CUC eNews: April 20, 2021 – Issue 130

In This Issue:

Letter From Vyda

My heart is heavy. Probably not a sentence I should have started with. There is so much happening around us that is discouraging that trying to write a perky and light-hearted message didn’t feel authentic.

One of the issues causing the heaviness is the violence of racism that continue to take place – the shooting in Atlanta that killed eight people, seven of whom were women and six were Asians; the violent actions of a private security guard in Saskatoon in arresting an Indigenous woman; the death of George Floyd; the deaths of Chantal Moore and Rodney Levi in New Brunswick, and Eisha Hudson, Jason Collins, and Stewart Kevin Andrews in Winnipeg; blaming and attacking Chinese people for the coronavirus…these are the consequences of a global systemic problem.

For those of us who are People of the Global Majority (most of the world’s population is non-white) and who live in predominantly white countries, racism is a visceral knowledge. We know racism is alive and well – in our country, in our communities, and in our congregations. Steven Roberts (Stanford University) writes that “Racism is a system of advantage based on race. It is a hierarchy. It is a pandemic.” He and co-author Michael Rizzo (New York University) go on to write that “…just as citizens of capitalistic societies reinforce capitalism, whether they identify as capitalist or not, and whether they want to or not, citizens of racist societies reinforce racism, whether they identify as racist or not, and whether they want to or not.” [Source: The Psychology of American Racism]

To actively create the world envisioned by Canadian Unitarian Universalists of “interdependence, love and justice” we need to dive deep into ourselves to do the work of empathetic understanding and knowing. We need to be in authentic relationship with each other. Dr. David Campt’s R.A.C.E. method of dialogue uses the simple strategy to Reflect, Ask, Connect, and Expand in conversations, leading to deeper empathy and understanding of another. He believes that racism can be dismantled one conversation at a time.

Racism is driven by fear of losing control and the status quo, and by feeling threatened by something that is ‘other.’ Is it naive and optimistic to believe that when we act from a place of empathy and compassion we can help face down that fear and dismantle racism one conversation, one act, at a time?

These words from Jack Layton show us the way: “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.”

Be well friends,
Vyda Ng
Executive Director

National Conference – Serious and Silly

The CUC’s National Conference, Sustaining Our Light, is coming up May 14-16. These conference highlights provide an overview of the engaging workshops, social events, and other great activities on offer over the weekend. And there are some opportunities to engage in both the serious and silly sides of the conference beforehand as well.

Participants can watch Rev. Anne Barker’s Confluence Lecture, “A New Premise”, in advance of the May 14 Confluence Lecture session. That 7:30 pm ET session will provide a short review to refresh their memory, and then open the floor to questions and conversation, hosted by Rev. Anne Barker. Watch the three segments of the lecture individually, taking time after each to complete the associated readings and worksheets. Anne Barker invites you to enter this experiment without a destination already in mind.

Another new venture is taking place on Saturday night with “The Lighter Side,” an all-ages variety show open to all. If you have a joke, story, magic trick or anything else you can share that will make people laugh, now’s the time to sign up! 

And if you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to register for the conference itself (registration is required for all events except the Sunday morning service). Sliding-scale registration starts at $5.

Conference Programming for Children and Youth

CazUUm and Ensemble, the youth and young adult conferences, are taking place virtually this year for the second year, and they’re coming back better than ever! Registration for both closes May 9, but earlier is better. And there’s a great program planned for junior youth (under 14) and children as well 

CazUUm’s theme this year is Finding TreasUUre, centered around finding positivity in dark times, weathering storms, and renewing one’s sense of adventure. Whether you’re a sea dweller or a land lover, there will be something for ye. Batten down the hatches and get ready to set sail, our journey begins soon and we can’t wait to welcome you aboard!

There will be opportunities for participants to contribute to the con in small yet important ways, such as: 

– Facilitating small groups (Chalice Circles, formerly known as Touch Groups)
– Leading short energy breaks with a stretch, a song, or something silly!
– Sharing your ideas about what you’d like to see happen at con
– Look for the sign-ups on the registration form! 

 As well as all the usual fun and spiritual youth con activities (think small group games, worship, workshops, dance party, coffee house, movie night, social time…), there will also be an important discussion with the Youth Observers on the CUC Board about a new proposal for a National Youth Organizing Network. You don’t want to miss this! 

Ensemble’s theme this year is Constellations. While young adults are forced to be apart this year, as individuals scattered across the country, we form a constellation of community. While there may be darkness separating us, let us remember the infinite possibility floating in that darkness. And, until we are together again, let us also recall this ee cummings line “this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart/ i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart).” 

