CUC eNews: August 24, 2021 – Issue 133

In This Issue:


Letter From Vyda

Photo by Ross Findon

“Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”-George Bernard Shaw

Perhaps you’ve seen the meme that shows a speaker addressing a crowd, posing the question “who wants change?” Every hand in the room goes up enthusiastically. The speaker then asks the crowd “who wants to change?” All the hands instantly go down.

I’m reminded of this meme as we gear up for a busy fall, one that will continue our focus on offering CUC programming through a decolonizing, anti-racist lens. Participating in this type of programming will indeed require us to examine ourselves and to change, and that can sometimes elicit the reaction depicted in the meme. Being asked to consider other people’s perspectives can be uncomfortable, particularly if it seems to threaten the status quo we’ve become accustomed to.

To say we’ve become accustomed to something is not to say we desired it in the first place. I don’t doubt that most of us would not have chosen to inhabit a world that contains racial and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and many other barriers to equity. But like it or not, this is the world we live in.

It’s true that many of the challenges we face today are systemic, and not easily addressed by one person. But as we’ve learned through the workshops with Dr. David Campt, sessions with our Indigenous Elders, and other programming, the changes necessary to address these challenges begin at an individual level. By changing one mind at a time, we can start to change the world as well.

Be well friends,
Vyda Ng
Executive Director

Forums on Dismantling Racism and the 8th Principle Process

Over the summer and into the fall of 2021, roundtable discussions and forums provide spaces for UUs to reflect on and ask questions of ourselves about what it means to “accountably dismantle racism in ourselves and our institutions.” 

Some are hesitant to adopt this 8th Principle, stating that the existing seven Principles include and imply actions for dismantling racism and other oppressions. Others are concerned about the process, and some have issues with the wording and that it may not be complete or accurate. Others are worried that it commits us to accountability when the other principles don’t have similar ‘accountable’ phrasing, and that there is no offered definition for ‘being accountable.’ Still, others are enthusiastic about a principle on dismantling racism that is regarded as long overdue and desperately needed. 

Four forums this fall are designed to guide us through a process of reflection on our visceral responses to dismantling racism and the proposed 8th Principle, with the goal of preparing us for the Special Meeting. Using the chalice as a symbol, each of the four sessions poses questions that urge us to examine some (challenging) realities within ourselves and our UU communities and the work ahead.  

Who should attend the forums? Board members, leaders, youth, young adults, ministers, religious educators, those who are invested in the outcome, those who want to do the work of dismantling racism, delegates to the Special Meeting on November 27, those who have uncertainties.

Forums are on Sundays, September 19 and October 3 and 17, 4 pm PT | 5 pm MT | 6 pm CT | 7 pm ET | 8 pm AT. Zoom links are here. 

Roundtable conversations complement the forums and are held on the last Saturday of each month. These are opportunities to ask questions, express concerns, state affirmations, and have respectful dialogue with each other.

Roundtable are on Saturdays, August 28, September 25, and October 30,9:00 a.m. PT | 10:00 am MT | 11:00 am CT |12:00 pm ET | 1:00 pm AT. Zoom details are here.

Congregations Experience Ministerial Transitions

Settled Minister

Rev. Eric H. Meter, First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa

Reverend Eric Meter comes to Ottawa from Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church in Racine, Wisconsin, where he has been serving as interim minister. A third-generation UU, Eric has served UU congregations in Ohio, northern California and upstate New York. He is passionate about grief work, small group ministry, interfaith cooperation, and the possibilities of religious community. Read more about Rev. Meter.

Interim Ministers

Rev. Shelly Thompson, Calgary Unitarians

Reverend Shelly comes to Calgary from Westport, Connecticut, where she was Assistant Minister for Faith Formation at the Unitarian Church of Westport. Previous to that she was Minister of Membership at First UU Church of Richmond, Virginia. Shelly is also a psychologist and has worked as a family and child counsellor. Comfortable with people of all ages she encourages the growth of a congregation where each person is nurtured and supported, and a faith formation within which every individual finds meaning and purpose. Read more about Rev. Thompson.

