Northern Lights is a unique fundraising program jointly sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada (UUMOC) and the Canadian Unitarian Council. It provides opportunities for Canadian Unitarian Universalists to directly support growth projects in UU congregations and communities across the country. These projects should have a value of more than $5000. Congregations or community planning projects under $5,000 should apply for a Sharing Our Faith grant.
In 2020, at the 2019 AGM, the Northern Lights Award recipient was the Unitarian Fellowship of Northwest Toronto for their work in the first phase of the Unitarian Commons co-housing project. The Unitarian Fellowship of Northwest Toronto owns the site of the project. It involves five congregations in the greater Toronto area working together. The congregation has spent about $5,000 on initial planning, and an additional $18,000 is needed for phase one of the project. The project has the potential to be a model for co-housing and a vision for multi-use congregational space.
Since the Northern Lights project started in 2012, the program has helped a range of projects. Some examples:
- The North Hatley congregation (UU Estrie) raised $11,045 to help sustain their half-time minister and do greater outreach in their community.
- The Comox Valley congregation raised $12,906 to help pay for its consulting minister and to move from two Sunday services a month to weekly services.
- The Saskatoon congregation raised $11,750 and was able to change from being a lay-led congregation, with no Unitarian ministers anywhere near them, to having their own minister.
- The Mississauga congregation raised $13,500 and was able to fix up an old barn that their youth and pre-teens had been using for their programs. The barn had been closed due to mould and other issues. The church used some of its own money, but the Northern Lights money was crucial to getting the job done.
- The Halifax congregation asked for help to hire professional staff to build a strong Religious Education program for children and youth. Funds from Northern Lights paid for the first year, and six years later, Halifax continues with a paid DRE and a strong RE program.
- In 2018, Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana used Northern Lights donations to help create an online, global Francophone ministry based in Saskatoon.
The key to the success of Northern Lights is Chalice Lighters, individuals who commit to supporting Northern Lights projects on an on-going basis. Their commitments can be for any amount, usually between $25 and $100. Chalice Lighters are contacted directly for their contributions in the April – June period by the organization(s) hosting the project(s).
Download the Northern Lights Award program brochure. This is a useful tool for sharing information about the program with others in your congregation.
To apply for a Northern Lights award:
The application deadline for Northern Lights will be is once a year, on March 31 (and the Awards Panel suggests that you make your intent to apply known by February 1). One or two grants may be awarded from applications received each year.
Please download an application form and detailed explanation of the program (pdf), or an application form alone (pdf).
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Northern Lights Award Program – Chalice Lighters Enrollment
Honouring Elinor Gill Ratcliffe and Dr. Phillip Hewett
Please fill out the online form below to enroll OR download the Chalice Lighters Enrollment Form (pdf).