News from the Campus Development Task Force

Mar 11, 2021

When I worked in the building that housed student organizations at Cal in the 1960s, it had men’s and women’s restrooms on alternating floors. Someone got tired of going up and down stairs at some point, and re-labeled a women’s room “People’s Crapper.”

We’ve learned that in the City of San Mateo, we still have building codes that require “separate toilets” for men and women. Our architect, Doug Davis of AE3, researched building codes in other jurisdictions, and found that many have updated their language to make restrooms inclusive of transgender and non-binary people—San Mateo is indeed behind in this category of access and welcome.

While it is unrealistic to expect this rule to get changed before we are ready to open our new restrooms, we will find a way to welcome everyone! This roadblock, however, presents UUSM with an opportunity for advocacy.

Campaigning for this change is well within the scope of our congregational mission, but this work not in the charter of the CDTF. If you would be interested in helping the City update its regulations for all-gender inclusivity and justice, we would be happy to share what we have learned so far. Just let us know!

Pam Gehrke, for the CDTF

Read more.

Building, Becoming, Belonging: Campus Development Task Force help needed.

Mar 11, 2021

The following roles need you!!!

  1. Communications coordinator
  2. Financial secretary
  3. Project lead for the new building at 314 East Santa Inez
  4. Aesthetics and furnishings coordinator
  5. Special projects coordinator
  6. Co-chair for the task force
Read more.


Sep 30, 2020

by Robert Voss

On July 4th
We seem to celebrate
Less and less
Our independence
And more and more
Who we are today,
More and more
What we have become
From 226 years of history,
Celebrating and making peace
With our past.
This is good and necessary
As we fractious children
Need a day of togetherness
To forget the fuss and fight.
Just one day.

I have been gone too long,
Abroad in the land.
My apartment complex
Has a pool,
And I walk there
With a plum in hand
From my brother’s tree.
At the pool
A complex of kids
Of every type and color
Play king of the hill
On a rubber raft of
The American flag.
This is what I think about
This 4th of July.
We are now every nation.
It wasn’t that way
When I was young. 15
It is better now.

I sit in the shade
And bite the plum.
Instantly I am startled,
All sound stops.
I close my eyes,
And the taste of plum
Is full and round,
A perfect sweetness,
Like a madeleine
From the country
Across the sea
That gave us
The Statue of Liberty.
The taste accelerates me backward
To my childhood
And another day
By another pool
On another 4th.

The old music
Sketches across my mind,
Kate Smith and Sousa
And, of course,
Calliope visions tumble around –
My friends, our families
The heat of the day
The cool of the pool
The games, the dance
Losing at checkers
Winning at chess,
Water balloons
And greased watermelons,
Playing with fire
At the end of the day,
Making out
With stick figure girls
Who would become the queens
Of my desire,
The hellions
Of my nightmares,
And the last time
I bit a plum
That tasted this damn good.

I open my eyes,
And the sound returns.
They say,
You can never go home.
I say,
I can’t disagree more.
In your heart
And in your mind,
You never really leave.

Read more.

UU San Mateo is part of the Soul Matters Sharing Circle

Sep 4, 2020



UUSM is a participating member in the Soul Matters Sharing Circle, a network of Unitarian Universalist congregations that follow the same themes each month, so that resources and ideas can be more easily shared. The Soul Matters Sharing Circle is a web of support and connection – companions traveling a new journey together each month.

As part of our congregation’s membership, Soul Matters provides us with a variety of resource materials we can use to enhance all aspects of our community’s life – from worship, to music, to small-group ministries, to lifespan religious-exploration programs. Our Soul Matters explorations are a deep and rich source of discovery, not only for ourselves personally but also for our community.

Soul Matters themes we will explore during the 2021-2022 congregational year include:

September:  Embracing Possibility
October:  Cultivating Relationship
November:  Holding History
December:  Opening to Joy
January:  Living with Intention
February:  Widening the Circle
March:  Renewing Faith
April: Awakening
May:  Nurturing Beauty
June:  Celebrating Blessings  


Read more.

Open Circles to Focus on Soul Matters Themes in 2020-2021

Sep 4, 2020

by Sheila Sandow

One of the UUSM small-group ministry programs that will be using Soul Matters themes and materials during the 2020-2021 congregational year is Open Circles.

These forums allow participants to connect, share, and explore life journeys, providing a unique opportunity to engage in the spiritual practice of transforming ourselves and the world, and enriching participants’ lives with greater depth of meaning and purpose. By setting aside daily distractions to reflect on personal beliefs, participants share their wisdom and make thoughtful and meaningful connections with one another, leaving each meeting with a deeper understanding of themselves and each other. Newcomers are especially welcome to participate in Open Circles.

During the 2020-2021 congregational year, TWO Open Circle groups (each one meeting twice per month) are again available to all –

  • The Wednesday Evening Open Circle continues its regular meetings on the first 1st and 3rd Wednesday evenings of each month, from 7 to 9 pm; and
  • The Monday Evening Open Circle, new this year, meets on 2nd and 4th Monday evenings of each month, from 7:30 to 9 pm.

Both groups will meet virtually via Zoom until we can all be together in person again. Zoom login information is available by emailing the facilitators, Charles Du Mond (Wednesday evenings), or Kathy Van Leuwen (Monday evenings) at:

Want more information?
To learn more about Open Circles, visit the Open Circles page on UUSM’s website. To learn more about Soul Matters resources and explore how to use them to enhance your own life and that of our community, check out the Soul Matters website. UUSM’s Soul Matters subscription materials are available to all UUSM members and friends, regardless of whether you choose to participate in an Open Circle. For additional information, email Sheila Sandow, Open Circles program coordinator at: .

