Our Newsletter


Services Every Sunday of the Year | Volume 63, Number 08

August Light

Our 63nd Year

Newsletter of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Las Cruces


Meet the Reverend Xolani Kacela

Hello Las Cruces’ most outstanding UUs!

This, my inaugural column, is my first opportunity to say how grateful I am to be your new settled minister. Ever since my initial meeting with the Ministerial Search Committee, I’ve felt right at home amongst you and look forward to a long, exciting ministry here at the church.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to ministry opportunities in Las Cruces and how we can partner together to realize the aspirations laid out to me in your search packet and during my candidacy here. I believe shared ministry to be just that: a means of putting our hearts, minds, and souls together and determining how we will accomplish our congregational priorities.

You know, this faith that we’ve chosen is a beautiful faith.

But, before we get to establishing those priorities, I want to get to know you as best as I can. One thing that you’ll learn about me is that I am a skilled listener. I will often get out of the way of those who love to talk and let them. During that time, I’m listening not only to the words, but to the underlying meanings, and observing all that is going on in the space. I believe that good listening will enable me to know you and be fully present with you.

You know, this faith that we’ve chosen is a beautiful faith. It is a tapestry of love, compassion, joy, humility, justice, and wonder. Within that tapestry is room for much more. There’s room for each of us to live out our highest aspirations and dreams. There’s room for the full expression of who we are.

I believe that Unitarian Universalists are amongst the most loving, welcoming, and friendly people in the world. Not only do our Principles call us to be so, but we genuinely strive to live out our deepest commitments daily in the world in order to create the world that we dream of. So, it is my hope as your minister, that we at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Las Cruces, who are a microcosm of the greater Unitarian Universalist constellation, will partner together, strive together, persevere together to make our dreamed of world a living reality in this community.

Lastly, Tamara and I are eager to be a part of this vital faith community in every way. Please stop by the church office and say hello and share your story with me. I’m “all in” and ready to listen!

Namaste, Rev. Xolani


Board Actions

The purpose of this column is to keep you informed about recent Board of Trustee actions. Complete minutes of all Board meetings may be viewed in the office; please contact the Congregational Administrator.

July 18 2018, Board Meeting

  • By vote, a request from the Finance Committee to use the remaining $240 (approximately) from funds raised for the Celebration of Rev. Sue’s Retirement for a Welcome Celebration of Rev. Kacela. The Kacela Celebration will be on Sunday, September 2nd or 9th, and will be facilitated by the Ministerial Search Committee.

The board began a revision of the facility use policies.

Upcoming Services

Shape Note Service

Join us for a service in which we share and celebrate Shape Note, or Sacred Harp, singing, with Eric Morgan, the Hand Family, and our UU Shape Note singers.  This style of singing, and the Sacred Harp Hymnal, have been part of our American democracy for … read more.

Upcoming Roundtables

Education never ends. Come join our discussions. Our goal is to learn more about all sides of issues and more about each other. If you have a comment or suggestion, email it to roundtable@uuchurchlc.org.

Sun, Aug 19, 2018, 9:00 AM in the Library
Roundtable: The Foundation of Cryptocurrencies

Presenter Paul O’Connell

Economist, Dr. Paul O’Connell, will discuss the foundation of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin–“Blockchain Technologies”–and other potential uses. The talk will consider recent developments in this new currency and where it might go in the future.

Sun, Aug 26, 2018, 9:00 AM in the Library
Roundtable: Tailspin Discussion

This will be a discussion of Stephen Brill’s new book “Tailspin”.  Brill chronicles how our core values have somehow over the last half century led to an erosion of responsibility and accountability.  But rather than leaving us in despair he brings to light some of those who are working quietly to repair the damages.  Reading the book before this session would be to your benefit but we want your input regardless.

Featured Articles


Barking NUUS and the Cat’s Meow

The Animal Advocates Group within the Social Justice Committee urges all members of the congregation to act on our 5th Unitarian Universalist principle by exercising your right to vote in the city wide GO Bond initiative.  Ballots are being mailed to all registered voters who live within the city limits.  Please make your voices heard.  VOTE!