Rev. Jamie Boyce, First Unitarian Church of Hamilton

Rev. Jamie Boyce received her preliminary fellowship in 2020 after attending Meadville and Drew Theological Seminaries.  She has worked in Morristown, New Jersey, and three churches in the Chicago area in various capacities. This past year, she was the resident chaplain at Advocate Aurora Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Illinois. Building inclusive and affirming communities that are committed to justice locally and globally is the core and call of her ministry. 

Rev. Rosemary Morrison, Unitarian Church of Edmonton

Rev. Rosemary Morrison entered into ministry with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tippecanoe County in West Lafayette, Indiana. UUCTC ordained Rev. Rosemary on January 4, 2020, and she completed this three-year interim in July of this year.  A graduate of the Vancouver School of Theology, Rosemary is confident the skills learned in Kelowna, B.C. and West Lafayette, Indiana will be well received as she enters into ministry with the Unitarian Church of Edmonton. 

Congregational Guides to Multi-Platform Considerations from the CUC

With the fall fast approaching, many congregations are thinking about fall events and some have already made decisions about how to meet.

The CUC has created the Congregational Guides to Multi-Platform Considerations, compiled by CUC staff from conversations with leaders, resources from the Unitarian Universalist Association, other faith organizations and government sources. These are set up as PowerPoint slides with accompanying notes, and can also be used to guide small group conversations.

The Guide can be found in the Resources for Congregations During Covid-19 Google folder, and has its own sub-folder called Congregational Guides to Multi-Platform Considerations with cited documents in this sub-folder.

Congregations that have developed protocols or practices around multi-platforms and in-person gatherings are encouraged to share them with the wider UU community by emailing The Guide resource is a living document and will be updated as needed.

CUC’s 60th Anniversary Recognition Weekend
Friday, November 26 – Sunday, November 28, 2021

The CUC was launched on May 14, 1961, when about 50 Unitarian Universalists from Halifax to Vancouver voted the Canadian Unitarian Council into being. Our journey to 2021 has been eventful, filled with significant milestones in human rights and social justice areas. During this weekend, we commemorate and honour the work of those who have laid the foundations for our Canadian UU faith community, and press on to the work that needs to be done to bring us to a world in which our interdependence calls us to love and justice.

Overview of the weekend:

  •  Friday, November 26: Regional Gatherings – these will be opportunities for UUs to connect within their own regions, share a worship experience, and ponder some questions and topics in common.

BC Region Gathering (all BC congregations) – 7:00 – 8:30 pm PT
Western Region Gathering (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Thunder Bay, ON) – 7:00 – 8:30 pm CT / 6:00 – 7:30 pm MT
Central Region Gathering (Ontario, except for congregations in Kingston and Ottawa) – 7:00 – 8:30 pm ET
Eastern Region Gathering (Kingston, Ottawa, Quebec, Atlantic provinces) –  6:00 – 7:30 pm ET / 7:00 – 8:30 pm AT

  • Saturday, November 27:

CUC Special Meeting – 12:00 – 2:30 pm ET. This meeting takes place to discuss and vote on the proposed 8th Principle for “Individual and communal action that accountably dismantles racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.” Information for the Special Meeting is found in this Google folder.

CUC 60th Anniversary Recognition – 4:00 – 6:00 pm ET. Join us for a retrospective on the past 60 years, with first-hand and personal accounts by UUs who were significant contributors to the CUC’s journey, followed by a conversation and our hopes and committed actions for our future

  •  Sunday, November 28: National Sunday Service  – 10 am PT / 11 am MT / 12 pm CT / 1 pm ET / 2 pm AT Led by youth and young adults, this service commemorates our 60-year history, and calls on us to fulfill the possibilities of our future together.

Further details are forthcoming.

Canadian UU Women’s Association Elects New Council

The Canadian Unitarian-Universalist Women’s Association (CUUWA) recently elected its National Council for 2021-2022, led by new chair Mariedke Gibson. Gibson, a member of Calgary Unitarians, joined the CUUWA after taking an interest in the association’s Facebook group.

“What appealed to me was the focus on the women’s aspect,” she says. “That it was a group focused on the advancement of women’s rights and basically the tone of the posts that I was seeing on Facebook, the educational pieces, the support for Black Lives Matter and all sorts of social justice groups and things like that, it just really connected with me.”

