November 2016 - Issue 45

Reflection on the Western Regional Fall Gathering

By Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana

The 2016 Western Regional Fall Gathering was a departure from the usual format – the Saturday program was open to the wider Saskatoon community, and was an inter-spiritual, multi-faith response to Truth and Reconciliation. The program invited participants into a direct experience of the Indian Act using the Medicine Wheel to focus reflections and discussion. Held at Wanuskewin Heritage Park just outside Saskatoon, the day provided participants with an opportunity to begin the journey towards reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

The weekend of October 14-16th 2016 was an intense one for me.  I got to take part, mostly from an observer perspective, in the Western Fall Gathering organized by the Saskatoon Unitarians in the region and open to other people in the community.   I am a new resident in Canada and not familiar with the history of the Country.  My reflection is about my feelings as I heard and watched people face a difficult past with honesty, and what the event meant to me, personally.

I have a history of colonialism and the patterns are the same; going after the culture, religion as its most significant expression, the young people and what kind of education they are getting to preserve their culture and transmit it to the next generations.

In my experience of being part of a privileged minority, it can be hard to face a painful history.   One lesson I got is that it is even harder when the history happened when one was either not there or not adult enough to be responsible, but to which one is connected in a fundamental way. Guilt is real.  Systems are rarely neutral.  They benefit us or oppress us.  Having benefitted from the system in many ways make it real for people and it makes sense that people feel connected to the conversation.  I hope that the conversation which is going on will help people not to take a personal responsibility and therefore shade off the personal guilt.

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Sharing Our Faith 2017

Every year the Canadian Unitarian Council encourages UU congregations across the country to hold a Sharing Our Faith service, celebrating our interconnectedness. Sharing Our Faith is an opportunity to share a common worship service with Canadian congregations, engage deeply with a shared theme, and support one another. At Sharing Our Faith services, congregations are requested to take up a special collection for the SOF Fund, which provides grants to congregations and communities working to enhance ministry, outreach, and our UU impact in the world.

We invite worship teams to create a service using the 2017 Sharing Our Faith packet, created this year by Rev. Fiona Heath, with the support of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada. The packet offers options for readings, hymns, and homilies on this year’s theme of Love and Justice. The Sharing Our Faith packet will be available in January 2017, and we encourage congregations to plan a Sharing Our Faith service for February, during CUC month, when we look outward to all the interconnected communities with whom we collectively create our Canadian UU Movement.

AGM Vote

2017 Annual General Meeting

The 2017 Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Unitarian Council is taking place on Saturday May 13, at the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto. Online participation will be available as well; further details will be available in January 2017.

What about resolutions? Canadian Unitarians have a long history of affirming social justice resolutions, and the CUC has passed many resolutions over the years on a variety of topics, which continue to inform our current policies and practices. Before you submit a resolution, please read the information on process and review our past resolutions to ensure that a new resolution is really necessary; if it’s on a topic relevant to our Principles, there is probably a previously existing resolution. All relevant information is on the CUC’s Resolutions page.


Annual Program Contribution: An Update

The CUC Board would like you to know where it stands on developing a more equitable Annual Program Contribution method both for congregations and for the sustainability of the CUC organization.

The Annual Program Contribution that congregations make to support the Canadian Unitarian Council is currently calculated by multiplying the number of members in a congregation by a set amount approved by them at the annual meeting (currently $93).  The CUC Board and staff have heard anecdotally that, in some cases, this may create an incentive to discourage membership. Whether or not this is true, there has been a gradual decrease in financial support for the CUC as congregational membership wanes.

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"Congregations, Charities and Best Practices” is a series of articles aimed at sharing information about Canada Revenue Agency and Income Tax Act guidelines governing Canadian charities, with a particular focus on specifics for Canadian Unitarian Universalist congregations. Please note that these articles are for information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. For additional details or for information about seeking legal advice, please contact executivedirector@cuc.ca.

What Activities Are Allowed Or Prohibited Under Canada Revenue Agency Guidelines For Charities?

Confusion continues when it comes to which political activities charities are allowed to undertake under Canada Revenue Agency guidelines. Many also have questions about what the 2016 federal consultation on political activities might mean for the future of charities and political activities. For now, current guidelines continue to apply. Here’s a summary of what’s allowable and what’s not, with some examples:

Allowed without Limit:

Activities covered by your charitable purpose and which further these purposes are allowed with no limit. For example, worship services, religious exploration programming, and all activities directly related to the sustaining and fulfillment of the purposes can be carried out with no limit.

