CUC eNews: August 11, 2020 – Issue 118

In This Issue:

Letter From Vyda

On a sunny July Saturday, more than 40 Unitarian Universalists in a variety of leadership roles gathered online for a full-day workshop. The topic was Healthy Congregations and Managing Conflict, presented by Joan Carolyn and Rev. Linda Thomson, CUC Congregational Life Leads for the BC-Western, and Central-Eastern regions. Our team was thrilled with the attendance, and the response to the program which gave attendees the opportunity to develop new tools, change their perspectives and shift the dynamic towards healthy relationships. 

A few days later some of our staff attended the virtual event featuring Dr. Ibram X. Kendi who spoke about the principles in his book How to Be an Antiracist. Erin Horvath, our Social Justice Lead, facilitated a post-event coffee chat for more than 30 of our Canadian UUs. Much of the conversation that evening centred around the value of getting new perspectives on this issue, and using the tools we need to shift our attitudes and behaviour.

While all this outward-facing work is happening, we are also working behind the scenes to continue programs and events to support congregations and our members. One of the projects we will be releasing this month is a resource guide for congregations to assist with considerations for in-person gatherings as they navigate opportunities and challenges in a time of change.  

It’s always interesting to see the common threads that run through our work here at the CUC. In a time of so much change, it seems our work, professionally, spiritually, and even personally, is centering on these themes – developing new tools, shifting the dynamics, and considering new perspectives. And then, as sometimes happens, I came across wise words that provided some clarity about these connections.  

“All spiritual practice is the art of shifting perspectives.” ~ Teal

Of course. 

Be well friends,
Vyda Ng 

CUC Conversations About Antiracism Continue

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, noted author of How to Be an Antiracist, spoke at a virtual event hosted by Prince George’s County Memorial Library System in the US about Black Lives Matter and the impact of racism. Over 79,000 attended this event, with a number of Canadian UUs among them. 30 gathered afterward for an informal online Coffee Chat discussion facilitated by Erin Horvath, CUC’s Social Justice Lead.

The discussion in the Coffee Chat began with the acknowledgment that ingrained societal lessons about race are sometimes difficult to identify and overcome, and the nature of our own racism may be invisible to us. The group explored the concept that racism is a series of beliefs and behaviours that fall along a spectrum and that we may shift on that spectrum each day, depending on the situation we are in, and the degree of our own awareness. But, none of us get to permanently label ourselves “100% non-racist” forevermore.  

A portion of the conversation focused on how we might approach the challenge of racism within our own faith when so many of us are white-skinned and the culture of our congregations reflects our demographics. 

Charmaine Ferworn, a member of the Dismantling Racism Study Group attended Dr. Kendi’s talk as well as the chat; for her, listening to Dr. Ibram Kendi’s online discussion was a useful reminder that actively and effectively dismantling racism is still necessary.  

The UU’s who participated in the “Coffee Chat” appreciated the informal nature of the conversation and expressed an interest in having more opportunities to connect in this manner. The conversation is one of a number the CUC plans to host regarding antiracism. Upcoming events include: 

    • Sep 23, 7-8:30 pm ET: Reflections following from Black Lives Matter roundtable on Jun 25, with reading resources
    • Oct 21: On being anti-racist and dealing with systemic racism
    • Nov 14: as part of the regional & national gatherings weekend: Dismantling Racism and Raising Antiracist kids. 

The recording of Dr. Kendi’s talk about how to be an Antiracist will be available for on-demand viewing until August 20, 2020, and on YouTubePlease note: This is not a CUC or UUA sponsored event and we are grateful to the Prince George County library and its various partners for making this event possible and open to all. 

Dr. Kendi’s Ted Talk expands on his core message: there is only racist and anti-racist; being”not racist” doesn’t really exist.

The difference between being “not racist” and antiracist | Ibram X. Kendi

CUC Issues a Statement on Guaranteed Liveable Income

In Dauphin, Manitoba, between 1974 and 1979, the Canadian Government piloted an innovative and progressive program guaranteeing that residents of the city had enough money to live with dignity. The project, called Minicome, ensured that any person or family who fell into the lowest income bracket would receive a stipend which varied by family size and other income. The results were remarkable with documented improvements in residents’ physical and mental health and educational levels.

