Western Region Fall Gathering 2017


October 13 – 15, 2017 | Calgary, Alberta 

Held at the Unitarian Church of Calgary (1703 1 St NW) & Wild Rose United Church (1317 1 St NW)

Hosted by Unitarian Church of Calgary and the Canadian Unitarian Council

Does your congregation need to re-energize itself? Are you looking for ways to refresh your purpose, to position yourself for growth, to become better known in your communities, and to attract a young and energetic demographic?

Join us in Calgary at the 2017 Western Region Fall Gathering to hear strategies for attaining these goals, to take part in an invigorating session on Truth, Healing and Reconciliation, or to enjoy an engaging arts and music stream.

Early bird price ends September 15 – Make sure to register by September 29!

Registration: ADULT | YOUTH | CHILDREN | SATURDAY ONLY – Truth, Healing & Reconciliation Session. Please use a separate registration form for each individual.

Registration Fees: Price includes materials and Saturday lunch. For those registered for the full weekend, this also includes Saturday dinner and Sunday lunch.

Adult Full Western Region Fall Gathering: Early Bird – $135 (until Sep 15) | Regular – $160 (Sep 16 – 29) |  Low Income [self-defined]  $60

Saturday Only – Truth, Healing & Reconciliation Sessions: Adult – $90 | Youth & Self-defined low-income – $50
Youth Con (12 to 20 years) – $60
Children (9 years to 11 years old) – $50 for Saturday programming
Childcare (under 8 years old) – $50 for Saturday childcare
Sunday service – everyone welcome! Childcare will be provided during the service

Registration: ADULT | YOUTH | CHILDREN | SATURDAY ONLY – Truth, Healing & Reconciliation Session. Please use a separate registration form for each individual.

Please click here for information on the youth con (14-20) and schedule.

A special welcome to young adults (18-35) – please join us for the whole gathering, including evening social events. Click here for more information.

Download the poster for the full weekend gathering here.
Download the poster for the Saturday-only Truth, Healing & Reconciliation event here.

Schedule: please note that the Gathering takes place at two locations, the Unitarian Church of Calgary and Wild Rose United Church

Friday – Unitarian Church of Calgary (1703 1 St NW, Calgary)

5:00 – 7:30 pm: Registration/Check in
7:30 pm: In-gathering and welcome
8:00 pm: Reception

Saturday – Wild Rose United Church (Adult and Children) – 1317 1 St NW, Calgary

9:00 am: Welcome Ingathering and singing – all ages
9:15 am: Keynote Address
10:15 am: Coffee break
10:30- Noon: Morning Streams
Noon: Lunch
1:00- 3:30 pm: Afternoon sessions
3:30 pm: Return to the Unitarian Church of Calgary for snacks & coffee

Saturday 4 pm onward – Unitarian Church of Calgary
4:00- 6:00 pm: Blanket Exercise- A reconciliation exercise from KAIROS Canada. This includes those registered for the full weekend and Saturday program.
6:15 pm: Dinner in Wickenden Hall
7:15 pm: Tony Turner & Jane Perry host Entertainment Night. Not to be missed!

Sunday – Unitarian Church of Calgary

9:00 AM: Networking Meetings begin.
10:30 AM: Worship
Noon – 1:00 pm: Lunch. Youth con ends.


Accommodations are not included in the registration fee. Special rates for Western Regional Gathering participants are available at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology [SAIT- 1301, 16th Ave NW]. Only two bedroom suites are available for the following prices.

  • $115/night + 9% tax for the whole suite
  • $57.50/person for a bedroom
    • If two people are sharing a bedroom, there is an additional $10 charge/night

To view two bedroom suite, please check here. 

Room price includes breakfast and parking. SAIT is 5 minute drive or 1.9 km. from Unitarian Church of Calgary. Reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance.

NOTE: Check the box on the registration form if you wish SAIT housing. Once you’ve registered for the conference, a confirmation will be sent to you with a direct link provided by SAIT so you are able to book a room within our block.

Billeting is limited and available on a best effort basis. To register billeting request, please use the check boxes on the registration form. Contact is billeting@unitarianscalgary.org


If you would like help with transportation, please check the appropriate boxes on the registration form.


All areas of Wild Rose United Church and Unitarian Church of Calgary are wheelchair accessible. Please indicate your accessibility needs on the registration form.

Children’s Programming for Saturday – Ages 9-12 years. Register here

A VERY Special Children’s Program is being planned for the Western Region Fall Gathering. We will be using the new children’s Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Reflection Guide from the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Team. A local team is creating an insightful and fun learning experience for the children of all the UU churches in the Western Region, and a special invitation is extended to children. Join us, and learn to become life-long healers in the reconciliation process to bring healing to all nations that make up Turtle Island (the name bestowed on North America by some Indigenous Peoples).