We also encourage the members of the congregation to give every consideration to the proposal to fund the construction of a new animal shelter, a way to take positive action that is based on our 7th Unitarian Universalist principle.  Our current shelter is totally inadequate to meet the needs of stray, lost, and abandoned animals in our city.

Tents to Rents

August is the month to make a difference for someone at Community of Hope.  Last year this congregation went above and beyond what we had committed, $1,000.00, to raising $3,000+.  What can we do this year? Tents to Rents is a way you can demonstrate our 1st and 2nd Unitarian Universalist principles.

  • You can put a check marked “Tents to Rents” in the Sunday plate or give online through InFellowship.
  • Members can log into their InFellowship account here.
  • Not a member of the church? You can give online here.

Dates to Remember


Aug 14 Choir Potluck

The choir will have its annual potluck retreat on Tuesday, August 14th in the church lobby beginning at 6:30 PM.  We will reflect, look ahead, and maybe play a game or two.  Anyone interested in joining the choir is welcome.

Aug 17 Dining Out (this is a late addition)

August Dining Out is at 5:00 pm on Friday, August 17, at La Nueva Casita Cafe, 195 N. Mesquitte St. Please sign up in the church lobby not later than Wednesday, August 16. Contact DiningOut@uuchurchlc.org to reserve by email or ask questions about the program.

Aug 21 Ingathering Choir Rehearsal

The choir’s Ingathering Choir Rehearsal will be on Tuesday, August 21st, from 6:45 until 8:30 PM.  Anyone who wants to sing and who is willing to attend rehearsals and sing with us in worship may join. Questions? Contact Catherine Massey, Director of Music.

Sep 14-16 WOMENSPIRIT Retreat

WomenSpirit Taking Shape will be held this year from September 14-16, 2018.  Registration is now open! Click here to be taken to the registration form.  Depending on your browser, the form will immediately open on your screen or it will download to your computer. You should print the form, complete it, and send it to the address noted on the form. Be sure to check out the option to come a day early.  If you have questions, please contact Sara Thomas.

REGISTRATION needs to be postmarked on or before August 31st, 2018.

Register by August 11, 2018 to obtain a complimentary WomenSpirit t‑shirt. Workshops this year include: Eco Print and Dye,Tai Chi Chih, Singing Meditation, Metaphysical lecture, Hiking, Writing, and Dancing.


Susan FreudenthalYouth Religious Education

Expanding Love, Building Identity, Exploring Beliefs

What do you think is the one thing every child needs the most? It’s pretty simple. Every child needs for you to show up.  Growing up is hard. And children at every phase need adults who will show up predictably and consistently, over time. In fact, it’s the one thing they need more than anything else.

  1. In preschool, they need you to show up so they know you.
  2. In elementary years, they need you to show up so they know you know them.
  3. In middle school, they need you to show up so they know you know them now.
  4. In high school, they need you to show up so they know you will be there when they need you.

The significant relationships in a child’s life include parents, small group leaders, decision makers, teachers, friends, and us. If you gain influence in a child’s life now, you stand a better chance of having influence with them later when it matters even more. That’s why every phase of a child’s life gives us a new opportunity to connect them to a significant relationship.

Our goals for them are to build strong relationships, help them learn to make good choices and the one thing we are uniquely positioned to help with, developing a deeper faith as Unitarian Univeralists.

We have to pay attention and we have to show up!   So where are you?

This month we will begin the second phase of our long term program goals, to build a stronger religious identity.

  • Beginner’s Mediation will be offered at the first service and is intended for all ages!
  • In the Nursery we will show episodes of Mr Roger’s Neighborhood along with free play. http://pbskids.org/video/mister-rogers/
  • Our youngest children will begin a program based on the Spirit Play model.  Follow this link for more details http://www.spirit-play.com/
  • Our two older groups will engage in a variety of programs including Our Whole Lives (for middle school ages) and a newly published world religions program.

Interested in any of these programs?  Please, come and speak with me.