Young adults registered for Ensemble get a both/and experience of young adult specific community and all the offerings of the all-ages National Conference! And for those interested in helping out in a large or small capacity, there are volunteer opportunities available in planning and facilitation. Contact Micaela Corcoran at if you’re interested.

Children ages 3 – 13 who have registered by April 1 will receive a special package of at-home activities for the weekend. They will join in a fun Saturday morning session that will explore the many ways in which we keep our fire burning. 

If you’ve missed the registration deadline, you can still register your children until May 9 but we will be unable to send a package. However, we can make a list available of what supplies you will need to participate in the at-home activities.

Unitarians of all ages are invited to participate in “The Lighter Side”  variety show Saturday evening. The Bridging Ceremony is a chance to honour the transitions in all our lives, especially those entering and leaving the youth and young adult communities.

Preparing for the CUC AGM

Delegates for the CUC AGM are encouraged to read the instructions for delegate voting and participation in advance of the meeting. Those who are unsure about the process or would like a refresher can also attend one of the orientation sessions, taking place Tuesday, April 20, and Thursday, April 29 from 7-8 pm ET. Please note that the sessions are for Q&A about using Zoom, not the motions.

The Notice of Meeting has been issued to congregations and leaders. You can find the full package of AGM materials in the CUC 2021 AGM – Public Google folder.

Credentials Committee Needed

The CUC also requires a credentials committee of 3 people at the AGM to confirm delegates and provide confirmation of quorum to the Chair. Credential committee members are preferably not delegates themselves and should be comfortable with using Google sheets and docs. 

Email if interested with ‘credentials committee’ in the subject line.

Young Adults Town Hall

The Leaders’ Roundtable, Saturday, April 24 at 3 pm ET, will be a chance for young adults (18-35) in our community to come together for an update and collective brainstorming on how to move forward through the next months of the pandemic and beyond.

We’ve made it through an entire year of the COVID-19 pandemic! The Canadian YA community has remained strong, and our events and programs have been able to adapt to keep us connected and safe. Now, with vaccines being rolled out, it is time to start collectively imagining what’s next.

Some questions for us to consider together: If and when we are able to travel again, how much will we do so? What will hybrid in-person and online events look like? We’ve been able to do so many new and experimental things this year, which was only possible because many of the things we would normally be doing weren’t. When those old traditions are available to us again… will we want them back? And if we choose to pick them up again, will we have to give up some of the new joys we have found? 

How will we choose to move forward into the post-pandemic reality?

Vancouver Unitarians Get to Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions
By John Boyle

The Vancouver Unitarians have long been committed to addressing the climate emergency. On our own campus, led by the Environment Team and drawing on our Green Fund, we have been working to reduce our energy use, and the consequent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, for some 15 years. Initiatives have included an energy-efficient furnace, weather stripping, solar blinds, better windows, and upgrading to LED lighting. We are currently considering heat pumps to reduce the demand on our gas-fired furnaces, and solar panels to generate electricity.

Getting to zero emissions is, of course, well nigh impossible for our lovely 1960s-era campus. So, we’ve begun buying carbon credits to offset our remaining releases and achieve net-zero GHG emissions. Here’s what we did.

This initiative began early in 2020 when we found out about the Great Bear Forest Carbon Project. The GBFCP generates validated carbon credits through protection and/or better management of that iconic west-coast forest. Buying credits from the GBFCP would not only reduce our net emissions to zero but also provide financial resources to First Nations in the area thus furthering our commitment to reconciliation. A win-win opportunity!

For the actual work, we contracted Offsetters, agents for the GBFCP, to analyze our 2019 emissions. We gathered the required data – for example on natural gas and electricity use, staff commuting, and waste – and Offsetters then calculated our CO2e emissions. Offsetters’ fee for doing the analysis was about $750, and our credits cost $1,450 (at $25 per tonne CO2e), plus tax.

If any other CUC congregations are interested in getting to net zero through buying carbon credits, we’ll be happy to help them explore this opportunity. It’s a win for both the environment and social justice.

Contact for more information.

Decolonizing Practices as Spiritual Practices
By Diane Brown, Board President, Unitarian Church of Vancouver

The Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver has taken the initiative to engage the Board, staff, and Church membership in a series of Decolonizing Practices Workshops. This is just one concrete action we are taking in the face of escalating violent racism. It is also one concrete step toward reconciliation, an attempt to help transform our white colonial patriarchy into something more equitable and compassionate.

