With sincere apologies to EBB, EBB fans, sonnet fans, & English teachers everywhere, here goes:

We love you our bidders, our volunteers, our donors
From scarves & dinners and paintings & hikes,
To vans & vacation homes & games & bikes
We wish we could have our Auctioneer clone ya!
We love you for how often you lifted the bidding pen
We love you purely, we give you highest praise
We love you fiercely for all the times your paddle you raised
We love you and the passion you showed to win!
Our Sandburgers always add so much to the fun
Our volunteers kept their smiles even into the 13th hour
Having been there since the rising of the sun.
But all we saw were smiles, no countenance was dour-
And no wonder, with your help, we had an auction well done
Together, People, love + fun+ giving = GOAL-MEETING POWER!!!!

The Spirit of Generosity

As we embrace the season of giving, let us open our hearts to the transformative power of generosity. In this time of reflection and gratitude, let our actions speak volumes about the depth of our compassion and the strength of our faith community.  Generosity is not merely an act; it is a spiritual practice that connects us to a higher purpose.  When we give with open hearts, we participate in a sacred act that transcends the tangible, weaving a tapestry of love and support that binds us together.

In supporting our faith community, you are giving to the sustenance of sacred spaces where souls find solace, hearts find healing, and spirits find renewal. Your contributions of time, talent, and treasure become a vessel for carrying out the essence of our shared beliefs and values. No matter how or what you give, you are investing in the spiritual nourishment of our community.  

Speaking of giving, let us not overlook the practical considerations that come with end-of-year charitable giving. The tax benefits of end-of-year giving provide a unique opportunity to contribute to our financial health while also optimizing your tax deductions.  Check out these strategies to optimize your end-of-year giving (Kang, 2022*):

  1. Donate appreciated non-cash assets instead of cash. 
  2. Consider using a donor-advised fund account, making tax-deductible contributions before year-end, and deciding on grant recommendations next year. 
  3. Donate cash from the sale of depreciated securities.
  4. Use a part-gift, part-sale strategy to offset capital gains tax from investment portfolio rebalancing at year-end. 
  5. Contribute appreciated privately held business interests or real estate.
  6. Satisfy an IRA Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) through a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD). 
  7. Use a charitable deduction to offset the tax liability on a retirement account withdrawal or conversion to a Roth IRA.

*Talk to your own personal tax advisor about current strategies to maximize your unique situation.  

If you’d like to make a special year-end contribution, contributions can be made through Realm from your checking or savings account, and through the office for IRA or Brokerage account and donor advised giving.  You can also mail in or drop off your contribution.  If you’d like to explore Legacy Planning, please reach out with any questions and we can help connect you with someone from the Legacy Committee.  

In this season of reflection and gratitude, let our generosity be a testament to the love that binds us as a faith community. Let us give in the ways we can, whether it be incentified as a tax deduction or not, for every gift, no matter how large or small, is an act of demonstrating your commitment to our faith community and the work of our congregation.  May the spirit of generosity illuminate our path, strengthen our bonds, and inspire us to continue building a community founded on love, faith, and shared purpose.

With heartfelt appreciation for all you do,

Wendy Motch-Ellis, Director of Administration

Sometimes the Work is Resting

The downtown YMCA has a large glass jar at the front desk with bright, colorful strips of paper and an invitation to “take a blessing” upon entering or departing. Recently, on my way in, I chose a yellow strip with the words “sometimes the work is resting.” It felt like a message from the universe, a reminder to slow down, to put my commitments in perspective. 

In these times of heartbreak, frustration and anger, as war, gun violence, poverty and other oppressions are destroying so many lives, rest seems to be a luxury we can ill afford. But is it?  To live into our commitments there is work we must do, and we must also give ourselves permission to rest, to re-energize our spirits for the sustained engagement that allows us to live into our call, whatever that might be.  We need time for solitude and time to enjoy the company of our beloveds. We need time for laughter, joy and lightness. I have found that when I truly take time off by ignoring the inbox or silencing my phone while I am away, I return ready to re-engage, with greater creativity, enthusiasm, and a clearer vision for the work before me.
How about you, what is your call to live into your values in the world?
Do you allow yourself time to rest?

I invite you to consider Rev. Lynn Unger’s words from her poem, Camas Lilies

“And you—what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down—
papers, plans, appointments, everything—
leaving only a note: “Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through with blooming.” 

May your useful, precious life be one in which there is space for setting it all down and taking time to rest. And then, let’s get back to it. There is so much good work to do, good trouble to get into – if we’re rested and energized for the job!

In faith,

Rev. Claudia Jiménez

What on earth is an Installation?

The relationship between a called Minister and a congregation is unique. It is a covenantal relationship, founded on the desire of both parties to share the work of ministry together. A congregation “calls” a minister to come serve with them, alongside them. To mark the start of that call and relationship, we Unitarian Universalists engage a ritual called “Installation.” A congregation “installs” its new minister in a celebration which includes lots of visiting clergy, singing, promises made, even gifts exchanged. The Installation, along with a Start Up weekend led by regional UUA staff, marks the heart of a new beginning between the Minister and congregation. 

This coming Sunday, November 5th, will be a big day. First: remember the time change – we get an extra hour of sleep, which we may need! We’ll have services here at 1 Edwin that morning, as we always do. Then at 5 PM at Warren Wilson College Chapel, we’ll have our Installation – with a reception to follow back here at 1 Edwin after. It will be a day and night to remember, and just the start of celebrations – the next weekend is the auction, and the weekend after that is our Start Up weekend, with a potluck dinner on Friday, November 17th at 6 PM to get us started. 

The members and friends of UU Asheville have so much energy and enthusiasm for what comes next. Let’s take November to really make the most of coming home to one another, celebrating new steps, and making big plans for where we want to go together. Can’t wait to see you in the coming days!

With love,

Rev. Audette

Variety is the Pumpkin Spice

It’s a little after 7pm on Saturday night at The Mountain during the annual UU Asheville Retreat.  

The ~100 attendees are gathered for the highly anticipated Variety Show. The show that was formerly known as the Talent Show, but rebranded so as nobody forgets it’s all about fun and that talent is optional. Mars and Ranier kick things off with announcements of the costume contest winners, and the bar is instantly set very high.  

I’m doing good to remember to bring extra socks to The Mountain. Somehow these amazing folks of all ages manage to do that and show up with award-worthy costumes. You’ll just have to see for yourself, some I can’t remember the official costume names. But I can tell you there was an Old Man, a Butterfly & Catcher duo, a Nerd, and possibly a Piglet in the mix. Not pictured but important to note, the creativity extended to Chalice Woman (defending UU principles one slip of paper at a time), Cat-in-Hat, the Mario World family, and many more.  



And that was just the first 5 minutes. Then the acts began! What a wonderful display of creativity, courage, and charisma. We had an orange-throwing song. We had a long-form entomological joke. We had singalong Harry Belafonte, Scottish dancing, devil sticks, some amazing fiddle playing, several fantastic songs, Mary helping Will with a potential medical ailment, and an all-kids original skit about empathy in the animal kingdom. And much more.




Then Eliza and Nicole graced us with a song that was most befitting to sum up years of friendship, community building and joy at The Mountain:

Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up.

That’s right friends, the UU Asheville Mountain Retreat got rick-rolled.  




Might I mention our youngest Variety Show participant? Orion brought down the house with some epic breakdancing to the Ghostbusters soundtrack theme song. 

I have been to the mountain top, and I have seen joy in our UU community. It gives me joy to carry forward to others. And I hope you find that needed Variety wherever you are and in whatever’s happening your life right now.

– Will Jernigan, UU Asheville Board of Trustees




Mountain Highlights

A group of 11 people gathered on a deck overlooking an expansive mountain range. Some people are holding musical instruments, some are wearing costumes. Last weekend, our family and an additional 100+ members from UU Asheville spent the weekend at The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center in Highlands, NC situated atop 4,200 foot tall Little Scaly Mountain. The weekend was highlighted by wonderful music, amazing workshops, delicious meals, and a healthy dose of humor at the talent show all set amid centuries old white oak trees. Organizers Anna and Sandra were so organized they even found eclipse glasses!