Allowed up to 10% of a charity’s total resources:

Political activity is allowed under very specific conditions, which are:

• The activity is subsidiary or incidental to the charity’s purposes, ie it is in service of fulfilling the purposes and not an end in itself;

• The activity is non-partisan, ie any political action cannot be in support or opposition to a specific political party or candidate.

Prohibited activities:

These are activities which are not allowed under any circumstances. Charities cannot take part in illegal or partisan political activities. A partisan political activity is defined as “one that involves direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, any political party or candidate for public office.” See a full description at CRA Policy Statement CPS-022

Read more


Theme-Based Ministry Webinar

Have you heard about Theme-Based ministry and are wondering how it might be applied in your congregation.   Quite a few of our congregations  are exploring Theme-Based Ministry and are excited at the ways it helps deepen the conversations in their community.  This webinar will provide participants with an introduction to Theme- Based Ministry; the challenges, the benefits and some available resources.

Saturday, December 3rd: 1:00pm ADT | 12:00pm EDT | 11:00am CDT | 10:00am MDT | 9:00am PDT

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Want to Zoom?

The CUC is offering the use of web meeting technology for congregations - when your committee or board members aren’t able to gather together or if your members live far apart, you can access the on-line web meeting platform called Zoom. This has web camera, video and phone capabilities. If you would like to have a meeting set up* or for more information, please email info@cuc.ca.

*Zoom’s capability only allows one meeting at a time. Although CUC has two accounts for congregational use, it may be possible that you might not get the time slot of your choice if other meetings are already scheduled.


CUC Office Closed for the Holidays

Please note the CUC Office will be closed between December 22nd and January 4th.


Camp Story: Going Home to Kootenay Lake

Simon, David, Betty, and Pureum on the lake

By David Marmorek

Going to the Unitarian Wilderness Camp at Fry Creek in Southern British Columbia always feels like going home. It’s been a summer home to many families for over 50 years. I love renewing each of the rituals: the topological challenge of getting 4 people and all our camping gear into a Prius; the beautiful drive to the Kootenays along Highway 3; picking up cherries and peaches in the Okanagan from a fruit stand run by a nice Sikh fellow who never uses a calculator to calculate what we owe him; a yummy dinner and overnight stay in funky Nelson; the next morning’s pastoral drive up the west side of Kootenay Lake to the pickup spot at Schroeder’s Creek; big hugs with the Camp Director when he arrives by boat to pick us up; the sometimes calm and sometimes bumpy boat ride across Kootenay Lake to the camp, with the Purcell Mountains and fellow campers welcoming us back; schlepping gear from the boat up to our chosen campsite; setting up the tarps and tents; our first dinner together at the rudimentary picnic table past campers have built; and watching the moon rise over the mountains to the east as we tell stories around a campfire.

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CanUUDle 2011 - Group Photo

Save the Date: CanUUdle 2017

Our annual national youth con!

• When? May 19 - 22, 2017

• Where? Unitarian Church of Edmonton - Edmonton, Alberta

• Who? Youth (14-20) and Advisors (25+)

• What? CanUUdle is the annual youth con for Canadian UU youth who are 14-20 and their adult advisors. It’s a beautiful weekend where youth and adults create an amazing community, worship together, grow as spiritual beings and join in multigen activities. This year there is no CUC conference, but we will be sharing some time with young adults and adults at Justice Con (see below).

Cost: We are striving to make this gathering as financially accessible as possible - with a sliding scale fee and subsidies available.  Stay tuned for fundraising ideas and tips - coming soon!

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Save the Date: Justice Con 2017

A young adult con for all ages!

• When? May 19 - 22, 2017

• Where? Westwood Unitarian Congregation - Edmonton, Alberta

• Who? Young adults (18-35) and people of all ages who are young at heart. Limit of 45 people.

• What? A “Con-style gathering” - where everyone participates in leadership, and everyone helps to create beloved community through worship, workshops, cooking and activities.

New in 2017, the CUC is running a full weekend con for people of all ages which will be planned and run by young adults. We are opening the door to people who want to experience the profound connections that younger UUs create together at gatherings.

