Top row (left to right): Susan Ruttan (Western region), Rev. Rod Solano-Quesnel (Eastern), Danielle Webber (Central), Tanya Cothran (Central), Rev. Debra Faulk (Minister Observer). Bottom row (left to right): Jane Ebbern (Western), Carol Cumming Speirs (Eastern), Keith Wilkinson (BC), Milton Orris (BC).
The 2017 Annual General Meeting held on May 13 at the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto had a number of “firsts.” It was the first time an AGM was held on its own without a national conference. The CUC with its congregations decided to hold conferences every other year instead of annually, so the 2016 conference in Vancouver was the last annual conference; the next one is 2018 in Hamilton at McMaster University hosted by the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton.
It was the first time that full on-line voting and participation was available for congregations across the country. This is in fulfillment of an Active Democracy resolution approved in 2013 to allow for electronic participation and access to Annual Meetings. Using Zoom meeting
Maya James, Youth Observer
technology and Google forms, more than 50 delegates from 24 congregations signed in on-line to discuss, vote and participate. Another 30+ delegates from mostly Ontario congregations were on-site in Toronto.
And it was the first time that the Youth Observer to the Board (YOB) was elected before the CUC’s AGM – previously, the YOB was elected at CanUUdle, the youth con held concurrently with the national conference. This year, in an on-line process, youth elected Maya James from Winnipeg as the Youth Observer.
On the resolutions front, delegates approved updated goals and strategic priorities over the next two years:
The CUC ensures that it has resources to maintain its own sustainability in order to advance the cost-effective achievement of the following four primary goals:
- Enhance religious exploration and spiritual growth grounded in the vision, principles, sources, and aspirations of the Canadian Unitarian Universalist (UU) movement;
- Advance socially responsible actions to live out our vision of interdependence, love, and justice to bring benefit to Canadian and global communities;
- Build community resilience so our congregations and communities are connected to each other, and thrive organizationally, economically, and socially in a diverse, multi-generational context;
- Strengthen local, regional, national, and global networks of collaborative and interdependent UU congregations and communities.
Within these goals, the following four strategic priorities are identified:
- Ensure sustainable revenue generation to continue the work of building vital Unitarian communities;
- Optimize communications capabilities so that they are flexible, robust, and effective, with an early focus on the CUC website to make it a useful and appealing communications tool for both members and visitors;
- Advance social justice initiatives, including truth, healing, and reconciliation amongst Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians;
- Encourage innovation and sustainability in the growth and development of UU communities, with an emphasis on youth and young adults.
Also approved was a new level of Annual Program Contribution (APC) from congregations to the CUC. The APC funds supports, resources and staff engagement with congregations, and is currently calculated at a specific amount per congregational member. The APC had last been increased in 2013 from $91 to $93 per member, and no increase nor cost of living adjustment has since been applied. The delegates approved an increase to a $100 per member fee, which brings the amount current with cost of living levels.
There was discussion on an alternate method of calculating the APC. The CUC Board, led by outgoing Treasurer Kristina Stevens, has been exploring a method based on a percentage of congregational expenses. There was a variety of opinions expressed, with no clear consensus. The CUC Board will take the next year to continue conversations with congregations before bringing a recommendation to the 2018 AGM.
There was a report from the CUC Board’s task force on fair compensation for CUC staff. The task force had spent the last year examining the discrepancy between current staffing salary levels and fair compensation targets. The task force made a recommendation which would bring salary levels to within fair compensation range. Delegates spoke in favour of this, and in approving the preliminary 2018 budget, also paved the way for these fair compensation levels to be phased in over the next two and a half years.
To see resolutions approved at the AGM, check here.
Sharing Our Faith grants were announced, which will help congregations move further towards their outreach and growth goals:
- First Unitarian Church of Victoria: to commission a setting to music of a Latin Vespers, Vesperae pro Serveto, with text based on Unitarian Universalist Principles. The intent is to create an evening prayer. Amount granted: $2,500
- Unitarian Church of Calgary: for rebranding and promotion – for brand development, marketing templates, signs and banners and Facebook advertising. Amount granted: $3,500
- Unitarian Fellowship of London: To provide a one week summer day camp as an adjunct to the RE program and as a benefit to the surrounding community in which the Fellowship resides. Amount granted: $1,000
- Unitarian Congregation of Guelph: to assist in funding a Director of Congregational Life and Learning position as the Congregation explores options for professional ministry. Amount granted: $6,000
- Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough: to support a gathering of local faith groups on an autumn weekend focused on the theme of gratitude, after which a video will be produced to promote the value of shared values of interfaith groups. Amount granted: $3,000.
- UUEstrie (Unitarian Universalist Church of North Hatley): for outreach projects. One is for “Spirit Circles,” a small group ministry project furthering work that is already in progress, and the other to present non-violent communications workshop to the community of North Hatley. Amount granted: $2,300
Theological Education Funds, which help support ministerial students on their path to professional ministry, were awarded to Rosemary Morrison and Ben Robins.
The new CUC Board of Trustees was acclaimed. This group of dedicated volunteers works largely unseen to create long-terms goals and plans, sets monitoring standards to ensure that outcomes are met, and watch over fiduciary matters. The 2017-2018 Board is:
President: Keith Wilkinson (BC Region)
Vice-President: Jane Ebbern (Western Region)
Treasurer: Tanya Cohtran (Central Region)
Secretary: Carol Cumming-Speirs (Eastern Region)
Milton Orris (BC Region)
Susan Ruttan (Western Region)
Rev. Rod Solano-Quesnel (Eastern Region)
Danielle Webber (Central Region)
Rev. Debra Faulk (Minister Observer)
Maya James (Youth Observer)