Some of the workshop highlights of recent years have been pumpkin carving with the Ramson family and a fast-paced game of capture the flag with Will and Ryan. The Ransom family’s ability to carve a pumpkin and teach others cannot be understated. This year was no exception: from an intricate Jimmy Hendrix to a cat perched atop a crescent moon to the classic vomiting pumpkin, all were welcome. The weather cooperated beautifully Saturday morning giving way to afternoon sunshine on the field for a multigenerational and intense game of capture the flag at the bottom of the mountain. Workshops were also rich in the arts including great sessions for kids and adults, so thank you to those leaders!

Another highlight for parents was high quality childcare with Via and Tory allowing parents to take a well-deserved break. Via’s presence is a breath of fresh mountain air as she actively seeks engagement with children as opposed to my fatigued periodic assessment of my own child’s safety. Our 4-year-old daughter also approved of Via’s care: on Monday morning, she asked if I could please drop her off at church so she could go downstairs to play with Via. I explained it was a school day. She asked to go to church on Sunday adding, “Can you please show me where the stairs are? Because I don’t know how to get to Via.” Well done and thank you.

In the foreground are the leaves of a tree that have turned red in the early fall. Beyond that is a sunrise through fog over NC mountains.

UU Asheville has been coming to the Mountain for over a decade with many members of our congregation having been there during the formative years. Founded in 1979, longtime members of our congregation Larry and Nancy Wheeler were some of the first staff members in the early 1980s. When the Mountain’s financial troubles seemed insurmountable decades later, Larry helped execute a plan working with the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust permanently protecting both the Mountain’s future as a UU camp and conference center and the fragile ecosystem from future development. For their service and vision, we are eternally grateful.

– Adam Griffith, UU Asheville Board Vice President


Curiosity and Learning

We have a small team of UU members, The Adult Faith Exploration Planning Team, who gather monthly to work with me to plan programs and recruit facilitators to support spiritual deepening at UU Asheville. Two programs I invite you to consider attending are described below.

The first is offered by Jill Preyer, a member of our Pastoral Care Team. She shares the following, “In the US, 1 in 5 experience a mental illness each year, 1 in 20 experience a serious mental illness each year.  Among our youth, 1 in 6 experience a mental health disorder each year.  These are sobering statistics.  For everyone suffering a mental health condition, there are parents, children, partners, siblings and friends impacted.  Even in our progressive congregation, this is rarely discussed.  Come and learn about the serious mental health disorders, the care and treatment of these conditions and the local resources for help.” The workshop will be Oct. 22, 1-3PM. Details here. Register here.

The second is “Curious Conversations” which has been meeting regularly to discuss books and themes related to collective liberation.  On Nov. 2 the theme will be indigenous land acknowledgements: What is the purpose? What are the goals? Bring a bagged lunch and join us in Sandburg Hall from noon-1PM.  One of our members Susan Foster attended the “Beyond Land Acknowledgement” conference Sept. 30 and shares her notes. They can help inform our conversation. The theme for Nov. 30 will be local reparations: What is happening in Asheville? Same time. Same location.

The Adult Faith Exploration Planning Team meets the 2nd Monday of the month and welcomes your input. You are welcome to reach out with questions and suggestions for future programs. We are also recruiting new members. If this is an area that aligns with your gifts and time availability, join in!

– Rev. Claudia

Witnessing Each Other

Have you ever had that moment? The one where, with someone you deeply care about, you suddenly catch your breath and think – they don’t get me. They aren’t hearing me. They’re just not seeing the real me right now. That is an awful moment; one of the most painful we feel as human beings.

Since January of this year, over 496 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures. Many of them, as you may know, target our kids – trans youth. But by no means are trans kids the only targets in a reinvigorated and cynical (not to mention cruel) culture war; all our LGBTQIA+ beloveds are being targeted, and the attacks are designed to hit other targets, too – how we teach our kids, what we can read, how we can dress. The worst kinds of religious bigotry are back out in force. (Not that they ever really went away.)

But back here at home, we have things to tend to. Some of our LGBTQIA+ beloveds right here in our congregation are telling us they feel invisible, or as though the issues that affect lives so deeply are not ones we’re paying attention to. As I joined you for our family’s first Blue Ridge Pride, it looked to me like this congregation cares. I was so touched and grateful to see the strength of our Yellow Shirt Brigade, marching with, yes, Pride in the parade. From the energy, enthusiasm, and presence of members and friends, it seems to me that even if it’s imperfect at times, the UU Congregation of Asheville, NC does “get it,” and are willing to show up to make the world a little bit better for all of us.

So please: stay with us in this learning, loving journey. If you haven’t yet, be sure to sign up for our Everything You Wanted to Know about Trans, Non-Binary, Intersex and Gender Expansive Folx – but Were Afraid to Ask webinar on Oct. 11. I can promise you you will learn something new – and hopefully, you’ll feel a little better equipped to navigate in a world where we strive to treat everyone with respect for their inherent worth. A world where none of our beloveds ever feels unseen.

Register HERE for the webinar! For more information, see this CALENDAR LINK

– Rev. Audette


Newton’s first law says objects in motion tend to stay in motion in a straight line unless outside forces act upon them and our congregation is certainly in motion. The sanctuary buzzes with excitement and hope each Sunday as we work together toward our individual and collective truths. Our hearts swell with the message of hope and we cry tears of joy and sorrow together as we move forward. I can barely keep up with the opportunities at UU Asheville and my experience only scratches the surface of what is available and possible.

As a scientist, I appreciate our faith influenced by the lived human experience, secular humanism, Judaism, Christianity, to name a few. Tracing the trajectory of our religion, Christianity was in motion when an outside force acted upon it altering its course. Each time an outside force altered the trajectory of our religion, the result was forward momentum forging a unique path unlike any other. From our Unitarian and Universalist roots we have arrived here now.

This is also true of ourselves as individuals, each of us with our own unique trajectory. Many of us were raised in a singular faith tradition, but when we learned about a different faith tradition in which we saw value, our bearing was forever altered. The straight line of our momentum was forever altered.

Newton’s first law also says objects at rest tend to stay at rest unless an outside force acts on them. Coming to a service on Sunday is frequently exactly when I need to get back in motion.

Adam Griffith, UU Asheville Board Vice President

Reflecting on Our Actions: The Ten Days of Awe

As a Jew, the Ten Days of Awe, also known as “Aseret Yemei Teshuvah,” is a period of deep introspection and repentance for myself as well as other Jews around the world.  These ten days span from Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Though we strive to practice self reflection throughout the year, the Days of Awe provide a sacred and dedicated time to pause, and truly engage in self-examination, seek forgiveness, and strive to make amends with others. The process involves reflecting on one’s actions, acknowledging mistakes, committing to positive change, and making a genuine effort to become a better person.

My faith has taught me that atonement is not about dwelling on past mistakes or harboring guilt; it’s about acknowledging our humanity and seeking the path to healing and reconciliation. It is a chance to mend broken bonds, not only with others, but in our commitment to care for and mend the earth, our relationship with G-d, and our own hearts.  Judaism also teaches that atonement requires action.  We must do the work and truly seek forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation directly with others.  We must replenish the earth.  And, we must mend our relationship with G-d.  We cannot atone by solely asking or praying to G-d for forgiveness.  We have to take personal responsibility and accountability for our actions and genuinely seek forgiveness and reconciliation.  

This is also a time to release the weight of resentment and anger, and instead, extend a hand of forgiveness and understanding. It’s a time to forgive others, not because they may deserve it, but because true forgiveness has the power to bring peace. And to be kind and forgive yourself, for we are all works in progress, and every stumble is a step toward becoming a better version of yourself. 

It may take time and work before we find the strength or are truly ready to forgive and reconcile.  It may extend beyond the years.  May these Days of Awe serve as a reminder that self-improvement and change is possible, that love and compassion are the keys to mending what is broken, and that embracing our true selves, acknowledging our flaws, and working towards positive change, can move us closer to a state of inner peace and harmony, and ultimately enrich our lives and those of others.

שָׁנָה טוֹבָה וּמְתוּקָה (transliteration Shana tovah u’metukah)
May you have a good and sweet year,
Wendy Motch-Ellis
Director of Administration

The Power of Partnerships

One of our UU Asheville Justice Ministry partners is The Unitarian Universalist Ministry of North Carolina (UUJMNC -Yes, we love acronyms! Here is a link to my acronym sheet cheat. Please submit entries that are missing!) UUJMNC has supported our “UU the Vote” events that mails postcards to disenfranchised voters. Executive Director Rev. Lisa Garcia-Sampson works tirelessly as a compassionate advocate with NC and national justice partners by reaching out to our legislators in the General Assembly to encourage them to vote in the interest of our citizens for Medicaid expansion, to protect voting rights, reproductive justice and many other high priority issues that affect our state. It can often seem to be an endless struggle, but Lisa and her partners (including many UU congregations) are relentless.