In early August, the CUC released a statement calling for governments to consider implementing a Guaranteed Liveable Income, similar to the program that was piloted in Dauphin, as part of the pandemic recovery plan. The federal government should be commended for their swift COVID response to ensure that Canadian residents have stable income to weather economic shocks, take care of their health, and provide a cushion against poverty. These actions now give us a roadmap to help us ensure all Canadian residents can live with security going forward. 

We know the cost of poverty is too high, both financially and in terms of health, education and opportunity. In Canada in 2018, 8% of all children, and 1 in 4 children living in families with single mothers were living in poverty. The statistics are far worse for Indigenous communities where  47% of Status First Nation children, 25% of Inuit children; 22% of Métis children, and 32% of non-status First Nations children live in poverty. The numbers are nothing short of staggering. 

We must do better. Guaranteed Liveable Income programs are an excellent way to begin. 

To learn more, read the CUC statement on Guaranteed Liveable Income and our resources for reflection. And consider sending your MP a letter calling on Canada to include Guaranteed Liveable Income in our social safety net. We’ve provided a sample letter with our statement. 

Resources for Education and Reflection

What is Universal Income? A short animated video explains the central ideas around basic income issued by RSA, a UK organization advocating for social change. 

Vice Magazine article about the basic income experiment which ran in Dauphin, Manitoba in the 1970s. 

Global News story from 2016 outlining how guaranteed annual income might work in Canada. 

Basic poverty statistics issued by Canada Without Poverty. 

United Church: Create a Universal Basic Income Program.

Read the CUC Statement on Guaranteed Livable Income

Sunday Summer Services Series Celebrates Variety

Amidst the unprecedented challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, one bright spot has been the vast array of virtual worship services provided by Canada’s Unitarian Universalist congregations. Although many Canadian UUs were already “visiting” different congregations during the spring, the ongoing Sunday Summer Services Series has provided a special opportunity to experience the diversity on offer.

Attendees of the services have had the chance to learn from Unitarian Universalists of all ages, with services including lessons and reflections from children, youth, and young adults. Services have also spanned the entire geographic range of the country, kicking things off in British Columbia with the  North Shore Unitarian Congregation’s service on July 5 and continuing with the Unitarian Fellowship of Fredericton’s service this past Sunday, August 9. And Unitarian Universalists from both coasts and everywhere in between have participated as well, all without having to leave their living rooms. 

Haven’t attended a service yet but feeling intrigued? Don’t worry, there are still three opportunities upcoming, including:

Liz James of Saskatoon Unitarians presenting on “Reverence for Weird Things” August 16;
Rev. Jessica Rodela of Grand River Unitarian on “The Parable of the Plumber” August 23;
Rev. Anne Barker of Westwood Unitarian on “Nature in the Six Sources” August 30. 

All summer service information can be found on the CUC Events Calendar

Join Us for the Sunday Summer Services

Charity Benefits from Cross-Country Service Offering

Retired Unitarian minister Rev. Fred Cappuccino and his wife Bonnie founded Child Haven International in 1985. Inspired by the ideals and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, the charity provides children and women in developing countries with food, education, health care, shelter and clothing, and emotional and moral support. Child Haven currently operates nine homes for children and women, including six in India, and one each in Nepal, Tibet, and Bangladesh. 

When Canadian Unitarian Universalists gathered for the Cross-Country Service in May, Child Haven was one of two charities chosen for the virtual offering. As Fred Cappuccino noted in a recent email included below, the money raised at the service was much appreciated:

We are grateful for another generous donation from the CUC, this time $4,180.50! Your generosity is even more important during this anxious era of Covid19. Our ten spring dinners have all been canceled in the U.S. and Canada. We trust that our eight dinners in the Fall and Winter will go forward.

