The new OUUC vision is “a loving, just and healthy world.” We seek to live out our mission in the larger world and within our own community. Today’s Spark has two ways that we do this in our ministry together and to each other.  

First, Wendy Tanner writes about Caring Friends, one of the ways that people can request practical support and volunteers can provide it. Then, Sara Lewis and Barry Zickuhr write about the updated Safer Congregations policy and the Response Team in place to address any concerns that arise.  

Both are examples of how we care for the most vulnerable among us and how we care for each other, because we all need help sometimes. We need each other.  

Thank you for this shared ministry. It makes our community and our world more loving.  

Blessings on your week.
Rev. Mary 


From Wendy Tanner, Caring Friends Coordinator: 

Caring Friends is an informal group of church members and friends who receive information through a Realm OUUC distribution list to provide support and care in our community during times of need. Typically, a person seeking support, or a family member sends an email to, or makes a request through Reverend Mary or one of our pastoral care committee members. Requests go to a coordinator, currently Wendy Tanner, who collects needed information and sends a notice to people on the list to consider responding.

Caring Friends notices provide information about life’s transitional events, such as births and deaths, or when a crisis or illness is experienced, and often request cards and phone calls. At times, rides to medical appointments, meals, or borrowing durable medical equipment is needed. Recipients of our care can coordinate responses directly or request a coordinator to take phone calls and organize activities. Our members have a lot of knowledge about community services and can provide advice or referrals for those needing longer term supports. 

Caring Friends is a part of our Spiritual Life Ministry and coordinates with the Pastoral Care Committee under the leadership of Rev. Mary. Caring Friends is a meaningful way to learn what is going on with those we care about and to carry out our ministry, serving within our congregation and among our congregants. If you’d like to join the Caring Friends Distribution list, sign in to Realm, select the ‘Groups’ tab, then ‘OUUC Caring Friends’ and request to join.  


Our Updated Safe Congregation Policy
By Sara Lewis

Part of how we keep OUUC running well is by following our various policies, and one policy I think is especially important is the Safe Congregation Policy. This policy is for the protection of vulnerable people, especially children and youth, and guides us to take action to prevent all forms of abuse in our congregation. The policy has guided the RE program for staffing, volunteer screening and management, and reporting processes since its first version, which was created in 2007.

But every policy needs updating, and this year we especially needed to update the policy in light of our switch to online ministry. What is safe supervision of children and youth online? What other sorts of situations might arise in virtual space that we haven’t dealt with before? To think through those issues and update the policy, a great team came together: our Media Specialist, Jo Sahlin, our RE Assistant, Anissa Bentlemsani, and congregants Cindy Bowens and Wendy Tanner, along with myself and Rev. Mary. A huge thank you to everyone who gave their time and attention to this important work.

Our updated policy is now available on the website: Safe-Congregation-Policy-2021-version-1.pdf (


The Safe Congregation Response Team
By Barry Zickuhr

The Safe Congregation Response Team (SCRT) has been formed as part of our Safe Congregation, Abuse, Harassment, Sexual Assault, and Domestic Violence policy. Guided by the Philosophy in the policy, the SCRT has been formed to provide the main point of contact for any issue that may arise. The SCRT individually and collectively will offer confidential support, advice, and counsel, with concern for the safety of all parties involved. They can be contacted individually (see below) or collectively at The SCRT consists of Wendy Tanner; Rick Brandt-Kreutz; Barry Zickuhr, the Director of Community and Faith Development, Sara Lewis; and our minister, Rev. Mary.

Wendy Tanner (360-481-3448, and her husband Curtis have been members of OUUC for 20 years.  She has served the congregation in many capacities, including on the board, finance committee, space planning committee, worship arts committee, ministerial search committee and as an OWL instructor.  She  appreciates the pro-active approach by OUUC leadership to make our church a safe place for children and others who are vulnerable to abuse and wants to support a healthy OUUC.

Rick Brandt-Kreutz (360-464-7334, has been a member of OUUC along with his wife Betsy for about 13 years. His desire to serve on the Safe Congregations Response Team is to help our church be a place where everyone can come, feel welcome, and know that we will do everything we can to make this a safe place, especially for children. This is a key foundation to our covenant together.

Barry Zickuhr (360-402-9461, has been a member of the church for 24 years, met his wife Zibby through church and together they’ve raised their son John as a UU from birth. Barry has been at various times a youth advisor, OWL instructor, dungeon master, member of the Worship Arts Committee, the Board and various other teams and committees. He has always worked to help OUUC be a safe and inviting place for all people, and is honored to be part of the SCRT.