CUC eNews: April 8, 2020 – Issue 111

In This Issue:

Coming Together During COVID

No challenge comes without its gifts and now in the early days of COVID-19 we are seeing glimmers of these gifts. We are learning, together, that we can be deeply connected while still being physically distant. Congregations are learning, quickly, how to move services and programs online. We are hearing of Facebook discussion groups and reactivated phone trees to reach those who are not online. We’re hearing of UUs who are “traveling” across the country as they attend services in congregations in different time zones, sharing and learning so much that enriches their own congregation. We are gathering, nationally but at home, for song circles, conversation and encouragement.

We know there more are hard things coming and that this virus affects all of us. We know that there are worries about health and mental wellness, about livelihoods and finances, about children’s education and isolation for us all. But what we are learning is that there is also compassion and connection in ways we may not have known before.

The CUC staff are hard at work creating opportunities and resources to support congregations and UUs across the county. Part of that work involves creating an online gathering in May and hosting the AGM online. If you have not yet registered your AGM delegates or for one of our online delegate orientation sessions, I urge you to do that now. Our AGM is a vital part of our work which allows us to support our CUC priorities. You will find more information about the AGM in this newsletter. 

On behalf of the CUC staff, I want to thank all of you who have shared your energy and your ideas with us. And on a personal note, I want to thank the CUC staff publicly for their dedication and teamwork during a very rapid transition.

Be well, friends
Vyda Ng

“The church is not a place; it is a people…..
The church is not simply a building, a steeple, a pew.
The church is the gathering together of all the people, and experiences,
and fear, and love, and hope in our resilient hearts;
gathering, however we can, to say to the world:
welcome, come in, lay down your heartache, and pick up hope and love.
For the church is us—each and every one of us—together,
a beacon of hope to this world that so sorely needs it.”

From Margaret Weis,
The Church Has Left the Building, UUA Worship Web

Cushioning COVID’s Financial Shocks

There is no doubt that COVID-19 is impacting nearly all aspects of our congregations, including finances. We all need to adjust and update our financial plans to conform to a future we can’t quite predict. As things get sorted out, we wanted to assure you that the CUC wants to work with congregations regarding payment of the Annual Program Contributions (APC). Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns. 

Annual Program Contribution

Join Us at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in May

Our AGM is a crucial part of the work we do together. Tending to our financial and governance work allows us to be well-positioned to support our priorities of building community, advancing for social justice, and encouraging innovation and sustainability in the growth and development of UU communities.

This year CUC’s Annual General Meeting will be fully online. To protect the health of everyone, we recommend that delegates NOT gather together, as with previous AGMs, and instead meet individually using ZOOM.

Please note the date for the AGM will now be Saturday, May 16 to allow for more participation. 

Getting Ready for the AGM

Once your congregation has confirmed its delegates, register them by April 15 (deadline has been extended from April 1). We recommend that one person in your congregation be designated to do this.

Your delegates need to sign up for one of six orientation sessions to be held in April and May. This is necessary as the voting process will differ from that used in previous years; the orientation will focus on how to use Zoom as a participant and using the online voting system. Staff have implemented additional security for CUC’s Zoom meetings, given the occasions of ‘Zoom-bombing” that have occurred.

Participating in this online training will allow the AGM to run smoothly, as we won’t have the opportunity to assist with any technical issues on the day of the meeting. 

Your delegates will need:

    • A level of comfort using online technology
    • A laptop or desktop with a web camera, microphone and speakers 
    • Reliable high-speed internet

Delegates will be sent information about the online orientation sessions and the AGM, after they have registered for both.

Some elements of the conference planned for this year will still be taking place online. Please watch for details in the coming weeks.

Further Information About the AGM

Responding to COVID-19

With the support and input from our members across the country, CUC staff are continuing to develop resources and opportunities to support congregations during this time. We are working to create ways for congregations and UUs to connect in digital venues, while continuing to nurture personal relationships. One way we are doing this is by expanding existing programs, such as Connect and Deepen, our virtual gatherings, which are now taking place twice a month. Gathered Here for young adults, has also increased the number of online check ins.

We are hosting regular check-ins on Saturdays that invite congregational leaders to share resources and information about planning for and coping with the impacts of COVID-19 on their congregations, and where CUC staff provide updates and resources. And we have launched CUC Coffeehouse Connections – a Zoom Circle inviting UUs to share some time together each Saturday. Find all CUC events in the Events Calendar.