Each Friday, the Zoom Action Hour brings UUs and allies from across the state to ground themselves in the power of community, recap issues of the week and plan action on issues impacting our state and country. They make phone calls, send e-mails, write letters to the editor and learn together. Tomorrow at 11AM, DownHome North Carolina organizer Isabell Moore will speak with us about Public School Strong – the fast-growing state-wide movement that is equipping local communities to fight for adequate funding, and against racist and anti-LGBTQ policies in our schools. You can join via Zoom Link: and sign up for the weekly Friday Action Hour promo email here. 

A few of our members attend Zoom Action Hour regularly:

“One of the best hours of my week… Community, education, action and really good music… I’ve learned so much, taken action on a wider range of topics than I would on my own and had 2 letters to the editor published on Sundays… I feel so grateful to have an opportunity to participate…”   – Bernise Lynch, they/them/theirs

“I believe the Weekly Action hours are great because: 1) they often have great guest speakers who talk about justice-related issues we would never hear about and; 2) they make it easy for you to help by identifying which elected officials to contact and providing suggested text for phone calls or emails.”   –Ed Prestemon

“I attend Friday Action Hour when I can… Rev. Lisa is tuned into what is happening in our state legislature in real time and gives us excellent information on actions that we can take to effect change. She makes it fun, nurtures our spirits and reminds us of the UU values that drive us to do justice work together.  It’s wonderful to be on a zoom meeting with UU’s from around the state of NC who are also passionate about social justice and to hear what actions they have taken in their home congregations….We hear from interesting guest speakers.  Recently the executive director of Carolina Jews for Justice led a workshop on understanding Antisemitism.”   – Joanne Fox

Consider joining us tomorrow, and be on the lookout for future events sponsored by UUJMNC. Their Annual State Wide Gathering is Oct. 7 at The UU Fellowship of Raleigh.  It’s an opportunity to join UUs from across the state to celebrate their work in 2023 and look ahead to 2024.. There will also be an opportunity to participate virtually. Register Here! I will be attending via Zoom and can host a watch party if you would like to join me. There might also be an opportunity to carpool. Please reach out if you are interested.   

In faith & grounded in community, we can make a difference,

Rev. Claudia Jiménez
Minister of Faith Development

Be Kind.

If you haven’t had a chance to notice yet, there’s a sign on my office door at the church that has these words from my friend, the author Rivera Sun:

Be kind.

Be connected.

Be unafraid.

Sometimes you really don’t need a sermon – just a wise friend reminding you of what the high road looks like.

That’s what we’re really about, we Unitarian Universalists. We like to use a lot of words to say it. We like to get really busy, trying to show it. And of course, sometimes our fear sneaks up on us. But we’re “the Love people,” (according to the world all around, who see our yellow shirts at times when it really matters) and we are trying… to be kind. To be connected. To be unafraid.

If you need some practice, all you really need to do is take a glance at this eNewsletter, or visit our website calendar and you will see that our congregational life is absolutely blooming! From our Soul Matters or Soup & Soul Suppers, to our kids and youth outings and activities or the Reproductive Justice series, to our Givens gatherings or the upcoming Yellow Brigade involvement at Blue Ridge Pride on Sept. 30th, there is something for everyone at UU Asheville. And Sundays! Well, the joy and connection then is just palpable.

So come. Join in. We’re here, being kind, connected, and unafraid.

See you in church –

With love,

Rev. Audette

The Possibilities are Endless!

As we approach the start of a brand new church year, I am thinking about the future, of course. It is literally part of my job to plan for the future. My co-conspirator Jen Johnson and I have been planning for the launch of the new Religious Exploration year since this past March. We have a BIG program with many moving parts and it takes a lot of people to make it happen. No matter how much we plan though, there are always things that are completely different than we expected them to be by the time we get to this part of the year. We have certainly had challenges over the last few months, but we have worked together so well for so long that I am always optimistic about the outcomes. We have so many beautiful possibilities in front of us!

Here are some numbers for you: 56 families have registered for RE and we currently have 87 individual children and youth signed up. That’s a LOT of kids and we are very fortunate! This congregation has always been proud of our thriving RE program and we are proud to serve you in this way. With our registration numbers climbing, we need about 6-8 additional loving adults to have the program that best supports our terrific kiddos. That’s not very many people, but it would make a huge difference for Jen and I to know that our teaching teams are full before we launch Religious Exploration on September 17th. Most of our openings only require a commitment of 1-2 Sundays per month. You’d be on a team with other experienced RE teachers, have the support of RE staff and the Ministers, and the extreme gratitude of our parents and caregivers of young people, as well as lasting relationships with our children and youth. If you want to sign up or find out more info, please email me ASAP so we can find the right fit and get you oriented!

Now for the fun stuff! We have a lot happening in the next few weeks and I am excited to be able to share it with you all! This Sunday marks the return of Cinnamon Roll Sunday! All children, youth, and adult helpers who want to join the fun are invited to join us in the kitchen after the Wisdom Story during Worship this Sunday. Bring an apron and a rolling pin if you have one! We’re grateful to Jill Huebner for bringing back this beloved tradition. Sunday, September 10th will be a special All Ages worship as we all come back together to launch a new year! Religious Exploration kicks off on Sunday, September 17th with a teacher dedication and the first day of RE classes! Parent orientations for special programs are also coming up in the next few weeks. If you are interested in K-1st or 7th-8th Our Whole Lives and have not yet been in contact with me about it, please email me ASAP!

by Kim Collins, Religious Educator

A New Season Begins

As schools start to open their doors, a new season begins. As an academic, I’ve always appreciated how UU churches follow the same calendar. Summer offers time off for staff and leaders; the congregation enjoys different speakers in the pulpit, church life slows down.

But now we speed up again. Water communion Sunday. New Member Sunday. Religious Exploration Sunday. Each one welcomed as a familiar piece of the life we’ve built together as a congregation, a faith community. I’m pumped. 

I cry most every Sunday, now, and that means my feelings are stretching their wings. I’m moved by the story for all ages. The pulpit speaker sparks my commitments to justice for everyone in all aspects of living. Kids are kids, freely moving from playing together to returning to their adults for hugs and reassurances. Adults surround me who I know carry pain as I do, and who come (as I do) to find comfort and acceptance. When gathered together, we know we are recognized as the best selves we can be. Love is at the center of our faith, and we live that faith together as the UU Congregation of Asheville.

New people are joining us in our expanding community. Individuals who’ve been looking for the approach to spirituality that we offer. Parents who want to build families of faith, rearing children who will grow up knowing themselves loved as they are. UUs from other congregations who now call Asheville home, bringing us their special gifts. All are just waiting to be invited to settle in through active participation and service to this new spiritual home.

New people like the Rev. Dr. Audette Fulbright Fulson, her husband, Ron, and their high school aged son, Mars. With her doctorate in Public Theology, our new lead minister has developed an educational and socio-spiritual process called ChangeCrafting, aimed at helping groups like ours be more effective public change agents while also tending our personal and communal well-being. Wow, simply, wow. What’s going to happen with us now? Who will we be next year at this time? Five years from now? What will be our role in making Asheville, Buncombe County, WNC better places, places where all people thrive, not merely survive?

So, to my siblings in faith—I challenge each of us to bring our best selves to UUCA and figure out the ways that we, as individuals, will be contributing to our communal life. According to our Mission statement, that is a life that “connects hearts, challenges minds and nurtures spirits, while serving and transforming our community and the world.” May it be so.

by Mary Alm, Board of Trustees, Clerk

Local Reparations…Let’s Have a Conversation

Last month I attended a workshop on reparations at the YWCA sponsored by the Racial Justice Coalition. I learned a lot I did not know about the reparations process in Asheville and the history of reparations in the US and abroad. Did you know that in 1862 President Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act into law offering reparations to former slave owners – $300 for each person freed? No reparations were offered to those formerly enslaved!

