A Preview of Streams at the 2018 Annual Conference and Meeting

“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
Facilitator tbd

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.

What Does the December Season Evoke for You?

For many of us, the holidays are a time to connect with family and friends, to catch up on stories and journeys over food and drink, and to spend time with loved ones. Some of us revel in the excitement of getting that must-have LeapPad for the precious 4 year old in our lives, the wrapping, decorating, baking, cooking, welcoming, visiting, eating. Others of us sigh, take a deep breath and trudge on through it. There are those of us who would prefer to avoid the holiday season altogether, when all the bustle brings out the snark and growl in us. For some of us, the holiday season accentuates pain and loss, tragedy and grief. Others of us find quiet moments of meaning and joy to keep us sane and help us celebrate. Many of us give of our time and resources. Some of us work during this season – writing and delivering sermons, ministering, coordinating, conducting, singing, and maybe collapsing at the end of December.

Continue reading

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.

Canadian UU Historical Society Lecture now online

Rev. Dr. Mark Belletini

Every year, the Canadian Unitarian Universalist Historical Society (CUUHS) fulfills the main plank of its mandate by offering a lecture on some aspect of Canadian UU history. The Society has presented 38 lectures to date, dealing with topics such as Universalist heritage, Icelandic Unitarian heritage, and past Executive Directors of the Canadian Unitarian Council reflecting on their tenures. This year, the lecture was “Mark Mosher DeWolfe of Canada: The Eulogy I Never Gave”, presented by Rev. Dr. Mark Belletini, Minister Emeritus,  First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, Ohio.

The lecture was held at the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, and is now available to view here.

Continue reading

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

As we resume the church year, many people are reflecting back on a summer of fun, sun, and relaxation, while many others are busy getting calendars and programming in place. We here at the Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Task Force (THRR)  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 Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Reflection Guides  (THRRG) material.

We are excited to announce that effective October 1, 2017, three of the five THRRG will be available in their final form. Congregations with trained facilitators will be able to access the following levels of the THRRG: Adult, Young Adult, and Upper Elementary. Thank you to everyone who took part in facilitating, participating, or supporting these pilots.

We are looking for congregations to pilot the youth THRRG to begin in the fall of 2017, or starting in January 2018. Please let us know if you’re interested – contact information is below.

We’ve already held a couple of Facilitator Trainings on:

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

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

  • Saturday, September 30, 9-12 Pacific, 12-3 Eastern

Don’t worry if you forgot to register! You can mark your calendar for the following dates, so that you have trained facilitators in place!

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

  • Saturday, January 13 from 9-12 Pacific, 12-3 Eastern.

Please keep an eye on the CUC’s eNews 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 excited that Amber Dawn Bellemare of the team will step forward as Chair. The team will be transitioning Amber into this role over the coming year.

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