In addition, the CUC is continuing to update our resources available online, including National & International Sources for Updates, A Calendar of Online Gatherings, Safety Measures, Reflections, Meditations and Readings, and Virtual Meeting Options. We invite you to share additional resources by emailing

You can now find our COVID-19 information directly from the banner on our website, using the CUC COVID-19 Resources button on the top right.

Zoom Security Features

A CUC online event was unfortunately Zoom-bombed recently. Zoom is working diligently to prevent these from happening, and have implemented new security measures, including automatically setting password and waiting room requirements for all meetings scheduled after April 5th, 2020.

CUC staff with the help of some leaders, have put together an at-a-glance resource for you called “Zoom Security & How to Prevent Zoom-bombing.” It includes information and videos from Zoom, so please read all the information through; we think a lot of your questions will be answered.

Zoominar on How to Use Zoom for Hosts and Facilitators

This Sat, April 11, 3:00-4:30 pm ET: CUC staff host a tutorial on using Zoom’s host functions, security tools, and running your Congregation’s board and annual general meetings online. Users will need to register and provide authentication for this meeting.


Explore the CUC’s Resources for Congregations During COVID-19

CUC Coffeehouse Connections

Come and connect with UUs!

Join us each Saturday for CUC Coffeehouse Connections. These online gatherings bring us together virtually to connect across the country. Each gathering will have a different theme, such as music, social get-together, multigen storytelling times, online activities, or high tea. We’ll gather for an hour and a half.

For Saturday, April 11’s Coffeehouse Connections, we welcome you all to join us for a High Tea and social connection. The event will be co-hosted by Vyda Ng, the CUC’s executive director.

When: Saturday at 7 p.m.(AT)/ 6 p.m. (ET)/ 5 p.m. (CT)/ 4 p.m. (MT)/ 3 p.m. (PT)
We’ll gather for an hour and a half.

Where: Join the Zoom meeting by following this link
Participants will be required to register for each meeting, due to the need for additional security.

Please forward the Zoom link to anyone who you think might be interested

To contribute your musical or other talents for future events, please fill in this form 

Minister Profile: Ron Phares

As a regular feature, we are highlighting our Canadian UU ministers and the vital work they do in nurturing connection and spiritual growth within our congregations and communities.

It may have been Henry Miller that led Reverend Ron Phares to become a UU Minister. Or maybe it was Luke Skywalker. “As a boy I was a big Star Wars fan and my favourite character was Luke, because he had a spiritual dimension. I was always interested in religion and faith and attended church as a child, but eventually realized the Christian story did not resonate with me. One day I walked into a Unitarian Universalist service and the chosen reading was from Henry Miller which was both shocking and delightful. Any church that can treat Henry Miller’s writing as sacred text was a good place for me”.

Reverend Phares is relatively new to the North Shore Unitarian congregation in Vancouver, arriving just last summer, but before that he served the Mountain Vista UU Congregation in Tucson, Arizona for eight years. 

One of his favourite things about being a UU Minister is writing his sermons. “I love thinking about theology and how it can be applied to day to day life – putting boots on a theology and seeing if it can walk around and survive in the wild.”

While the act of writing a sermon may not have changed for him, Reverend Phares acknowledges that there have been some radical shifts in the last few weeks related to how those sermons are delivered. He’s had to learn about white balance for filming and file sizes for hi-def video images and how to manage a variety of technologies in order to deliver a sense of connection. But there are real spiritual and relational benefits to those shifts. “Our last week (online service attendance) we would not have had enough chairs in our sanctuary to hold all the people who were participating in our YouTube church service. People are showing up and stepping up into needs that were not there 2 months ago. I think people have a new understanding of their intention and their participation and that is helping to give this new experience real meaning. And what I am seeing and learning again is how important it all  is – how important congregational life is, how important church is, how important religious tradition is.”

If you would like to see Reverend Phares in action, he welcomes you to join the North Shore Vancouver service on their Youtube channel.

The CUC’s New Parliamentarian

Dylan Fijal is the CUC’s new Parliamentarian. The Parliamentarian advises the Board of Trustees, Executive Director and members of matters of process and procedure leading up to, and at, each Annual General Meeting. As such, the Parliamentarian needs to be well-versed in governance matters and Robert’s Rules of Order, with experience in running AGMs and similar meetings.

Dylan has attended the First UU Church of Winnipeg since 2016, where he has been an active member of the Worship Committee and Sound Team. He grew up unchurched, but has made the Unitarian Universalist movement his spiritual home. Dylan brings four years of parliamentary experience from the Youth Parliament of Manitoba and three years of service as the First UU Church of Winnipeg’s parliamentarian.

In his spare time, Dylan has a love of all things geeky, including science fiction in all its mediums and comic books. Dylan also has a passion for a variety of political issues, particularly criminal justice and harm reduction.

Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Series

The CUC’s Truth, Healing and Reconciliation initiative has planned a learning and engagement series for the spring.

1.) Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation 202: Community of Praxis Application
The Community of Praxis is designed for 6-8 Unitarians who have completed the Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Reflection Guide and want to continue their learning journey into a place of personal reflection combined with action.

Join us for a guided program that includes 30-60 mins weekly of reflective writing, and discussions with experts as we explore this topic.

Find more information on the registration form
Deadline to apply is April 9, 2020

2.) THR: Reconciliation Through Film, Season 3

We invite you to thoughtfully delve into the themes of colonization and Indigenous resilience through film with our online national film screenings. We begin by individually viewing topical films and reading supporting materials and then come together for a scheduled video conference to discuss the concepts raised in the films. Our films are nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up – Saturday, April 11, 12:30-2:00 p.m. ET and  Freedom Road – Saturday, June 6, 12:30-2:00 p.m. ET

To join us:

    1. Register on the CUC website THR film page for each film before the deadline. Everything you need will be emailed to you the day after the registration deadline.
    2. Over the following 2 weeks, consider the reflection questions provided as you watch the film and engage with the supporting materials.
    3. Join the online Reflection Group to debrief. Commitment matters! Registration to view the film indicates a firm commitment to attend.

We look forward to connecting with you!

3.) Pipelines, Democracy and Aboriginal Title: A Conversation with Dr. Niigan Sinclair

Online event: Sunday, May 24, 2020, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. ET

Join Dr. Niigaan Sinclair in a conversation about how non-Indigenous people can be in solidarity with Indigenous Nations when they are divided. This session will explore issues around Aboriginal land title, hereditary vs. colonial leadership, consent, consultation, and the various layers of justice to be considered when addressing issues such as climate action. This session is intended for settlers who want to engage in relationship building and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and communities.

Niigaanwewidom James Sinclair is Anishinaabe and originally from St. Peter’s (Little Peguis) Indian Settlement near Selkirk, Manitoba. He is a respected author, editor and regular commentator on Indigenous issues for CTV, CBC, and APTN Niigaan also teaches courses in Indigenous literature, cultures, histories, and politics at the University of Manitoba. He is a proud Treaty One member. The son of Senator Murray Sinclair who was the Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Niigaan has been steeped in conversations related to reconciliation and comes with a wealth of lived experience with the complexities of implementing reconciliation on a political and grassroots level.

Purchase Tickets at Eventbrite

CUC’s Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Initiative

Our Youth On Board Make a Difference

Liv Gardiner, YOB

Each year the CUC Board welcomes a new Youth Observer, affectionately known as YOBs.  These youth, who are between the ages of 14-18, commit to a two-year term (May 2020 to May 2022) and their primary responsibility is to represent the UU youth of Canada to the CUC’s Board of Trustees. The incoming Junior YOB will work with the Senior YOB this year, and then mentor a new YOB themselves the following year. Applications for the position closed April 7.  Profiles of the candidates for this year’s new YOB will be released April 9 and online elections will be held April 13 – 27. All Canadian youth (ages 13-20) who are active participants in UU community are eligible to vote.  Youth advisors are asked to support their youth group in participating in this very important democratic process. Voting instructions will be shared by email (CUC e-lists), social media, and will be available on the Youth Observer page on the CUC website. 

Our outgoing YOB Liv Gardiner had this to say about the importance of the YOB role and the need for youth engagement in this process. “The CUC board makes many decisions for the Canadian UU world, it is very important that there is a YOB so that the youth have a voice in these matters. There are different perspectives that a youth brings to the table that the adults on the board would not necessarily have, so those different outlooks are really appreciated. Having experience on a board is often something very highly regarded as you apply for various jobs. Being a part of this board is the perfect way to start as everyone on the board wants you there and wants to make sure you feel supported and understand what’s going on.”  – Liv

Youth Observer to the Board

What’s Making Us Smile

In the midst of the relentless and heavy news about COVID-19, there are definitely bright spots as communities come together in lovely and surprising ways. The CUC staff often share something uplifting in our meetings and virtual discussions and we want to share these with you.
This news story from NPR features a virtual choral performance of  “What the World Needs Now Is Love” by students from Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Berklee College of Music. The piece is beautiful, and the sentiment is perfect for these challenging times.

Take a moment to listen and maybe sing along

Visit & Like the Canadian Unitarian Council on Facebook!

