CUC eNews: April 18, 2023 – Issue 149

In This Issue:

Letter from the President of the Board

This is the time of year when Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) staff and the Board are focused on the conclusion of the programmatic year, which mirrors that of most congregations, running from September until early June.  Even while there is considerable activity aiming towards the upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) and the 2023 National Symposium, I find my mind looking back over this past year and over the past five years that I’ve served on the CUC Board, knowing that my term of service as president will be wrapping up at the AGM.

The past year for the Board has been busy, as I suspect is the case for all years.  A highlight for those of us on the Board was the first opportunity in over three years to gather together in person for a retreat in late September, early October.  I’ve heard others in my life make the same comments that we  made at the gathering.  Joy at being able to see and work with each other again in person and also the appreciation of having deeper conversations over meals, after meetings or during a walk around the retreat grounds.  There were also lighter comments like, ‘Oh, so that’s what you really look like!’  

Zoom has served us well, but in-person gatherings like the retreat help to build wells of understanding that sustain us when we’re back to meeting online.  Being together served us well as we tackled key issues of how we work together as a Board and discussed the priorities to establish or reaffirm for the CUC.

As I mentioned above, this coming month also marks the end of my service on the Board and as president for this past year.  These years have been interesting, fun and rewarding.  One particular pleasure has been getting to know so many more Canadian Unitarian Universalists (UUs) from across the country.  

These years have also been marked by significant events and developments—the adjustments, led by Executive Director Vyda Ng, that the CUC made during the pandemic were impressive.  We were very fortunate that years earlier she had made the CUC a Zoom organization.  The consideration, overwhelming approval and beginning implementation of the 8th Principle was and continues to be a very important development for the CUC.

In a month I will have the opportunity to see some (I hope many) of the UUs I’ve come to know better over the past five years  at the National Symposium in Ottawa, ON.  The symposium will provide an opportunity to explore the 8th principle.  

As the first in-person gathering of all Canadian UUs (youth and young adults met last year in Vancouver for CanUUdle and Chorus) in five years I suspect that all of us there will experience some of the same joy in seeing and being with each other in person that we on the board felt at our retreat.  If you haven’t already, I would urge you to participate in the symposium, preferably in person, but if that isn’t possible, then online as the event can be accessed either way.

It has been a pleasure and an honour to serve as president of this, the national collective and voice of Canadian UUs.  In addition to all the CUC staff I want to thank each member of the Board for being present and for stepping forward on many occasions to help ensure that we are  building and sustaining vital UU communities across Canada.

In Fellowship,
Chuck Shields,

Save these Dates

2023 National Symposium: Living Into the 8th Principle – Register now!
May 19 to 21, 2023

Ottawa in late May is a beautiful setting for our 2023 National Symposium. We’re excited to gather in person for the first time since our 2018 Conference, and the symposium has many options for virtual participation as well. Virtual attendees can participate in most of the activities and events, including the opening ceremony, Confluence Lecture, and keynote presentation.

We’re also pleased to offer the four streams for this year’s symposium as multiplatform events. Choose from Widening the Circle 2.0, Uncolonizing Environmental Justice, Conflict and Covenant, and Worship and Music. With their shared focus on dismantling racism and systemic barriers to full inclusion, these streams will equip you with tools to make the internal shifts necessary to change, and to act within our broader society.

What else is in store for you? Uni the Unicorn making appearances, the Confluence Lecture “Open Minds, Closed Doors” by Rev. Julie Stoneberg, the Sunday service co-led by Revs. Eric Meter, Diane Rollert and Fulgence Ndagijimana, children and youth programming, a fun multigenerational Sunday afternoon, and networking opportunities. 

Register todayRegistration closes May 1 – mere weeks away. 

CUC Annual General Meeting (AGM) 2023 – Friday, May 19: In Person and Online via Zoom
10:00 am PT | 11:00 am MT | 12:00 CT | 1:00 pm ET | 2:00 pm AT | 2:30 pm NT  (3.5hrs)

The Canadian Unitarian Council’s  Annual General Meeting (AGM) takes place on Friday, May 19, 2023. It’s a time to attend to the business of the Council and a chance for congregations and their delegates and members to be involved in making decisions that affect our national faith community. 