CUUWA holds two main events a year, an International Women’s Day service in March and a tea and Annual General Meeting in June. The Association aims to raise awareness about women’s history, rituals, and perspectives, through training, communication, celebration and many resources. Gibson, who has found CUUWA an important part of seeking her spiritual side, says she hopes to learn from its members during her term what they’ve liked in the past and what new initiatives they might be interested in.

“What I really want to do in this next year is listen and hear and see where we go from there,” she says. “I don’t intend to set a direction, I’m looking for it to be more grassroots by reaching out and engaging.”

Lynn Sabourin Reflects on 40-Year Career

Lynn Sabourin recently completed a 40 year tenure in religious education at North Shore Unitarian Church, a long career for which she was awarded the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Angus H. McLean Award for Excellence in Religious Education, the first time it has been presented to a Canadian.

Looking back now, Lynn says she never expected to become North Shore’s Director of Religious Education (DRE), or to stay in that position for as long as she did. A former public school teacher who was staying home to raise two young children, she was initially hired to serve as an arts and crafts teacher Sunday mornings but knew little about UU theology or history. She soon discovered, however, that it was a perfect fit.

“I realized very shortly, ‘oh my goodness, where was this place?’” she says. “‘I wish I’d found this years ago.’”

As the congregation moved into its own building a couple of years later and began to grow, the Religious Education program expanded to include as many as 115 children at its peak and was able to offer a wide variety of activities for the participants, including putting on musicals, holding sleepovers in the church, and hosting outdoor programs. As time went on, Lynn also began to feel more comfortable in the role and realized it wasn’t just a temporary occupation.

“Part of me thought I might go back to teaching, but the longer I served in this role, the more I realized this is really what I want to do,” she says. “It’s almost like a calling. I realized that first of all, I liked what I was able to teach the kids, it was more what I really believed in, and it felt like I was making a difference somehow. I just made such good connections with the kids, with the youth and their families, and I really felt like this is what my own family needed, so I could imagine that other families were needing this kind of spiritual support as well.”

Although the RE program at North Shore has declined in size since the 1980s, Lynn believes the lessons it and other UU communities have to offer remain as vital as ever and hopes those who follow in her footsteps receive the same support she did.

“I’m really hoping that this happens for religious educations in Canada, that they get the kind of support I got. And that they see this as something they can do as their life’s work. It’s really satisfying, really fulfilling work, and even though our numbers are not rising, so to speak, I still think that what we have to offer is valuable in this crazy world that we seem to be plunged into at the moment.” 

I’m really hoping that this happens for religious educations in Canada, that they get the kind of support I got. And that they see this as something they can do as their life’s work. It’s really satisfying, really fulfilling work, and even though our numbers are not rising, so to speak, I still think that what we have to offer is valuable in this crazy world that we seem to be plunged into at the moment.”

UUA Issues Statement of Conscience on White Supremacy

As an expression of its faith and values, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) takes positions on relevant issues of social justice. Its positions are discerned via the social witness process, as shepherded by the Commission on Social Witness. At the recent June 2021 General Assembly, delegates voted in support of a Statement of Conscience, Undoing Systemic White Supremacy: A Call to Prophetic Action

The statement affirms that “Seeking universal justice and equity, we call upon the Unitarian Universalist Association and Unitarian Universalist individuals and congregations/groups to actively engage in undoing systemic white supremacy in all of its manifestations,” and lists a series of specific calls to action. We encourage congregations and UUs to read through and reflect on these actions.

Shining Lights Award Nominee: Rev. Audrey Brooks of Edmonton’s Genocide Memorial Services

The CUC recently awarded the Shining Lights award to the Mirth and Dignity group, known to many as the Facebook group, the UU Hysterical Society. Their story was featured in the May 25 eNews.

The Shining Lights team also recognized the efforts of the two other nominees for the award: the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton’s efforts to foster multigenerational community; and Rev. Audrey Brooks and the Unitarian Church of Edmonton’s efforts to raise awareness of genocide, through services and a peace garden.

