September 2016 - Issue 43
Church Open

Welcome Back!

It is always an exciting time of year to welcome everyone back to a new year of church programming! We all hope to return with new ideas, reinvigorated convictions, and new energy for the spiritual work we undertake in community.

As always, the CUC is here to offer support to congregations, and this summer has seen a number of new initiatives come to light. Here are some of the tools and resources curated by CUC staff that have been introduced in the past year:

Congregations, Charities, and Best Practices
This on-going series from CUC Executive Director Vyda Ng explores with greater depth some of the questions and concerns that arise for congregations in relation to Canada Revenue Agency rules for Charities. Learn more about congregations and political activity, rental policies and rites of passage, what to do if CRA comes calling, and other pertinent topics at Congregations, Charities, and Best Practices.

Networking Tools
This summer, CUC staff introduced Roundtables, a new platform for connecting and sharing wisdom and ideas. It's a pretty simple concept: we offer you a Zoom space (online video conference) to discuss or workshop a particular topic, we promote the Roundtable with you and offer facilitation support as needed. Read more about how Roundtables work, and how you can suggest a topic for a Roundtable right here.

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Vision Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.

How Do We Live Out Our New Vision?

Canadian Unitarian Universalists approved a new vision statement in May. The next step is to make this vision part of the life of our members and congregations.

The CUC Board is looking for Canadian UUs interested in joining a Vision Implementation Team. This team will find creative ways to promote the new vision over the next two years, using program materials, social media, and other methods.

Read more

Survey boxes

Congregational Updates for CUC

Each year, CUC staff requests your congregational membership numbers for our records and for calculating Annual Program Contributions and delegate allocations. In addition to this information, we are also updating information about your leadership roles and congregational programming and activities. The survey will take some time to fill in, and if you’d like a pdf copy of the questions ahead of time, please email info@cuc.ca. We ask that one person be in charge of collecting and entering the information, and file the information so that it’s easily accessible, as we will be asking for updated information annually. Please complete the survey here by November 10, 2016.


Canada Revenue Agency Audit: An Update and a Request for Help

The Canada Revenue Agency’s audit of the CUC is in the final stage. A Compliance Agreement has been signed, which outlines the corrective measures the CUC has to take. We have 6 months from the signing of the agreement (until February 21, 2017) to implement these measures. CUC Executive Director, Vyda Ng, has already begun the implementation.

The CUC has obtained top notch legal advice during the audit process, which began in January 2015 – this legal advice has helped us navigate the intricacies of the process with confidence and has led to a constructive outcome. The legal advice, however, has come at a high cost. We have been guided well, but legal fees in 2015 amounted to $38,000; in 2016, they will be in the vicinity of $25,000. This expertise includes advice in general on charity law and international agreements, all of which have resulted in resources to benefit our congregations – check out the Congregations, Charities and Best Practices series, as well as on-going webinars like the upcoming one on Reviewing and Updating Charitable Purposes.

Read more


Online-Only Registration Payments Coming in 2017

Beginning in January 2017, the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) will be moving to online-only payment for event registration. Currently, event participants are offered the option of paying through PayPal, with credit or debit cards, or sending in a cheque. By removing the pay-by-cheque option, an online payment system will be more efficient and time-saving for CUC staff. Tracking down cheques and keeping track of who has paid for events is not a simple task, and centralizing event payments will help with that.

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Canadian Unitarian - Going Completely Digital

Two years ago, the twice-yearly newsletter of the CUC, the Canadian Unitarian (known affectionately as CanU) went mostly digital, with a certain number of printed copies going to congregations and specific individuals. To reduce costs, beginning with the Fall 2016 edition, we will be switching to a completely digital version of the CanU. However, we understand that some subscribers prefer to have a hard copy; if you’d like to have a printed copy sent to you, please email info@cuc.ca or call the CUC office at 1-888-563-5728 by October 15th. Our Administrative Coordinator will also be calling hard-copy subscribers on our mailing list.

Sun setting over Nelson, B.C.

Unitarians Emerging in Nelson

Sun setting over Nelson, B.C.

By Sarah Baxter

There’s a new Emerging Unitarian congregation on the horizon, tucked away in beautiful, British Columbia: The Nelson Unitarian Spiritual Centre.

Who are they? A diverse group of seekers, grounded in their spirituality, shaped by the unique way of life in Nelson, B.C., and like many UU congregations, their average age is pushing 60, they are enthusiastic music lovers, and they would love to welcome more young families!

The familiar story for emerging congregations is of a small group of Unitarians establishing a brand new church in a new location. This is not the case in Nelson, where this established congregation of 20-plus members has been practicing for some time, but as a Unity congregation. Michael Dailly, former president of Neighbourhood Unitarian Congregation in Toronto, joined the Unity group about 6 years ago, after moving to Nelson. “Unity was a second best choice, it seemed that they did a lot of Unitarian things.” Michael describes their lay led services on diverse topics, at which speakers were invited to share their own spiritual journeys. The community created their own welcoming space, accepting that difference among them was something to be celebrated and respected.