Read more.

Sacred Space

Sep 4, 2020

by Connie Spearing, Connections Coordinator

Through March, April and into May we waited for the day when we could come home to UUSM, when we could walk through the doors, see the chalice and the stained glass win- dows, see each other’s faces and raise the rafters in song. Virtual hugs are nice, but they can’t take the place of the real thing.

Connie - smallThe other shoe fell in May with the realization that it will be months before we will be able to gather as a whole congre- gation. It may even be some time next year. I must admit to a few days of total panic, even depression at the thought. After all, I’m the Connections Coordinator; my life is all about showing up and encouraging others to do the same. Ours is not a solitary salvation; we carry out our mission together, and re-charge our spiritual batteries by gathering together in our sacred space.
Then I caught my breath, looked around my house and rested in gratitude for its shelter. Things could be worse, but I needed an alternative sacred space in order to maintain resilience for this new life. I needed a substation sanctuary.

I had already constructed a home chalice by turning a pretty pot upside down, balancing a small plate on it’s flat bottom and topping that with a pillar candle. I light that on Sunday mornings during our on-line worship service.

Without intent, I had also begun to place small, meaningful objects near the chalice. What if I added a few votive candles to light during Joys and Concerns? I had the beginning of a home altar. Maybe I could bring photos of loved ones to the altar, or pinecones from Lake Tahoe or seashells from last summer’s trip to the beach or fresh flowers from the garden.

My granddaughter added a rainbow chameleon which she thinks is very UU, and her mother added a statue of the Buddha from her Cambodian Culture. Being of an earth- based spiritual nature, I tend toward candles, sticks, rocks and water with a colorful tablecloth, but our altar is flexible, seasonal and reflective of our current mood or need.

I began to notice other sacred spaces in my life. There is the table where the portraits of my parents sit, the mantle with the kids’ graduation photos, and the cabinet of grand- mother’s ...

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The Time We Are Given

Aug 1, 2020

by Tanya Webster, Director of Religious Exploration

In a blink of an eye, spring has come and gone while we shelter in place. Time seems to speed by, yet I also feel it dragging the toes of its trainers along the pavement, slowing my journey down the road. Days repeat, days blur, days just are. At Blue Boat Chapel, one child summed it up perfectly; “Well, I don’t really have a high, or a low, to share. Everything’s just sort of a middle.”

And so, we wait. And we give thanks – for our loved ones’ health, for the brave and good citizens who show up every day to tend to our ill and to our communities. And we pray – each in our own way with thoughts, reflections, energies, prayers, music, sending love. And we hope – that we come through this time unscathed or at least mendable, that our community comes through these times mendable.

JRR Tolkien wrote these words of wisdom in The Fellowship of the Ring: “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with it.”

I’ll bypass the mounds of good advice about using your time during quarantine. I’m guessing you already know “you should” declutter your house and your soul, nourish your family, tend your victory garden, learn a new skill or teach your children, and buff up the sophistication of your tapas talk. You’ve developed must-read lists and queued up your watch list. You’ve noticed you need more sleep to combat the sometimes overwhelming crush of this situation, when your emotions might go up and down, and up, and down. You have found causes to support and ways to help others.

Is this what we can do with the time that is given to us? The activities above are constructive ways to approach sheltering and are certainly valid. However, my advice is to take breaks often from trying to create constant meaning and growth in this time. Be gentle with yourself and others. Perhaps it is enough to JUST BE YOU.

Just be the good person you already are, spreading “pockets of good” ...

Read more.

Chartres Cathedral Wasn’t Built in a Day — CDTF Report

Jun 1, 2020

by Rev. Pam Gehrke

If you visit Chartres Cathedral in France, one thing you might notice as you approach is that the two spires over the building’s main entrance do not match. This is because one was built in the 12th century and the other in the 16th. I find it odd that the designer of the later spire, which replaced the original after it was destroyed by lightning, chose to update the style. The result is an asymmetrical façade.

This asymmetry calls attention to the fact that the cathedral was built over a period of centuries. What might have transpired in the time between the original towers’ construction and the completion of the new spire? We might imagine fires, wars, and advances of building technology. And yes, the construction was no doubt interrupted—possibly more than once—by epidemics of infectious disease.

So how does UUSM’s campus compare with a medieval cathedral? Like Our Lady of Chartres, its improvement and development depend on the support and participation of a whole community over a long period of time. In this particular moment, we have a special opportunity to contribute to reconfiguring our disrupted social order as we shape our meeting spaces in alignment with our Unitarian Universalist values.

Please consider taking a turn, either as a member of the team or a helper to work on a limited task. As we begin gradually to emerge from isolation, we also move to a new phase of planning and building. It is an exciting time to bring your talent and voice to realizing our vision of an “aesthetically beau- tiful, multi-functional, environmentally responsible, harmoniously integrated campus” — from the Campus Development Task Force (CDTF) vision statement.

The CDTF includes Ron Lambert, Kelsey Lang, Caryl Hughan, Marty Hoffman (Board President), Rev. Ben Meyers, Barbara Du Mond (co-chair), and Pam Gehrke (co-chair).

Read more.


Archived Issues

Compass Rose Journal


Compass Rose 2020 Jun-Aug

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Date added: 03-06-2020

Compass Rose 2020 Mar-May

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Date added: 02-03-2020