The Messenger

A Month of Sundays

Theme for October is “Sanctuary”
How Do You Live a Life of Sanctuary?

October 7 Matt Hagerman
First Sunday of the Month Potluck please join us after worship. Bring a dish to share.

October 14  Finding Sanctuary in Guatemala by Linda Hedges. Does anyone have a digital projector set-up that Linda could borrow for her presentation?

October 21 Making Space for Grace (Making sanctuary for and finding sanctuary in grace) Sermon by Gretchen Haley.  Service leader Denis Foley

October 28 Poetry Service

Sunday Worship at 11:00 a.m.

If you are leading worship please send Beverly Escuder your hymn picks for Sunday worship by Wednesday at the latest so she may share them with our music team.

Hymn of the Month
#352 Find a Stillness. Our hymn in October is a meditative, prayerful hymn with lyrics by Carl Seaburg, set to a Transylvanian folk tune. You will love the three-part invitation in the lyrics; especially that first one, to find, hold, and then let the stillness carry me. It’s a prescription for prayer and meditation. Find it, hold it, and let it do its work in us to find sanctuary within.

September Attendance
September 2 – 20
September 9 – 27
September 16 – 25
September 23 – 28
September 30 – 21

Total attendance – 122, Sunday Average – 24

Message from the Board President by Beverly Escuder 

“How Do You Live a Life of Sanctuary?”

Our theme for October is Sanctuary. Each week in our services we will be exploring what it means from different angles.  Sanctuary can evoke a variety of images from lofty spaces where the devout gather, to cities where immigrants and refugees start a new life after fleeing their homeland. Perhaps you’ve created a sanctuary in your home which is a retreat from the turbulent world. Or maybe you have a daily practice that allows you to create a sanctuary in your mind. I hope you will join us this month as we explore together the many ways we can live a life of sanctuary in troubled times.

The theme for November is “Memory”, so if that speaks to you and you would like to present a service that relates to that topic, please let me know and I can give you a packet of materials from Soul Matters to assist in your preparation.

Now that fall is officially upon us, family activities are in full swing at UUBB. Our RE program is back and each week the children of our congregation explore stories from our Spirit Play curriculum and also engage in discussions and activities that relate to our monthly theme. In this way our whole congregation engages in theme based ministry. Nursery care is also now available each week for our infants and toddlers. Family Night in September was a big success and families are invited to attend the next one on October 19 where there will be a meal before decorating sugar skulls in anticipation of Day of the Dead!

Later this month we will hold our annual Rummage Sale which is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year. Now is the time to look around your house to see if you have any items that you would like to contribute to the sale. The storage area in the carport is already filling up, but we can certainly use more items! If you would like to volunteer to help with the rummage sale, please contact Beckie Hagerman. We will need people to help set up on Friday, October 26 as well as work the sale on Saturday, October 27. Many hands make light work, so please help if you can!

Your board is hard at work leading this congregation in ways that align with our mission statement. Two things we are currently working on are exploring ways to make our services more eco-friendly and offering more services of celebration such as child dedications and weddings. If you have ideas or input in these areas, please let us know! The next board meeting is Sunday, October 21.

See you around the church!

November- Memory
December- Mystery
January- Possibility
February- Trust
March- Journey
April- Wholeness
May- Curiosity
June- Beauty

Meet Your Church Board

Every month we will introduce you to a member that is serving on the new church board.  Go online at for a complete list.  This Month meet Kristofer Jorgenson, Treasurer:

