The Deep Well of Appreciation

To rise, to rise each morning with the faint glow of starlight on our backs as we head into the joys, the surprises, the challenges of each day sometimes with awe and wonder, perhaps expectation, perhaps dread…

To rise, to rise each day peering over waterlines, sandbags, walls, garbage, bunkers… in windswept deserts and streets lined with sweet smelling olive trees alike.

What a gift we are given when we can rise in freedom, of some sort, to some degree.

This year, for once, for one honest moment, let us forgive our ancestors for the real and true roots from which the Thanksgiving ritual emerged. Let us acknowledge the less than honorable circumstances that created the “original” table of abundance that North Americans attempt to re-create each year. Let us acknowledge and forgive, each other and ourselves for perpetuating inaccurate history.

For how can we be truly grateful if we do not?

We rise with you, Spirit of Truth and Justice, to stroll through all the many gardens of gratitude, inhaling the crystal clear air of freedoms attained, through rough and tumble avenues of debate and destruction.

This year, in solidarity, let the hands across North America reach toward each others’ hearts to feel the pulse that has longed for centuries to beat as one: Whole, spirit-filled and grace-full, swimming in the river of thankfulness for the clarity such intentions provide.

This year let us give not until it hurts, but until we can look in the mirror and know that we are reaching profoundly into the wells of gratitude, know that we are sitting in the pure joy of it, tearfully acknowledging the gift to rise each day and make bread or beds, give smiles, elicit laughter, cross the line that is personal space to meet in the circle that is a hug.

Spirit of Compassion, you know that if we were never to give thanks, these gifts would still abound.

You know, we would rise and walk in the dark of emptiness, missing completely the air of humanity the being-ness that is grounded in the awareness, the age-old knowledge that we are all one, and together create the One.

This year, let us commit to always rise above wherever it is we find ourselves.

Let us give thanks for the interdependent web that brought food to our tables, for the spirits that gave of themselves so that we might eat, for the bended backs that labored in the hot sun and all the carriers that reached their destinations.

In this rich well of appreciation, let us stretch our hand across the table of abundance, pressing lifeline against lifeline, giving thanks that we can do so, and gently holding in our hearts those who cannot, and could not from the beginning.

Spirit of Our Deepest Desires, this year, let us commit to truly rising as One Unitarian Universalist voice working for and loving all of humanity.

Que asi sea. So may it be. Blessed Be.

Amen. Ashe. Ho! As Salaam Alaikum. Shalom.

Namaste. Paz.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marta I Valentín

With thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Worship Web.

Tips for Intentionally Inclusive Congregations

WelcomeSeptember marks the beginning of another church year. It’s an exciting time,  a chance to launch new programs or projects, to resume committee work, and to reconnect with friends. Much of the work that makes the congregational wheels turn happens automatically. But when it comes to creating an intentionally inclusive congregation, some extra effort may be required. Are children and youth welcome in the service? Is the building (and service) accessible to people with disabilities? Is the bulletin board up to date? Do you find it challenging to start new conversations? Read on for tips on how addressing these and other questions can create a truly inclusive and welcoming spiritual community.. Continue reading

Opportunity for Compensation Consultants

Compensation Consultants are volunteers, trained and supported by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Office of Church Staff Finances, who help congregational leaders navigate the complexity of ministerial and staff compensation, benefits, and employment agreements. Currently, we have only one Compensation Consultant serving congregations in Canada. Many thanks to Barry Coburn for his ongoing service, and to the late Bob Dobbs, who passed away earlier this year.

We are eager to recruit and train one or two more Compensation Consultants to assist Canadian congregations. Prior human resources or similar experience is helpful but not necessary. Compensation Consultants engage with congregational leaders through informal phone and email exchanges, and also provide formal consultations for which  they receive an honorarium. We expect our Compensation Consultants to be comfortable with teleconferencing options such as Zoom, since most of our consultations and trainings are held virtually.

If this volunteer opportunity intrigues you, or if you want to recommend someone, please contact Jan Gartner, UUA Compensation and Staffing Practices Manager: jgartner@uua.org.

Congregational Updates for CUC

Survey boxesEach year, CUC staff requests your congregational membership numbers for our records and for calculating Annual Program Contributions and delegate allocations. In addition to this information, we are also updating information about your leadership roles and congregational programming and activities. The survey will take some time to fill in, and if you’d like a pdf copy of the questions ahead of time, please email info@cuc.ca. We ask that one person be in charge of collecting and entering the information, and file the information so that it’s easily accessible, as we will be asking for updated information annually. Please complete the survey here by November 10, 2016.

CUC Support for Congregations – Can you use a Facilitator?

Facilitating WorkshopOften when congregations are facing big decisions, embarking on vision or planning processes, they find themselves wondering how best to proceed. It is often useful to seek input from the members of the community, and to free up all members so that they can participate fully. Congregations also know that it is important to do the work in a way that includes a variety of viewpoints – so that our UU values of democracy, inclusion, and diversity are represented in the work and in the results. CUC staff recognize this need and have recently provided training to a group of people who are now able to act as facilitators for your congregation.   Continue reading