We want to share the beauty of this community, and invite older adults into meaningful relationship with young adults.  Our broad theme is "love and justice", taking inspiration from the new vision for Canadian Unitarian Universalism.  

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So if you're a youth, an advisor, a young adult or a person of any age that feels young at heart, please mark your calendars for May 19-22, 2017 - we hope to see you in Edmonton!

(Please continue checking the e-news and CUC website for more details about the cons - coming soon)


Ceremonies For Life

By Amanda Tarling

What are the pivotal events of our lives? Which life transitions come to the forefront of your mind; birthdays, retirement, a trip, the birth of a child or a grandchild, the loss of someone dear to you, or perhaps the arrival of a new pet? I hope that with the passing of each milestone in your life you celebrate with a ceremony. Perhaps you would like to have a gathering but don't know where to start? Then ceremonies.ca is for you. The website is full of ideas for ways to honour many types of rites of passage it is a resource for everyone.

ceremonies.ca is a new Unitarian inspired website which was launched at the CUC's AGM in Vancouver. It had its inception after I trained a group of Lay Chaplains in outreach. At the workshop, I presented a list of all of the ceremonies, other than the traditional "hatch, match and dispatch" rituals, that Lay Chaplains could perform. Liz James (of the Saskatoon Unitarians) caught wind of the list and encouraged me to create a website. The idea was to have a readily available source for templates for every ritual imaginable, from a Birthingway for a pregnant mother about to give birth to a ceremony to celebrate an elder and a Croning celebration. Thanks to the generous funding of Northern Lights and most recently by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) the website is up and running.

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Supporting Ministerial Candidates

By Rev. Samaya Oakley, UU Ministers of Canada President

Candidates for UU ministry in Canada have some unique challenges.  First, the challenge of finding a seminary that will honour their unique brand of faith and theology, as well as being flexible enough to incorporate the specific UU requirements for ministerial preparation.  Then, there’s the vast landscape, with plenty of wide-open space between most of our congregations across Canada.  And, of course, in comparison with the United States, there’s the relatively small number of ministers in final fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) who can provide mentoring, guidance, and support.

What’s a Candidate to do?  The UU Ministers of Canada (UUMOC) anticipate that participating in the Unitarian Universalist Ministers’ Association’s (UUMA) pilot program for ministerial formation will help provide some answers.  The UUMA is recruiting pilot project sites to beta test a new model of interacting with and providing guidance to ministers-in-training.  Over the last few years, the former Regional Subcommittees on Ministry and the Ministerial Fellowship Committee process have changed radically.  New approaches to ministerial discernment and preparation are being developed and implemented.  Given the unique set of circumstances in Canada, UUMOC’s participation and experience will provide valuable insight and input to the Fellowship process.

Read more


Board Legal Training Video

In this video, Serving on a UU Board in Canada, Geoff Gomery, 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 video, now posted on the CUC website, was created by Jen Rashleigh and Geoff Gomery, to explore the legalities and practicalities of serving on a congregational board, but also offers personal advice on how to be a good and constructive board member at a UU congregation.

THR SimpleLogo

THR Reflection Guide Summary

The purpose of the Truth Healing and Reconciliation Reflection Guides is to begin discussion in the areas of engagement, understanding, connection, and healing and reconciliation. These reflection guides are being developed by the Truth Healing and Reconciliation Task Force in the hope that they will encourage interaction and cultural awareness in our UU Communities. Read more about the background of the THR Reflection Guides here.

Here's a little summary of where we are with each of the Truth Healing and Reconciliation Reflection Guides:

• Adult –  Individual and multi-session will be ready to pilot by mid-November. We have expanded the 4-session version we piloted successfully last year, to a 6 and 8 session version of the adult guides

• Upper Elementary – We have three congregations who will be piloting the Reflection Guide in the fall of 2016. The final Reflection Guide will be ready for congregations at the start of the new year in 2017.

• Lower Elementary – We are looking for congregations to pilot the Reflection Guide in the at the beginning of 2017. We anticipate that the final Reflection Guide will be ready for the start of the fall in 2017.

• Youth – A writing team is being formed to begin work in the fall of 2016. Once the team has been formed, they will establish the timeline.

• Young Adult – A writing team has been formed and is beginning work this fall, 2016. They will establish the timeline.


