Hello! You there, in the future! It’s me, Scott, from the past! It will be 2018 when you read this! As I am writing, it is only December 20. It is not even Christmas yet here in the past. Oh, the things we all will have experienced by the time you read this! Your holiday season will be done, and you will have brought in the new year. I hope you had a lovely time! Or maybe it was terrible. And that is okay, too... Sometimes it happens like that.

Our theme for January is intention — a likely theme for the new year as we all reflect upon what we have been doing and what we may want to be doing differently. It is one of the most profound ideas for those who seek a path of spiritual living and growth. The idea of living intentionally is supported by understanding where we are in our lives and how we are showing up in any given moment (remembering that these moments are the actual minutes and moments of our lives). In beginning this new year, let us take a moment to be intentional about how we move forward into 2018. Here is a simple (yet not so simple) fill-in-the-blank quiz. Please take it when you get a moment in the hopes it may help you live with intention.

I would like to let go of ________________________________.

To let go of________________________________, I will need to ________________________________.

And that may not be easy. To make that happen, I will need to ________________________________.

Letting go of this scares me a little because ________________________________.

But I want to let it go, and I believe it would be worth it because ________________________________.

The first step in doing this is ________________________________.

So, I will begin doing this first step on this date at this time ________________________________ .

Something that would bring release and rejuvenation to my life would be ________________________________.

I currently do not do this because ________________________________.

It would be possible to bring this into my life if I ________________________________.

To do that, I will need to________________________________ .

And that will require that I ________________________________.

I want to do this, and I believe it would be worth it because ________________________________.

The first step in doing this is ________________________________ .

So, I will begin doing this first step on this date at this time ________________________________.

Something I would like to intentionally bring into my life or something I would like to be intentional about doing is ________________________________.

To do this, I will need to ________________________________.

And that may not be easy. To make that happen, I will need to ________________________________.

Doing this scares me a little because ________________________________.

But I want to and I believe it would be worth it because ________________________________ .

The first step in doing this is________________________________ .

So, I will begin doing this first step on this date at this time ________________________________.

New years are full of promise. I wish to you all the courage and grace to move forward into those dreams.

With Love, Rev. Scott 


December is here. A month of holidays! Hanukah, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, and Festivus, all leading into the New Year. Of these, Christmas is the one that is the most culturally omnipresent this time of year. People celebrate Christmas in many different ways, ranging from completely secular to deeply spiritual. In the Christian tradition, Christmas observes the birth of Jesus. Now, there are far more ways of thinking about who Jesus was than there are holidays in December. Pondering all the different ways that people consider Jesus reminds me of an experience I had long ago. This different vision of Jesus may offer some insight into how to stay calm in this hectic holiday season.

I was at church camp as an eighth-grader at Montreat in the Black Mountains of North Carolina. Church camp was a special and holy place for me growing up. It was a hard place as well, as I struggled with the Christian theology, self-expression, and self-acceptance. One night the youth minister led us on a guided meditation. He asked us to close our eyes and get comfortable.

In a very slow and deliberate way, we were asked to picture ourselves somewhere, anywhere. What do you see when you look around you? What are you doing? After a time, we were invited to imagine that Jesus arrives in this world in which we have found ourselves. What does he look like? What does he say? What does he do? What does it feel like?

I wanted my encounter with Jesus to be lofty and deep, so I tried to have Jesus say important things. I tried to craft some story or experience that would resonate for years to come. I tried to force it, and it didn’t work. I wanted the experience to be something specific, so there was no room for it to “just be.”

I do remember what Roger imagined, though. Roger was an older kid I looked up to in the youth group. He was kind, inclusive, honest, quiet, and quick to laugh his great chuckling laugh. He also played some mean bongo drums. I was always impressed by his ability to simply be himself — to be Roger. When it was Roger’s turn to share, he said he imagined himself lying in a big field on his back with his hands behind his head. The sun was shining brightly. The grass was tall. There was a soft breeze. Then Jesus walked up and lay down next to him with his hands behind his head and his legs outstretched. Jesus didn’t say anything. They just hung out together quietly enjoying the surroundings. He said it was really peaceful. And that Jesus was just really full of “good vibes.” To this day, that remains one of the most profound images of Jesus I’ve ever encountered — stables, mangers, and crosses included.

Looking back, I have no idea what I imagined that evening, and that is because I was too busy trying to force it.

Perhaps this holiday season I will try less to create the perfect holiday experience and try more to just let it be what it is. This will be our family’s first Christmas here, so the pressure is on! But it rarely works for me when I try to force something good. It almost always works better when I stop trying to control things and allow a little more space for life to unfold as it will. There are plenty of seasonal and self-imposed expectations this time of year. My hope for all of us is that we can find that sweet balance of engaging the best of what this season offers and going with the flow enough that we enjoy it all as well. No matter how you are celebrating this holiday season, may it be a wonderful time of hope, wonder, and love.



Last year, my family went to New York City for a few days. We saw the Statue of Liberty, ate breakfast in a New York diner and lunch in Chinatown, enjoyed a picnic in Central Park, walked through Times Square, had a daily intake of New York pizza, and, of course, rode the subway — which, if you ask our kids, was the highlight of the trip.

For me, a highlight of our trip was worshiping with the Unitarian Church of All Souls one Sunday morning. It is one of our most historically significant congregations, both for its people and its actions. For me, visiting that church was a pilgrimage of sorts. Founded in 1819, All Souls was the first Unitarian congregation organized in New York.

