, poker and board games into the wee hours. Friday and Saturday evenings, Cafe Seabeck led by John Chmaj was rocking with individual open mic numbers and extended improvisational jams. Saturday night there was a lively Swing Dance party. Sunday night was capped off by an eclectic talent show featuring our wonderful youth followed by our young-at-heart. There were skits, and songs, comedy routines all cheered on by a fun-loving supportive crowd.
This was but a brief recap of some of the bigger moments over the weekend. I have no doubt there were thousands of small but just as meaningful interactions among old friends and new as we practice however imperfectly being a beloved community. To all the leaders that spent so much of their time and energy making this happen, I am deeply grateful. I am also grateful to the 75+ folks who volunteered either by leading a workshop or signing up to take a shift driving the golf cart or running the boat dock. I also want to thank Nicole Duff, Rebecca Chatfield and Amanda Alice Uluhan who facilitated registration, accounting, insurance, and youth safety for Seabeck 2023. To all of those who were able to come, we were all blessed by your beautiful presence and the spirit you brought, and for this too, I am grateful. We hope you had a great time and that you will come back. For those that didn’t attend this year, we hope you will consider coming next year as we still have plenty of room and we need you to make Seabeck 2024 even better.
Humbly and Gratefully yours,
Seabeck Dean 2023/2024
The Earth and Climate Action Ministry Team (ECAM) wants to spread the GREAT news about the potential benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed by federal government in July of 2022 to reduce America’s carbon emissions by 40% by 2030!
One aspect of the program will help folks electrify their homes. Replacing gas appliances and gas furnaces will help save on energy bills, reduce carbon emissions, and improve indoor air quality. It also covers solar panels, new electric panels, EV’s, and weatherization.
There are some caveats: the benefits are on a sliding scale based on median average household income in your area with an upper limit. The calculator will figure all that in for you. Each state may implement program differently so many details to be worked out. Right now, the rebate program is to last 10 years or until IRA funding is exhausted. Final details of the program are being work out.
Your electrification expenditures may also qualify for energy tax credits. The IRA calculator will give you an estimate of tax credits as well. See your tax accountant for more information.
Other aspects of IRA will cover disadvantaged communities, nonprofits, cities, and rural communities. More about that later…….
At the East Shore Women’s Perspective Margaret Fuller Tea on May 7, 2023, Barb Clagett and Milly Mullarky were honored as new members of the Clara Barton Sisterhood. This award by the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation (UUWF) was created in 1979 to honor UU women age 80 or over to recognize their contributions to the life of ESWP, ESUC and UUWF. You can read the two letters from UUWF President Mandy Goheen detailing the remarkable contributions of these two amazing women (here for Barb, and here for Milly). The Margaret Fuller Tea, an ESWP tradition since 2005, included 38 attendees with presentations by Barb Clagett on the Khasi Hills Ministry Team and Geri Kennedy on International Convocation of UU Women.
This past March during the visit of Lummi Nation’s House of Tears Carvers to East Shore, Freddie Lane invited our church members to come to the 3rd annual Gathering of the Eagles (GOTE), May 21 – 29. In response, five ESUC members volunteered to help out at this special gathering.
In addition to East Shore members, the UU community was well represented including attendees from Bellingham, Woodinville, Spokane, Port Townsend, Whidbey Island and Olympia congregations. Tribal representatives came from Washington state, British Columbia, Hawaii, Guam, New Mexico, North Carolina and Arizona.
This year’s GOTE included a mini-canoe journey to the San Juan islands, culminating in a day-long sacred ceremony honoring three native women at the Lummi Nation Wexliem Community Building. The women were Amy George, a matriarch from the Tsleil-Waututh in British Columbia, who launched the movement to protect the Salish Sea from oil pipeline construction by Kinder Morgan; Fawn Sharp, an attorney and former President of the Quinault Indian Nation, who is current President of the National Congress of American Indians; and, Deborah Parker, former Vice Chair of the Tulalip tribe, who is a long-time activist fighting violence against women and currently documenting the impact of boarding schools on native families as well as speaking to Congress on their behalf.
