Serving with Spirit: A Retreat to nUUrture UU Leaders

Congregational life can be rewarding, but also hectic. So how does one ensure everything gets done while at the same time drawing energy from their contributions as well as  giving it?

Serving with Spirit: nUUrturing UU Leaders is a weekend retreat that aims to answer this question. The successor to the well-received CUUL School program, the retreat (which has both an Eastern and a Western setting) will provide spiritual and experiential learning as well as more practical skills-based tools. Participants will walk away from the retreat with a greater sense of the connection between themselves as Unitarians and themselves as congregational leaders, and what congregational activities can feed them spiritually.

Retreat activities will include group work, personal reflection time, journalling, and an invitation to participate in spiritual practices that may be new or familiar, such as meditative walks, other forms of meditation, chanting, and more.

The retreat is open to everyone, but may be especially meaningful for emerging and longtime congregational leaders. For this reason, organizers suggest identifying congregants who would benefit from the retreat and consider providing them financial support to attend.  Doing so will make the retreat more accessible and confirm for people interested in attending that their congregation values them as leaders and wants to ensure they are nurtured and sustained. Susan Ruttan from Edmonton speaks to the reasons why congregations might consider this support.

“The board of Unitarian Church of Edmonton has decided to pay to send four emerging leaders to the CUC leaders’ retreat this summer,” she says. “It’s a fair cost — $1,600 for the four…. We are doing it as an investment in our future; we have picked people who are already stepping forward in various ways, and giving them this chance to grow. All four that we’ve picked are thrilled to be going.”

To ensure the greatest possible participation, the registration deadline for the retreats has been extended to June 30. The fee is $400, which includes meals, accommodation, and programming. More info on the Western and Eastern events is available on the CUC website.


Annual Program Contribution: The Conversation and The Vote at AGM 2017

In January 2017, a motion was circulated to the CUC leaders’ group regarding an alternative method of calculating the Annual Program Contribution to the CUC from member congregations. Please note that the proposed motion to vote on this method at the 2017 AGM is being withdrawn by the CUC Board. This is because explicit instructions are now available for congregations to project calculations for their APC based on a percentage of operating budget, and the Board believes that more time is needed for congregations and the CUC to consider the impact of the possible change. An updated motion regarding method of APC calculation will be brought to the 2018 Annual General Meeting.

Closer to the date of the 2017 AGM, the Board will propose a motion to set the 2018 per member fee to an amount sufficient to sustain the current level of CUC operations and provide fair compensation for existing staff within a balanced budget. The amount of the fee increase will likely be in the range of 3% to 7% (from $93 to $96 or $100 per member). Should this motion fail, a second motion will be made to approve a fee at the current level of $93 per member. This option is likely to lead to a reduction in CUC service levels.

A Guide to Calculating Annual Program Contribution Based on Percentage of Operating Expenses has been developed by Grant Thornton, the CUC’s auditing firm, for congregational treasurers, or their accounting advisors, to determine what to include in the annual operating expenditures that they will report to the CUC. Please contact to obtain this Guide if you have not already received it.

The CUC Board requests that congregations use the Guide to calculate the amount of your congregation’s APC based on this alternative method. Please send your calculations to the CUC office by March 31, 2017 by email to or mail to 215 Spadina Ave | Suite 400 | Toronto ON M5T 2C7

The calculation information provided by congregations using this alternate method will help inform the CUC Board about next steps in the APC process.


The level of APC amounts paid to the CUC has continued to decrease annually despite an increase in 2013 from $91 to $93 per member. Please see Table 1 in this linked document for details. (Note also the increasing level of commitment congregations have been making to pay their full fair share contributions.)

There has been no application of a cost of living index (CPI) over the intervening years, which means that congregations have been contributing less each year to the CUC over the past six years. If adjusted for CPI, the per member fee would now be $100.

Financial support for the national and global initiatives undertaken by the CUC is understood to be part of the commitment or covenant that member organizations make when they join the CUC. When individuals join a CUC member congregation, they are joining not just their local congregation, but also the wider UU community. A small, dedicated CUC staff and groups of volunteers work hard every year across a very large country to fulfill these national and international mandates efficiently and effectively through carefully chosen supportive programs, special projects, and public statements by the Executive Director and National Voice Team that affirm and promote UU principles related to selected important issues. Member financial and volunteer support for the CUC to sustain this work is essential, and deeply appreciated.

