Westwood Director of Religious Education Writes Children’s Book

Ilara Stefaniuk-Gaudet’s book The Secret Wish of Dragon H is a book telling the story of Horus, a dragon who yearns for the wings he’s told only female dragons are allowed to have. Below, the author reflects on the inspiration for the story and how it can be useful as an introduction to issues of gender identity.

I have been a member of Westwood Unitarian Congregation in Edmonton, Alberta, for many years now. I’ve had the great privilege and honour for nearly five of those years of holding the role of Director of our Religious Education Program.  In February of 2016, the theme was “Building Bridges of Transformation”.  We’d been building all kinds of bridges since September (literal and metaphorical!), and it was becoming challenging to find children’s books on this  theme.  A trans woman was delivering the upcoming sermon, and I wanted to present a clear, related message to our children and the congregation that morning.

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A Prayer for the World

A Prayer for the World 

For all who die in war
   We lift up our hearts
For all who live in suffering in the aftermath of violence
   We lift up our hearts
For all who give their lives in smoke and flame
   We lift up our hearts
For all who go on in honor of the dead
   We lift up our hearts
For all who have served
   We lift up our hearts
For our country and our world
   We lift up our hearts
For a planet that will find peace
   We lift up our hearts
For the young and the innocent
   We lift up our hearts
For the weary and war torn
   We lift up our hearts
For those who would pray
   We lift up our hearts
For those too angry to cry
   We lift up our hearts
For all of us, for the many names of God
   We lift up our hearts
We lift up our hearts
Shanti, shalom, peace, sa laam.


A Successful Western Region Fall Gathering

The Western Region Fall Gathering in Calgary from October 13 – 15 was a great success, thanks to the speakers and workshop leaders, including CUC staff Joan Carolyn, April Hope, and Asha Philar,  and musical offerings from Tony Turner and Jane Perry. The gathering had the largest adult attendance, the largest local congregation attendance, and the largest Youth Con attendance in recent memory.  Reverend Anne Barker of Westwood Unitarian Congregation in Edmonton, shares her reflection:

“The 2017 Calgary WRFG was a rich collection of wisdom, opportunity and connection.

  • John Pentland’s keynote and workshop were inspiring – a wealth of ideas for getting focused, keeping relevant, taking risks….
  • The afternoon “Songs for Social Change” with Tony Turner was soul nurturing.
  • I heard great things from folks who attended the THR offerings – particularly the elder circle.

“I’m always glad to have gone to Regional Gatherings – and this one is no exception. Thanks to Calgary for their gracious hospitality, and to the CUC for their commitment and contributions”.

Commenting on the weekend’s highlights, another participant added “John Pentland – really practical tips, no matter the size of congregation. The talent show. Sunday morning worship – it all flowed so well and really showed the rich talent we have in music and ministry in the western provinces”.

Planning is now underway for next year’s WRFG in Winnipeg, October 19-21.

Seeking CUC Board Nominations for 2018 – 19

Is there someone in your congregation who is ready and able to contribute at the national level?  In May, 2018 there will be two people stepping down from our national board.  Keith Wilkinson (BC Region) and Susan Ruttan (Western Region) are nearing the end of their three-year terms.

Susan Ruttan believes there are some real rewards when serving on the CUC Board.  She has found it a rewarding experience in many ways.  

“Before joining the national board, I was intensely involved in my own wonderful congregation,” Susan says. “Being part of the national board has allowed me to know and embrace our Canada-wide movement. That means making friends with people from congregations across the country, knowing our wonderful national staff, and understanding the strengths and challenges that we have as a national organization”.

As a national board member, Susan’s travel and accommodations expenses are paid to attend the national conference and the annual May board meetings. She and her fellow board members hold a four-day retreat in Toronto each fall in a retreat centre – they do lots of work, but also have fun and get a chance for spiritual growth.

Before joining the CUC board, Susan was on the national nominating committee. Both experiences, she says, have helped her become a national Unitarian.

The work of the Board takes place in a variety of venues, both in person and online. Board meetings are often conducted using video teleconferences when not conducted in person.  Documents are accessed online and email communication is important.  Prospective nominees would:

  • ideally, participate in two on-line board meetings as observers on March 27 and April 24, 2018 (2.5 hours each, 7 p.m. Eastern time).
  • ideally, attend the May 2018 board meetings before the Annual Meeting in Hamilton for a focused orientation.  
  • commit to attend the September Board Retreat in Mono, Ontario from September 27 – October 1.
  • Possess a high level of technical competence with online platforms, specifically Google Drive, or be willing to acquire this competence
  • ideally, attend regional gatherings to connect with the congregations in the board member’s region.

Like the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), the CUC Board uses a modified policy governance model based on the work of John Carver. It is largely the responsibility of the Executive Director to interpret approved goals & priorities, and direct the staff to carry them out.  Acknowledging that there is sometimes more work than time or staff, the board has also decided that they will have more involvement in fund-raising, networking and special projects.

For more information contact the Nominating Committee at nominations@cuc.ca.

The Importance of Board/Staff Retreats

L to R: Susan Ruttan (Edmonton), Rev. Rodrigo Emilio Solano Quesnel (Ottawa Fellowship), Danielle Webber (Toronto), Milton Orris (BC), Carol Cumming-Speirs (Montreal), Keith Wilkinson (Vancouver), Jane Ebbern (Calgary), Maya James – Youth Observer (Winnipeg), Rev Debra Faulk – Minister Observer (Calgary), Tanya Cothran (Toronto).













Each September, staff and board members of the CUC gather for four days at a retreat centre somewhere in the Toronto area.

For both staff and board, it’s a special time. We learn and think and laugh and eat together. We are intensely with each other, working very hard and becoming a close-knit unit.

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