Upcoming Events 

Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact

Youth and Young Adults

ONLINE: Gathered Here: Young Adult Check-In, April 16 – 9 p.m., April 20 – 2 p.m., April 30 – 9 p.m., May 4 – 8 p.m., May 25 – 2 p.m., June 8, July 13, August 10 – 8 p.m. ET Gathered Here is a monthly online check-in and gathering for Canadian Unitarian Universalist young adults. Zoom (


ONLINE: CUC COVID-19 Leaders’ Roundtables
Each Saturday, join the CUC’s weekly roundtable conversation on the COVID-19 virus. Congregational leaders are invited to share resources and information about planning for and coping with the impacts of COVID-19 on their congregations, and staff will share resources and updates. Zoom information listed on each linked event page.
Session 4: A Zoominar on How to Use Zoom for Hosts and Facilitators, Saturday, April 11, 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET CUC staff host a tutorial on using Zoom’s host functions, security tools, and running your Congregation’s board and annual general meetings online. Users will need to register and provide authentication for this meeting.

ONLINE: THR – Reconciliation Through Film, Saturday, April 11, 12:30-2:00 p.m. ET
Film: We Will Stand Up, registration on the THR film page – deadline April 3

ONLINE: CUC Coffeehouse Connections, Saturdays, April 11, April 18 & April 25,  7 p.m. AT, 6 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. CT, 4 p.m. MT, 3 p.m. PT
Join us each Saturday for the CUC Coffeehouse Connections. These online gatherings bring us together virtually to connect across the country.

ONLINE: Connect and Deepen – Virtual Gathering,  April 12 & 26, May 10 & 24, June 14, July 12, August 9, September 13, October 11, November 8, 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. ET Join us for the opportunity to discuss matters of spiritual and theological significance in small groups and connect with people across the country.

ONLINE: AGM Voting Orientation, April 8, April 16, April 27, May 3, May 5 at various times
CUC’s 2020 Annual General Meeting on Saturday, May 16 will be fully online. To protect the health of everyone, we recommend that delegates NOT gather together, as with previous AGMs and instead meet individually using ZOOM. Delegates need to sign up for one of six orientation sessions to be held in April and May.

ONLINE: AGM Plenary Discussion, May 14, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. AT
Prior to the AGM on May 15, the CUC Board invites you to an informal dialogue amongst congregational delegates, leaders, board members, and CUC staff to discuss issues of importance to congregations, in support of the CUC’s vision, goals, and strategic priorities.

ONLINE: Ensemble: A collection of young adult virtual gatherings. May 15-17, 2020
Through the magic of Zoom, UU young adults (18-35) will come together to celebrate our cross-country community, mark transitions in our lives, play games and grow as spiritual beings. More information and registration coming soon!

ONLINE: CanUUdle presents: CazUUm!, May 15-18, 2020
UU youth (14-19) and their adults advisors (25+) from across Canada will connect with each other in new and creative ways via Zoom. More information and registration coming soon!

ONLINE: 2020 CUC National Annual General Meeting, Saturday, May 16 from 1:00p.m. – 4:30 p.m. A.T. | 12:00p.m. – 3:30p.m. ET |  11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. CT | 10:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. MT | 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PT

ONLINE: Serving with Spirit: Stronger Together, Planning for Partnership, Saturday, May 23, 10 a.m PT/ 11 a.m. MT/ Noon CT/ 1:00 p.m. ET/ 2 p.m. AT
Explore our potential for meaningful, creative congregational networking and partnerships.
Registration (individuals or groups of 3 or more): deadline: May 15

ONLINE: Pipelines, Democracy and Aboriginal Title: A Conversation with Dr. Niigann Sinclair,
Sunday, May 24, 2020, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. ET –  Registration 

ONLINE: THR: Reconciliation Through Film, Saturday, Saturday, June 6, 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. ET
Film: Freedom Road,
registration on the THR film page – deadline May 22


ONLINE: UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar On Climate Justice,  April 16 – 18, 2020
With a deep passion for and commitment to international human rights, youth and adults from all over North America gather annually for our three-day seminar to dig deeply into issues with global impact. This year, the program is virtual; registration ends April 9: programs and schedule.

Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly, June 24 – 28, 2020, Providence, RI
General Assembly organizers are sure that GA will go on, but are offering an off-site registration option. CUC will be presenting an online workshop on Truth, Healing and Reconciliation, as we have chosen not to travel and attend in-person.

International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) Meeting & Conference, October 26 – November 1, 2020, Montreal, Canada
Supported by the CUC, this ICUU Conference is an excellent opportunity to meet and get to know UUs from all over the world. Donations from Canadians go to support leadership development for participants from emerging members groups. More information coming soon.