As East Shore members who attended GOTE, we want to convey our profound thanks to Freddie Lane for his key role in organizing and then for inviting us to this gathering. We were deeply honored to be at this ceremony and to bear witness to these women warriors. And to East Shore members, we want to convey something we each individually took away from the experience. We hope that you will consider joining us this summer to attend or volunteer at other events organized by our indigenous neighbors.
Carrie Bowman: I was struck by calls for leadership led by questions from Esther Lewis (Dine): “who is following you? Who are you leading?” We heard many personal stories that invoked both ancestors we may not have known and future relatives we do not know yet—and our responsibilities as fellow paddlers in a canoe with all of these unknown people. I am inspired by the challenge from all of the whomen to stand up (“Warrior up!”) rather than and watch our earth, sky, water and ourselves become degraded and disappear.
Arthur Knapp: Jewell James, the lead Lummi totem pole carver and Kimokeo Kapahulehua of Hawaii were inspiring in showing their commitment to protect the air, land and waters. Their delivery honoring the three women was powerful. Most of the time we energetically assisted Lummi tribal chefs preparing and distributing food along with other UU volunteers.
Marilyn Mayers: I found the hours-long honoring ceremony simply riveting. The testimonials, prayers, stories and songs voiced by a whole succession of indigenous leaders expressed acute pain, compassion and great beauty. I am so grateful to have been present, to witness and to listen to such powerful words from the likes of Jewell James, Rueben George, Jim Thomas, Amy George, Fawn Sharp, Deborah Parker, Esther Lewis and others. I came away deeply moved, encouraged and renewed.
Mike Radow: One honoree, Amy George, recounted her experience of being removed from family and placed in a residential school. “Culturecide” it was called. Siam’elwit proclaimed a day of victory in surviving such horrors. Rueben George, of Tsleil Waututh and son of Amy George, uplifted the day of “healing, hope, honor, happiness, hospitality.” A day of humility, for me, as well.
Lynn Roesch: At Saturday’s Gathering, I was privileged to witness a day of ceremony and celebration, listening to speakers share their respect and gratitude honoring the three women warriors. How powerful. Being with people who freely call on their ancestors and share their wisdom. How inspiring. Sharing hours of conversation and laughter with people from many different tribes. How joyful.
On Sunday, April 23, 2023, East Shore Unitarian Church officially installed their new settled minister, Rev. Dr. María Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa! You can see parts of the Installation at esuc.org, but here are some selections. Relive the day here.
The Welcome by Connie Hirnle on Behalf of the Ministerial Search Committee:
Welcome to East Shore Unitarian Church. On this very special day we will formally install our new minister, Reverend Maria Cristina.
My name is Connie Hirnle and I use she/her pronouns, and today I am representing the Ministerial Search Committee, many of whom are up here with me today. The Committee includes Ann Fletcher our chair who is not able to be here today, Leta Hamilton, Julie Heise, Dave Baumgart, Martin Cox, David Langrock and myself.
Just over 20 months ago we came together to begin our search process for East Shore’s next settled minister. A little less than one year ago, our congregation unanimously voted to call Reverend Maria Cristina and she accepted that call. Four months later, she gave her first service as East Shore’s settled minister and today we have the honor of celebrating her installation.
As her example leads us, we at East Shore Unitarian Church welcome theological diversity and practice radical welcoming so that every person who comes through our doors or online would know that they are fully valued here for their whole selves.
And on this special day, we especially welcome distinguished luminaries in the larger Unitarian Universalist movement and in our partner indigenous communities. We know many of you have travelled great distances to be with us and we are so grateful to you all for your loving support of our beloved minister and for your presence here today.
The Act of Installation with David Langrock, Board Vice-President
It is a great honor and a blessing for the members of the search committee, the BOT, and this congregation to gather today to celebrate the installation of our dear minister, the Reverend Doctor María Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa.