Brooks held the first genocide memorial service in 2009, deciding she would place a stone in a dry riverbed in her yard to commemorate the Holocaust. She held a service to mark the placement, and was overwhelmed by the turnout the event drew. Although her initial intention was for the service to be a one-time event, she ultimately decided to make it an annual one at the encouragement of two participants, brothers from Somalia.

“They came to me and said that I must continue the Genocide Memorial Services as a witness to those who died by intentional violence committed against them,” she says. “They said, one with tears in his eyes, that they thought no one knew what was happening in their country, and thought that no one cared.  By being invited to tell the story of the murder of their parents, and to place a stone for their country in the memorial garden, they were able to honour them.”

In the years since, Brooks’ peace garden has grown to include stones representing victims of genocide in 42 different countries, as well as stones representing violence against the LGBTQ2S+ community and other groups. The service grew to such an extent that it was no longer possible to hold it in her yard and it moved to the Unitarian Church of Edmonton, although people still visit the peace garden to pay their respects. It has become a neighbourhood sanctuary and place for meditation.

Brooks believes that Unitarian congregations can model our principles of worth and dignity for all people, by publicly declaring that genocide as a way of settling disputes is unacceptable, that there are ethical ways to resolve conflict than to deliberately plan violent attacks on civilian populations. She will continue with the services for as long as she can, supported by a considerable network of participants who make sure it happens every year.

Shining Lights Award Seeks Nominations

The CUC’s Shining Lights team wants to celebrate the stories of how you are changing your communities and congregations by living out your UU values in creative and innovative ways. Whether you are working on a project that engages your community or developing strategies to make Unitarian Universalism more relevant in Canada and beyond, we want to know! 

By sharing your projects and what you have learned, you can inform and inspire others, and help the national Canadian UU community to establish best practices for future projects. Sharing allows all of us to celebrate together and develop a lasting network of creative thinkers and program innovators.

How to participate in the Shining Lights Program:

The Shining Lights story nomination is a two-part process. 

First, submit your story to the Shining Lights Team ( by January 31. Please include:

    1. Name of your group, its members and your contact information
    2. The story of your group’s innovation 

In the next phase, a Shining Lights team member will contact you to gather more information for our selection process. Alternately, you are also welcome to complete this phase independently and submit it directly to by February 28, 2022. When submissions are finalized, a Shining Lights committee will be in contact with the applicants.

Who may submit applications? Stories may be received from UU communities or, with their permission, may be made on their behalf. If a nominated community is selected as the annual Shining Light Award recipient, they must agree to work with the CUC staff and the Shining Lights team to develop a compelling “community story” to make their innovation available to others. 

Bookend Anniversaries for the Church of Olinda
Rev. Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

Amid this unusual year, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Olinda in Ruthven, ON is keeping alive some flames of celebration, as two “bookend” anniversaries have come up – 140 years since the founding of the church, followed by 140 years since the construction of its building.  These are two separate events, each with its own significance.

The Universalist Church of Olinda was founded as a community on November 10, 1880, by the initiative of “Big” Mike Fox, who had been reading Universalist literature and was inspired by its inclusive approach to faith.

But that’s not the church’s only anniversary these days.  As it happens, the church was founded almost a year before the building’s cornerstone was laid on September 21, 1881.  The Universalist Church of Olinda existed for nearly a year before it had a building.

This was unexpectedly appropriate, as the Church of Olinda celebrated the 140th anniversary of its founding with a Zoom Sunday service on November 8, 2020, outside of its building – much the same way that its founders did 140 years ago, acknowledging that even before its building was up, the church was there.  And over the past several months, the church has been here, even outside of the building’s walls.

In a poetic possibility, Olinda may well be able to celebrate its building’s anniversary in its building, depending on how immunization efforts and other pandemic variables play out.  Either way, we’ll celebrate on Sunday, September 19, 2021.

To mark this occasion, longtime member Jane Innerd wrote The Little Church at the Crossroads, an updated supplement to Louise Foulds’ book Universalists in Ontario, which was written and revised for the church’s centennial and 125th anniversaries respectively, and includes a larger view of our Universalist heritage.  These books, including Jane Innerd’s supplement, are available at cost (plus shipping) at the Olinda church website.