Decolonizing Practices Workshops are a beginning to what is a long, ongoing process of decolonizing ourselves, our policies, our congregations, and our organizations. UCV recognizes that our congregation is primarily white and that this process must be Indigenous-led, so we have engaged a professional consulting group that is Indigenous-led and run. Their mission is to help every Canadian understand Indigenous perspectives, the ongoing violence of colonization and racism, and their effects upon First Peoples.  

Our process will start with decolonizing the individual, then move to the history and ongoing colonization of Canada, and then to organizational decolonization practices. As I said, this is just a beginning. But it is a beginning…

We would like to strongly encourage all Canadian UU congregations to take this important step with us in our ongoing journey and hire your local Indigenous consultants to lead the way. Let us stand together and affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person through justice, equity and compassion in human relations, and radical acceptance of one another, by doing this important and difficult work. It will expand and deepen our spiritual principles and values, and further our joyous search for meaning.

News from Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice

Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ) is pleased to announce the publication of its most recent JUSTnews Magazine on the theme of Universal Basic Income.  After COVID-19 and the Federal Government’s introduction of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for vast numbers of suddenly unemployed people, it seems that the idea of a Universal Basic Income may have found its time. CUSJ board members invited the Unitarian Universalist community to explore this idea with all its advantages and its potential pitfalls.  Please read the CUSJ magazine here and share it with your friends.  

Petition Against Violent Crime

CUSJ is also part of a broad group of Canadians calling on the public to sign a petition to free Canada from violence. The group includes victim advocates, public health, faith-based communities, social justice, municipalities, and academics.

CUSJ Annual General Meeting

CUSJ is holding its annual general meeting via Zoom at 1 pm ET, Saturday, May 22. All information is available on CUSJ’s website and all interested Canadian UUs are welcome.

North Shore Unitarians Celebrate Lynn Sabourin’s Four-Decade Career

A 40-year span in the average UU congregation is like time-lapse photography of the heavens. Everything in flux. Things blazing and burning out. Things moving through and vanishing over the horizon. UU life on Vancouver’s North Shore has been no different.

But there has been one fixed star: Lynn Sabourin.  

Lynn had taught public school but knew nothing of Unitarian Universalism when she applied for an entry-level position (arts-and-crafts co-ordinator) in 1981. She learned quickly, however, devouring every module that was offered – from administration to worship to UU History to UU Identity to UU philosophy to curriculum development to teacher training – until she had become a kind of living repository of all things Unitarian Universalist. She was soon full-time Director of Religious Education at North Shore Unitarian Church. At the time, the lifespan of the average DRE in a UU church was two years. And no wonder: wrangling highly-educated parishioners who demand top-quality programs is pretty much a recipe for burnout. The job requires a firefighter’s constitution and a shepherd’s heart. 

Lynn was the first point of contact for countless visitors who stopped by, church-shopping. They came for the idea of Unitarian Universalism. They stayed for Lynn. She grew the church in numbers and in depth — eventually teaching the children of the children she used to teach – until she became, simply, Dr. DRE. 

Lynn surfed the evolving trends in religious exploration. She created rituals anchored in fun:  all-ages holiday gift-making workshops, family-friendly “talent” shows in the winter doldrums, flashlight tag through the blacked-out sanctuary during RE class sleepovers. She made this a place kids wanted to be. And their parents too. She understood from the get-go that church must be multigenerational if it’s to have any kind of future.  

Lynn has now ministered to every single person in this congregation. She knows where the bodies are buried, where the secrets are kept, where the epiphanies lie waiting to be born. 

But her ministry doesn’t end with us. Or this city. Or this country. Her decades-long involvement with Eliot Institute Seabeck, along with her commitment to mentoring colleagues across the continent, strengthened our movement. Lynn is the best kind of diplomat: laughter is her currency, and love is her bond.

Her endless capacity to see the good in everyone is her benediction.

Lynn is retiring at the end of June! All whose lives have been enriched by her forty years of service to NSUC and the wider UU community are invited to our YouTube celebration at 4 pm PT on June 19, 2021. Learn more about how you can participate 

Retirement Celebration to Honour Rev. Debra Faulk

After eleven years of service to the Calgary Unitarians, Rev. Debra Faulk is retiring and moving to Vancouver Island. Please join Debra’s colleagues, friends, family and other members of Calgary’s congregation as we celebrate Debra and her years of service to us all.  

The celebration will be held on Saturday, May 9 from 6:00-7:30 pm MT | 8:00-9:30 pm ET (after the CUC’s AGM) – full details here.

