Serving with Spirit: A Retreat to nUUrture UU Leaders

Congregational life can be rewarding, but also hectic. So how does one ensure everything gets done while at the same time drawing energy from their contributions as well as  giving it?

Serving with Spirit: nUUrturing UU Leaders is a weekend retreat that aims to answer this question. The successor to the well-received CUUL School program, the retreat (which has both an Eastern and a Western setting) will provide spiritual and experiential learning as well as more practical skills-based tools. Participants will walk away from the retreat with a greater sense of the connection between themselves as Unitarians and themselves as congregational leaders, and what congregational activities can feed them spiritually.

Retreat activities will include group work, personal reflection time, journalling, and an invitation to participate in spiritual practices that may be new or familiar, such as meditative walks, other forms of meditation, chanting, and more.

The retreat is open to everyone, but may be especially meaningful for emerging and longtime congregational leaders. For this reason, organizers suggest identifying congregants who would benefit from the retreat and consider providing them financial support to attend.  Doing so will make the retreat more accessible and confirm for people interested in attending that their congregation values them as leaders and wants to ensure they are nurtured and sustained. Susan Ruttan from Edmonton speaks to the reasons why congregations might consider this support.

“The board of Unitarian Church of Edmonton has decided to pay to send four emerging leaders to the CUC leaders’ retreat this summer,” she says. “It’s a fair cost — $1,600 for the four…. We are doing it as an investment in our future; we have picked people who are already stepping forward in various ways, and giving them this chance to grow. All four that we’ve picked are thrilled to be going.”

To ensure the greatest possible participation, the registration deadline for the retreats has been extended to June 30. The fee is $400, which includes meals, accommodation, and programming. More info on the Western and Eastern events is available on the CUC website.

 

Reflections on CanUUdle XVII

CanUUdle is the annual youth con for Canadian UU youth who are 14-20 and their adult advisors. As always, it was a beautiful weekend where youth and adults created an amazing community, worshiped together, grew as spiritual beings and joined in multigen activities. It was full of fun, laughter, games, discussion, thought, and above all, love and friendship (the special kind that can only be found in the UU community!).

42 youth participated in CanUUdle this year, which had a special focus on the youth community because there was no accompanying adult conference. Here are reflections from two of them.

Ben Bradt, Unitarian Church of Calgary

General impressions:

  • The warm fuzzies. positive notes written to friends and other con people;
  • The feeling of acceptance. No matter how you were born or what you like, respect flows like a sprinkler on plants;.
  •  Cuddle puddles, allowing so much human contact with little afterthought;
  •  Hug buttons, letting you quickly ask for small doses of said contact;
  • The workshops, letting you customize your experience and possibly make something of colours and feelings;
  •  The right to pass on anything you did not feel you wanted to do.

High points in rough order:
Friday

  • Arrival, seeing the many people i had met over the past few years all in one room;
  • Being consolidated into touch groups, giving new people a backup group to socialize with and experienced people a way to focus how they contribute.

Saturday

  •  The meaningful conversation which con allows, both in selection of people and ability to open up;
  • The friendliness of kitchen staff, allowing those using their right to pass to help them Sunday;
  •  The angel wash. being able to walk with trust in not your eyes, but your friends. being able to be embraced at every turn with arms and emotion, to hear people’s thoughts of you, halfway shrouded by anonymity.

Monday

  • The car wash, being given a large note to remember not just one person, but the entire con by;
  • The car ride home, seeing how i inspired my friends to go to more.

Alex Trefzger, Kingston Unitarian Fellowship (a youth worship coordinator)

CanUUdle 2017 was my favourite UU con experience so far. Without the adjoining ACM adult conference it was less rigid and very youth oriented which suited our theme of youth empowerment very well. The worships that I helped to put on and the workshops chosen all added to the general feel of “we can do so much”. I also really loved the Sunday service that we attended and how they tried to fit into our theme, it really gave us a connection to the congregation who was hosting us.

Update on the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Reflection Guides

As we close out the church year, many people are looking forward to a summer of fun, sun, and relaxation, while many others are busy getting calendars and programming in place for the start of the church year in September. We here at the Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Task Force (THRRG)  wanted to take a moment to give you a heads up on some programming opportunities, as well as to let you know the status of the THRRG material.

The THRRG that are in the process of being finalized and will be available to trained facilitators for the start of programming in the fall of 2017: Adult, Young Adult, and Upper Elementary. Thank you to everyone who participated in facilitating, participating, or supporting these pilots.

We are looking for congregations to pilot the Upper Elementary and Youth THRRG to begin in the fall of 2017. Please let us know if you’re interested – contact information is below.

Several Facilitator Trainings will be held in the fall. You’ll want to mark your calendar and ensure that you have trained facilitators in place for the start of your programming in 2017! Dates currently being considered are:

  • Saturday, August 26th from 9-12 Pacific, 12-3 Eastern

  • Wednesday, August 30th from 3-6 Pacific, 6-9 Eastern

  • Saturday, September 30th from 9-12 Pacific, 12-3 Eastern, and

  • Saturday, November 4th from 9-12 Pacific, 12-3 Eastern.

Please keep an eye open in the CUC’s E-news for ways to sign up, or let us know you’re interested by e-mailing us – contact information provided below. The cost to participate in this training is $25.00 for Canadian congregations, $50.00 for community groups or Unitarian congregations from outside of Canada.

The THRRG Task Force is also beginning the process of revisioning itself to become a standing committee of the CUC to continue the work of our commitment to Truth, Healing and Reconciliation.

We are grateful for all the support we have received across the country as people have suggested resources to us, offered their moral support for the project, and put us in contact with Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators in these areas. We thank the CUC staff for opportunities to share what we are doing as well as providing opportunities and space for the Task Force to provide updates on our project to the wider movement.

Watch this video from the 2017 AGM for an update on our work.

If your congregation is interested in knowing more and/or offering the THRRG, please contact us at reconciliation@cuc.ca.

Political Activity by Charities: Report from the Consultation Panel

The panel which reviewed political activities by charities released its report at the end of March, offering  four recommendations to the Minister of National Revenue.  One of these recommendations calls for revising the CRA’s  administrative position and policy to enable charities to fully engage in public policy dialogue and development. The report says this will improve the quality of public policy dialogue and development in Canada, while still prohibiting charities  from engaging in partisan political activities.

In light of the report, Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier asked on May 4 for the CRA to suspend all  remaining audits and objections under the Political Activities Audit Program. The report found this program had resulted in a “chill” on charities’ public policy and advocacy activities.  The CUC welcomes this news.

“The panel listened to the thousands of recommendations from charities and individuals, and the conclusions of the report are very much in line with CUC recommendations”, said Executive Director Vyda Ng.

Imagine Canada, the national umbrella organization for the charitable and non-profit sector, also welcomes the report’s recommendations.

“Whether it was written submissions, or in-person consultations across Canada, the message from charities was overwhelming”, said President and CEO Bruce MacDonald  “The current rules are confusing and difficult to interpret, and broad reform is preferable to administrative tinkering”.

While the CUC supports the action the Minister has taken, we recognize this is just the first of many actions needed to ensure we and other charitable organizations are free to engage in the vital work of public policy dialogue and development. The report recommends changes to the Income Tax Act to remove any restrictions on non-partisan political activities and shift the focus from charities’ activities to their purposes. The government says it is reviewing the report before making an official.

We encourage you to write your MPs and tell them you support the government’s suspension of political audits, and that implementing the report’s recommendations will benefit Canada’s non-profit sector and Canadian public policy.

See information about the consultation process and the report from the Consultation Panel here.