Myths and Facts: The Canadian Unitarian Council and Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice

Confusion and questions exist about the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) and the Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ), not just in public but among Canadian Unitarians. This article, written in consultation with CUSJ, aims to provide some answers and clarity about the relationship between CUC and CUSJ, and offers suggestions about how congregations and UUs can relate to CUSJ, and conform with the guidelines of the Income Tax Act and Canada Revenue Agency that govern all Canadian charities.

MYTH:  The CUC and CUSJ are the same organization / CUC runs CUSJ.

FACT: The CUC and CUSJ are completely separate organizations.

Each has its own governance process, board of directors, financial systems, activities and resources. The CUC is not responsible for CUSJ and vice versa. Membership in the CUC is made up of congregations – there are no individual members (it is an association of congregations), while CUSJ welcomes groups and individuals. What the two organizations have in common is a belief in Unitarian-Universalist (UU) principles, and a passion for social justice.

MYTH: The CUC can issue tax receipts for donations made to CUSJ. [1]

FACT: The CUC is a registered Canadian charity, and as such is governed by the rules of the Income Tax Act and Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for charities.

CUSJ is not a charity. No charity can issue tax receipts on behalf of, or to, any organization that is not a charity; CRA guidelines specify that tax receipts can only be issued by charities to other registered Canadian charities (qualified donees). Donations made to organizations that are not charities (non-qualified donees), but which might be non-profits, do not qualify for tax receipts. Congregations should re-examine their practices of issuing tax receipts, and ensure that their practices are in line with CRA guidelines. Continue reading

My Heart is Heavy…

A reflection from Rev. Shawn Newton, First Unitarian Congregation of Torontoheart-candles

My heart is heavy beyond belief today. I am sad. I am angry. I am worried about what the results of this election now mean for the world. But I know I’m not alone in my despair. And that gives me hope.

On this hard, sobering night, I find solace in knowing our collective heartbreak (on both sides of the Canadian-U.S. border and beyond) points to a deep yearning for a better world—a world beyond the fear and hate-filled rhetoric of the American election. We who hold a very different vision for the world must renew our commitment to make that vision real as we deepen in our commitment to the work of justice and peace. We may not feel quite ready to do this tomorrow; that’s understandable. But tomorrow is not too soon.

May these enduring words of Jack Layton guide us tonight and through the days to come: “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

Take heart, friends, for we are not alone.

Stay tuned for further conversations with CUC staff and UUs about acting with love and justice. ‘Like’ the CUC FaceBook page at to stay up-to-date.

Chalice Lighting Reading for November

This global chalice lighting reading for November is shared by the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists:

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 1: tao-te-ching

English Translation:

The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao;
The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin of all particular things.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source.
This source is called Mystery.
Mystery within Mystery,
The gateway to all understanding.

Chinese Translation:

老子: 「道德經」: 第一章

Filipino Translation:

Ang daang maipagsasabi ay hindi ang panlabas na Daan.
Ang pangalang maibibigay ay hindi ang wagas na Pangalan.

Ang di matatagurian ay wagas na tunay.

Ang pagpapangalan ay simulain ng lahat ng mga natatanging bagay.

Ligtas sa pagnanasa, matatamo ang hiwaga.

Nakapulupot sa pagnanasa, matatamo lamang ay mga tanda.

Ngunit ang hiwaga at ang mga tanda ay nagmumula sa iisang pinagmulan.

Ang tawag sa pinagmulan ay Hiwaga.

Hiwaga sa loob ng Hiwaga.

Ang pasukan ng lahat ng pagunawa.


German Translation:

Das All-Eine, das benannt werden kann, ist nicht das ewige All-Eine.
Auch Namen können ihm nicht gerecht werden.
Das Unnennbare ist das ewig Wirkliche.
Das Benennen ist der Ursprung aller Missverständnisse.
Bist du frei von Wünschen, erahnst du das Geheimnis.
Bist du gefangen in Wünschen, siehst du nur seine Ausdrucksformen.
Jedoch entspringen das Geheimnis und seine Ausdrucksformen
derselben Quelle.
Diese Quelle wird das große Geheimnis genannt.
Das Geheimnis inmitten des noch tieferen Geheimnisses
ist der Weg zu allem Verstehen.

Chapter 1, Tao Te Ching, written by Lao-tzu
Modified from a translation by S. Mitchell
Unitarian Universalists Hong Kong (

Thank you to our translators: Adam Hargrove (Chinese), Rev. Tet Gallardo (Filipino), and (Frey Bednarski-Stelling (German)

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

Continue reading

Chalice Lighting Words

Chalice by John Cooley

From the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, in three languages


As surely as we belong to the universe, we belong together.

We gather here to move beyond our isolated selves as we connect and reconnect with others.

It is good to be together, for it is in our connections with each other that we come to to know ourselves more fully, and in that way to be more at home here on Earth, more open to the gifts each day brings.

We light this chalice, symbol of our heritage of freedom in the search for truth, to encourage us once again to stay on this path of connectedness and openness.

(From Margaret Keip, adapted)


Tan cierto como que pertenecemos al universo, pertenecemos el uno al otro.

Nos hemos reunido aquí para ir más allá de nuestro ser aislados mientras nos conectamos y volver a conectar con los demás.

Es bueno estar juntos, porque es en nuestras conexiones entre sí que llegamos a conocernos más plenamente, y de esa manera ser más en casa aquí en la Tierra, más abierta a los regalos que trae cada día.

(From Margaret Keip, adapted)

Encendemos este cáliz, símbolo de nuestra herencia de libertad en la búsqueda de la verdad, para animarnos una vez más para mantenernos en este camino de conexión y apertura.

(From Margaret Keip, adapted)


So sicher,  wie wir zum Universum gehören, gehören wir zueinander.

Wir kommen zusammen, um uns jenseits unserer Vereinzelung immer wieder neu mit anderen zu verbinden.

Es tut gut, beieinander zu sein, denn durch die Begegnung miteinander lernen wir auch uns selbst besser kennen, können uns auf diese Weise auf der Erde heimischer fühlen und uns für die Gaben, die jeder Tag uns schenkt, besser öffnen.

Wir entzünden diesen Flammenkelch, ein Symbol unseres freiheitlichen Erbes bei der Suche nach Wahrheit, um uns von neuem zu ermutigen, auf diesem Weg der Verbundenheit und Offenheit zu bleiben.

(From Margaret Keip, adapted)

Thank you to our translators: Frey Bednarski-Stelling (German) and Jorge Espinel (Spanish)