THR Facilitator Training

Sign up today for our next Truth Healing and Reconciliation Facilitator Training, Saturday, December 10th, 2016. The training will take place from 9:00 am-12:00 pm PST/12:00 pm-3:00 pm EST via Zoom so you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home!

Please register your space before Saturday, November 26th by following this link. There is a fee of $25/participant. These funds go back to help support the ongoing work of the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Task Force.

Please take special note about the facilitation training and its requirements. We approach this work knowing that we are all learning how to walk the path of reconciliation - in short, none of us are experts. We know that true reconciliation comes from the creation of safe space in order to engage in authentic dialogue. The materials used in the Reflection Guides are complex and the activities and group facilitation requires skill.

It is for that purpose, we require facilitators to have a basic understanding of our approach to this work and ask that each participant gain congregational support before engaging in the facilitation of the Reflection Guides.

We will be hosting another online Facilitator Training, Saturday, January 21, 2017


Territorial Acknowledgments

As Unitarians we want to acknowledge the First Peoples on whose traditional territories we live and work. We would love to hear from your congregation to learn what form of acknowledgement you use in your weekly services. Do you know the Indigenous name for the land on which your congregation meets? Our goal is to assist each of our congregations in making a territorial acknowledgement part of their regular practice.

It takes less than 5 minutes to complete this very short form and will help as we update the CUC website. We thank the 15 congregations who have provided this information, and hope all UU congregations will be part of this acknowledgement.

Acknowledging territory shows recognition of and respect for Aboriginal Peoples, which is key to reconciliation.

We would like to thank the following congregations for completing the form: Comox Valley, Saskatoon, Nanaimo, Regina, Toronto, Prince Edward Island, Don Heights, Kelowna, North Hatley, Hamilton, Kamloops, Ottawa and Kelowna.


Criminal Justice Monitoring Group Update

The Criminal Justice Group has been reconstituted to work on specific justice issues following the interest and commitment of a number of individuals who attended the Annual General Meeting this past May 2016.

They identified the following three main issues as most important and timely:

• over-incarceration of Indigenous peoples

• the excessive use of solitary confinement

• greater use of restorative justice in our system

This is particularly timely as the Ministerial Mandate letter for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General specifically calls on the minister to collaborate on an inquiry into missing and murdered First Nations, Inuit and Métis women, to address the problem of over-incarceration of indigenous women and men, and to address the problem of solitary confinement, as well as to promote the greater use of restorative justice in our system and to address the concerns raised by the death of Ashley Smith.

If you would like to join the team working on this, please contact April Hope at april@cuc.ca

Affordable Housing

National Affordable Housing Strategy

As Unitarians, we believe that decent and affordable housing is a basic human right for all Canadians. In October, 2016 the Canadian Federal Government wrapped up a consultation calling for Canadians’ views on a National Affordable Housing Strategy. The CUC National Voice Team sent this letter to the minister for Families, Children, and Social Development, expressing our support for a National Strategy to address these issues. Attached to this letter, the National Voice Team also forwarded this report, produced by the Poverty Awareness Working Group of the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa. The CUC applauds and supports the efforts undertaken by Ottawa First, and encourages everyone to write to their MP in support of a National Affordable Housing Strategy that meets the needs of all Canadians.

If you would like to join our Affordable Housing e-mail list to discuss these issues and share successes, send a request to april@cuc.ca.


Meet the UUA Observers to the United Nations COP22 Climate Change Conference!

By Bruce Knotts

It is a historic time for international cooperation on climate action - The Paris Agreement was just ratified by enough countries to now go into effect on November 4, 2016. This is just days before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) meets in Marrakesh, Morocco, Nov. 7-18th.

Nine people will be traveling to Morocco next month as official observers to COP22, representing the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). This is an important measure for UU witness and advocacy for climate justice, as COP22 will focus on critical components of implementing the Paris Agreement that will have tremendous impacts for the whole world, and especially climate impacted communities, for generations to come.

Here are three ways that you can get involved and lean more:

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Every Child is Our Child

In October, many UU congregations across the country held United Nations Sunday services, celebrating the work of the United Nations, and the UU-United Nations Office.