“We were on our own without much supervision as a Unity group, and I think leaning toward being more Unitarian,” Says Michael. As an isolated congregation, the community had inadvertently moved away from its religious roots and developed their own spiritual focus. Their spirituality had become central to their identity, as Rev. Debra Thorne of Beacon Unitarian Congregation points out, it’s right there in the name.

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UUA Public Witness 2016

Inspiration from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly

UUA Public Witness Event

By Asha Philar

Picture this: 4300 Unitarian Universalists - in a huge conference centre hall, two big screens at the front, hundreds of rows of chairs - in the middle of a contentious debate about an Israeli Divestment resolution. The moderator pauses the business and calls up the chaplain who is sitting on the stage with the parliamentarian - her job is to help address the spiritual needs of these thousands of people as we move through the business of the weekend. The chaplain's words and calm voice remind us of our common goals, our love for one another, our shared principles. She calls us to find the spiritual grounding for our work together.

We sing a hymn. We hold each others' hands, look into our neighbours' eyes and tell each other that together we can do more than we can do alone. We breathe deeply.

Business resumes, but we are reminded that we are a church and this is church business.

This was only a small part of my incredible experience at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly that took place in June in Columbus, Ohio. But it's a moment that will stick with me because of how very different it was from a business meeting of a secular organization. What a great reminder that we are a faith, we are spiritual people, and our work should be done with spirit too!

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Sunset at Northwest Wilderness Society Camp on Kootenay Lake

Send Us Your Camp Stories!

Sunset at Northwest Wilderness Society Camp on Kootenay Lake

Does your congregation have an annual Summer Camp tradition? Do you head off together for a week or a weekend of campfires, outdoor worships, swimming, and community? Many congregations have these summer traditions, and we want to hear about what we have in common, and how our experiences shine with uniqueness! How does your camp tradition nurture your soul? We’d love to hear your stories! Send your UU camp story and a photo (with permission to share) to communications@cuc.ca by September 16th to be featured in the next CUC eNews!

Youth Wordle

Seeking Youth and Adult Leaders to Join the New CUC Youth Ministry Team!

New this year, we’re forming a collaborative group of youth leaders, adult advisors and the CUC Youth and Young Adult Ministry staff (Asha Philar) that work together to set the direction of Unitarian Universalist youth ministry and youth programs in Canada. This group will help connect Canadian UU youth and advisors, and will work to develop youth ministry programs and events across the country.

All YMT members will receive formal facilitation and meeting skills training and ongoing support to share in the leadership of the group. We are looking for people with some leadership experience, but you don't have to know everything - just be passionate about Canadian UU Youth Ministry!

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Theme-Based Ministry

By Rev. Brian Kiely

Theme-based ministry has swept the nation!

Okay, well that’s a bit of an exaggeration but over the last couple of years building Sunday morning content and other programs around monthly themes has become increasingly popular.

Some congregations have taken the idea on in small steps, others have jumped in and used the concept to manage a major overhaul of adult and children’s programming. The reports have been positive.

What is it?

In it’s simplest form, Theme-Based Ministry focuses on exploring spacious ideas for a month at a time, often in a mix of ways that involve as much church life as possible.

First, these are the themes that shape Sunday services. Each service is expected to approach the theme from a different angle. Even the church musical team, guest speakers and musicians are asked to consider and at least reference the theme it in their work. This is easier to do than it might seem. Consider the theme of ‘Deep Listening’ for the month of October. Thanksgiving Sunday one might consider how to deeply listen to the gratitude of others in our lives - a flip of the tradition gratitude theme. Another example might be to consider a breaking justice-related headline and look at how we can listen to the voices of…well, there would be many possible choices.

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Martha and Rev. Waitstill Sharp

Defying the Nazis

Martha and Rev. Waitstill Sharp

This fall a new documentary by Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky will be coming to PBS, exploring the remarkable story of a Unitarian couple’s courageous work to rescue hundreds of people endangered by the Nazi occupation of Europe. Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War, to air on September 20th at 9pm EDT, tells the story of “ordinary” heroism in extraordinary circumstances. Waitstill and Martha Sharp, a Unitarian minister and his wife, agreed to live their principles by leaving their children behind with their congregation in Massachusetts and setting out to the front lines of World War II, to help save the lives of political dissidents and Jewish refugees.

The story is told through the Sharps’ letters and journals, narrating their harrowing two year mission first hand. From the PBS trailer: “It was the second Sunday night of 1939. I had done a full day’s work at the church and had decided to spend an evening in front of our fireplace.” Rev. Waitstill’s words come to life 66 years later through Tom Hanks’ reading, “The telephone rang and it was probably the most momentous telephone call that I ever received.” After 17 others had declined to take on this dangerous mission on the eve of war, Rev. Waitstill expresses how he would like to go, but not without Martha. Thus, this incredible story begins.