Dr. Jorgenson has taught college mathematics for 25 years beginning in 1991 except for 2 years (2000-2002) when he edited math textbooks and solution manuals in the San Francisco Bay Area.  He began teaching his own college math courses during the same year (1991) in which he earned an M.Ed. (Master’s of Education) degree in mathematics from Texas State University-San Marcos (then Southwest Texas State University).  He has taught as a full-time mathematics instructor since 1999, which was the year in which he earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from New Mexico State University (NMSU).  He has had a life-long interest in mathematics, music, and writing.  He earned a Bachelor’s of Music degree from TSU-San Marcos in 1985 as the very first string bass performance major from this institution.  He was the managing editor of the San Marcos High School newspaper during his last year of high school as the San Marcos Rattler won the “Tops in Texas” award of 1979.  His interest in writing and music turned into an interest in teaching mathematics by the late 1980s when he became a college mathematics tutor in 1988 at TSU-San Marcos.  By the late 1990s, he began researching mathematics with Dr. David R. Finston at NMSU from which he published 2 papers from his doctoral dissertation in 2001 and 2004, and then went on to publish a mathematics paper of his own in 2008 on the area of his dissertation.  This same year, he was invited to the Fifth International Conference on Mathematics and Computing in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, where he gave a 50-minute lecture.  He has taught for 17 years as a full-time college mathematics professor; the last 14 of which have been at Sul Ross State University (SRSU).  He continues writing, teaching, and lecturing with published papers in 2013 and 2014—the latter as a co-author.  He was promoted to associate professor in 2009 and full professor in 2014 at SRSU.  He met his wife, Marina Azar, a classical guitarist and music educator, in Alpine, TX in 2006 marrying July 2008.

Zen Meditation Group

Group meditation meets Monday evenings at 6:00pm. Contact Jean O’Cuilinn (432) 364-2462 if you are coming for the first time & have questions. A small donation to the church is appreciated.

Interest Groups 

The Big Bend Book Club
meets on the second Wednesday of the month, October 10, at 5:30pm at the UUBB. The reading selection in October is The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. Is Google making us stupid? As we enjoy the world-wide web’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply? How do our brains change in response to our experiences? Come and discuss the answers to these questions.  Anyone interested in attending is welcome even if you didn’t read the book. If you have any questions please call Peter Koeppen at 713-702-6564.

Love to Read Book Club
The next meeting at the UUBB will be on October 18  (the third Thursday of the month) at 10:30am. The book selection for  is A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. This book is a very entertaining account of the first year in a new home and a new country, with all the explorations, discoveries, disappointments, triumphs and failures that go along with it. All are welcome to join the conversation. If you have any questions please call Louise Parmaley at 713-702-1689.

Upcoming Events

Family Night October 19 5:30-7:30 Come share a meal, then stay to decorate skull cakes in preparation for Dia de Los Muertos! Everything will be provided, so you only need to bring your family. If you wish to contribute, there will be a collection basket that will be donated to the RE budget.

Rummage Sale Saturday, October 27 starting at 8 a.m. The rummage sale is one of our biggest fund raisers. Please consider donating items to the sale or volunteering to help out.  If you would like to volunteer to help with the rummage sale, please contact Beckie Hagerman. We will need people to help set up on Friday, October 26 as well as work the sale on Saturday, October 27. Many hands make light work, so
please help if you can!

The Ritual of Joys and Concerns by Valerie Naylor

Joys and Concerns. Candles for the Journey. Candles of Sorrow and Joy.  No matter what they are called, Joys and Concerns are nearly always a part of a Unitarian Universalist service.  But to be an important part of our worship, they need to be done right.  This is always a challenge for UU congregations.

Small to medium sized fellowships often have people come forward to light a candle and make their statements.  In medium to large churches, people often are asked to write down their concerns in a memory book at the altar, or on a piece of paper, and someone else (often the minister) reads them.  In really large churches, the parishioners may be asked to send in joys and concerns in advance, so they can be included in written format in the program or newsletter.

I prefer smaller groups where we can state our own joys and sorrows.  But we need to ensure that we are doing it in a way that all speakers and listeners are respected.  If done well, Joys and Concerns can be a very reverent and prayerful time that honors those who are sharing with the congregation.  It should be a quiet and meditative ritual that takes on the shape and tone of worship.  

It takes work to do Joys and Concerns in a meaningful way.  One UU minister says it takes years for a group to do it properly.  That seems extreme to me.  But there are some things congregations can do to work toward that goal.

Speakers:  It’s important that the speakers are sharing something truly personal, not making a political statement, an announcement, or going off on a tangent.  The tone should be reverent, not self-indulgent.   Speakers should work to make their statements personal, heartfelt, and concise.  If someone is off track, the service leader should moderate appropriately.