Although the local reparations process started in 2020, we have not had conversations in our congregation about reparations and how they might align with our UU values and aspirations. UUs are not a monolith, and there are different perspectives on the importance of reparations to promote healing and address the impacts of the historical injustices of slavery, Jim Crow and continued discrimination and disregard for Black lives. Below are a few resources from the workshop. 

A place to start (or review, if you’ve read it before) is The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

The Local Reparations Process in Asheville and Buncombe County – A synopsis of the local reparations process, starting with the passage of the Reparations Resolutions in 2020 and the formation of the Community Reparations Commission (CRC).

A Brief History of Reparations – A broader timeline of the history of reparations in international, national, and local contexts.

Common Questions and Concerns – A list of questions and concerns that people have raised around reparations for Black people, with some suggestions for how to respond to them.

The RJC offers the following questions (modified slightly for our conversation) to consider as you reflect on these resources. There may be a range of thought about this issue, but I trust we can agree to maintain curiosity and respect when we do not agree.

Identify your feelings and values.
Do you care about this issue? Why or why not? What feelings come up for you when you think about reparations? Which of your values are challenged by our current racial justice reality? What values would be affirmed by the delivery of reparations? Are there values that would be affirmed by not engaging in reparations?

Develop your story. How did you come to believe that reparations are due/not due to Black people? Where did you begin? What beliefs did you have before you came to support/reject this cause? What people or experiences influenced you to shift your thinking and feelings? 

Acknowledge your position. Become familiar with your own position in this conversation and what influences that position. 

If you are interested in exploring reparations with fellow UUs, consider joining me for “Curious Conversations” which resume on August 24 at noon in Sandburg Hall (bring a bagged lunch). If you are unable to attend, there will be another gathering Sept. 28, same place, same time. I am also available for conversation. Check out my Calendly for a time when we can speak (via Zoom, phone, or in-person. And be on the lookout for future opportunities at UU Avl and in the community to continue to learn about reparations.

Lastly, if you support reparations, consider signing the “Reparations are Due Pledge.”

Reparations are Due Pledge & Explanation – An overview of local history and the harm inflicted on Black residents, from slavery through Jim Crow apartheid and up to the present day.

I hope this is the beginning of many thoughtful conversations in our UU community about reparations. Whatever your position, may this be a community that encourages us to put our faith in action by grappling with the issues faced by our community, and leading with love in partnering with others to make amends and promote healing in the face of injustice so that all may thrive. 

In faith, 

Rev. Claudia Jiménez
Minister of Faith Development

Taking Our Time

The speed limit in our new neighborhood is 15 miles per hour. Now, this is not a limit set by some distant bureaucracy; this is a very intentional choice of the close-knit neighborhood tucked in these quiet mountain woods. It sets the expectation that as you enter, you will slow down and have a care for your neighbors: their safety as they walk their dogs or take their exercise; their comfort as they cook or listen to music or sit on the deck. It reminds one that there are sleeping babies and elders. It also says, “you’re almost home. No need to rush.”

After a long time of hurry-up-and-wait, we’re almost home, you and I. Rob and I had a more complex move than we’d hoped, making our way from NYC to Asheville. Our dogs, Dexter and Bailey, and our cats, Blackberry and Pippin, had to be medicated for days of travel. Our son, Mars, got to miss the tough part as he participates in his most favorite thing – UU summer camp at Camp Uunirondack. Thanks to the help of friends, he’ll take a train and then a plane and be in Asheville next week, when our adult daughter Ember also arrives to help him set up his room and to see our new home.  She’s also helping us make room for the things we’ve inherited from my grandparents since their recent move to a retirement community. I had hoped to be able to see them far more often, but as we moved, my dear grandfather, Click Fulbright, passed away quietly at age 95. My grandmom, Kitty, is on her own after more than 75 years of marriage. Her memory loss has my grandad off playing golf or at an appointment. Sometimes there is grace even in the hardest things.

All of this is to say: we don’t have to rush. We can slow down, take our time now, appreciate the chance to savor and get to know each other. We can see the lights of home. Now is the time to remember to take account of one another, be responsible for caring for each other, lean into opportunities for a cup of coffee, a good meal, conversation, some worship and song. 

I am so glad to be here, at long last. Here’s to slowing down and making the most of the days we have together.

With lots of love –

Rev. Audette

It’s More Gentle Here


In September 2017, Hurricane Irma hit South Florida. My son Taber ~ who was 6 years old at the time ~ and I drove to Asheville. I had been invited to speak here ~ to lead a workshop on Holding Space for Pregnancy Loss. Little did we know that a weekend workshop would turn into a 3-week traveling adventure due to Hurricane Irma.

During that time, we came to love the Blue Ridge. We nourished friendships and felt a sense of home.

“It’s more gentle here,” Taber said, looking up at the mountains.  “There are more trees!” 🙂

We love the wonder of living in tropical lands where wild parrots fly free and mangos grow on trees. We also love snorkeling with bright yellow fish in South Florida. Yet, he was right. There is a gentleness here. And there are more trees.

Amazingly, through many trials and adventures, life did bring us here. Starting in the summer of 2021 ~ we made the move from South Florida to Asheville. Of course, we still visit dear ones in the Sunshine State. We still swim in South Florida oceans. For the human heart is vast and can call many places home.

One place that has been home for my heart since I was 18 ~ over 30 years ago ~ is the Unitarian Universalist tradition. I’ve attended GA, volunteered on committees, taken classes, facilitated classes, and learned so much in this tradition. When he was a few weeks old, Taber was dedicated and blessed by an amazing UU minister ~ Rev. Charles Stephens. This church has been an important religious home.

I love so many things about the UU community ~ not the least of which is that I can still call the LDS tradition home, too. For I was raised Mormon ~ the eldest of 7 in Utah. And while I’m no longer active in the LDS faith, I carry so much of that goodness with me. The love of Jesus, the loyalty of family, and a heart dedicated to service. The UU tradition has always embraced all of me in this regard. I’ve never been asked to leave behind what I knew before finding Unitarian Universalism. I am so grateful for that. For yes, the human heart is vast and can call many religions home.

During our time in Florida ~ I was asked to be the Director of Religious Education and joined the paid staff at our church there ~ UUFBR ~ the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton. For four years, so much of our heart, energy, love, and connection was found in that amazing church. Taber and I have decorated the sanctuary for Christmas, celebrated Passover, recited the covenant, and nourished life long friendships.

Upon moving to Asheville, it was a joy to discover that Rev. Claudia Jimenez was a beloved colleague of Rev. Harris Riordan ~ UUFBR’s minister, and a dear mentor of mine. Upon coming here, I knew I wanted to continue our legacy of connection, service, and commitment. It made perfect sense to volunteer with Religious Education at UUCA.

And so I did.

For the past year, I joined colleagues here in bringing our 6th-8th graders to Baptist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and Catholic places of worship. We laughed, talked, shared, meditated, learned, and even prayed with our larger Asheville community drawing from the wisdom of many faith traditions. We have created art together, meditated, debated, discussed, wondered, and shared deep concerns and hopes.

Taber joined RE too ~ learning and growing with his peers and dedicated adult volunteers.

In conclusion, I stand here today to share part of our journey with you. For it is my hope that we can get to know each other as Taber and I nourish our UU roots in the Blue Ridge. I’m also here to encourage you ~ especially those of you who are new ~ who may have found this place due to various hurricanes in life ~ to volunteer with Religious Education.

You’ll find amazing peers to work with, bright and creative children to learn with (and from), and come to more deeply know the truth of how vast the human heart can be.

Amy Wright Glenn

Back to School (so to speak)

I’ve been taking the summer off from church.  Well, maybe not completely – I’ve partaken in a few services, had two Board meetings, and dealt with an issue or two that popped up during this time of relaxation.  Nothing major, though.  From my perspective, this past year – actually, the last two years – have been jam-packed and sometimes quite challenging.  For the church, the Board, and me personally.  So, I’ve felt that I needed, and maybe even deserved, some down time.

This time off has been restorative for me – easy days, with time to appreciate life, catch up on a few personal things, and even have a little fun.  The batteries have largely been recharged.  I find myself analogizing this time period with the summers I had as a kid, when the time off from school was a fun, stress-free, recharging period in preparation for going back to school.  I absolutely loved summer, but I was always, as they say, “really pumped” about going back to school.  I was caught up in the excitement of seeing all my friends again, anticipating whatever new experiences I might encounter, and wondering what my new teacher would be like.