While Olinda is not the oldest Unitarian or Universalist congregation in Canada, it does hold the oldest church building in continuous use by a Universalist or Unitarian community in Canada.  A plaque by the Ontario Ministry of Heritage gives witness to this distinction.

We’ve been reminded that the church is not the building – and we’ve also been reminded that the building matters.  We can cope and even thrive without it, but it also adds so much more to the community, as one of the many places where our community can feel at home, and build deeper relationships.

News from the Unitarian Universalist Office at the United Nations (UU@UN)

For UU Youth, Adults, and Climate Justice Enthusiasts

Be part of planning the 2022 Intergenerational Spring Seminar hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Office at the United Nations! Youth (age 14-18) and Adult Chaplain and Planning Committee Member applications are due August 9, 2021. The planning team will convene in September to design intergenerational programming that is inclusive, engaging, and inspiring. The 2022 Intergenerational Spring Seminar, expected to take place in New York City, April 22-24, 2022, will center around the theme of action for climate justice, with a focus on climate-forced displacement. See for more about the Seminar, this year’s theme, and leadership opportunities.

Take Action to Become a Sixth Principle Congregation

The Unitarian Universalist Office at the United Nations announces an annual award to recognize congregations that show their commitment to our Sixth Principle’s “goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all” and their support of the UU@UN through their actions and financial giving. The Sixth Principle Award is given yearly to congregations that complete at least three engagement activities between April 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022 (see the categories online!). In recognition for their steadfast dedication to international human rights, Sixth Principle Congregations that qualify and submit a brief report by March 31 will be presented with an award certificate during a reception at the next CUC National Conference, formal recognition on the UU@UN website, and a specialized video from UU@UN staff honoring the congregation’s contribution.

Find more information about the Sixth Principle Award and how to qualify.

CUC Welcomes Danielle Webber as Youth and Young Adult Ministry Specialist

The CUC is pleased that Rev. Danielle Webber has joined the CUC staff team as the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Specialist. Danielle will partner with Casey Stainsby, with Casey continuing to coordinate youth and young adult events and programs, and Danielle focusing on advancing youth and young adult ministry and the Our Whole Lives program. Here are some of the ways Danielle will work with youth, young adults, advisors, and congregations:

  • Consulting with congregations on Youth and Young Adult (YaYA) Ministries.
  • Maintaining current knowledge on YaYA ministry trends and innovations.
  • Envision long-term strategic planning for youth and young adult ministry in Canada.
  • Create and curate resources for event planning, workshops, learning opportunities, and resources for congregations.
  • Enhance relationships with religious exploration staff, ministers and youth advisors.
  • Manage OWL program and coordinate CUC-sponsored OWL program and training.

In an article she wrote recently on the advantages that exist for youth and young adults in remaining connected to their UU communities, Danielle wrote: “We need to reframe our thinking about Youth and Young Adults (YaYAs) being our future. Not only are they very much part of our present life as congregations and faith communities, but if leaders within our faith and adults among our pews are not careful, YaYAs will not be part of our future. So many young Unitarian Universalists are making their mark on the world right now. And it is essential to the future of our Canadian UU communities that we create welcoming and supportive spaces within our systems for spiritual care and sustenance.’ 

Youth and Young Adults know how to engage with justice work, we were raised to engage in justice work. What we need from our faith communities is support for our faith work, spiritual connection and a place of reprieve. Yes we are engaged in justice work, yes we want to support the justice work UU communities are doing, but we need places where we can talk about both the heartache and the awe we have for the world. We want a place where we can be witnessed through the pain and the joy that we experience. I know that we can create that for one another, and I look forward to helping create that.”

Read more about Danielle. Danielle can be reached at

Widening the Circle of Concern: Canadian Perspective

Widening the Circle of Concern: Canadian Perspective workshops take place over several sessions in the fall of 2021 to broaden our understanding of social justice and its implementation within our UU communities. Congregations and/or groups are invited to send a team of lay leaders and religious professionals to engage in learning an adapted Canadian version of the UUA’s study guide – Widening the Circle of Concern. Participants – those who have a demonstrated commitment to anti-racism, social justice, and are interested in changing systems in the congregations – may become facilitators as the program runs in Canadian UU communities in 2022 and beyond. 