Hope to see you all soon!
Susan Freudenthal, Director of Religious Education

Adult Exploration depends on you!  What interests you?  Are you willing to lead or co-lead a book study?  A conversation? A class?  Fill out a request/proposal and I’ll help you make it happen. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ldBkScTcz8T6wl_t68EbJ8O-FdxD9RI1rDXx991mMko/edit?usp=sharing



Catherine Massey

MUSIC NOTES, by Catherine Massey

This summer has given me the opportunity to prepare for a fresh start, in the process of remodeling my study.  Pulling everything out of a room that has been mine for 23 years was a daunting task.  I didn’t have time to do much with it before remodeling happened.  Now that I have a beautiful room with all the things I really love in it, I am very selective about what I will keep.  I’m not quite finished.

Some things had not even looked at in all that time.  I have been very brave.  I have thrown away, given away, repurposed, reimagined.  I don’t want someone else to have to do this for me.  This room has so much potential for creativity and joy and comfort, I am motivated to keep intentional about it, have no clutter, and actively choose everything that goes there.

Now every book I own has its place on a shelf.  There are no random stacks of books anywhere.  I have found gems to keep, such as my Broadway Playbill for Death of a Salesman with Dustin Hoffman (and John Malkovich!), a cassette tape recording of my high school senior piano recital, and all of Tammy’s old radio shows for KRWG-FM (Femme du Jour on Café Eclectic, Sounds of Change).  I repainted one old bookcase, now with all my books on tap to read next, my crosswords, my UU meditation manuals, travel books and coffee table books ready at hand, in one place.  I have washed and given away the last of my mother’s handmade clothes for me, and all her sewing supplies, which I neatly sorted.  My early feelings of fear and reluctance have been replaced by empowerment and release.

New opportunities have opened up that could not have been predicted if I hadn’t pulled old suff out and prepared for the new.

The things that make me happy are still here.  The dress I wore to interview John Kay of the rock group Steppenwolf as editor for my junior high newspaper is gone.  But my friend Robbin shared her memory of that story, and that meant more than the dress.  New opportunities have opened up that could not have been predicted if I hadn’t pulled all that stuff out and prepared for the new.  Now it feels like I am ready for anything.

This afternoon I’ve been practicing the theme to “On Golden Pond” for Sunday’s worship service.  It is a beautiful piece, bringing to my mind a mixture of yearning and presence.  That makes it possible for me to feel tender about the past and hopeful for the future, simultaneously.

This month we welcome our new minister, Rev. Xolani.  We have done a lot of work to get here, including reflecting and clearing out to make room.  Look at the joyful space we have now.  Imagine all the possibilities.

Catherine Massey, Director of Music

UUMN Credentialed Music Leader


Our President

Change is On the Way

I’ve written about the changes we are going through and how that has inspired our members to think about new ways of dealing with the challenges we may be facing. Here is another upcoming change. Greg Cousler, our Sexton has resigned effective the middle of August. We’re going to miss Greg and we wish him well in his move to Northern New Mexico.

More change equals more opportunities.

At the July Board meeting we had a lively discussion about the role of the sexton, how many hours he or she should be working, how much work needs to be done, and what the sexton should be working on. We shared some great ideas including increasing the hours of whomever we hire, contracting out the cleaning, and hiring two people, one for inside work and the other for outside work.

We’ll pass these ideas along to the people who will be hiring the next Sexton, the Congregational Administrator in consultation with the Facilities Committee and the Minister.

But I’m exited about this because as I see it, more change equals more opportunities.

In faith, Charlie Scholz, President, Board of Trustees


Many Thanks

greetersThank you to all our greeters!

Greeters in July: Jo Ingle, Diane Taylor, Joan Dormody, Lyn Pearson, Vickie Freeland, Janet Pitt, Steve Welch, Peggy Brown, Tom Packard, Julie Woody, Jane Asche, Jean Gilbert, and Martha Loustaunau. — Peggy Devlin & Joan Dormody, Greeter Coordinators

Generous Giving

It is very easy to make a gift to the church through InFellowship. Donations in memory of members and friends become part of our Endowment Fund. These are gifts that keep on giving.

