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Desert Notes

Love is our Doctrine. Service is our prayer. Justice is our calling.

Desert Notes


This week we held a start up workshop with UUA Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh from Congregational Life meeting with the VUU Board and Staff and later with anyone interested in participating.  We learned a lot from each other and hope to have an edited video from the Sunday portion to share with folks who are interested.  We discussed ministerial and lay leader roles using the RASCI model (Responsible, Accountable, Support, Consult, and Inform) to discuss these.  We also discussed ministerial boundaries, avoiding dual roles, supporting healthy working relationships and communications.  On Sunday we talked about the culture of VUU and I got to pretend to be an archaeologist learning about VUU and its unspoken norms/rules, traditions, stories and truths. Members shared so many nuances of VUU culture, and I got to ask questions and explore and share some of my own understandings of VUU culture and congregational needs.  We also talked about feedback and the importance of healthy, non-triangulated feedback.  One useful tool was the “inference ladder,”  which was a reminder that “what happened” and our story about what happened can be very different when our story is built on assumptions we haven’t checked out, and can lead us to conclusions that create unnecessary conflict.  We also talked about conflict and the importance of managing conflict while it is still at a level 1 or 2 – a problem to solve or a disagreement instead of a contest or battle or war (destructive to individuals and community!)  We can all help de-escalate conflict and manage differences in healthy ways. 

I want to thank everyone who participated and invite folks who weren’t able to attend to learn more about the work we engaged by talking to someone who did attend!  

Also this week, the VUU staff attended a UU religious professionals cluster meeting in Tucson which is an important way for us to collaborate with other UU’s in our immediate region and to build professional relationships that will help us grow in our roles.  It was fun, supportive and informative.  I feel so lucky to work with this ministry team!  Finally, last week I was able to attend a press conference with Arizona Interfaith Power and Light in regards to Southwest Gas rate increase requests and a rally for education to protest sending public dollars to private schools via tax credits from individual families.  I met with the organizer from Valley Interfaith Project and helped plan some next steps in engaging VUU members in this work.  I also visited AZCEND, the home organizations for I-Help which houses folks in our Sanctuary building twice a week.  All of these connections are part of our important outreach to the community and commitment to building the beloved community through justice and service work and a deeper understanding of how policies and resources impact community health and capacity. Watch for opportunities to learn more!  

As I enter a week of time with my family and travel, I am also grateful for the shared ministry of this new partnership.  I am full of energy and excitement for our future!

My schedule: I am on Fall break with my family, and will be out of the office  for a week. I will be back at VUU by October 7, and I look forward to responding to you then!  If you need a VUU staff member, please contact our Office Administrator, Todd Sirrine, at admin@vuu.org. If you have a pastoral care emergency, please contact our team at pastoralcare@vuu.org

In gratitude, Rev. Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan

From the Workshop:

Levels of Conflict (as articulated by Speed Leas):

  • Problem to Solve. Goal = solve problem
  • Disagreement. Goal = find agreement
  • Contest. Goal = win
  • Battle. Goal = win and hurt the opposition 
  • World War. Goal = win and destroy the opposition