The AGM is open to all and free of charge, and observers may attend in-person or online. The AGM will be held on the campus of Algonquin College in Ottawa; Zoom will be used for virtual participants.

Congregations should select their delegates early (here are some points to consider), and since this is a multi-platform AGM, your congregation may select both virtual and in-person delegates. 

All delegates must be registered by May 1, 2023 in order for your congregation to vote.

Leaders’ Roundtable: Annual General Meeting (AGM) Plenary Discussion – Saturday, April 29
9:00 a.m. PT | 10:00 a.m. MT | 11 :00 a.m. CT | 12:00 p.m. ET | 1:00 p.m. AT | 1:30pm NT (1.5 hours)

In advance of the Annual General Meeting on May 19th, 2023, the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) Board and Executive Director invite you, especially leaders and delegates, to a conversation about the proposed motions. An update of the Doctrine of Discovery motion will be shared ahead of this roundtable.

At this point, there won’t be any substantive changes made to the motions, and this conversation aims to inform and engage participants at the AGM, both delegates and observers alike.

Register for the roundtable today.

Our Whole Lives (OWL) Facilitator Training
May 21 – 23, 2023

People often learn about sex from the media and their peers, but the messages they receive can be confusing or, worse, misleading. Our Whole Lives (OWL) is a progressive, comprehensive lifespan sexuality education program that helps people of all ages make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behaviour. Learn how to deliver OWL training in your community or congregation. 

Sign up for OWL Facilitator Training in Ottawa, ON from May 21 to 23, 2023. 

Music at the Symposium

Come, come, whoever you are . . . and take your place on stage. Join Unitarian Universalists from across the country to sing in the choir at the multigenerational worship service on Sunday, May 21. 

The choir will be directed by Susanne Maziarz, the Music Director at Neighbourhood UU Congregation in Toronto. Maziarz will co-direct music at the National Symposium with Joe McDonald, an Ottawa-based classical and jazz pianist affiliated with the UU Fellowship of Ottawa. Maziarz and McDonald are multi-talented musicians with a passion for bringing communities together through music.

Do not miss this opportunity to sing your favourite UU songs and learn new ones. Sign up to sing in the in-person choir by May 1. Joe or Susanne will be in contact with you. 

The UUA is proposing changes to the Principles and Sources?
By Kiersten Moore, CUC Board rep for the BC region

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is revisiting their By-law (Article II) where the current Principles and Sources were first drafted and written down. This process of review is mandated to occur every 15 years, though a review does not necessitate change. 

This year they are proposing a new way of talking about what Unitarian Universalism is by lifting up six core values centred around Love as “the enduring force that holds us together.” Pluralism, Interdependence, Equity, Generosity, Justice, and Transformation. Each value has a brief statement and an explicit covenant of actions associated with it. They are in a circle rather than numbered or hierarchical. The sources are changed to a statement that “we draw upon, and are inspired by, the full depth and breadth of sacred and secular understandings, as experienced by humanity. Grateful for the religious lineages we inherit and the pluralism which enriches our faith, we are called to ever deepen and expand our wisdom.” Read the Full Commission Report

The Article II Study Commission of the UUA was charged in the fall of 2020 to review Article II: Principles and Purposes of the UUA Bylaws which is where our Principles and Sources come from. It is the foundation for all the work of the UUA and its member congregations and covenanted communities. The UUA includes 15 of Canada’s 43 Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) congregations who kept their UUA membership in 2002 (not all 15 participate actively).

The current Principles and Sources of the UUA were last revised in 1987 and the CUC adopted them by resolution in 2002 after consultation with our member congregations upon withdrawing from UUA membership. The CUC Statement of Principles Task Force conducted a nationwide study of the relevance of the Principles and Sources to Canadian U*Us between 2002 and 2008. At that point there was not a large enough desire to change them. Last year, of course, the CUC delegates voted to add an 8 th Principle on anti-oppression, along with 238 other UU congregations and associations across North America.