Minister Profile – Rev. Norm Horofker

Rev. Norm Horofker has served the Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax since 2012. He was first introduced to Unitarianism in the early 1980s when he saw an ad for the St. Catharine’s, Ontario, congregation, and decided to visit, soon becoming a member. Later moving to Columbus, Georgia, where he lived for 17 years, he also attended the Unitarian congregation there. After a 30 year career in Engineering and factory management, Norm decided to study for the ministry at age 57 as a way of exploring and living into the spiritual side of his life.

“I think I’ve always been on the path towards ministry,” he says. “I’ve always been more interested in people and in their well-being than anything else.”

Norm finds pastoral care the most rewarding aspect of ministry and appreciates the opportunity to work with and help people and to watch them co-operate. He’s found the pandemic a challenge when it comes to this, as it has limited his ability to visit congregants, especially those in long-term care.

Norm believes Unitarian Universalism will remain relevant because it’s a faith that aspires to welcome people of all backgrounds, and must thus strive to figure out how to build bridges between people with different worldviews. He also believes that its emphasis on a search for truth and meaning is critical to helping counter the spread of misinformation in the wider world.

In his spare time, Norm enjoys playing the ukulele and began taking ukulele lessons with the eminent teacher Chalmers Doane. Whenever he can, Norm spreads UU ministry through ukuleles!

Shining Lights Webinar Celebrates UU Success Storiessculpture of two hands holding a flame

The CUC will celebrate inspiring UU initiatives on May 1 at 1 pm ET with the Shining Lights Award Webinar. The award, which is being presented for the third time, lifts up successful, transferable projects by Unitarian Universalist congregations, groups or individuals, with the understanding that nominees can help others in the UU community who may wish to replicate their initiatives. The webinar will share the three success stories nominated for 2021 and at the end, announce the winner.

“People from across the country can hear the presentations of these three projects and hear which one the team has decided to lift up,” says Rev. Stephen Atkinson, one of the Shining Lights committee members. “We’re lifting up all of them but we’re lifting up one of them a little higher.”

Atkinson has found serving on the committee both a fun experience and a learning opportunity. The nominated projects, he believes, have shown that even small, lay-led initiatives can have a great impact. 

“The people submitting the projects are very committed UUs and have real enthusiasm and joy in what they’re doing,” he says. “So it’s a very positive program.”

CUC Photo and Video Policy for Minors

Unsplash: Jeff Cortez

The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) takes photographs and video materials at events (in-person and online) for both documentation and promotional purposes, and to reflect the people in our Unitarian Universalist community.  The CUC’s Photo and Video Safety Policy for Minors aims to strike a balance between ensuring the safety of minors involved in our activities while also recognizing that children and youth are centrally important to our communities and should see themselves reflected in our audio/visual materials in ways that are respectful and affirming.

CUC staff share this policy to inform parents, guardians and youth, and to provide a resource for congregations who may want more information on developing their own policies.

Read the full policy here, and contact for more information.

Introducing New YOB: Eric James

The CUC is pleased to welcome Eric James as the new junior Youth Observer (YOB) to the CUC’s board. In this role, he will work with the Senior YOB Linnea Granberg (Thunder Bay) to:

    • represent youth perspectives and voices to the CUC Board
    • summarize youth issues for the Board
    • nurture national youth community and uplift youth voices
    • present Board updates back to Canadian UU youth

Eric grew up in the Saskatoon Unitarians congregation and has been a Unitarian his entire life. He joined his congregation’s Sunday services committee when he was 12 and has since been a regular participant at CUC youth cons, including Western region gatherings and CanUUdle. He will be serving as co-dean for CazUUm this year, the third time he has held this role.

“I’ve always been really interested in leadership positions, especially positions advocating for youth community,” Eric says. “I’ve served in a couple of different organizations with positions very similar to YOB and it just felt like the right time for me to apply.”

Eric’s first priority as YOB is to ensure that the youth community continues to be a welcoming community, much like the one he discovered at his first con. He also hopes to lay the groundwork for his successor as YOB to make whatever changes are necessary to ensure this remains the case.

“I think it’s important to make sure the UU youth community specifically stays strong and alive,” he says,  “cause I think it’s an important gateway for a lot of younger people who are trying to find their way in the new world.”

In his spare time, Eric enjoys swimming as well as pursuing his interests in math, science and computers.

Note: Eric and his parents explicitly consented to sharing his photo and information in this article.

We’re Hiring a New Communications Manager

The CUC’s search for a Communications Manager continues.

If you have a solid background in communications management, are equally comfortable with details and big picture strategic thinking, love to be in the centre of the action and understand the nuances of our faith, and you are interested in a new opportunity, we would like to talk with you.

Our ideal candidate has a degree in marketing or communications with 3-5 years relevant experience, is social media savvy, an excellent writer and storyteller, and knows how to develop and work a communications plan. This part-time position requires a commitment of 30 hours a week in a work from home environment. Salary commensurate with experience.