In this past year, Rev. María Cristina has become our beloved Minister and we have witnessed her many gifts. Today, we wish to make public our celebration of being brought together by spirit. We wish to convey our trust, joy, commitment, and love and invite the larger community to bear witness to this precious and holy occasion.
This is a profound event in the life of our congregation. It is with a deep feeling of grace manifest and hope realized, therefore, that we formally recognize the relationship now existing between the people of East Shore Unitarian Church and the Reverend Doctor María Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa, whom we have freely chosen and who has freely chosen us as we keep on moving forward building the Beloved Community.
Will the members please rise in spirit and/or body and join me in the following words:
We, the members of East Shore Unitarian Church recognize this installation ceremony as a celebration of a new shared journey. We are a welcoming community that understands radical hospitality as a spiritual practice. We are committed to the spiritual well being of our community and vow to continue to remain engaged in meaningful transformative work. We promise to speak the truth in love and to strive to live into right relationship with our words and deeds. We recognize in Rev María Cristina a compassionate and visionary leader who will accompany us on our journey towards wholeness. We believe that together we can bring much needed healing, compassion, support, encouragement, and love to our congregation, our staff, our community partners, our neighbors, and the friends who have not yet arrived. We are proud to call Rev. María Cristina our Minister!
We cherish our church for what we have done in the past, what we are today, and our ever-changing vision of what we can become. We celebrate its devotion to freedom, its belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, its commitment to social justice, and the care of our spiritual health.
We choose to install the Reverend Doctor María Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa as our Minister. In doing so, we choose to journey together in the same direction – and in the name of love.
Church Board Vice-President: David Langrock
In representation of our BOT, it is my honor to express our gratitude and joy for your presence as our Minister. On this holy occasion, we reaffirm our trust and love. We have witnessed your prophetic preaching, your compassionate pastoral care, your welcoming smile and disposition in welcoming visitors and new members, and your delight in supporting our children in their religious exploration. You come to us fully prepared to lead us and fortify us as we strive to live into our mission and vision. You understand the complexities and challenges of both individual and communal spiritual development. Your years of experience as community advocate and organizer illuminate your approach to our developing authentic community partnerships. Your multicultural lived experience illuminates our efforts to deepen our social justice work. Your deeply held cultural values and earth centered traditions are gifts that shape our own commitment to environmental justice. Your experience as an immigrant helps us to understand that building the beloved community is to become sanctuaries and to cultivate hearts without borders. Your pride in being a Two Spirit/Queer woman inspires us to continue to expand the welcoming table. We are grateful for your gifts. … In the spirit of solidarity and true equal partnership, we vow to model speaking the truth in love, listening deeply and with an open heart, being in right relationship, being willing to forgive, supporting your spiritual well being, encouraging your self care, and offering opportunities for continued professional development, so that your ministry may thrive and flourish among us.. We pledge ourselves to remember that the work of this church belongs to us all. As we would ask you to be compassionate towards our short comings, so will we also remember that you are beautifully, imperfectly human and can falter. We recognize that we bear a responsibility in your material welfare and spiritual development. We pledge ourselves to maintain the freedom of the pulpit. We pledge to assist and collaborate with you in our common growth as a community of faith.
Rev. María Cristina, today we solemnly declare our trust and love for you and recognize that this act symbolizes a covenant together. It acknowledges our hope that you would dwell among us preaching the truth in freedom and love. Will you journey with us as we strive to put into practice our principles and together renew our commitment to working for peace and justice in our hearts, in our communities, and our world? Will you recall us to our best selves when we fall short of honoring our covenant of right relationship? Will you lead us in a mutual quest toward a greater understanding of spiritual practices that encourage us to bring our whole selves?
Minister: Yes, I will with your support, love, and solidarity.
Members: We, the members of East Shore Unitarian Church, do install you as Minister of this church and offer you our encouragement, support, compassion, solidarity, and love.
Minister: With a deep sense of gratitude, clarity, and awareness of my responsibilities, I accept my duties. May our relationship promote justice, radical hospitality, inclusion, and unconditional love, among us and in the larger community. Asi Sea! May it be so! And let the people say AMEN!