Unitarian Church of Calgary wins global interfaith award

Rev. Debra Faulk

Rev. Debra Faulk of the Unitarian Church of Calgary is thrilled to belong to a three-person delegation travelling to Amman, Jordan later this month to receive the HM King Abdullah of Jordan First Prize for World Interfaith Harmony Week 2017. Awarded every year since 2013, the prize rewards organizers of Interfaith Harmony Week, a global event intended to foster harmony within and between different faiths.

Calgary’s entry triumphed over almost 80 other contenders for the prize, which also includes $25,000 and a gold medal. In awarding the prize, judges took into account efforts made despite scantiness of resources; events celebrating each faith as it is rather than movements towards religious syncretism; and efforts specifically for Interfaith Harmony Week rather than interfaith work in general.

While Calgary may have won for its efforts during the first week of February, Faulk hopes this is just the beginning of a new era of interfaith cooperation in the city. This was one of the rationales for holding the week, an event she helped spearhead.

“The primary thing was to bring faith communities together, to build on the work the Interfaith Council has been doing around organizing our capacity to build, to work for the common good in the city. It was also the inauguration, if you will, of the newly formed Calgary Interfaith Council that has brought together all of the different interfaith groups in the city under one umbrella.”

Representatives from 15 faith traditions attended the opening ceremony of the Calgary Interfaith Council at Calgary’s city hall, presided over by Mayor Naheed Nenshi. The event was one of several that took place over the week, including interfaith breakfasts, open houses, and musical services at different places of worship. It also followed an interfaith clergy build  for Habitat for Humanity that had taken place over the summer. Faulk, who participated in the project, sees it as a prime example of the power of different faiths working together.

“Doing that kind of really concrete action in the city together is really inspirational,” she says. “And it was particularly poignant because the opening ceremony was on the Wednesday night, February 1, and the shootings at the Quebec City mosque happened on the Sunday (before). So it was an uncanny kind of timeliness to be lifting that up.”

The public engagement and overall success of Calgary’s Interfaith Harmony Week already far exceeded organizers’ expectations, says Faulk. Winning first prize, meanwhile, gives them a chance to build on the collaboration the award recognized.

“The Calgary Interfaith Council is a group of folk we don’t have any resources or anything like that,” says Faulk. “So this now gives us the seed money to be able to become a really viable organization in Calgary.”

Accompanying Faulk to Amman will be Rabbi Shaul Osadchey of the Beth Tzedec Congregation and Imam Fayaz Tilly of the Muslim Council of Calgary. The trio were chosen because of the desire for representatives of all three Abrahamic faiths, a role Faulk is comfortable playing because although Unitarianism is a distinct religion, it has Judeo-Christian roots.

“It was a bit of a challenge for me thinking about being representative of the Christian tradition. And yet my faith tradition does come out of that one, and that there is a capacity for me to hold both an honoring of that tradition but also an expanded understanding of what faith is.”

The trip will mark Faulk’s first visit to the Holy Land. But the significance for her goes deeper than that.

“Truth be told, when I think about my call to ministry, when I think about what I think my work to do in the world is, it has always been this idea of somehow bridging both faiths but also allowing for the importance of the spiritual dimension of our lives to be lifted up. So in some ways this feels like a fulfillment of a calling.”


“Our Interdependence Calls Us to Love and Justice” – Canadian Unitarian Vision


1. Sermon Contest

The Canadian Unitarian Council Interconnected Faith Sermon Contest is an opportunity to express your thoughts on any dimension of the CUC Vision and Aspirations Statement  affirmed by delegates at the 2016 Vancouver Annual General Meeting.

The selected winner will receive a cash award of $150.00, plus an invitation to present their sermon during the CUC 2018 National Conference held in Hamilton!

Topic: Write a unique (new) sermon/homily on any aspect of the CUC Vision Statement, including the 5 Aspirations:

(Abridged sampling) As Canadian Unitarian Universalists, we envision a world in which our interdependence calls us to love and justice… As Canadian Unitarian Universalists, we aspire to be:  Deeply Connected, Radically Inclusive, Actively Engaged, Theologically Alive and Spiritually Grounded.

Who Can Enter?

The contest is open to UU ministers, seminarians, and lay people, providing the sermon has been delivered to a Unitarian or Unitarian Universalist congregation within the past year, and before the deadline. The contestant must be connected to a Canadian UU congregation.