Please see the full job description: CUC Communications Manager.

Deadline for applications is May 18.

Interview with Nazeem Muhajarine, Epidemiologist

With the recent rise of Covid-19 variants, many questions have arisen. Kathie Cram, President of Saskatoon Unitarians, interviewed Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine, a member of the congregation and an epidemiologist, about the variants,  vaccines, and Covid concerns on this YouTube interview (about a 37-minute watch).

Their conversation covered some of the following:

    • There are hundreds of variants of the parent virus around the world. Three main ones have been reported in Canada: B117, B1351, P1
    • The variants appear to be more transmissible than the parent virus, and more deadly.
    • Advice for avoiding transmission remains the same: avoid the three C’s (close contact, crowded places, and closed spaces) and wear a mask – either a properly fitted N95 mask or two cloth masks.

All three vaccines appear to be effective against all three variants. Also, the vaccines for Covid-19 have proven extremely effective compared to vaccines for, for instance, the flu.

Encounter the World’s Religions

What does a UU discover when they explore the world’s religions? While it sounds like the opening line of a joke, the answer might be a bit more profound than punny. Dr. Brian Carwana, of Encounter World Religions, has taught religious literacy programs for more than 20 years and his greatest takeaway is that we learn more about ourselves when we learn more about each other. 

Encounter’s Discovery Week program has been a favourite of UUs for years. Anne Bokma, a member of the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton Unitarians wrote a wonderful piece about what she learned exploring 11 religions in 7 days in 2018. 

While Covid has moved the program online, Brian Carwana says that the process of self-discovery remains at the core of the program. “As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says, there is a real danger in a single story.  It blinds us to the full humanity of the other and, in so doing, denies us the opportunity not only to learn about them but from them. Learning more about religions, and hearing directly from practitioners of those religions, helps us peel back layers of the single story. We gain new perspectives about our neighbours, colleagues, and communities.”

And Brian says that while the experience of the week is different, the content offered in online sessions remains the same, and it opens up the experience to a much wider audience. Dr. Shawn Newton, minister at First Toronto, who has also attended the Discovery Week said, “While I have an undergraduate degree from Harvard in comparative religion, I’m feeling I learned so much more this week than I did over all of those years of studying.”

Brian Carwana is speaking at this year’s National Conference. And if you’d like to hear from him before, Encounter is offering CUC members an extended option to register at the early bird pricing for this year’s Discovery Week running May 2-7. Use the code CUCEarlybird to register and receive an $80 discount. The program takes place over the course of 6 days from May 2-7 and sessions will be recorded and available for a short time following the week for attendees who want to watch them again. 

 You can also check Brian out at his upcoming talk What I’ve Learned Teaching World Religions for 20 Years on April 20.

What’s Making Us Smile

Unsplash: Tobias Cornille

It’s not quite Star Wars Day yet, but it’s not too early for a laugh courtesy of this video. Titled Jedi Orange, this cute 23-second video was created by a family at the Unitarian Church of Montreal. Using Legos, it features the power of the lightsabre over an… orange.

Thanks to the folks at UCM for sharing.



Upcoming Events (online via Zoom)

Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact

CUC Annual General Meeting, May 8, 1 pm ET
AGM preparation:
2021 AGM Delegate Q&A – Tuesday, April 20 & Thursday, April 29, 7 pm ET
AGM Plenary Conversation, Thursday, May 6, 7 pm ET

Visit the CUC National Conference website! Register at the links below:

CUC National Conference: Sustaining Our Light, Friday, May 14 – 16
Ensemble – Young Adults at the National Conference, May 13 – 16
CazUUm – National Youth Conference, May 14 – 16 

Featured Events

Elder’s Circle with Sharon Jinkerson-Brass
Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 4 pm PT |5 pm MT |6 pm CT |7  pm  ET |8 pm AT (90 minutes)
More information

Shining Lights Award Webinar: Canadian UU Groups Keeping Our Lights Alive!
Saturday, May 1, 10 am PT |11 am MT |12 pm CT | 1 pm ET | 2 pm AT
More information

Regular Online Events

Gathered Here: Young Adult Check-In
June 14 – 8 pm ET
More information

Connect and Deepen – Virtual Gathering
Sunday, April  25 and May 9, 1 pm PT |2 pm MT| 3 pm CT| 4 pm ET| 5 pm  AT
More information

Leaders Roundtable – Young Adult Town Hall, Saturday, April 24, 12 pm PT |1 pm MT |2 pm CT | 3 pm ET | 4 pm AT
More information