The Tombaugh Gallery


Call for artists for 2019 shows

Oceans and Deserts Photography Exhibit, Aug 5-31

Opening reception and artist’s talk for the exhibit will be Sunday, August 5 at noon. It will be showing through August 31 at the Tombaugh Gallery, Unitarian Universalist Church of Las Cruces, 2000 S. Solano Dr. Gallery hours are Wed.-Sat., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Opening reception and artist’s talk for the exhibit will be Sunday, August 5 at noon. It will be showing through August 31 at the Tombaugh Gallery, Unitarian Universalist Church of Las Cruces, 2000 S. Solano Dr. Gallery hours are Wed.-Sat., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Storm Sermay’s newest photographic exhibition, Oceans and Deserts, is meant to make the viewer focus on the similarities of these two environments, which at first appear to be so different. Her photographs are of California, where the two ecosystems are closely aligned. She says that although both look barren on the surface, they teem with hidden life. These are both environments of extremes, with limited drinkable water for human life.

Sermay started this project in 2010, photographing in the deserts of Death Valley National Park and Anza-Borrego State Park. In 2011, she made her first trip to the Pacific coast and began to think about putting oceans and deserts together as a project. Her photographs since then have concentrated on the connections between these ecosystems.

In the exhibit, she has paired many of the photographs to show how much alike the areas are. Sermay says “Photographed in black and white, the outward appearances become even more similar with relatively even planes, bordering mountains, comparable edging vegetation, and an abstract nature”.

For details, contact Gallery@uuchurchlc.org, or call the church at 522-7281. The Tombaugh Gallery is located inside the Unitarian Universalist Church, 2000 South Solano Drive, Las Cruces, NM and is open Wednesday – Saturday 10 am – 2 pm. Visit the gallery on Facebook.


Monthly Events

Unless otherwise stated, all events will be held at the church. Please check the church’s online calendar to ensure the most recent times and places for these events.

Newcomers are invited to participate in these activities.

Bridge Group plays bridge on the first, third and fifth Thursdays at 1:00 pm in the church lobby. If you want to play, be sure to contact Nancy Anderson bridge@uuchurchlc.org a few days before so we know the number of players.

Desert Spirit CUUPs is a Las Cruces chapter of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. We practice and educate others on Earth-centered spirituality. We gather monthly on the 3rd Saturday of each month at 6 pm for a potluck and either ritual or an informative class. All events are open to everyone interested in learning and/or growing in their spiritual path. Events held at the church unless otherwise noted. Visit http://www.facebook.com/desertspiritcuups or email lascrucescuups@gmail.com.

Dining Out: A different restaurant every month and dinner with church members. Signup sheets are in the church lobby on the welcome counter. You should signup not later than the Wednesday prior to the dinner. Look in the church newsletter “The Light” for the exact time, date and location or contact DiningOut@uuchurchlc.org for more information or to reserve a place for the dinner.

Lunch Bunch is a weekly lunch-time get together. Everyone is invited to bring a lunch to the church library every Wednesday at 12:00 noon and enjoy the company of fellow Unitarian Universalists.

MoonSisters Group: This women’s group meets once monthly. Contact Cass Calway for more information or visit the group’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/342484072516356/

Navigators USA Chapter 55, Las Cruces is a coed, secular and inclusive educational and outdoor activity program. Our local group offers an alternative scouting experience for children and youth that emphasizes diversity, inclusiveness and all the lessons that Nature has to offer. For more information see our events calendar or contact Laurel Irwin-Atchison (LaurelIrwin@comcast.net or 575.650.0705).

Quilting Bee: The UU Bee Welcome, meets every week in the church lobby. The Bee is open to all levels of quilters, both members and non-members. It welcomes all styles of quilting work from machine-quilting to hand-quilting to appliqué. The purpose of a quilting bee is to provide an opportunity for quilters to spend time together as they work on their individual quilting projects and exchange tips of the trade, encourage and support each other, share new ideas, deepen friendships, and generally have a good time. A $1 donation per quilter will be given at each session to cover the cost of utilities. The contact person is Chris Ramsey.

Unitarian Universalist Children’s Playgroups (all are welcome): Parents/caregivers must remain on site with their children. The members of the group plan outings, holiday celebrations and other activities together. Contact Susan Freudenthal, DRE, for more information.

Monthly Calendar: To get the information you need about the many and varied activities of our church, go to http://www.uuchurchlc.org/ and scroll down the page to the calendar and events listings.