The 2015 Annual Conference and Meeting will be held in the capital city of Ottawa.
Hosted by the First Unitarian Church of Ottawa, the ACM venue is Algonquin College.
Algonquin has a beautiful new theatre, where the Sunday service will be held.
“Building Beloved CommUUnities: Sacred Spaces Beyond Walls”
ACM 2014 will build on 2013’s theme of “Diversity: Creating A Shared Understanding.” Expanding from Rev. Shawn Newton’s Confluence Lecture (The Risks of Relevance) and Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed’s Keynote address (Radical Inclusion), ACM 2014 will take us into an exploration of how we expand our UU community beyond congregational walls, how we remain relevant into the future, and being radically inclusive.
Hosted by the Unitarian Church of Montreal, the ACM will be held at the Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel. While the hotel is some distance from downtown Montreal, it is close to the airport and offers a cost-effective site for the ACM.
The Annual General Meeting will be held on Friday, May 16, 2014, preceded by the Resolutions Plenary on Thursday evening, May 15.
Registration for the ACM will open in January 2014.
If you have questions or would like further information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be Part of the National ACM Planning Team
In getting ready for the 2014 Annual Conference and Meeting in Montreal, we are reaching out to our national community for good, hard labour in planning the details and execution of the conference. We are looking for participation in program planning, technical and AV support, logistics, music, Young Fun and Junior Youth programming, and coordinating gatherings. If you would like to be part of the Planning Team, please fill out this short survey to let us know your areas of interest and expertise, and how much time you can share. Even if you aren’t able to volunteer, we hope to see you in Montreal!
The CUC Board met on May 16, 2013 in Calgary, on the day preceding the Annual General Meeting. All the Board members were present, as well as John Marsh, Observer from the UU Ministers of Canada, Micaela Corcoran, Youth Observer, and incoming Board member Fiona Heath and incoming Youth Observer Elena Basford. Staff members present were Vyda Ng, Interim Executive Director, Linda Thomson, Kelly McDowell, Antonia Won, Ariel Hunt-Brondwin, April Hope, and Vidya Sudama. Several members of congregations attended during the day.
A good deal of time was spent discussing a major presentation from Vyda Ng, interpreting the Ends that the Board has established as priorities. To put this in context, Ends describe the outcomes that the CUC exists to create; what the CUC is for, rather than what it does. The CUC exists so that current and emerging [congregations] have the resources and recognition they need in order to thrive spiritually, socially and economically. (This is a slightly edited quote from our current Policy Manual.) The Board has identified the following four Ends as priorities in the near future:
The Staff had added a fifth priority, which was affirmed by the Board:
Vyda had been asked to present her interpretations (strategies that she believes will further the Ends). There was extensive discussion on these strategies. On the basis of the discussion, Vyda will be bringing a final document to the June Board meeting for acceptance.
The Board approved the following Sharing Our Faith awards:
It was noted that all the applications this year related to ministry support of one kind or another.
The Board reviewed the agenda for the Annual General Meeting and firmed up the various roles for both the pre-meeting plenary and the meeting itself. Kristina Stevens, the Treasurer, Vyda Ng, and Vidya Sudama, Financial Administrator, presented the financial statements and the budget. It was noted that the Annual Deficit Allowance which had been authorized in 2010 for the period until 2014 had been used much more quickly than anticipated. The 2014 budget, which was presented at the Annual General Meeting, is very tight. Full financial statements are available from the CUC office on request.
There was also extensive discussion by the Board about how our reduced resources might impact achievement of our Mission, and how congregations might be involved in discussions of future directions.
After the Annual General Meeting, the Board announced its officers for 2013-2014:
President: Gary Groot (Western Region)
Vice-President: Glenda Butt (Eastern Region)
Secretary: Ellen Campbell (Central Region)
Treasurer: Kristina Stevens (BC Region)
Social Responsibility Liason: Leslie Kemp (BC Region)
Roger Rochester (Western Region)
Curtis Murphy (Eastern Region)
Rev. Fiona Heath (Central Region)
Minister Observer: Rev. John Marsh (Ottawa)
Youth Observer: Elena Basford (Winnipeg)
All Board members and Observers can be reached at email@example.com.