NOTE:  Childcare is available for ages 0-8 on-site at Wildrose United Church. Meals are to be taken with parents.

General Program Schedule for both Children’s age groups:

  • 8:45 a.m. – Gather at Wild Rose United Church
  • 9:00 a.m. –  12:00 pm – Programming
  • 12 noon – Join adults for lunch
  • 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. – Programming
  • 3:30 p.m. – Join families for walk back to Unitarian Church of Calgary
  • 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. – Children’s program will take place at the Unitarian Church of Calgary


Join Western region youth (12-20) and adult advisors (25+) for an amazing weekend in Calgary filled with community building, touch groups, worships and of course games galore! (including circle games, board games, card games and of course Wink!) Through theme games we’ll have some serious fun while contemplating what games can teach us about rules, winning & losing and what to do when you keep having to ‘go fish’.

This Con happens concurrently with the Western Regional Fall Gathering, so we’ll take part in some multigenerational magic as well. Youth and advisors will join the InGathering and Reception on the Friday evening, and on Saturday we’ll have the traditional Multigenerational Dinner and Coffee House. As well on Saturday,  to continue our work of learning about truth and reconciliation with indigenous peoples, all Con participants will have the opportunity to join with the adults and children to experience the Kairos Blanket Exercise.

Youth Con Registration deadline: Fri Sep 29 | Forms & Payment deadline: Sun Oct 1

CUC Contact: Asha Philar (asha@cuc.ca)

Calgary Con Contact: Rebekah-Mobley Kasner (Rkasner@telus.net)

YOUNG ADULT PROGRAMS – 18-35 year olds
Young Adults are warmly invited to attend this year’s Gathering and join in additional time for YA social activities and community building.
Friday, Oct 13: After the multigen InGathering, young adults will travel to Prairie Sky Housing Co-op to have a short worship, games and icebreakers, and of course – snacks!
Saturday, Oct 14: Young adults participate in the Gathering program, including workshops and multigen dinner. After the evening coffee house, we will have a pub night and social (location TBA).
Cost: To make this Gathering as financially accessible as possible Young Adults can register for $60 for the weekend, or $50 for only Saturday.
Accommodations: Free home hospitality is available through members of Prairie Sky Housing Co-op for all young adults! Be sure to indicate home hospitality when you register.
Register: Use the main WRFG Adult registration form to register. Please indicate that you are a young adult, and whether you would like home hospitality.
Contact:  CUC Youth & Young Adult staff: Asha Philar (asha@cuc.ca). Stay tuned for more details!

 ADULT PROGRAMMING – Saturday at Wild Rose United Church (9:00 am – 3:30 pm) & Unitarian Church of Calgary (4:00 – 6:00 pm)

Keynote Address: Fishing Tips: How Curiosity Transformed a Faith Community

Rev. Dr. John Pentland will share some Hillhurst United Church practices as it moved from a sleepy inner city community (60-70 attendance) to a dynamic growing mainline church (450-500).

Dr. Pentland invites participants to explore what each can do in their particular location to ensure curious and faithful engagement.    

WORKSHOPS: Please choose one workshop for Saturday morning and one workshop for Saturday afternoon. Note that that the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation sessions run all day on Saturday, so you will only be participating in these sessions. All workshops include the KAIROS Blanket Exercise at the Unitarian Church of Calgary from 4 – 6 pm.

MORNING Workshop A : More Fishing Tips with Rev. Dr. John Pentland – 10:30 am – 12:00 pm.

This builds on the Keynote Address and takes Fishing Tips into our specific contexts, and will continue exploring the curiosity and the invitation to engage raised in the keynote address.

MORNING Workshop B: Pick a Pack of Posies” Creative Art Session with Hedda Zahner & Linda Brown – 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Come join us for a step by step demonstration on how to make this                         simple but beautiful floral popup card. Have fun as you engage your inner artist and gain a new skill! Two instructors will be there to guide you through.  Participation is limited to 10 people so sign up soon so that you can get a seat.

AFTERNOON Workshop C: Congregational Visibility & Welcoming Young Adults – 1:00 – 3:30 pm

Part I: Visibility & Social Media with Erica Bird, President of Saskatoon Unitarians 

Are you looking for ways to bring more visitors to your congregation? Do you wish your website, posters, and online postings looked more fresh and engaging, and that your promotional materials had an attractive and consistent look? Are you hoping to improve the reach of your social media postings?

