“As Canadian Unitarian Universalists, we envision a world in which our interdependence calls us to love and justice.” This vision of our national faith community asks us to live this out through actions of love and justice. We are called to work together from a place of love to bring justice to all beings.
The 2018 National Conference Theme is “An Invitation to Love and Justice” and while planning is still underway, the Conference Program Planning Committee has chosen the following streams for the Saturday. Details on Sunday workshops will follow.
1. “From 110 Good Ideas to Three Action Projects”
Jennifer Kaye, Bill Johnston, and Gail Rappolt, from First Unitarian Church of Hamilton
Like most Unitarian Universalist congregations, the members of the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton have lots of ideas for great social justice projects. Turning ideas into focused action can be more difficult. In this workshop, facilitators from Hamilton will share the method they used—they invited ideas from everyone including children and youth, respectfully measured ideas against opportunities in the community, and ultimately had the congregation decide on a focus through a commitment-based voting system. Workshop participants will walk through the process and come away with a set of tools they can use, singly or together, to develop or strengthen their own social justice work.
2. “1 + 7 = 8: Considering the 8th Principle in the Canadian Context”
Beverly Horton, First Unitarian Church of Hamilton, and Reverend Julie Stoneberg, Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough
Our stream focuses on issues of racial justice by learning about the 8th principle that has been proposed in the US and thinking about how the 8th principle’s call for racial justice translates to the Canadian context. How might the 8th principle help “us” acknowledge and dismantle racism and other oppressions that have marked the historical experience and lived realities of Indigenous Peoples and People of Colour in Canada? How might adoption of the 8th principle energize and help “us” manifest the diversity “we” desire in and for “our” congregations?
3. “Beyond Welcoming: Including and Valuing Trans and Queer People”
Cole Gately and Monica Bennett, First Unitarian Church of Hamilton, and Autumn Getty, Mennonite, Trans Peer Supporter, Hamilton, ON
This workshop will provide the information and outline the processes for congregations to re-certify as Welcoming Congregations. This interactive, participatory workshop will provide learners with tools and resources they can use to help trans and queer people in their communities and congregations feel included, valued, and welcome.
4. “Communities of Belonging and Possibility: Dialogue Methods that Reawaken Congregational Life”
Ben Wolfe, Aukje Byker, and Todd Barr, Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough
What if we could transform the way we gather as congregations and committees to discuss and decide what matters?
What if we could begin from love and possibility, give everyone in the room a voice, leave meetings more connected, and widen our circles of leadership?
This workshop stream will introduce and model next-generation participatory dialogue practices and principles that could help reinvigorate your congregation, make better use of your meeting time, energize your outreach and social justice efforts, and create more of a culture of collaboration and play.
This is an experiential workshop day that models the methods it teaches. Participants will leave with many of the tools they need to invite a dialogue session on belonging, social justice, or congregational vitality in their home congregation.
5. “Love and Justice in Support of Our Mental and Emotional Wellbeing”
Reverend Steven Epperson, Unitarian Church of Vancouver, Reverend Carly Gaylor, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Durham,
and Laura Delano, Executive Director of the Inner Compass Initiative
An essential part of building love and justice is questioning the narratives which feed injustice. One of those narratives pertains to how we understand and respond to mental health challenges that so many of us experience in our lives and families. The dominant narrative funnels all experiences of persistent mental and emotional distress or unusual and inconvenient behaviour into a disease model. The typical response to these challenges from a social justice standpoint is to call for better and more equitable access to medical and pharmacological treatment, to the exclusion of other narratives. Increasingly, it’s becoming clear just how problematic and damaging this response has become. A social justice and human rights crisis is unfolding in our midst in the name of care and healing; it is time to ask hard questions about what is going on.
In this stream we’ll explore alternative experiences and narratives of mental health and wellbeing, including sharing personal stories, inviting participants to share their stories, and offering strongly supported, evidence based resources.
6. “’More than a Hymn Sandwich’: Creating Sunday Services Differently”
Reverend Wayne Walder, Susane Maziarz, and Margaret Evans, Neighbourhood UU Church
An interactive workshop on the style and substance of Sunday services. If we hope to bring a new generation of people to our services and keep those who come, we may need to design Sunday services that look and feel different from those in our history. To address this, we will create interactive experiences that use music, ritual, interactive conversation and story that will invite people into our buildings, our programs, our inner life, and our social connectedness, increasing our capacity for love and justice.
7. Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation, exact title TBD
THR Task Force
Canadian Unitarians and Universalists are honoured to be walking with all who are on the journey towards truth, justice, healing and reconciliation between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples. The CUC Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Task Force has accomplished a great deal since it was created in 2014. Many people have participated in experiential learning activities and attended ceremonies and talks by Elders in communities across Canada. This year’s THR Saturday Stream will offer participants an opportunity to deepen their understanding of Indigenous experiences and engage in a meaningful process that has the potential of transforming relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Please note that this workshop is intended for those who have already taken part in earlier offerings of the THR.