The CUC has an agreement to collaborate with the UU-UNO on the Every Child is Our Child program in Ghana. This program focuses on children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS and works to ensure that children and families in the Manya Krobo region of Ghana receive the medical attention they need, and the access to education that will help them thrive. As such, Canadian dollars collected to support the UU-UNO and donated through the CUC, will support the vulnerable children of the Every Child is Our Child program. With your support, children are outfitted with school uniforms, books, school supplies, shoes and other necessities that make school attendance possible. Read more about the program here.


International UU Women's Convocation

February 16-19, 2017 will mark the third International Unitarian*Universalist Women’s Convocation, a gathering of UU Women and people of progressive faiths. The theme of the 2017 convocation is Weaving Global Partnerships… Forging a Just Future Together. With participants anticipated from the U.S. and Canada, but also from across Europe, Bolivia, India, and the Philippines, this international gathering will offer the opportunity to explore topics such as economic empowerment, violence prevention, education, leadership development, and health and reproductive justice.

Participants are invited to the beautiful “refuge by the sea” Asilomar, Pacific Grove, California, for three days of participatory sessions, daily worship, and engaging speakers.  Opportunities for worship will be available in many forms; from early mornings spiritual practices, to evening Dharma talks in the Buddhist tradition to prepare for meditation, as well as time set aside for UU worship each day.

Click here for more information and to register for this inspirational event.

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Support Our National Faith Community 

Have you had opportunity to use resources from the CUC in the past year? Had your questions or concerns addressed by CUC staff? Or maybe you’ve attended a CUC conference, regional gathering, webinar or roundtable and strengthened connections with other UUs. Perhaps your congregation has found value when a CUC staff member has walked with you through transitions, conflict, or governance matters.

The work of CUC staff in service to our UU congregations and communities is made possible largely through the financial commitment of your congregation to the CUC, the Annual Program Contribution, and through direct contributions from Friends of the CUC. Sadly, over 2015 and 2016, a significant portion of these funds have been diverted to legal costs.

When Canada Revenue Agency supplied notice that the CUC would be audited for 2012 and 2013, the decision was made to seek top legal advice. This decision has helped the CUC navigate the uncertain waters of an audit, and to reach a reasonable compliance agreement. However, the cost has reached tens of thousands of dollars, and last year, the budget was stretched to cover the 2015 legal bill. This year, extra help is needed, and we are turning to you - Canadian UUs and congregations - for this help.

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Natural Death Expo

November 5th, 10:00-5:00 at the Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga

If you have ever wanted to find out how you could arrange to have a green or natural burial, or care for a dying loved one at home, or even just make any experience you have with death less frightening or cold, come to the Expo.

Visit the website for the latest news and updates on the Expo – www.naturaldeathexpo.ca


BC Fall Youth Con: SoUUl Food

November 11-13, North Shore Unitarian Church

At this year’s Unitarian Universalist Youth BC Regional Fall Con, we will be exploring how food is intertwined with our identity, spirituality, and social justice.

Click here for more information.


Blues In the Night FUNdraiser - Neighbourhood

November 12, 7pm, Neighbourhood UU Congregation

Silent Auction: Exciting Getaways, Gourmet Dinners, Jewellery, Gift Baskets and more!

Live Music: Irene Torres and the Sugar Devils


Theme-Based Ministry Webinar

Saturday, December 3rd: 1:00pm AST | 12:00pm EST | 11:00am CST | 10:00am MST | 9:00am PST

Have you heard about Theme-Based ministry and are wondering how it might be applied in your congregation.   Quite a few of our congregations  are exploring Theme-Based Ministry and are excited at the ways it helps deepen the conversations in their community.  This webinar will provide participants with an introduction to Theme- Based Ministry; the challenges, the benefits and some available resources.

Read more


THR Facilitator Training

Saturday, December 10th, 2016. 9:00 am-12:00 pm PST/12:00 pm-3:00 pm EST

Sign up today for our next Truth Healing and Reconciliation Facilitator Training, via Zoom so you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home!

Please register your space before Saturday, November 26th by following this link. There is a fee of $25/participant. These funds go back to help support the ongoing work of the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Task Force.

Read more

Fir in winter landscape

CUC Office Closed

Please note the CUC Office will be closed for the holidays from December 22nd, to January 4th.

 “My ‪theology guides me to be a light in dark and trouble times. My theology is simple: Love. No exceptions. Salvation. No conditions.”

– Starr Austin, Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington, NY