Even as an old codger, I now have those same feelings.  It’s back to school (or, rather, back to UU Asheville) for me, and perhaps for you too.  It won’t be the same as last year; there is just so much new around us.  The pandemic is now under control.  We have learned from all the work we have done over the last two years.  Plus, we have a new “teacher!”  I’m over the moon with hope about how great Rev. Audette’s ministry will be.  We have the opportunity to re-imagine, rejuvenate, and possibly remake how we do church.  What’s it going to be like?  I am just so excited!  It’s gonna be great!

I’d like to think, though, that some wisdom not present in my childhood has seeped into my codger-hood.  That wisdom is to not let my expectations run completely wild.  In Rev. Audette, I believe we have found the ideal spiritual leader and Executive.  I have to refrain, though, from expecting miracles to happen.  Let’s not expect Rev. Audette to appear, wave a magic wand, and solve every problem anyone has, and be everyone’s absolute favorite minister of all time.

I really do believe it’s gonna be great.  But I also believe that greatness is gonna take time.  Rev. Audette formally starts August 1st – so it’s just around the corner.  Let’s be excited – there are solid and logical reasons to be so.  But let’s allow the great things to unfold in fullness of time, as we integrate Rev. Audette into our community and our lives.  Like the “school year” ahead, it will take lots of hard work, compromise, and more than a few mistakes to fully realize the opportunities that lie before us.  I’m up for that, I’m quite excited, and I hope you are too.

Clyde Hardin, President, Board of Trustees

Let’s Update Our Information in Realm

It’s Summertime. That means a new church year will begin soon. What does that mean? For one thing, our growing family of new members are working to get to know us. And our new minister has about 450 new Best Friends to get to know! Not easy for anyone knew getting settled in. I remember when we first joined UU Asheville, we often consulted our REALM directory to double check on names, faces, emails, etc. It was really frustrating to find so many of us did not have complete or even partial entries. Makes it harder for new arrivals to get settled in.

Our directory is accessible to those registered with UU Asheville, not open to the public, so privacy and security are not really issues. Why not do something simple to help all those new people get to know you? Here are the simple steps to update or complete your REALM personal entry (it may be a bit different depending on your device and software, but this should get you close enough to do the entries):

  1. Go to the UU Asheville web site. Look on the lower left side, see the column of entry points. The last one is REALM. Click on it.
  2. Signing in:
    1. If you are not already signed up, you will see the link to SIGN UP. Click on it and provide the few simple items of information requested, INCLUDING EMAIL ADDRESS AND PREFERRED PHONE. Click continue, and your data has been sent to the UUCA office. They will verify your information and send you confirmation of an account.
    2. If you have an account already, click on Sign In. It will ask for the email you use and the password. Helpful link provided if you have lost your password (that never happens, right?).
  3. Once signed in, look on the left side and click on DIRECTORY. You should see your first name in the upper right corner of the screen, along with an arrow. Click on the arrow, then click on MY PROFILE.
  4. You will now be on your profile page. Click on EDIT PROFILE to make any changes or additions. This will open a page with all your information in sections (name, email, etc.) Make any changes needed and SAVE. At the top of the page, you will see a tab to MANAGE PRIVACY. Here you decide who can see your REALM information. Most helpful to check ANYONE IN THE CHURCH, and once again SAVE.
  5. To change or add a picture, click on the picture (or blank circle next to your name on the PROFILE Once clicked, you will see an EDIT image – click on it. You can ADD A NEW PROFILE PHOTO by clicking on that option. This will then look for where you have photos on your computer or phone. Click on that site, click on a photo you want, then on the bottom of the page, click on UPLOAD. You will then see the photo with a framing circle. Move the photo around until it is centered to have what you want shown. SAVE.

That’s it! Now we can all get to know you. Thanks for being neighborly.

Bill Clontz, Member

Remembering Bill Moore

Remembering Bill Moore

Dear all,

Last week I officiated Bill Moore’s memorial service in the sanctuary he designed for UU Asheville.  Because Bill loved this congregation and was a member since services were held in a house on Vermont Ave in West Asheville, the sanctuary he designed for you is thick with meaning and a labor of love. In an interview with Gina Phairas prior to Covid, Bill spoke about his process and intention, and I was so moved and inspired that I decided to share his eulogy so Bill’s legacy will not only not be forgotten but celebrated and honored for years to come.  After the service, Jerry McClellan revealed to me that Bill left you one more unopened gift. Jerry will give you a glimpse of that gift following the eulogy.

I wish for you a future graced with love and joy.

Warmly, Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister

William Oliver “Bill” Moore, 87, a North Carolina Modernist architect who made Asheville his home for nearly 60 years, died May 10, 2023. In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his sister, Mary Jane O’Toole.

He is survived by his daughter, Melissa Moore, and her husband, Al Wheless, of Creedmoor, NC; his former wife, Willa Newell, of Black Mountain, N.C.; and good friends in Asheville, NC.

Bill was a loving father, son, and brother, and a good friend. From what I have gleaned from Bill’s family and friends, Bill knew early on what he planned to do with his wild and precious life. It was Architecture that became his passion, his livelihood, and his hobby. As he said in an Odyssey interview with Gina Phairas, architecture was his life.

Bill was the son of James Oliver Moore and Mildred Moore. He was raised in Cleveland, NC, a small, rural town in Rowan County. Born in 1935 at the brink of WWII and during the Great Depression as a WWII kid, the toys he played with were weapons, bombers, an aluminum canteen; anything military.

His first-grade teacher, in December of 1941, showed the class two photos that left a powerful impression on Bill; they were photos of General Douglas MacArthur and the USS Arizona, the famous battleship that was attacked and sunk by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor killing 1,177 of its officers and crewmen. It is not surprising that later in his life, Bill was drawn to reading about the history of the United States and WWII.

Bill’s father and his Uncle Neal ran a country general store. Bill worked in the store from age 14 after school and summers and blames too much free candy and Coca Cola as a child for his problem teeth.  Bill remembers helping his father deliver ice to members of the community who did not have refrigeration.

Bill’s mother ran a small boarding house and there were two teachers who lived with them. Often, as many as six teachers would walk over for a homemade lunch prepared by his mom. During the war, his mom also held a job sewing military clothing.  It was his mother who got Bill interested correspondence course when he was in the eighth grade.  She paid $200 for four years of study to be a commercial artist. He loved it. Clearly, Bill’s parents taught him a work ethic and to care about other people.

During high school, Bill played football and basketball and was the president of the Beta Club. After high school, Bill studied at North Carolina State University’s School of Design and graduated in 1959 with a BA in Architecture. He also did coursework in City Planning at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After marrying his high school sweetheart, Willa in 1957, the two finished their studies and then took a trip, planned by Willa, to Europe for nearly three months and in a rented car, they managed to visit at least one hundred cathedrals and “lots of other old buildings,” Willa said. Their daughter, Melissa was born in 1962. Melissa has fond memories of visiting the ocean and going on picnics and hikes in the mountains. Though Bill was very busy with his career, he loved being a father. Melissa said that his unconditional love and support for her has made all the difference in her life. She said, “Daddy was completely disinterested in Rock and Roll, but he liked Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and John Denver and jazz and blues singer Leadbelly. He also loved Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to the degree, according to Melissa that he hummed three lines joyfully and endlessly.”

The only television Bill watched was PBS because he couldn’t stand commercials.  He supported and valued Melissa’s love of poetry writing as a teenager, and it was his unconditional love for Melissa that made all the difference.

After working briefly in Raleigh, the family moved to Asheville in 1963. It 1966 Bill opened his own office and retired in 2008 after a long successful and fulfilling career.

A self-describe back-slid Methodist, Bill sought out the Unitarians who happened to be meeting in an old house on Vermont in West Asheville. Since high school, Bill’s heroes were Thomas Jefferson and Frank Lloyd Wright, and both men happened to be Unitarians. Thomas Jefferson because he juxtaposed western civilization on the American frontier besides life liberty and the pursuit of justice. Monticello looking off to the West; that was the forefront in America of Western Civilization.  He doubled the size of the country without a war, and Frank Lloyd Wright gave us a modern architecture.