In this dynamic session, Erica Bird will explain how the Saskatoon congregation [SU] re-imagined their visual identity and developed a compelling social media presence.

Part II: Welcoming Young Adults with Asha Philar, CUC Youth & Young Adult Ministry Staff

Drawing on insights and research from the CUC’s national Young Adult Welcoming and Inclusion Project that started in 2016, this workshop section will provide concrete tips for improving congregational young adult ministry. Then we will focus on how to improve interactions with young adults, especially visitors, using role plays and strategies on how to make these interactions truly welcoming and friendly.

Our overall goal with this presentation/workshop is to give participants a taste of the research, knowledge and stories from the Young Adult Project, hopefully inspiring you to continue the work of creating cultural and institutional change in your congregation. We will make sure that participants know how to connect with the project’s insights and next steps if they want to continue this work.

AFTERNOON Workshop D: “Singing for Change” with Jane Perry & Tony Turner – 1:00 – 3:30 pm

In this workshop we will explore the importance of songs to social action related to our seven principles. Using historical and recent examples we will learn that the power of song can unite minds and spirits and aid the cause of social change. Read about some Unitarians who have harnessed the power of music in their activism here.

SATURDAY ALL-DAY Workshop E: Truth, Healing & Reconciliation – 10:30 am – 6:00 pm (including Blanket Exercise at 4:00 pm at the Unitarian Church of Calgary)

Welcome to the beginning of a shared journey towards truth, justice, healing and reconciliation between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples. Share in the exploration of reconciliation and decolonization as they are addressed within the framework of our Unitarian Universalist principles.

Note: Participation in Truth, Healing & Reconciliation session only is open to the general public for $90 [lunch included, but not dinner] and $50 for students/ self-defined low income. Registration for Saturday only is here.

Saturday Truth, Healing & Reconciliation Schedule:

10:00- 10:15 Registration for Saturday & public participants

10:30- Noon: Part I Session

Noon – 1:00:  Lunch

1:00- 3:30: Part I Session continued

3:30- 4:00: Walk to Unitarian Church of Calgary & Snacks

4:00- 6:00: Blanket Exercise

PART I:  THR Sessions, Morning & Afternoon:

Presenters: Rev. Samaya Oakley & Jeff Webber

PART II:  A Reconciliation Experience, Kairos Blanket Exercise: Led by local Elder Group.

The Blanket Exercise is an experiential learning exercise that takes participants through 400 years of Indigenous history in the space of a couple of hours. The blankets represent the land we know today as Canada. The participants represent the Indigenous peoples. They are given quotations from Indigenous people to read at key points and cards which determine their outcome in the Exercise. Facilitators act as Narrators and an elder will open the Exercise and lead the talking/debriefing Circle after the Blanket Exercise is completed.


Three Options Are Available

Networking Option #1 – An Invitation to a Conversation with the CUC Board members

A warm welcome to join with Susan Ruttan, a Western Region rep to the CUC Board, for a conversation regarding:

  • Welcome for all to participate  in the two contests designed by the Vision Implementation Team- the sermon contest and the art contest. Deadline, Feb. 1, 2018
  • How the CUC works – updates regarding various staff changes
  • Your comments/ queries/ ideas regarding best practices and our national office- the CUC.

Networking Option #2 – Refugee Sponsorship Groups Networking meeting

Facilitators: April Hope & Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana

Rev. Fulgence (Unitarian refugee from Burundi) and April (CUC Social Responsibility Coordinator) will be sharing their experience and some stories about refugee sponsorship; the joys and challenges of being a newcomer to Canada, and how to manage expectations vs. responsibilities of sponsors and newcomers.

A case scenario will be provided where a sponsoring group faces unexpected challenges. In small group discussion, participants will consider alternate ways of resolving these problems.

This session will appeal to anyone interested in refugee sponsorship; whether they have been involved for a long time or are brand new to the process.

Networking Option #3 – Fund Raising Strategies:

Facilitators: Joan Carolyn, CUC Congregational Development & Erica Bird, Saskatoon Unitarians President

Does fundraising make you break out in a cold sweat? If even the idea of talking about money makes you squirm:


Joan and Erica welcome you to a networking session sharing innovative and best practices from a variety of congregations across Canada.

We welcome participants to bring summaries of their congregation’s fundraising strategies/ best practices. We will learn what we are each doing in our congregations, and share our successes and challenges. These can be electronic or hard copy. Facilitators will collate materials to be shared.