Join CUC Board Treasurer Kristina Stevens and Board President Keith Wilkinson on March 4th, 8th, or 10th to discuss the alternate method of calculation and what this means for your congregation. Please see the dates, times and registration information on the CUC web site here.


2017 CUC ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING: Information for Presidents, Leaders and Delegates

Where: First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, 175 St Clair Avenue West, Toronto and online via Zoom platform

When: Saturday, 13 May 2017 (6 hrs including 2 breaks)
Atlantic 12:30 pm – 6:30 pm | Eastern 11:30 am – 5:30 pm | Central 10:30 am – 4:30 pm l Mountain 9:30 am – 3:30 pm | Pacific 8:30 am – 2:30 pm

2017 Annual General Meeting Information Package contains:

  • Official Call to Meeting – p5
  • 2017 Credentialing Figures – p7
  • Number of Designated Delegates According to Congregational Size – p9
  • Motion to Allow Youth Participation – p10
  • 2017 Annual Meeting Agenda – p11
  • Annual Meeting Rules of Procedure – p14
  • Minutes of 2016 Annual General Meeting – p18
  • 2017 Nominating Committee Report – p29                
  • Motion on CUC Goals and Strategic Priorities – p34
  • 2016 Audited Financial Statements – p36                
  • 2017 Revised Budget & 2018 Proposed Budget – p53
  • Motion to Approve Annual Program Contribution Amount for 2018 – p59
  • Motion to Appoint Auditor – p61
  • Delegate Certification Form for On-site Delegates – p62

The CUC’s 2016 Annual Report is available here. 

Instructions for On-Line Delegates – please read ahead of the AGM!

The Canadian Unitarian Council’s 2017 Annual General Meeting (AGM) marks the first time that delegates from all over the country will participate and vote on-line. At the 2016 AGM, the CUC successfully piloted an online voting system that allowed delegates to participate and vote online, and a similar system will be used at AGM 2017 on May 13th.

The AGM is hosted by the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto. Delegates can choose to participate online via a web platform, or in-person in Toronto. To be eligible to vote, your congregation needs to:

  1. Select your delegates early. Information on delegate selection is here.
  2. Register your duly approved 2017 delegates here by April 1st, 2017. Congregations participating remotely will also need to select a board-approved Credentials Officer who will be responsible for confirming the delegates present on the day of the AGM.
  3. Be a member in good standing with the CUC: i) the Annual Program Contribution (APC) shall not be in arrears; ii) your congregation has held its Annual General Meeting within the last year; and iii) there is a governance structure in place

On-line Participation and Voting Orientation Sessions have now concluded. Delegates and congregations will receive their instructions and voting sheets prior to the AGM. Continue reading

Welcoming, Serving, and Engaging Young Adults


There is an exciting new development at the CUC: A year long project focusing on engaging young adults is being launched.

This initiative is inspired by Lindsay Hindle’s address during the Sunday morning service at the CUC’s National Conference in May 2016; Lindsay is a young adult from Vancouver who shared her views about what could be done to effectively engage young adults. Rev. Steven Epperson of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver took up the challenge and set the ball in motion. Led by Rev. Carly Gaylor and supported by the UU Ministers of Canada and the Canadian Unitarian Council, the project will work with congregations to improve the way they welcome, serve and engage young adults.

CUC staff have begun running a series of 3 webinars between November 2016 and June 2017 to help congregations navigate the work of welcoming young adults and improve their in-house practices. The webinars will include a congregational self-assessment, a discussion of generational differences and needs, concrete plans for improvement, and personalized help to carry out this work.

The first introductory session ran at the end of November 2016, where participants joined Asha Philar, CUC Youth and Young Adult Ministry Development Staff, and Rev. Carly Gaylor, Project Coordinator, to learn more about the project, how it could impact local congregations, and for an introduction to the self-assessment process. Whether you have many young adults, few, or none, this workshop is an opportunity to hear experiences, hopes, and dreams of young adults in our communities and beyond. The hope is that, by the end of the project, resources, direction and tips on inviting and welcoming younger members, and meeting the needs of those already in your UU community will be developed, collected and shared.

Interested in being part of this process and ending the church year with a new an improved strategy for young adult ministry? It’s not too late to take advantage of the resources for young adult ministry that will follow in the months to come, and to join the following two webinar sessions, which will be planned to run around February and April in the coming year. Congregations will be asked to commit to both winter and spring sessions, so stay tuned for more information, sign up details, and save the dates in the weeks to come.

Come join the next conversation planned for 2017 and get ready for a transformative year!