At that time, William Ellery Channing, now known as the father of American Unitarianism, was the minister of the Federal Street Church in Boston. In 1819, Channing delivered a sermon in Baltimore titled, “Unitarian Christianity.” With this address, he codified a way of being Christian that rejected the trinitarian structure of God and instead proclaimed the unity of God. He also declared the absolute necessity of using reason to interpret biblical scripture. Channing arrived in New York with his message boiling over. His sister, Lucy Channing Russell, gathered people into her home in Manhattan to listen to the ideas of her brother. And a church was born. It is because these people before us lived and spread their values that we gather together today as a religious community in the way we do. Our congregations look and feel very different today.

All Souls Unitarian Church is in the middle of Manhattan, a few blocks east of Central Park. The church is old and formal. The organ fills the cavernous space, and statues and plaques adorn the halls with lofty names from our history. In that New York church, my 5-year-old daughter reached out to the back of the pew in front of us and pulled out the hymnal. She said with amazement, “They have the same one here that we do at our church!” The chalice was lit. We sang familiar hymns. We gathered around shared values. It was the children’s first experience of a UU congregation that wasn’t their home church. 

This summer, when the kids came to UUFCO for the first time, my daughter again noticed that we have the very same hymnals we used in Pittsburgh! Each Unitarian Universalist congregation is a unique expression of its history, its current actions, and its dreams for the future. And every congregation is also connected to our larger tradition.

Getting to know this congregation over the past three months has been an absolute joy. It is so exciting to be here as we continue to create the life of this fellowship together.


october 2017

Ever wonder when or why you might reach out to your minister? You are probably not alone. Many years ago a Unitarian Universalist minister named Peter Lee Scott wrote a column called "When to Call the Minister." The column has been passed along and adapted many times over for many years. The following list should be read with the lens that as a minister, I am not a “fixer,” but I am a source of care and perspective. Here’s my take on it:

  • When you don’t know me but would like to or you would like to know me better.
  • When you’re planning to be married.
  • When you are going through marital difficulties, separation, or divorce.
  • When you are having difficulties in health.
  • When you have given birth to a child or adopted. Or wish to have a dedication ceremony.
  • When something in your life is going wonderfully and you would like to share that with someone.
  • When you have problems or concerns you’d like to discuss — problems with your job, children, partner, health, wellbeing, or anything else where a listening ear might be help. I do not do ongoing counseling or therapy but can usually provide referrals when it is needed.
  • When someone close to you has died, is suicidal, or is critically ill.
  • When you’d like to plan or make advance plans for a funeral or memorial service.
  • When you are pregnant and glad you are or you’re pregnant but wish you weren’t.
  • When you want to know more about Unitarian Universalism or have a friend who is curious.
  • When you’re considering joining the church, but you still have some questions.
  • When you have decided you would like to join the church.
  • When you’d like to get involved in church but are not sure how.
  • When you would like to offer your time, talent, or treasure to our fellowship.
  • When you’re upset with me or have concerns and would like to talk about it. Or if you’re appreciative and would like to share.
  • When you need help, but you’re not sure who to call.
  • When you have questions you don’t know what to do with.
  • When you’d like to talk about religion, theology, or spirituality.

This list is, of course, incomplete. There are many other reasons that you might be in touch. But you get the idea. The point is – be in touch. I like to remind people to share good news as well as trials. Joy loves company just as much as misery. In time, I plan to establish a Pastoral Care Team here to expand how we care for one another. And there are always the good people next to you in church, friends established or new, to whom you can reach out.

We are a caring community. We are a place where we hold, nurture, and lift one another up. To do so, we must be willing to offer help and ask for it as well. Talk to you soon.

With Love,


September 2017

Thank you.

Occasionally in life there are times when we find ourselves overwhelmed at being the recipients of great kindness and generosity. Words do little to capture those feelings of deep gratitude swirling inside. At times such as these, I find that there is little to do but offer a heartfelt and sincere “thank you.” (But I am a minister, so I will continue on with more words when a few might have sufficed.)

The congregation of UUFCO has invited Rebecca, Simon, Tessa Jane, and me into this community with an abundance of warmth, enthusiasm, and thoughtfulness. We have been greeted with friendly smiles and open hearts. People have been generous with hugs and handshakes. We received a welcome basket with a museum membership to learn, stuffed otters to snuggle, books on Bend to read, eclipse glasses to view celestial events, and water bottles to hydrate. In short, we have been made to feel welcome, and there is no greater feeling when arriving in a new place and a new home. So “thank you.” A feeling of intense gratitude swirls inside of me. Kindness transforms the recipient (as well as the giver). Please know that we have been forever changed by the kindness we have been shown upon arriving at UUFCO.

Part of my beginning here (the largest and most important part) is getting to know you. There is no substitute for sitting down for a conversation. During September, I will be hosting some informal gatherings here at the fellowship called Histories and Hopes. I’ll meet with groups of eight people or so to answer any questions, to talk about the life of the church, to hear your stories, and to understand your hopes for the future of this congregation. There will be sign up sheets on the kiosk offering different times and dates. Or you can email the office (mailto:admin@uufco.org) and sign up that way. If a substantial group self-forms around a particular time and date not listed, let me know and we will try to make it work.

HISTORIES & HOPES—Location, dates, and times

Bend - UUFCO: Wednesday, September 6 at 2 p.m.
Bend - Jackson’s Corner (Eastside):  Thursday, September 7 at 10 a.m.
Bend – UUFCO: Wednesday, September 13 at 6 p.m.
Bend - Deschutes Brewery: Tuesday, September 19 at 7 p.m.
Sisters – TBD with group
Redmond – TBD with group

Here we go!

With Gratitude and Excitement, Scott