Facilitator Bios

 John Pentland was born in Ontario and moved throughout Ontario for many years. He attended post graduate schools at Queens University, Emmanuel College , Toronto, and Princeton Theological Seminary. He completed a D. MIn at Chicago Theological Seminary. “Speaking Faith in Public Space”.Since 1988 he has served rural Alberta, Urban Calgary, United Way of Calgary and an inner city Hillhurst United Church. His church experienced significant growth and he wrote  a Canadian best seller: Fishing Tips: How Curiosity Transformed a Community of Faith. He is curious about good religion and how churches make difference.A lover of questions, curiosity and playfulness. A cyclist, partner and parent of  four kids 25 to 6 years.

Erica Bird is active at SU on the Communications Team, has developed marketing and communications strategies and is also the Facebook admin and congregation photographer. She was actively involved in the Saskatoon Unitarians’ recent rebrand and looks forward to sharing the results of that process.

Asha Philar grew up in Ottawa, attending the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa since the age of 5, and enjoying many Sunday school adventures along the way. She gained a Bachelor’s degree in Environment and Resource Studies from the University of Waterloo, where she was involved in food justice, fair trade and environmental justice activism.

Hedda Zahner has a degree in Fine Art at UofC and ACAD, has been teaching art privately for 40 years, and then at the Unitarian Church for 2 years. The Alberta Foundation of Art has purchased two paintings and her work is found in collections nationally and internationally. She truly enjoys helping people find the joy of art.

Tony Turner is a Canadian singer-songwriter whose life affirming, articulate and socially relevant songs are as diverse as this country. From Circle of Song, his much-loved anthem of unity recently published in Rise Again, to his award-winning protest sing-along Harperman, Tony has proven he can channel both the mood of the times and the ties that bind.  An active Unitarian now based in Nanaimo, Tony has been writing songs for over twenty-five years and has created three critically acclaimed recordings.

Jane Perry is in her seventh year as the Music Director at the Unitarian Church of Calgary, and her eighteenth year as a Unitarian church musician.  She is the Artistic Director of One Voice Chorus and the Calgary Renaissance Singers & Players.  Jane is also the Co-Artistic Director, with Jean-Louis Bleau, of the national Unison 2018 Festival for Canadian queer choirs, which will take place at Mount Royal University in Calgary from May 18-21, 2018.

The Rev. Samaya Oakley currently serves as the Minister for the South Fraser Unitarian Congregation, and as the President of the Executive of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada. She is also a co-chair of a task force of the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Reflection Guide – a task force that is creating reflection guides for Canadian Unitarian congregations around issues of the Indian Residential School system and its impact. She has been involved in Unitarian Universalism regionally, nationally and continentally in Unitarian Universalism for over twenty years. She considers herself blessed to have served as the Youth Program Coordinator at the North Shore Unitarian Church for close to fifteen years. She also holds degrees in Business Administration and Life Skills Coaching.

Jeff Webber grew up Unitarian, and has been actively involved as long as he can remember. As a child in Ottawa, and a youth in Hamilton, Unitarian teachings and values were ever present. Later with the Regina Fellowship, and now with Calgary Unitarians, he has been an active participant in leadership and a “big picture” thinker. Jeff recently began his journey toward truth and reconciliation through personal discernment, and hopes to further his learning process through the facilitation and education process.

April Hope and her two children have attended Ottawa First Unitarian Congregation since 1998. Over the years, April has been involved at Ottawa First in Religious Exploration, Our Whole Lives small group facilitation, Women’s groups and as a Youth Advisor. She is passionate about everything Unitarian and is very happy to have found this spiritual home.

Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana is an ordained Unitarian Minister from Burundi.   He has recently come to Canada as a refugee and is now an affiliated community Minister with the Unitarian Congregation of Saskatoon. Rev. Fulgence  is also active in the International work through the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU), of which he is  the vice president.  He is married to Therese and a proud father of Well Brown Bwigenge.

Susan Ruttan is a retired newspaper reporter, editor, and columnist living in Edmonton. She worked at the Kingston Whig-Standard, Victoria Times, Winnipeg Tribune, Calgary Herald, and Edmonton Journal before taking early retirement in 2008. Susan joined the Unitarian Church of Edmonton (UCE) in 2001 and has been very active in the congregation.

 Joan Carolyn been an active participant with the First UU church of Winnipeg since early 1999 and a member since mid-2000.

She is married to life partner, Ken Nicholson and shares with him two sons (Max, Alex), a daughter-in-law (Sheila) and first grandchild, Grace. Joan wishes to share the excitement and gratitude with which she approaches the position of Congregational Development Western and B.C. regions with the CUC. She looks forward to interacting with and learning from all she is privileged to meet.

Promotional Posters:

Congregations are welcome to share the following posters with their communities.

Western Region Fall Gathering poster

Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation poster (colour)

Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation poster (black and white)