During the Annual Conference and Meeting, there were opportunities for congregations to meet together according to small, medium and large congregational sizes. The three sessions were facilitated by CUC Congregational Development Staff – Kelly McDowell, Rev. Linda Thomson, and Rev. Antonia Won. Below are reflections from the staff about those dialogues
It is always good to be together and our time together during the congregational dialogues was no different. On Sunday afternoon participants of the ACM were invited to gather on the basis of the size of their congregations. The focus for all of the groups was to identify and share initiatives and practices that have contributed to increased congregational vitality.
Approximately 25 participants came out to the small congregation gathering. There were many positive initiatives that were shared including the significant impact that Part-time Ministry has made for a number of small congregations. Those congregations that were able to acquire Part-time Ministers found that it helped give their congregation focus and direction.
The initiative that generated the most interest by the small congregation participants was a very intentional process that was used by the Comox Valley Unitarian Fellowship. Prior to hiring their part-time Minister, Comox developed their Mission statement. After joining the congregation, Rev. Meg Roberts and their leadership used their mission statement as a vetting process in relationship to every aspect of congregational life, in addition to soliciting feedback to determine what was working. Comox Valley also created a Covenantal Agreement rather than a rental relationship with the United Church where they share not only a building but many other things such as a film night, Religious Education, Taize service, and a joint service once a year.
The 20 participants at the medium congregation gathering focused on 3 areas for discussion: visibility/outreach, building issues, and music/choir. Congregations are clearly making efforts to increase visibility in their communities. Beyond well-known PRIDE parades and expanded offerings, simply doing visible things also seems important. Examples were a solstice service at Edmonton City Hall that sees an attendance of 400, and placing UU kids’ bookmarks in libraries and coffee shops. Several vouched for the effectiveness of a wayside pulpit (especially humorous signs) in attracting people, using the walls of your building to speak to outside users about Unitarianism, and the visual impact of colourful team t-shirts at public events.
Words of wisdom about building issues included: use UU purposes and principles to guide decisions; incorporate an income stream as part of a project; access Northern Lights, a fundraising program; and consider the appeal to multi-faith users.
Key insights about choirs and music are that they are key to congregational vitality and need to be integrated in wholistic ways, e.g. paid positions should not be limited to choir but be ‘music direction.’ Creativity is needed to find ways to support staff. Integration of children, a spiritual dimension to practices and some variety of styles and instruments were other recommendations.
The Large Congregation dialogue session at the Annual Conference and meeting was well attended, with over 40 attendees. We started when participants identified current actions or strategies that contribute to congregational vitality. The list was impressive, but in the end, four items were determined as ‘most interesting’, and the group self-selected into discussion groups. They looked at the following topics; outreach, theme-based ministry, young adult engagements and projects that serve and heal the world. Each group developed ideas on how to deepen the practice, how others might adapt and adopt it to their own setting and what some of the best ideas for effectively doing the work in question.
The conversations, in part, looked a bit like shopping lists, itemizing things to do. However, shortly before the end of the session, I asked the groups to consider how the work or the topic they were discussing was a reflection of UU theology, or how it mattered, or what it meant in terms of congregational life. It was fascinating to see how the mood in the room changed. People paused, and asked why the item they were discussing mattered, how it could serve as an expression of congregational mission or how it could help the members, individually and collectively deepen in their UU understanding and identity.
For me, one of the most important take-aways was the need to always ask the questions that help people go beyond the technical solutions. There is always lots of work to do in congregations; choosing priorities will always be a challenge. Yet, when we ask the questions that encourage us to go beyond the to-do list, we are able to get at the heart of the matter. Work done with intent, with an eye to the bigger picture and to the congregational culture, is more likely to be productive and in the end truly foster congregational vitality.
Yee-ha! The 2013 Canadian Unitarian Council’s Annual General Meeting and Conference in Calgary was a resounding success. Two hundred and ten adults, 23 Young Adults, 42 youth and 10 children came out to connect, learn and worship together. Out of those who attended, 74 completed our online survey, and for 10 of those respondents, this was their first ever ACM (we hope you had a good time!)