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THR SimpleLogo

Truth, Healing, Reconciliation Reflection Guide: Update

From the THR Task Force

In congregational life, August is a time of looking forward and planning. As you begin to make plans for the coming year, you may have questions about the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Reflection Guides. If you would like a basic understanding of the Reflection Guide process, we invite you to read all about it here.

Here’s a snapshot of the status of each of the Reflection Guides.

Read more.


CUC’s Role in International UU Work

Many Canadian UUs are committed to supporting the work of our international partners, the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) and the UU-United Nations Office (UU-UNO). You have been waiting patiently while the CUC has been working through compliance with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) guidelines for Canadian charities to function internationally. During this period, we have held on to contributions to these partners, and have asked you to do the same.

We are now pleased to inform you that the CUC, in consultation with our legal advisors, have worked out specific agreements, in accordance with CRA requirements, to further the CUC’s work of supporting the growth and development of UU communities internationally with both ICUU and UU-UNO, and to provide necessities and resources to those in need. We will work with ICUU to develop leadership potential and skills for UUs in African countries, and with the UU-UNO with the Every Child is Our Child (ECOC) program in Ghana.

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Bruce Partridge

By Peter Scales

Bruce J. Partridge’s connections to Victoria, BC, are two-fold: he was President of the University of Victoria from 1969 to 1972; and, he was a leader 1992-95 in the Unitarian Church of Victoria (renamed in 1999 as First Unitarian Church of Victoria), and was one of the founders in 1996 of Capital Unitarian Universalist Congregation.

Bruce was raised in upstate New York and educated in Physics at Oberlin College in Ohio. (He began his contact with Unitarians in the Oberlin Fellowship during his undergrad degree.) After taking on greater responsibilities in each of a series of positions, Bruce finally spent four years as Vice President of Administration and Treasurer of Johns Hopkins University in Maryland before accepting a job in Canada.

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CUC Bookkeeper

The Canadian Unitarian Council is seeking a part time bookkeeper. The Bookkeeper is responsible for the CUC’s financial processes and will work with the Administrative Coordinator to fulfill these duties. This is a part-time or contract position of up to 40 hours/month. Find the position description here

Send applications to jobs@cuc.ca by September 20th, 2016.


Great opportunity for a Consulting Minister in beautiful Nanaimo, British Columbia

The First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo (FUFON) is looking for a consulting minister to lead us into the future. We seek someone who can help us achieve our desired future! That means our ideal minister will be growth-oriented, forward thinking, and charismatic. We desire sermons that inspire and challenge us intellectually and are followed by warm interactions as we invest time and energy in getting to know each other. Click here for the full job posting.

UU Board Legal Training 101 - Webinar

September 17, 1:30pm ADT | 12:30pm EDT | 11:30am CDT | 10:30am MDT | 9:30am PDT, Online

Register by September 13th! Have you just joined a CUC congregation board and are wondering about the legal and practical perspectives of becoming part of that team? Are you a long timer and wish you had a shared understanding of how boards function?

We welcome you to a webinar based on a new video "Serving on a UU Board in Canada", produced by Jen Rashleigh. Geoff Gomery Q.C., a lawyer and former board member at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, offers legal context and practical advice on serving on Unitarian Universalist boards in Canada.

The minimal cost of $10/ per person or $50 for a group of 5 or more goes towards the costs of CUC communication platforms.

Read more.


Reviewing & Updating Charitable Purposes - Webinar

October 6, 8:30pm ADT | 7:30pm EDT | 6:30pm CDT | 5:30 MDT | 4:30 PDT, Online

Do you have questions about your congregation’s charitable purpose or articles of incorporation? Not sure where to find them or what they are? Do they need reviewing or updating? Join Vyda Ng in a discussion and Q & A session. Click here to register.


Western Regional Fall Gathering

October 14-16, Saskatoon Unitarians

This fall we are coming together as indigenous and non-indigenous people to build community and move our work forward. New this year, people of all faith traditions are welcome, not just Unitarians, so bring your local allies with you, indigenous and non-indigenous. 

Registration now open! 


Eastern Regional Fall Gathering

October 22, Lakeshore Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Montreal

Save the date! More information and registration coming soon.


Central Region Fall Gathering

October 29, Grand River Unitarian Congregation, Kitchener

Workshop streams on music and leadership skills - youth welcome! More information to come.


BC Fall Youth Con

November 11-13, North Shore Unitarian Church

There will not be a Regional Fall Gathering for adults in the BC Region this year, but youth are still gathering! Stay tuned for more information and contact Asha with any questions: asha@cuc.ca