Letter from CUC Staff

It’s the start of a new church year, and the Canadian Unitarian Council’s small but dedicated staff are hard at work preparing for it. The CUC works to support congregations across Canada, particularly in the areas of building beloved community, spiritual growth, community resilience, and lifespan religious exploration, and 2017 has been a busy year on all these fronts. Here are some highlights from the year so far, and a sample of what to expect in the fall and winter (click on staff names for bios and job descriptions).

JOAN CAROLYN , Congregational Development, Lead for BC & Western Regions, (Joan@cuc.ca):

Joan has just returned from a road trip during which it was her pleasure to meet first with 17 people from across both her regions for a Serving With Spirit: Nurturing UU Leaders retreat. Since then she’s been on Vancouver Island, Salt Spring Island and the Lower Mainland, connecting with five different BC congregations. Thanks to all who have welcomed her into their uniquely Canadian UU space!

Early in October, she will be on the road again to do in-person visits with three different congregations and then join the Unitarian Church of Calgary, hosting the Western Region Fall Gathering. The Gathering is Oct. 13- 15 and if you’ve not registered to join this great event, you may do so here.

That road trip will end with a special service in Nelson BC as the Nelson Unitarian Spiritual Centre holds its Membership Celebration service.

Joan and Rev. Linda Thomson honour the great team that worked with them to develop the Serving With Spirit retreat: Rev. Anne Barker, Rev. Nicoline Guerrier and Rev. Peter Boullata. They will continue developing supports for congregational leaders over the fall, anticipating forum conversations with the UU Ministers of Canada, Canadian UU Religious Educators, Canadian UU Leadership School attendees from the past and other interested Canadian UU leaders.

Linda and Joan have also taken great care to follow the interests of the Canadian UU Leaders discussion group as well, and welcomed concerns and questions voiced by many congregational contacts across the country. They are finalizing plans for webinars based on those interests which will take us to the end of 2018! Watch for upcoming webinar schedules and thanks to all for sharing their interests!

AHNA DiFELICE, Organizational Administrator (Ahna@cuc.ca:  With the sounds of the crickets and cicadas still in the air, Ahna, the newest CUC staff member, has hit the ground running as the Organizational Administrator supporting the Executive Director and Board of Trustees.  This is the perfect time of year to learn the inner workings of the CUC in the areas of financial record-keeping, event coordination and overall office administrative tasks. She’s ramping up with organizing logistics for the upcoming Western Region Fall Gathering and the board meeting in Ontario at the end of September, while updating lay chaplaincy records and tracking donations. Ahna is thrilled to be with the CUC!

APRIL HOPE, Social Responsibility Coordinator(April@cuc.ca): April continues to devote substantial amounts of time to refugee applications, working to support congregations in their sponsorship efforts, and addressing the many political issues related to the world refugee crisis.

The CUC currently has groups actively working and engaged in the social justice areas of Criminal Justice, Environment and Climate Justice, and World Peace. The Diversity Group continues its dedicated work on the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Reflection Guides. Over the summer the team worked to complete online versions of the guides and to provide facilitator trainings in order to prepare congregations for fall and winter programming around reconciliation.

Watch for Social Justice updates, events and calls-to-action in the CUC eNews, and the Love and Justice Facebook group, and the Social Responsibility e-list. To be added to the SR e-list, please email info@cuc.ca. If you are involved in social justice action and would like to share this, please post on the Love and Justice FB group or email srcoordinator@cuc.ca.

KENZIE LOVE, Communications Coordinator (Kenzie@cuc.ca): Kenzie is just under six months into his position as communications coordinator, which involves editing the eNews, updating content on the website and Facebook feeds, drafting public statements, and other promotional activities. He now has several issues of the eNews under his belt, and is looking forward to making it snappier and more attractive to readers (look for a fall reader survey for a chance to provide feedback). He is also looking forward to taking on a new role as editor of the Canadian Unitarian, and to attending the Western Region Fall Gathering hosted by his home congregation in Calgary in October.

VYDA NG, Executive Director (Vyda@cuc.ca):

In her 5th year as Executive Director, Vyda is looking forward to the congregational year ahead. In a quick summary of 2017 so far, she highlights:

  • The launch of electronic participation at the 2017 Annual General Meeting, with technical warts and all;
  • 1 CanUUdle youth con, 1 Young Adult Con, 2 Our Whole Lives (OWL) trainings, 13 webinars, 5 Truth, Healing & Reconciliation facilitator trainings, 15 roundtables, 2 homily writing and 2 sermon coaching workshops, 2 leadership retreats;
  • Publication of Spring Canadian Unitarian newsletter and monthly eNews;
  • Migration of CUC financial system from Sage Simply Accounting to Quick Books Online, which gives the ED and CUC Board Treasurer access 24/7 to bookkeeping data;
  • Staff transitions: saying goodbye to Rawaa Shubbar (Administrative Coordinator) and Ariel Hunt-Brondwin (Youth & Young Adult Ministry Development), and welcoming Ahna DiFelice (Organizational Administrator).

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?

Stay connected:

  • Encourage all your members and friends to sign up for the CUC’s monthly eNews, especially those in leadership positions, newsletter editors and church administrators
  • There are several Google email groups that help folks stay connected and hold discussions. To name a few – leaders, refugee sponsors, social justice seekers, administrators, money, newsletter editors…. Email info@cuc.ca to be added to a group.
  • ‘Like’ the CUC Facebook page and Love and Justice group. There are also CUC FB groups for young adults, youth, youth advisors and OWL facilitators. Email info@cuc.ca for more info.

ASHA PHILAR , Youth & Young Adult Ministry Development(Asha@cuc.ca): Asha is looking forward to the many events and projects that will further youth and young adult ministry during this coming church year. The CUC supports regional and national youth cons, including the October con in Calgary and the national CanUUdle youth con in May 2018 in Hamilton. Offering training and support to youth advisors and religious educators is also a key part of youth ministry, and resources and trainings are coming out this fall. She will also be building off the momentum and learning from this past year’s Young Adult Welcoming Project, and helping congregations find more ways to welcome and serve young adults in their UU community. And in the Our Whole Lives portfolio, the CUC is planning ahead for more training opportunities and ways to support regional OWL programs.

REV. LINDA THOMSON, Congregational Development, Lead for Central and Eastern Regions (Linda@cuc.ca):

This is always a busy and exciting time of year, as congregations begin their church year and move forward with plans.  During the next few months, Linda will be working in person with several congregations as they undertake a variety of efforts. It is always interesting to support congregations as they consider staffing and ministerial transitions, facility issues, covenant building, planning and more. Time spent on-site with congregations is important as it helps to foster relationships which, in turn, makes remote work easier.

Following up on the pilot program, “Serving With Spirit: Nurturing UU Leaders” to determine how it fits into CUC supports for congregational leaders will be part of this fall’s work. The Peterborough Unitarian Fellowship will host a Lay Chaplaincy Basics training the weekend of Oct. 20 and the Unitarian Fellowship of London will be hosting the Central Regional Gathering on Saturday, Oct. 28.  Information about both events can be found at cuc.ca/events.