Listeners:  It’s critical that listeners really listen – with ears, hearts, minds, and souls.  Joys and Concerns is not a time for reaction or discussion.  It is very hard not to react or comment when someone expresses a great sorrow or joy.  Sometimes it is difficult not to affirm or start a discussion about someone’s concern.  Yet it is best to be silent and respectful and make sure that the joy or concern that is being expressed is not lost in a discussion or reaction.  The social time after the service is the best time to address someone’s personal joy or concern, not during the ritual itself.

Every congregation, large and small, has the same issues with Joys and Concerns.  As I travel the country, I watch how various congregations handle this important part of UU worship.  It’s interesting to see the similarities and differences.  Most congregations use candles, but in my South Dakota group, we drop stones or marbles into a container of water.  We rent our space from the United Church of Christ, and it would be a serious concern if we set the church on fire.   
Valerie Naylor, Vice President, Black Hills UU Fellowship/UUBB.

Pastoral Care at UUBB

-Jean O’Cuilinn, a friend of UUBB and leader of the Zen Meditation Group housed in our church, has offered pastoral care to our community to anyone who feels in need of it. There is no charge for her ministry.  Contact: Rev. Jean O’Cuilinn, M.S.
432-364-2462 (landline – call first) 432-203-2085 (cell – then call)) 

-UUBB friend, Rawlyn Richter has also offered his assistance in offering pastoral care for anyone who needs it.  He is a Methodist minister who has a great deal of experience in counseling people who are seeking advice in spiritual, life event and practical issues.  Contact at 830-591-8968, 


History of the Alpine Unitarian Universalist Fellowship by Valerie Naylor

Did you know there was a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Alpine prior to Unitarian Universalists of the Big Bend?  The two groups did not overlap, but there was a bridge between.  It started on January 9, 1997, when Alpine resident Deanna Bowling published a letter to the editor in the Alpine Avalanche:

In April 1996, I moved to Alpine with all the hopes and enthusiasm attendant to relocation in a beloved place.  I have not been disappointed.  The people of West Texas exceed their reputation for friendliness and hospitality. The land is awe-inspiring in its beauty and variety. I have missed only one thing: my association with other people in the Unitarian-Universalist Church. I miss the sharing of ideas, the lively discussions among seekers who do not necessarily agree with each other.  I miss the support of our small group of close friends.  I miss our little community of shared social concern and action.  Therefore, with support of Church of the Larger Fellowship, I would like to start a U.U. Fellowship in Alpine.  

What are Unitarian Universalists?  We are a non-creedal, non-doctrinal group of seekers after truth. We are not exclusivist in our approach.  A Christian, A Buddhist, a Jew, an agnostic or atheist, is welcome to join us as long as he or she can subscribe to the following statement: [7 Principles: ].  

Are there other Unitarian-Universalists in this town who would like to join me in establishing a new spiritual home here?  Are there people unfamiliar with us who would be interested in joining a discussion group or beginning a fellowship based on the above covenant? If so, please contact me at 837-XXXX.  I work during the day but an answering machine will record your message.  Please let me hear from you.

Deanna Bowling, Alpine

The first meeting of the new Alpine Unitarian Universalist Fellowship was Sunday, January 19, 1997 at Deanna’s home on Moseley Loop.  Attending the first meeting were:  Deanna Bowling (fellowship organizer), Valerie Naylor (of Big Bend National Park), Bill Miller (astronautic engineer), Mary and Hal Flanders (well-known community citizens), Oscar Rodriguez, Cliff and Luann Herschel, Frances Ann Ayers Cooper, Harold Brian Kelly, and Tennessee.  Other members in the first two years included Paul Wright (a SRSU professor), Susan Wright (a teacher at the Montessori school), and Mary Beth and Hugh Garrett.

The Alpine UU Fellowship used a forum format rather than a worship service format, with one person leading the discussion on a particular topic.  Deanna tried to lead the group in singing from the UU hymnal a couple of times, but the group was uncomfortable with it.

The group met on Moseley Loop most Sundays for the next two years.  On January 25, 1999, Deanna and Bill moved to Terlingua, and the group then met in various houses in Alpine, often in the home of Paul and Susan Wright or Hal and Mary Flanders.  Deanna did not attend as regularly after she moved to Terlingua.