After Bill sought out the Unitarians, a whole new world opened to him.  He told Gina that he found people who were “seeking knowledge instead of preaching it.” She asked why he was still a member of this church (he was a member since the early sixties), he said, “With all due respect to our ministers, what I love is the sense of community and shared values.”

There are some interesting intentional design elements that Bill included in this sacred space. I was moved as I watched the odyssey interview video with Gina and listened to Bill explain his thoughtful motives behind the design. The sanctuary is designed as a square for a reason; Frank Lloyd Wright believed that the square is a perfect symbol for Unitarianism. Unity, and the oneness of God. Bill said that he didn’t believe he was plagiarizing Wright but honoring him instead. He thought of himself as one of the good guys who didn’t plagiarize Wright as so many have done.

Bill put his heart and soul into this church. It was created out of a deep love and devotion to this church community and our faith tradition. This sanctuary is intentionally built with yellow pine because it is the strongest structural wood in the South. The site initially dictated the final project: We wanted to turn our backs to a busy street. Solid walls.  Come in from the front and the back which also served as a front, welcoming folks from both sides.

The lighting was also integral to the design. The sky light over the pulpit wasn’t loved by everyone, he remembered. The engineer that helped design it called it a “light scoop.” But there was one member of the building committee who called the skylight, “an unsightly sawtooth cupola.” Bill said those words continued to ring in his head up to the time of the Interview with Gina. “But everybody knows that north light is the softest and the best.”

The seating design is the amphitheater style seating as opposed to the typical Christian seating. Bill had the opportunity with other architects to go to Duke Divinity school and meet with ministers to talk about church design.  He said, “These pews were designed to build a sense of community.” Bill remembered a time when Dick Wood, the mayor of Asheville, visited the church and compared theses stone walls to a community. He said that we should all strive to fit together like these stones do.

His design for this beautiful church received a Merit Award from the North Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects for that building. He also received an N.C. AIA award for another building. Bill said he would have been happy to design a hundred Unitarian churches, and this church was his favorite project. Understanding the love that went into this design critically important so that it is never taken for granted. Designing this church was the pinnacle project of entire career. It is a gift that should be cherished and celebrated.

There were many noteworthy projects that received acclaim. In 1975, his modernist architecture firm of Moore-Robinson Associates won both a regional design award and the grand award winner in the North Carolina Environmental Design Awards competition for the family home on North Griffing Boulevard. Following publication in Southern Living, he put the plans up for sale through plan book brokers. Melissa fondly remembers the serenely beautiful home where she grew up that was built on the side of a mountain so that views of nature could be seen from all sides. They were surrounded by trees. Bill appreciated the beauty and quiet life of living in the country but loved entertaining and spending time with friends and acquaintances. Integrating nature into his designs was essential to Bill. He was a spiritual man in this way. Melissa once asked him if he believed in God, and he told her, “Yes.” She is clear that he didn’t believe in a man in the sky with a beard but more as a nature and the power of love, and perhaps like Unitarian scholar and theologian, James Luther Adams’ favorite definition of God as “community-forming power.”  He cared deeply and strived to make the world a better place through his work and by volunteering.

Bill was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Asheville for many years, serving on projects that benefited the children of Asheville. He served on Asheville’s Planning and Zoning Committee.  Bill spoke of a book by David Brooks called Leading Lives that Matter, that was an inspiration. Brooks said that once we are stable it’s time to help people. Bill told Gina that he wished he had done more. She asked him what is your favorite word?  “Love.” Your least favorite word? “Hate.”

Life lesson like to pass on to others?  “One of life’s greatest’s rewards is helping others.”  This is how Bill lived his life.  Not only did he leave a legacy of love within the design of the building he was a member of the legacy circle committing a portion of his estate to the well-being and future of Unitarian Universalism in Asheville, North Carolina.

Bill Moore – Gift to be Unwrapped.

Several years ago, I was talking To Bill Moore about the need for more space at UU Asheville as we were growing and needed more classroom and office space, and more room in Sandburg Hall.  He said he had anticipated the eventual need and had drafted a complete set of plans for a matching addition to our existing building. I asked if he could send me a reduced copy of the plan as I was not aware it existed, or it being discussed in our long-range planning.

After receiving the drawing, I could see he had tied it in beautifully to his original plan, not as an afterthought but part of a master plan. It extends our building toward Jefferson House in matching field stone, adds an entrance into expanded RE space and includes an elevator to the offices above. As a crowning conception he added a glass pyramid structure over the office general area much like you see visiting the Louvre in Paris.  By moving the present offices, it made room for an enlarged Sandburg Hall and other improvements.  Bill said it could not be afforded at the time so the plans for it have been tucked away for future use when the congregation is ready to expand our facility, if ever.

So, like sleeping beauty (which it is) the plans sit rolled up in a closet somewhere at UU Asheville waiting …an unwrapped gift for the future from Bill Moore.

Jerry McLellan

Will You Dream With Me?

This past week, The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) hosted the 62nd General Assembly (GA) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a first-timer to GA, I was dazzled to see thousands of Unitarian Universalists coming together, in the City of Bridges, to conduct their yearly ritual of business resolution and communal worship. As a faith tradition, Unitarian Universalism has been in a state of rebuilding. The pandemic has seen major changes in our associated congregations resulting in a shifting landscape that, for some, has felt disorienting. Recent events at the UUA have caused us to become more aware that change is necessary in our stance toward dismantling systems of oppression and racism. Yet in this time of transformation, there has been positive movement toward redefining who we are as an association of congregations and what it means to be Unitarian Universalist.

As a result of the business last week, our associated congregations chose to call and elect the Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt to the position of President of the UUA. Rev. Betancourt previously served as one of three interim presidents and now succeeds the Rev. Susan Fredrick-Gray. Rev. Sofia is the first out, Queer person and first woman of color to serve as UUA President. Along with electing the next president of the UUA, delegates present voted by an 86% majority to advance the proposed amendments to the Article II bylaws that govern the UUA. A final vote to codify the proposed changes to Article II will take place at the General Assembly in 2024. The last revision to Article II occurred in 1987.

During one of the general sessions, Rev. Sofia answered questions related to what she saw as the goals of her presidency and her thoughts about the Article II process. “I want us to have a shared language that doesn’t separate us from what matters most. We don’t need to claim the language of someone else’s values, but lean into our own pluralistic, diverse, language.” Rev. Sofia spoke about how she sees this as a time when we need to lean into our covenants with each other while we explore our shared values. “We are in a reimagining and rebuilding moment where risk-taking is central to who we are.” Rev. Sofia summarized her thoughts by saying, “Article II allows us to dream again.” She then asked, “Will you dream with me?”

During the Service of the Living Tradition, Rev. Chris Buice of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation (TVUUC) spoke about our metamorphosis into who knows what. The music that accompanied the service asked us, “What do we need to imagine… change.” He reminded us that “We are not changing because we want to. We’re changing because we have to.” As Rev. Buice so eloquently stated in his sermon, “In the Unitarian Universalist church we believe in evolution. Now we actually have to practice it. We have to adapt to change. We have to evolve.”

As we are soon to enter a new church year, what do we at the Unitarian Universalists Congregation of Asheville need to be able to adapt to change, to reimagine our commitments to one another, to reinvest in our shared values? Can we recommit to Love, Justice, Interdependence, Equity, Transformation, Pluralism, and Generosity? Can we learn to stay at the table and rebuild relationships with ourselves and with those in our community? Rev. Sofia stated it so well when she said, “I want us to be publicly obnoxious about our values.” So, Dream with Me UUC Asheville. Let’s step into a world of imagination and wonder as we continue to live into Beloved Community.

Blessed Be,
Shawn Gibson (He/Him)
Member since 2018, Seminary Student at Meadville-Lombard Theological School

June, Appreciation, and Ted Lasso

June has been the month to express gratitude.  As the final school bus passed my house on a recent June afternoon, I silently thanked the teachers who made me…those teachers who made me think, who pushed me to do better than I thought I could, who showed kindness to me during the hard times of my childhood.  I thanked the parents who made sure that I went to school everyday, tired or hungry…no excuses…and held me responsible for homework and good grades. It feels good to be old enough to finally appreciate all those folks.

At the grand finale of the June 4th business meeting, UU Asheville thanked the many members who have served the congregation this year. It was a long ceremony of gratitude and it could have gone longer. Acknowledging service to our UU community is important. A lot of hard work (from finding an outstanding new minister to brewing the coffee) was recognized because all service, large or small, is important in the big picture.