The Article II Study Commission of the UUA was formed in response to many discussions, proposals, and resolutions that have come from the UUA Board, from other commissions, and grassroots groups periodically since 2009. The Commission has engaged active participation of UUs across all demographics, identities, and theological/philosophical beliefs. The Commission itself consists of people from a broad demographic, including two full voting youth members.

They were encouraged to review all parts of Article II and given freedom to revise, replace, or restructure them as needed to meet the objectives of their charge. As stated in the Charge to the Commission, “There is nothing sacred about the number of principles or sources, nor their specific wordings, nor in the way Article II is laid out. We encourage creativity. The Board would like to see an Article II that is inspirational, memorable and poetic.”

Does this affect Canadian Unitarian Universalists or the CUC?

The CUC Board has undertaken the beginnings of a by-law review, some points of which will come to the AGM in May. We are also waiting on recommendations from the Decision-Making Exploration Team which may impact our considerations around consensus-based decision making, Robert’s Rules, and how the CUC conducts business.  As a part of that, we will also be exploring a process by which to amend, revise, or re-write our Principles and Sources that we adopted from the UUA in 2002. We did not include them in our by-laws or in our statement of purposes. They live as adopted by simple resolution at an AGM and the current process by which to change them is the same resolution process we use for any other decision. We have heard from people over the past few years that it is time to review our Principles and Sources as a whole and rewrite them to better reflect the nuances of UUism in Canada. 

I encourage Canadians to be part of the conversation with the Article II Commission.  If the proposal is voted in at next June’s GA and ratified the following year it will inevitably have a ripple effect for us in Canada. All our professional associations are continental, Ministers, Religious Educators, Music professionals, Administrators, Membership professionals. Credentialing of religious educators and fellowshipping of ministers is connected to the UUA. Our UU theological seminaries are in the U.S. The CUC does not have the capacity to independently create substantial religious education resources, or to be involved with credentialing of professional leadership or ministerial transitions.

It is important that we have the CUC as a national body and voice, and it is very true that Canada is a country with its own historical context. However, Canadian Unitarians/Unitarian Universalists are not a fully independent national denomination and we never have been.  Therefore, it would be meaningful to engage in the conversation. About 1/3 of Canadian Unitarian/Universalist congregations retained their membership in the UUA, 15 out of 43. Even if we do end up diverging further in how our principles and sources are stated, we should identify our commonalities and connective through line for Unitarian Universalism in North America.

Until April 30, 2023, any Unitarian Universalist may submit suggestions and ideas through an online form for ways they recommend modifying the Article II Study Commission proposal (PDF). In May, the UUA Board will host three amendment discussions. These workshops are open to all Unitarian Universalists. Register to attend one of the discussions.

Meet a Minister: Shawn Gauthier (formerly Newton)
By Kenzie Love

After 16 years, Rev. Shawn Gauthier (formerly Newton), is concluding his ministry with the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto this spring. His departure comes as the congregation prepares in the coming years to move to a new location. And he feels this is an opportune time for a change in ministers as well.

“I’ve been here 16 years,” he says. “I feel like I have done the work that I’m able to do here, and I also feel the role in Toronto is changing.”

Leaving First Toronto, Shawn believes, will allow the congregation the space to decide what it wants from a minister as it embarks on its move. And how it wants to build community within its new neighbourhood. At the same time, he feels drawn to Vancouver Unitarians, where he will be candidating the week of April 23. It’s a congregation of comparable size to First Toronto  with a strong commitment to social justice. Remaining in Canada was also an important consideration.

“I truly love this country,” he says. “I’m an immigrant to Canada and became a citizen, and I’m deeply committed to the expression of Unitarianism here. And so seeking out ministry in the Canadian context was important to me.”

Looking back on his time with First Toronto , Shawn is pleased with how the process of moving to a new location unfolded for the congregation . This is particularly important, he believes, because such a process could’ve been very divisive, but wasn’t.

“I feel grateful to have been part of the conversation,” he says. “And I feel like so much of the work has just been being in community, being in relationship along the way. And that we joke that things move at the speed of church, which is usually not very fast. But I feel like we have put a premium on the quality of relationships and tending those relationships along the way.”