The Unitarian Universalist Association knew the budding Fellowship in Alpine was using the UU name and that it was functioning, but because it had not met all the criteria, it was not officially recognized by the organization.  However, “we were smiled upon” as Deanna puts it.

Deanna Bowling and Bill Miller became partners and moved to San Antonio in 2005.  Bill died in 2012.  Deanna is part of a Buddhist group in San Antonio.

Valerie Naylor moved to Nebraska in December 1999.  She was a founding member of the Prairie Vista UU Fellowship in Scottsbluff, Nebraska and a later small UU fellowship in Dickinson, North Dakota (now defunct) and then a member of the Bismarck-Mandan UU Fellowship in North Dakota.  Now, she is Vice President of the Black Hills UU Fellowship in Rapid City, South Dakota.  She bought a house in Alpine in April 2017 and is living part-time in Alpine and attending UUBB when she can.

Paul Wright retired from SRSU in December 2015 and he and Susan moved to San Diego in 2016.

Mary Beth Garrett lives in Alpine and joined UUBB in 2015.

Hal and Mary Flanders are gone now, but in January 2005, at age 91, Mary Flanders signed the membership book of UUBB, forming a bridge from the Alpine UU Fellowship to UUs of the Big Bend.

Spirit Play

Spirit Play is a story-telling religious education program that  helps children to understand their world within the context of U.U. principles.  Volunteer RE teachers are excited to offer these interactive classes beginning in September.

Spirit Play curriculum is designed for kids ages 3–12.  It is a question-based pedagogy and not appropriate for infants and toddlers.   RE teachers and board members are working together to find a safe and effective way to provide nurturing care for our children under three years of age.   For more information, contact Beverly or Mary Beth.


Food Pantry of Alpine

The UUBB congregation has been actively involved in the Alpine Food Pantry since it was formed over a decade ago.  Besides donating food products and money for food donations, some of our members serve on the Board of Directors and as volunteers at distributions and food drives.  Chris Muller has been treasurer of the organization and served several terms;  Carol Wallace is fundraiser for the Pantry.

Other Unitarians have already volunteered at distributions each month. Pantry board members are also active at distributions: other volunteers are needed 6 times every month.  That is 40 volunteered workers a month.  If you are interested in getting involved, talk with Chris or Carol for details.

Currently, AFB is helping feed about 380 people a month.  The numbers are increasing.  Many of our clients are working people who cannot make enough to pay ordinary living costs. The pantry buys food from the Food Bank at very discounted prices.  A great deal of that food is used in the first 3 dispensations.  After that we are dependent on food donations and discounted cash purchases from local stored.

The entire operation is run by volunteers  No-one is paid.  The space for the pantry is rented from The Presbyterian Church – at a very discounted rate, and also donates a very large amount of food every month.

Would you please consider buying an extra can of food, or any staple item when you can and bring to our food collection bin and Chris or I will get it to the pantry.

We sure thank folks for supporting and coming to the American Legion Fish Fry on March 23 to benefit the Food Pantry.  It was a big success!  The American Legion members worked hard and the food was good! We sold out of food and raised $2,500 for the Pantry.  Much gratitude to the Alpine community and our church members who supported the event!

The Pantry can always use juice or baking stuff, flour, sugar, etc. Bring your pantry donation to the church any Sunday!

Sunday Service Leaders and Greeters

The Board wants members and friends to know that UUBB always welcomes their participation as Service Leaders and Greeters. Neither job is difficult, especially since we have newly-published guidelines that will make it really easy for you. Also, any Board member will be happy to help you plan your participation. Both guidelines are available to take home with you at UUBB. Please, please consider sharing your interests and talents with us.

Making the Local News?

UUBB congregants are invited to submit news of their positive community contributions to for review for publication in the UUBB Messenger monthly newsletter.


UUBB Social Outreach in our Community

The UUBB is looking for needy organizations in our community which would gladly accept our outreach donations.  If you have any suggestions, please contact our president, Alan Wallace at

The UUBB Members and Friends Mailing List

The UUBB mailing list has been set up for the purposes of disseminating information to UUBB members and friends pertaining to UUBB activities and events at our church or in the community. Please help us to keep this mailing as a messenger of importance for UUBB activities and information for our members and friends.