Ted Lasso (for those of you who may not waste time streaming/watching sitcoms as I do) is a feel good show about a soccer coach who moves to England and doesn’t know much about soccer or how to navigate new social contexts.  He doesn’t even drink tea. But he does know how to build connections between his team, his staff, and total strangers by small acts of kindness and daily appreciation. When someone does or says something helpful, Ted says “I appreciate you” instead of “I appreciate it.” He emphasizes the message that we should appreciate the people in our lives more than the things they do for us. It’s a small semantic difference but an important one if you are one being appreciated.

If the month of June reminds us to recognize those people who contribute to the betterment of us all, then I’d like to be more like Ted Lasso. As I leave the Board of Trustees after three years of service, I appreciate the board members who were patient, who helped and encouraged me when I was struggling to learn the ropes.  I appreciate Rev. Cathy Harrington and the UU congregants who showed me kindness during the 2022 death of my husband.  I appreciate the UU staff who work so hard behind the scenes and who make the Sunday service look easy. I appreciate the person who smiles at me on Sunday morning for no good reason and gives me hope that the world is still a good place. I appreciate you if you have finished reading this and I hope you will appreciate all the people in your life who make it worth getting up for in the morning. And most of all I hope you appreciate you.

Karen Dill, UU Asheville Board of Trustees, Outgoing

The 8th Principle: We voted “Yes!” Now What?

Thank you! A highlight of this year has been the vote to adopt the 8th Principle at UU Asheville. Post-vote, our journey continues. Maybe it is more of a trek: arduous and often slow, as we work together to co-create Beloved Community within and beyond these four walls. Part of the trek involves personal reflection and learning. Below are two opportunities for you to consider:

Participate in the Explorers Book Club which reads and discusses group-selected books that explore the lives of people of diverse identities & cultures. They read both nonfiction and fiction books written predominantly by authors from diverse identities & cultures to broaden personal understanding as well as our congregational efforts to work towards multicultural Beloved Community. They will continue to meet during the summer. If interested, contact Deanna Banks  for details. Below are a few of the books they read this year. You might consider them for summer reading.
What We Carry: A Memoir by Maya Shanbhag Lang
Centering: Navigating Race, Authenticity, and Power in Ministry by Mitra Rahnema
How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith

Learn about the work of the Community Reparations Commission and how the Racial Justice Coalition is building support for their recommendations.  RJC is inviting citizens to sign a pledge in support of reparations. Their goal is 5,000 signatories by July 1 and 8,000 by August 1–which just happens to be 3.5 % of Buncombe County residents. Why? RJC knows that political science researchers have determined that when 3.5 % of a local population are activated for social change, that change is more likely to take place. Thus, this individual pledge. So, check out the website above, and consider not only signing the pledge but also sharing it with friends.

Beyond personal study and reflection, the work we do in partnership with the community is how we really put our faith in action. What might that look like for our congregation? Some individual members are involved in the Racial Justice Coalition, CoThinkk, Faith4 Justice, and other local justice organizations. What does involvement look like at the congregational level? I do not have answers. Determining next steps is something we must do together. As congregational life winds in anticipation of summer, I invite you to imagine how adopting the 8th Principle will change us, UU Avl. Our vote must not be performative. I welcome hearing your thoughts and look forward to exploring possibilities together in the fall.

With gratitude,
Rev. Claudia Jiménez

Thank You Rev. Cathy

Interim Ministry is an important and challenging time for a Congregation. Add the challenges of the COVID pandemic and the unexpected and heartbreaking news of the passing of Rev. Mark Ward and you have a real test of a Congregation and Interim Minister. As we look forward to working with our incoming Lead Minister Rev. Audette, we’d like to highlight the amazing work Rev. Cathy has led during the past 2 years.

Interim Ministry is built around five development tasks or focal point areas: history, religious education program identity, interim leadership changes, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) linkages, and commitment to the future. Rev. Cathy reminded us that Unitarians have a long history in western North Carolina and Asheville. A Unitarian Fellowship was established in Asheville in 1950, grew into a church in 1962, and then moved into the current Sanctuary in 1972. UU Asheville has had a history of long, healthy relationships with Lead Ministers, a sign of a committed and mature Congregation.

Our religious education program has continued to thrive despite the challenges of COVID. A commitment to Religious Exploration remains a highlight and focus of UU Asheville and was strengthened during Rev. Cathy’s interim term. We continue to have a vibrant RE program with dedicated staff and outstanding, committed volunteers. Of course, the kids continue to be amazing, and we now welcome our little ones and their families into our new “Wee Worship” area in the Sanctuary.

After Linda Topp, our Director of Administration retired, Rev. Cathy worked hard to find the right person, the well qualified Wendy Motch-Ellis. A key leadership role at UU Asheville, the Director of Administration collaborates with many people behind the scenes to make things work.

The UUA’s assistance was instrumental in our successful Ministerial search. Rev. Keith Kron, head of the UUA Transition Office, hosted a well-attended training in beyond categorical thinking to prepare UU Asheville for an inclusive Ministerial search. His office was a key in working with our Ministerial Search Committee to connect with candidates.

With the leadership of Rev. Cathy, the Board worked hard to create our vision for a bright future of fiscal sustainability by establishing our four pillars; Care Connect, Annual Giving Drive, Long-Range Planning, and Legacy Circle. Our community is strong and looks forward to welcoming and working with Rev. Audette. So, as Rev. Cathy’s time with us winds down, please take a moment to personally thank her for a successful Interim Ministry.

The UU AshevilleTransition Team (John Bates, Nancy Bragg, Jensen Gelfond, Julie Ransom, and Buck Schall)


Photo of Rev. Dr. Cathy HarringtonAs our time together is growing short, I wanted to pause and say thank you to all of you for the courageous way you have embraced the challenge of loss, change, and transition. As I reflect on the past two years, I feel it is nothing short of remarkable the way you have reinvigorated this beloved community following the pandemic. Many of our UU congregations continue to struggle to reinvent themselves. They are still grieving the past and seem to be trying to recreate the way things were pre-pandemic. I credit your staff and leadership for their energy and creativity as each new challenge emerged (and there have many). UU Asheville is a bright light of hope in our denomination as well as in your community and beyond.  It has been a privilege and a joy to serve as your interim minister, and I will watch with interest from afar as you begin your new journey with Rev. Audette as your new lead minister.

Looking back, I am reminded of the many ways our congregations adapted and readapted over the 2 ½ year of the pandemic, but I’m also cognizant of how our priorities changed. Being with loved ones, connecting with friends, creating community however we could, walking in nature was the new “vacation,” baking bread, learning new hobbies, or reviving old one became our lifeline. Bonding with our beloved pets who were ecstatic to have us home all day was a bonus. It seemed that everyone in my apartment complex got a puppy in 2020, and their abundant joy was contagious.

Rev. Bill Sinkford’s article about predicting the future in the new UU World is worth a read. He writes, “Change is manifesting all around us in a variety of ways, which I believe offer hope for our faith’s future. Congregations are building new collaborations… There are new collaborative leadership models emerging. More shared ministry, less hierarchy, more leveling of leadership”.

My colleagues and I are also noticing large numbers of people of all ages seeking connection in our UU religious communities. Sinkford says, “Our task is liberation into lives of abundance and justice and joy”. We cannot know what the future holds, but we can choose to be a part of creating that future by saying, “Yes” to life and to love and by creating beloved community and a safe and loving home to all.

I am confident UU Asheville will continue to meet this moment and the next moment and the next moment with enthusiastic curiosity, faith, hope, and joy.  I hope to see each of you throughout the remainder of my time at UU Asheville.  I will be on the pulpit May 21st, May 28th, and June 11th. My transition begins on June 15th with a combination of vacation, General Assembly, and moving.

