The Messenger

A Month of Sundays

August 5 led by Denis Foley – A sermon given by Rev. Ruth Rinehart  Bound Together in Covenant and Community. Following worship is the first Sunday Potluck.  Please bring a dish to share. 

August 12 led by Beverly Escuder

August 19 led by Kay Wilde

Call Beverly Escuder at (312) 520-2994 to lead Worship on August 26.

Sunday Worship is at 11:00am

Message from the Board President by Beverly Escuder 

At the July board meeting we voted to reduce the number of board members from 9 to 7. The board was previously increased to 9 because it was a struggle getting enough board members to attend meetings to reach a quorum. We no longer have that problem and feel that having nearly a third of our membership serving on the board is unnecessary and leads to burnout. We also agreed that we wanted to have more active and robust committees.  Reducing the number of board members back to a smaller size will free up more people to serve on committees without feeling over burdened by too many obligations. Overall, we feel that this change will allow more members of the congregation to play a leadership role in our church, which is a good thing.

Although the board has approved this change, it will require the bylaws to be changed which must be voted on and approved by the congregation. This issue will be put up for a vote from the congregation in the service on August 12.

We are interested in getting our committees finalized very soon so that we can be ready to kick things off in the fall. If you are interested in serving on one of the committees below, please contact Beverly Escuder at

Committees: Religious Education, Service,  Building and Grounds, and Hospitality

The board has also approved the making of UUBB t-shirts. Jill has placed an order for t-shirts that have our name and logo on the front and “Standing on the Side of Love” on the back. They will be a teal color. The board agreed that matching shirts allows us to have a more visible presence at events such as service projects, charity events etc. This is not a fundraiser and the shirts are being sold at cost. If you want to purchase one, please contact Jill Goodwin.

Another exciting thing approved by the board is a new resource for service leadership. We have joined Soul Matters Sharing Circle, which is a network of Unitarian Universalist congregations who follow the same monthly themes. This theme based approach will allow us to get more resources provided by UU ministers to better lead services as well as RE and small groups. We will still be lay led, and leaders can still write their own sermons, we will just have access to more resources to help us prepare. We will also be connected spiritually by the themes with many other congregations who are following the same path. Having the themes laid out in advance will be useful not only in the recruitment of service leaders, but also to help us spread the word in advance about the kind of things we talk about in UU services. If you want to check out this new resource, go to

As we enter a new year, your board is working hard to ensure that we create a welcoming community that meets the needs of our congregation and challenges us to live out the values that we espouse in our mission statement every Sunday. You are all important and have a voice. If you have an idea or concern, please let us know. I hope you have a restful summer and I look forward to seeing you at UUBB soon.


Zen Meditation Group

Group meditation meets Monday eve’s 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.

UUBB Interest Groups

The Radical Book Club
Meets every other Tuesday. The Radical Book Club has just begun Michael Yellowbird’s For Indigenous Eyes Only: A Decolonization Handbook  a healing tool full of important concepts and exercises to build healthier indigenous identity.  Next meeting is 6:00pm Tuesday, August 7, at 102 McBride Lane. All are welcome. The next two meetings are on August 7 and August 21. For directions contact Lori Glover: 432-294-2810,

The Big Bend Book Club
meets on the second Wednesday of the month, August 8, at 5:30pm at the UUBB. The reading selection in August is iGen: What Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy— and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us by Jean M. Tweng. Crucial reading to understand how the children, teens, and young adults born in the mid-1990’s and later—are vastly different from their Millennial predecessors, and from any other generation.  Anyone interested in attending is welcome even if you didn’t read the book. Come and enjoy the conversation. If you have any questions please call Peter Koeppen at 713-702-6564.

Day Time Book Club
The next meeting at the UUBB will be on August 16 (the third Thursday of the month) at 10:30am. The book selection for August is The Silver Music Box by Mina Baites. An epic family story spanning from 1916 thru 1963, in Germany, London and Cape Town, South Africa. (Please note that July’s meeting was cancelled so same book different month!) All are welcome to join the conversation. If you have any questions please call Louise Parmaley at 713-702-1689.



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.