Shawn also acknowledges there are challenges within Unitarian Universalism in Canada. These include a decline in the number of people interested in pursuing congregational ministry. A decline in the importance of belonging to a congregation for many people. And decision-making processes that tend to favour congregations’ older members. However, he believes Unitarian Universalism also has the ability to help people hungry for meaning in the modern world. And that gives him hope for the future of the faith.

“I feel like we do have a lot of skill navigating those kinds of conversations,” he says. “And being a place where there can be a diversity of views and beliefs and grappling with the world that we are living in. Seeking to find new answers to problems that are still emerging and that we’re still trying to make sense of.”

FirstU Ottawa Votes in Favour of Transformative Housing Initiative
By Brent Nicolle,  Board President, First Unitarian Congregations of Ottawa

At a Special Congregational Meeting on Monday evening, March 27, 2023, members of First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa (FirstU Ottawa) voted in favour of proceeding with developing affordable and market-rental housing on its campus. The results were overwhelmingly supportive: 95% in favour of the overall Master Concept Plan, 93% in favour of Affordable/Market housing, and 97% in favour of Indigenous housing.

This decision is transformative. It will eventually see the creation of two new buildings on our campus, and provide over 200 families with integrated rental accommodation at various levels of affordability, from market rates to deep affordability. Of special note, the congregation has agreed in principle to give part of our campus to an indigenous housing organization, Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services (OAHS). Campus residents and visitors will benefit from a new Light Rail Transit station. New amenities will be added to our campus, and our beloved meditation gardens will remain intact for all to enjoy.

This decision was not easy. For some, the coming transformation is very difficult to imagine, and we listened to each others’ concerns respectfully.

This decision is significant. It brings us closer to four goals: providing affordable housing, making a tangible step toward Indigenous reconciliation, creating an environmentally sensitive place to live, and aiming for the future financial stability of the congregation. 

We invite you to  read more about our plans, including reviewing our Master Concept Plan (titled “Odayanhaway” or Little Village).

I thank the many people who made this achievement possible; it has been a long journey.

Afghan Family Fundraiser Dinner
From the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga

Friday, April 28th from 6:00pm – 9:30pm
Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation – 310 Danforth Ave., Toronto, ON

Join us for a dinner of delicious Afghan and Mediterranean food. The dinner is hosted by the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga, and will be held in the beautiful space of the Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation, in the back of Eastminster Church on the Danforth. Thank you to Neighbourhood UU for the generous donation of their space.

There will be appetizers, followed by a main course of Afghan rice and various meat and vegetable dishes, with dessert, coffee and tea. We will be serving wine and beer. Each ticket will come with one drink, and additional drinks can be purchased with a small donation. There will also be a silent auction so be ready to browse through an array of exciting items, such as jewellery and clothes from local designers.

The dinner is fundraising for the sponsorship of a family of six from Afghanistan. A member of our sponsorship group met the father of the family while doing volunteer work abroad. The father ran an informal cafe to bridge cultural divides and soothe tensions between different groups in a refugee camp. He returned to Afghanistan a few years ago to care for his elderly father. After returning to Afghanistan, he was employed by the previous Afghan government, which has made him and his family a target since the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

Tickets are $75 for adults, and $40 for children 12 and under. You can purchase tickets one of two ways:
 – via Eventbrite (with service charge) or by sending an e-transfer to Cathy Tafler at

All proceeds will go to the family and will be used to support the family during their first year in Canada, through Start-up Funds and Monthly Financial Support. The family’s sponsorship application is currently in process. You can read more about the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program. If you have any further questions you can email Cathy Tafler.

If you can’t attend but still want to contribute, you can donate through our GoFundMe

Visit with Prague Unitarians
By Shelley Motz

In February 2023, Margaret Wanlin–Past President of the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) Board of Trustees–traveled to the Czech Republic. Now she is sharing photos and recollections from her visit to Prague Unitarian Church, where she attended a service, met with Rev. Dr. Petr Dolak Samojsky, and learned about Rev. Norbert Capek. Capek is the visionary minister who created the Flower Service and  founded the Unitarian Church in Prague in 1922. He died in a concentration camp 20 years later. 