Sincerely with love,

Rev. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister

Together, We Create Community

Last week as I was working with Jen Johnson to complete the Religious Exploration section of our Annual Report, I couldn’t help but marvel at everything we have managed to make happen in Religious Exploration this year. Hopefully, you were able to catch the Faith Development service on Sunday, May 7th so you have had a glimpse of what we’ve been up to in RE. While we have been lucky to have increased registration numbers and growing Sunday attendance in our RE programs, we have also worked really hard to bring all of our fabulous programmings to you. We have had the help of about 40 volunteers in RE this year and we truly could not have done it without them. With their help, we have been able to offer 4 different OWL classes, serving 40 children and youth. Our youth group may be small, but it is mighty! The youth offered another beautiful worship service this year, modeling fun, meaningful worship for the rest of us. Our Crossing Paths middle school group made visits to 8 different houses of worship this year! They began the year learning about Unitarian Universalism and used that lens to explore other religions. Our Religious Exploration program is thriving, thanks to the work of our volunteers, staff, children, and youth, and of course our whole welcoming community!

Even as we are wrapping up the “church year” this month, we are hard at work planning for the summer and fall. Many of our families and congregants travel in the summer, but we still offer RE nearly every Sunday in the summer. This summer we will bring back some of our favorite activities from last summer (fair trade chocolate tasting!) as well as some new activities (fairy houses and toothpick architecture!) from the Can Do Summer curriculum by Soul Matters. These activities will be fun for all ages and a way for us to stay connected over the summer. We do need some help though, as of this writing only one person has signed up to help with Summer RE. We are looking for more adults to help out this summer, older kids are also welcome to lead and assist with our Sunday activities! If you can help out one Sunday, please sign up here!  RE staff will be there to help, and we will provide the simple lesson plans and all supplies needed.

I mentioned earlier that we had 40 fabulous RE volunteers this year. In order to offer everything that we want to in 2023-24, we are going to need more volunteers. I also mentioned that our registration has increased, which means that some of our groups have been BIG this year. We did not offer Coming of Age this year, which freed up some time and resources, but means that we will have a large Coming of Age group next year that will require even more volunteers, especially when we factor in the amount of mentors needed. We are offering programs like OWL in RE that can be hard for folks to get in other places; classes and groups that focus on equity, the search for truth and meaning, science and facts, helping others, and being radically welcoming. We are providing space for our children and youth to be their whole selves in a time when it is increasingly difficult for them to do that in schools. Our volunteers become trusted adults for our children and youth, which is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. Our children and youth feel loved, supported, and secure in our community. We will have a table in Sandburg Hall all month to sign up new and returning volunteers, please come see us if you are interested or have any questions! While we do ask parents and caregivers to make a commitment to RE, we need all sorts of people. In order to have parents and caregivers participate fully in congregational life, we need other folks to volunteer with RE! Not all of our volunteer positions directly interact with kids so we’ve got something for everyone! If you want to see what the choices are and sign up here.

Kim Collins, Lifespan Religious Educator

“All That Rises”


We are overjoyed with the outcome of the congregational vote and absolutely thrilled to call Rev. Audette to be our lead minister.  As many of you know, we have experienced several technical difficulties over the past few weeks as the new staff learns our AV and streaming system.  Rest assured, we are very focused on correcting the issues, and, we are very sorry they have occurred.  Sunday was an incredibly special day and, unfortunately, the audio did not feed through with the live stream or the recording.  We invite you to read Rev. Audette’s sermon from this past Sunday, All that Rises….. Read more.

The Upward Spiral

Here we are amidst candidating week, entering a very exciting time for UU Asheville. If I can’t think of anything to write about, I guess that’s on me!  I was thinking of a few different topics.  I’m not aware of any hard rules dictating the content of this blog, so I considered detailing a recent experience I had replacing some fiberglass insulation after the washing machine froze, busted, and flooded the basement.  Then I remembered one of the UU principles is (and I’m paraphrasing)….Be Kind.

So I’ll spare you that story, and say this:  last fall we did our Meet the Moment campaign, to raise our financial giving to meet our operational costs.  That campaign was exactly what it needed to be; many in our congregation stepped up and together we reached our financial goal.  But more than that, we did so with the understanding that we *were* then in a formative period of transition.  In search for a Called Minister, in recovery from the last few years of (fill in your blank here), decline in member engagement, a re-imagining of what it means to be together, and a re-imagining of our work when it is de-centered from whiteness.  In short, one of a very few defining inflection points in the history of our church.

Did I say we *were* in a formative period of transition?  I think I did.  It is perhaps clear to each of us that we *are* still in this period, in this inflection point.  In the coming days, we will complete our Vote for the Called Minister, and we will understand where we stand financially from the Annual Giving Drive.  The past year has been nothing short of love, labor, and investment in our re-emergence.  But our best works lay ahead of us, not behind us.  If you happened to be at the gathering on Social Justice with Rev. Audette last evening, you may have noticed it was standing room only.  Not the usual couple dozen folks that have been highly active in this area, but a packed room of folks ready to lean in.  A simple but powerful testament to our potential and what lies ahead.

And so begins the upward spiral.  We lean in, we engage, we give and serve, and the growth happens organically for each of us and for our shared mission of connection, inspiration, compassion and justice.

Will Jernigan, UU Asheville Board of Trustees

Koru: Reflections on Infinity and New Beginnings

Koru: Reflections on Infinity and New Beginnings

Yesterday, as I was scrolling through the news on my handheld device, a beautiful array of blues and greens, swirls, and light caught my eye.  The image magnificently danced with a spiral embedded within the aurora borealis in northern Alaska.  The world stood still as I traveled through time and found myself reminiscing on my own spiritual journey while tramping through New Zealand. I felt magnetically pulled from within to lean in and learn more about Mãori culture. I discovered how the Mãori people, language, and culture are deeply intertwined with their natural environment and the abundance of outwardly symbols in the form of statues, jewelry, and pouwhenua ( land posts) visibly present throughout my travels in both the North and South Islands.  A constant reminder of their connection to Earth and the spirit world.  I found solace in nature and completed several of New Zealand’s Great Walks. This was a time of deep soul-searching, as I was at an impasse in my life journey.  I realized how important and necessary it is to feel aligned, in balance, and within harmony of one’s surroundings.  While tramping (backpacking), deep in the bush, I was incredibly fortunate to be moving through this space when the silver ferns began unfurling new fronds.  The Mãori refer to these new fronds as Koru, translated as new beginnings.  Suddenly, the impasse in my life was no more – I embraced what I realized was a time of new beginnings. 

UU Asheville has been moving through a period of deep soul-searching as we look to call a new lead minister.  As we embark upon Candidating Week here at UU Asheville, lean into the Koru, and relish in the excitement, hope, and infinite possibilities that await our congregation, and be curious and explore ideas and connections during this time of new beginnings. 

And, while the spiral in the northern lights was magnificent, its source was not…let it be a reminder that beauty is not always what it seems, and we must remain steadfast in our search for meaning and purpose.  

Wendy Motch-Ellis, Director of Administration

The Adventure Continues

The Adventure Continues

rev Claudia JiménezSpring is here. The mountains are coming to life with wildflowers and trees bursting into leaf. Mayapples, trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit and all the little white flowers that I looked up last year, determined to remember their names, whose names I have now forgotten! Winter coats are replaced by light jackets (or no jackets at all). The days get longer. It is a delight to eat outdoors and go for walks after dinner without rushing home to avoid the darkness. It’s an exciting time as we transition to warmer weather and anticipate summer.

There is also excitement at UU Asheville as you prepare to host ministerial candidate Rev. Audette, with a week full of activities, conversations, and shared meals. The schedule of events is shared weekly in the e-news.

There is excitement as our delegates prepare to attend General Assembly in Pittsburgh and represent our congregation in the association’s business meetings in June. Next month there will be a series exploring the proposed Article II changes and creating space for delegates to hear your feedback which will inform their vote. I hope you can join us.

And, we are also preparing for the congregational vote June 4 to adopt the 8th Principle as a collective call to action to deepen our commitment to racial justice and collective liberation. This Sunday, April 16 after the Earth Day service there will be a panel and Q&A about this important vote.

There is excitement as our youth prepare to travel to Birmingham and Montgomery for a memorable and challenging racial justice learning experience. They are grateful for the congregation’s support of their fundraising events especially the Taco & Trivia night. I am honored to be one of the chaperones accompanying them on this trip. I look forward to learning together as well as getting to know our youth better.  I am also grateful for the work of our Religious Exploration staff who organized this trip and the many programs available to children and youth this year. They are already busy planning for next year and will begin recruiting facilitators soon.

There is so much happening in our community. How will you stay engaged and contribute to the new chapter in the story of UU Asheville?

With gratitude and anticipation,
Rev. Claudia Jimenez, Minister of Faith Development