In each of the sessions, participants will be:

  • Provided a taste from the Widening the Circle of Concern study guide
  • Requested to share their lived experiences and understandings of the chapter/concepts in their congregation/community
  • Requested to consider their congregation’s/ group’s capacity to do the work

Invite all to reflect on what is needed to expand their capacity.

Kiersten E. Moore, Director of Lifespan Faith Engagement at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver and one of the program’s facilitators, believes the program is a way to work towards creating the diverse, multicultural communities that many of the members of her congregation have expressed the desire to become.

“People want to see more diversity in their congregations,” she says. “So I think it’s important to explore what the barriers are and what kind of change or shift we can make to maybe shine a light and become aware of things we may be doing that we don’t recognize as a barrier to inclusion. I think we’re all enriched by a diversity of voices and a diversity of viewpoints.”

Serving With Spirit: Nurturing UU Leaders

The Serving With Spirit: Nurturing UU Leaders introductory day of workshops on October 2, 2021, offers a wide range of options to explore leadership gifts and to find creative expression for UU values. This program was created by a fantastic British Columbia UU Planning Team and CUC staff. All are welcome to attend- Young Adults; social justice groups; religious professionals, UU groups and congregation leaders as well as those who may become leaders.  

Join fellow Canadian UUs to explore leadership gifts and ways to express them, finding creative expression for UU values, and building skills so that our structures reflect our UU principles.

This will be a great opportunity to explore a wide range of options for engaging with UU communities and congregations. We welcome you to join others in this exploration and then, in the two years ahead, consider some more in-depth training regarding topics of interest to you!

CUC Employment Opportunities

We’re looking for enthusiastic and skilled team players to join the CUC staff team:

Communications Specialist – Part-time

Our Communications Specialist needs a solid background in communications, is equally comfortable with details and big picture strategic thinking, loves to be in the centre of the action and understands the nuances of our faith. The CS is also social media savvy, an excellent writer and storyteller, and knows how to develop and work a communications plan.

This role may be combined with the Web Guru position if all requirements are met.

Communications Specialist Job Description

Web Coordinator – Part-time

Our Web Guru will have the WordPress skills to maintain the Canadian Unitarian Council’s website, manage upgrades, web issues and security breaches, ensure compliance with regulations, and keep current with best practices. The WG is also responsible for event form creation, updating web content, and working with the CUC’s new resource platform, LearnDash.

This role may be combined with the Communications Specialist job if all requirements are met.

Web Guru Job Description 

These jobs will remain open until the position is filled.

What’s Making Us Smile

 When Robert Fulghum advised in Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten to “share everything”, he probably didn’t have an Olympic gold medal in mind. Nonetheless, it’s a lesson two Olympic high jumpers took to heart.

Upcoming Events (online via Zoom)

Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact

Featured Events

8th Principle Process – The CUC will hold a series of 4 forums to bring congregations together in respectful conversation. The forums are cumulative and each one will build on the one before it, and participants can attend these as a series or as stand-alone sessions. These are offered as a way for congregations to engage fully in conversation without having to organize their own discussions and to hear from others across the country.
Times: 4 pm PT | 5 pm MT | 6 pm CT | 7 pm ET | 8 pm AT (1.5 hrs)
Forum 1, Sunday, September 19
Forum 2, Sunday, October 3
Forum 3, Sunday, October 17
Forum 4, Sunday, November 7

          Lay Chaplain Q & A
          Tuesday, September 28 – 4:00 pm PT | 5:00 pm MT |  6:00 pm CT | 7:00 pm ET | 8:00 pm
           More information

Regular Online Events

Gathered Here
Monday, September 13, 5 pm PT | 6 pm MT | 7 pm CT | 8 pm ET | 9 pm AT
More information

Connect and Deepen – Virtual Gathering
Sunday, September 12 & 26, 1 pm PT |2 pm MT| 3 pm CT| 4 pm ET| 5 pm  AT
More information

Leaders Roundtable
Saturday, August 28 & September 25, 9 am PT |10 am MT | 11 am CT | 12 pm ET | 1 pm AT
More information

Saturday, September 18, 9 pm PT |10 pm MT |11 pm CT | 12 pm ET | 1 pm AT
More information