Margaret says: “It was fascinating to get a small glimpse into an expression of Unitarian Universalism which has had a very different journey in the last 100 years than has UUism in Canada.”

Read about Margaret’s visit to Prague Unitarian Church.

Jobs Opportunities with Canadian UU Organizations

The Kingston Unitarian Fellowship (KUF) is searching for an innovative, creative Lifespan Religious Exploration Coordinator to assist with the development and community implementation of Religious Exploration (RE) programs for toddlers and elementary age children. Please send your letter of interest, resume and three references to

More information is available here


What’s Making Us Smile

Most countries have four seasons. In Canada, particularly around this time of year, things are a bit more complex.


fool’s spring
second winter
spring of deception
third winter
mud season
actual spring
late fall
second summer (1 week)
actual fall

Calendar of Events (April 18 – July 16, 2023)

Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact

Rising Together: UU Youth and Emerging Adults of Colour
April 264:30 pm PT | 5:30 pm MT | 6:30 pm CT | 7:30 pm  ET | 8:30 pm AT | 9:30 pm NT (1.5 hours)

AGM Plenary on Motions: Leaders’ Roundtable
April 29: 9:00 a.m. PT | 10:00 a.m. MT | 11:00 a.m. CT | 12:00 p.m. ET | 1:00 p.m. AT | 1:30pm NT (1.5 hours)

CUC Annual General Meeting
May 19: 10:00 am PT | 11:00 am MT | 12:00 CT | 1:00 pm ET | 2:00 pm AT  | 2:30 pm AT (3.5hrs)

CUC National Symposium 2023: Living into the 8th Principle
May 19-21

Chorus: Young Adults at the National Symposium
May 19-22

CanUUdle XXIII: Bee UUrself
May 19-22

National Worship Service
May 21: 7:30 am PT | 8:30 am MT | 9:30 am CT | 10:30 am ET | 11:30 am AT (1.5 hours)

OWL Facilitator Training
May 21-23

Rising Together: UU Youth and Emerging Adults of Colour
May 24: 4:30 pm PT | 5:30 pm MT | 6:30 pm CT | 7:30 pm  ET | 8:30 pm AT | 9:30 pm NT (1.5 hours)

May 28: 4:00 pm PT | 5:00 pm MT | 6:00 pm CT | 7:00 pm ET | 8:00  pm AT | 8:30  pm NT (1.5 hours)

Lay Chaplains Chat (online)
June 5:  4:30 pm PT | 5:30 pm MT | 6:30 pm CT | 7:30 pm  ET | 8:30 pm AT | 9:30 pm NT (90 minutes)

Inclusivity Action Groups: Managing Resistance
June 7: 4:00 pm PT | 5:00 pm MT | 6:00 pm CT | 7:00 pm ET | 8:00  pm AT  | 8:30  pm NT (2 hours)

Decision Making Exploration Team: Practicing Together: Sociocracy Decision Making
June 10: 10:00 am PT | 11:00 am MT | 12:00 pm CT | 1:00pm ET | 2:00pm AT | 2:30pm NT (2 hours)

Gathered Here: A Monthly Check-in for UU Young Adults (18-35)
June 12: 5:00 pm PT | 6:00 pm MT | 7:00 pm CT | 8:00 pm ET | 9:00 pm AT | 9:30 pm NT 

June 18: 4:00 pm PT | 5:00 pm MT | 6:00 pm CT | 7:00 pm ET | 8:00  pm AT  | 8:30  pm NT (1.5 hours)

Rising Together: UU Youth and Emerging Adults of Colour
June 28: 4:30 pm PT | 5:30 pm MT | 6:30 pm CT | 7:30 pm  ET | 8:30 pm AT | 9:30 pm NT (1.5 hours)

July 16: 4:00 pm PT | 5:00 pm MT | 6:00 pm CT | 7:00 pm ET | 8:00  pm AT  | 8:30  pm NT (2 hours)


Enews Prepared and Formatted by Brigitte Twomey, Website Specialist