How To Enter?

Submit in MS Word or Plain Text. (PDF not acceptable) by email to vision@cuc.ca and put in the subject line: “Interconnected Faith Sermon Contest”.

Deadline: the CUC Sermon Contest Evaluation Committee must receive your sermon and cover page by email before 11:59 pm EST on February 1, 2018.

Include Two Items

  1. A cover page, which has your name, address, phone number, email address, sermon title, name of the congregation to whom the sermon was delivered, and date the sermon was delivered. Be sure to indicate this is for the CUC Interconnected Faith sermon contest.
  2. Your sermon with title, from which identifying information has been removed (your name, congregation). Length: minimum 1,800 words, maximum 2,500 words). Please do not include footnotes. Electronic submissions only, in MS Word or Plain Text file formats. No PDFs or hand-written text accepted.

Questions: Contact us at vision@cuc.ca

2. Art Contest

The Canadian Unitarian Art Contest is an opportunity for creative Canadian UUs to illustrate or interpret the CUC Vision Statement affirmed by delegates at the 2016 Vancouver ACM.  That Vision Statement is: As Canadian Unitarian Universalists, we envision a world in which our interdependence calls us to love and justice.

Assignment: Create a work of art – drawing, painting, song, video, or other form – that expresses the new vision statement.  Submissions should be created by people connected with a Canadian UU congregation.  Group submissions, such as from a Religious Education group, are acceptable. See the contest poster here.


  • Age 12 and under;
  • Age 13-17
  • Age 18 and older

To Submit: If the work of art can be emailed, eg. a poem or story, email it to vision@cuc.ca.  If the work can be sent by mail, send it to the Canadian Unitarian Council, 215 Spadina Avenue, Suite 400, Toronto, ON, M5T 2C7. Add to the envelope the words: Art Contest.  If the work cannot be mailed, such as a sculpture, submit photographs/video of the work and a detailed description.

Children under 18 must submit a letter from their parents given permission for the entry.

Deadline: Submissions must be received by Oct. 1, 2017.

Include: A cover page, which has your name, address, phone number, email address, and the name of the congregation to whom the artist is connected. Be sure to indicate this is for the CUC Art contest and which age category you are entering.

Prize: The winner in each category will receive a $50 prize. The winning entries will be shared with UUs across the country.

Questions: Email vision@cuc.ca

Canadian UU Young Adult Survey

We welcome survey submissions from bridging youth, young adults and those who were recently young adults. All responses will be kept confidential, but quotes may be used anonymously in our work with congregations.

We Mourn, and We Join in Solidarity

As Canadian Unitarians, we are horrified and angered by the heartbreaking loss of life


Banner design by Alison Hall

in Quebec City on January 29. In this distressing period of escalating intolerance, we join in solidarity with our Muslim neighbours to denounce this despicable act of violence and the disgraceful rhetoric fueling fear and division.

We applaud Prime Minister Trudeau for condemning the unacceptable violence, and his recent statement affirming Canada’s ongoing support of refugees. More specifically, we commend his assurance that those who have been detained in the U.S. by the recent immigration ban are welcome in Canada. To make this promise real, we encourage the Government of Canada to take action by making it possible for those banned by the U.S. to enter Canada as soon as possible.

In light of the terrible events in Quebec City, we must unite together as a nation of people who respond with love and hospitality to our neighbours. By courageously welcoming over 25,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, Canadians have shown the world what it means to live out our principles. We have faith our government can and will take swift and meaningful action to alleviate the great injustices arising from recent changes in U.S. policy. And we trust our leaders at all levels of government will join us in condemning—and working to alleviate—discrimination in all its odious forms. We believe this is what it means to “stand on guard” for Canada.

Sharing Our Faith

2017 Sharing Our Faith Packet Now Available!Shining lights

This year’s Sharing Our Faith Packet, created by Rev. Fiona Heath in collaboration with the UU Ministers of Canada, is inspired by CUC’s vision statement calling us to Love and Justice.

Sharing Our Faith is an annual tradition for congregations across the country to participate in a service crafted using these common resources on a common theme. It allows each individual congregation to reflect on our national connections as part of an interdependent movement in Canada, and by taking up a special Sharing Our Faith offering, supports projects across the country through the annual Sharing Our Faith grants.

Find this year’s Sharing Our Faith Packet here (pdf) | Word doc or read more about the program here.