Reflections on CanUUdle XVII

CanUUdle is the annual youth con for Canadian UU youth who are 14-20 and their adult advisors. As always, it was a beautiful weekend where youth and adults created an amazing community, worshiped together, grew as spiritual beings and joined in multigen activities. It was full of fun, laughter, games, discussion, thought, and above all, love and friendship (the special kind that can only be found in the UU community!).

42 youth participated in CanUUdle this year, which had a special focus on the youth community because there was no accompanying adult conference. Here are reflections from two of them.

Ben Bradt, Unitarian Church of Calgary

General impressions:

  • The warm fuzzies. positive notes written to friends and other con people;
  • The feeling of acceptance. No matter how you were born or what you like, respect flows like a sprinkler on plants;.
  •  Cuddle puddles, allowing so much human contact with little afterthought;
  •  Hug buttons, letting you quickly ask for small doses of said contact;
  • The workshops, letting you customize your experience and possibly make something of colours and feelings;
  •  The right to pass on anything you did not feel you wanted to do.

High points in rough order:
Friday

  • Arrival, seeing the many people i had met over the past few years all in one room;
  • Being consolidated into touch groups, giving new people a backup group to socialize with and experienced people a way to focus how they contribute.

Saturday

  •  The meaningful conversation which con allows, both in selection of people and ability to open up;
  • The friendliness of kitchen staff, allowing those using their right to pass to help them Sunday;
  •  The angel wash. being able to walk with trust in not your eyes, but your friends. being able to be embraced at every turn with arms and emotion, to hear people’s thoughts of you, halfway shrouded by anonymity.

Monday

  • The car wash, being given a large note to remember not just one person, but the entire con by;
  • The car ride home, seeing how i inspired my friends to go to more.

Alex Trefzger, Kingston Unitarian Fellowship (a youth worship coordinator)

CanUUdle 2017 was my favourite UU con experience so far. Without the adjoining ACM adult conference it was less rigid and very youth oriented which suited our theme of youth empowerment very well. The worships that I helped to put on and the workshops chosen all added to the general feel of “we can do so much”. I also really loved the Sunday service that we attended and how they tried to fit into our theme, it really gave us a connection to the congregation who was hosting us.

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

As we close out the church year, many people are looking forward to a summer of fun, sun, and relaxation, while many others are busy getting calendars and programming in place for the start of the church year in September. We here at the Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Task Force (THRRG)  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 THRRG material.

The THRRG that are in the process of being finalized and will be available to trained facilitators for the start of programming in the fall of 2017: Adult, Young Adult, and Upper Elementary. Thank you to everyone who participated in facilitating, participating, or supporting these pilots.

We are looking for congregations to pilot the Upper Elementary and Youth THRRG to begin in the fall of 2017. Please let us know if you’re interested – contact information is below.

Several Facilitator Trainings will be held in the fall. You’ll want to mark your calendar and ensure that you have trained facilitators in place for the start of your programming in 2017! Dates currently being considered are:

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

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

  • Saturday, September 30th from 9-12 Pacific, 12-3 Eastern, and

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

Please keep an eye open in the CUC’s E-news 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 grateful for all the support we have received across the country as people have suggested resources to us, offered their moral support for the project, and put us in contact with Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators in these areas. We thank the CUC staff for opportunities to share what we are doing as well as providing opportunities and space for the Task Force to provide updates on our project to the wider movement.

Watch this video from the 2017 AGM for an update on our work.

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

Political Activity by Charities: Report from the Consultation Panel

The panel which reviewed political activities by charities released its report at the end of March, offering  four recommendations to the Minister of National Revenue.  One of these recommendations calls for revising the CRA’s  administrative position and policy to enable charities to fully engage in public policy dialogue and development. The report says this will improve the quality of public policy dialogue and development in Canada, while still prohibiting charities  from engaging in partisan political activities.

In light of the report, Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier asked on May 4 for the CRA to suspend all  remaining audits and objections under the Political Activities Audit Program. The report found this program had resulted in a “chill” on charities’ public policy and advocacy activities.  The CUC welcomes this news.

“The panel listened to the thousands of recommendations from charities and individuals, and the conclusions of the report are very much in line with CUC recommendations”, said Executive Director Vyda Ng.

Imagine Canada, the national umbrella organization for the charitable and non-profit sector, also welcomes the report’s recommendations.

“Whether it was written submissions, or in-person consultations across Canada, the message from charities was overwhelming”, said President and CEO Bruce MacDonald  “The current rules are confusing and difficult to interpret, and broad reform is preferable to administrative tinkering”.

While the CUC supports the action the Minister has taken, we recognize this is just the first of many actions needed to ensure we and other charitable organizations are free to engage in the vital work of public policy dialogue and development. The report recommends changes to the Income Tax Act to remove any restrictions on non-partisan political activities and shift the focus from charities’ activities to their purposes. The government says it is reviewing the report before making an official.

We encourage you to write your MPs and tell them you support the government’s suspension of political audits, and that implementing the report’s recommendations will benefit Canada’s non-profit sector and Canadian public policy.

See information about the consultation process and the report from the Consultation Panel here.

The CUC’s 2017 Annual General Meeting & What Unfolded

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:

  1. Enhance religious exploration and spiritual growth grounded in the vision, principles, sources, and aspirations of the Canadian Unitarian Universalist (UU) movement;
  2. Advance socially responsible actions to live out our vision of interdependence, love, and justice to bring benefit to Canadian and global communities;
  3. 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;
  4. 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:

  1. Ensure sustainable revenue generation to continue the work of building vital Unitarian communities;
  2. 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;
  3. Advance social justice initiatives, including truth, healing, and reconciliation amongst Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians;
  4. 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)