None of our staff or children in any of the Homes has the virus. It is school break time so, as usual, some of the children have gone home for a short time if they have a parent or relative who can care for them. The managers try to keep in touch with these children, so far they are okay.

All three countries are locked down in varying degrees. The staff that is in the Homes are remaining there for 24-hours and everyone in the Homes is observing the rules of keeping healthy, frequently washing hands with soap and water, getting rest, social distancing, eating healthy food, and keeping their immune systems up.

At this time, they are not allowing any non-official visitors to the Homes, and all official visitors are required to wash their hands upon entry. Any staff going out for shopping for necessary supplies are required to wash their hands upon return.

We will be sending out general messages to our donors via our website, Facebook, and email to keep everyone updated as much as possible during these uncertain times. Thank you again for supporting our children.

Bonnie and I are self-isolating at home, and the Child Haven office staff is working from home. We all wish you good health and all the best!”

To donate, and to learn more about the remarkable work of staff and volunteers, visit Child Haven’s website,

Minister Profile: Danielle Webber

Rev. Danielle Webber has served Kelowna Unitarians since 2018. She was raised Unitarian and her grandmother, Rev. Pat Webber, is a retired Unitarian minister. An active lay leader in the Calgary Unitarians congregation where she grew up, her experience in this role convinced her to change her focus from psychology to ministry. She completed her ministerial studies at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.

Danielle has found that small group ministry is the most rewarding aspect of her work as a minister. Kelowna Unitarians participates in the Soul Matters Sharing Circle, a group of over 145 UU congregations who follow the same monthly worship themes, and she’s appreciated the chance to delve into these with members of her congregation. The Covid-19 pandemic has offered Danielle both a challenge and an opportunity in this work, forcing her to practice physical distancing but at the same time allowing her to reach out to a larger group of people online.

“It’s been challenging in that it completely shifted the way that I have always done community, but it’s also helped broaden my understanding of what beloved community could look like,” she says.

Danielle believes that the principles of Unitarian Universalism are particularly relevant in these times, and will remain so as Unitarian Universalists continue to express these ideas and make themselves visible. 

“The principles of our faith are becoming more and more relevant and important in society at large,” she says,  “and so being able to express inherent worth and dignity, the practice of democracy, the interconnectedness of all beings, and working towards a diverse and anti-racist world are really important to the greater society.”

Danielle was also part of the Summer Service series, participating in the Young Adult service on August 2. The theme of the service was resilience, and Danielle noted that community resilience requires us to create a system that can maintain its integrity and purpose while facing dramatic changes.

The fertile climate of the Kelowna area appeals to Danielle, and if she had to pick a career other than ministry, it would probably be urban farming, as she appreciates the opportunity to grow fruits and vegetables on small plots of land within cities.

Learn More aBout Danielle on the Kelowna Website

Farewell Conversation with Asha Philar

photos supplied by Asha Pillar

The CUC staff team recently said farewell to Asha Philar, Youth and Young Adult Ministry Specialist. Asha was a valued member of the team, and her work with congregations and with our youth and young adults continues to positively impact our connections with one another across the country. Before Asha moved on to her next role, we had a chance to talk with her about her work with the CUC.  

How did you begin your work with the CUC? 

I was lucky to have grown up in a Unitarian congregation where I had the opportunity to be involved in a variety of ways and to step into some leadership positions as a young person. In 2011 I was offered a Cannuudle Coordinator contract which I continued until 2013 and then was hired to be Youth and Young Adult Ministry Specialist for the CUC in 2016.

Tell us about the work you did with the CUC.  

My goal as Youth and Young Adult Ministry Specialist was always to help ensure our faith is a welcoming home to people of all ages, where young people could find healthy connections and support. In some ways, I wanted to mirror what I had experienced as a youth at the First Congregation of Ottawa which welcomed me fully and supported me as I grew emotionally and spiritually.

On a national level, we worked to offer different ways of engaging youth and young adults through events, and programming. I also consulted directly with congregations at local levels to develop initiatives to be more inclusive and better integrate youth and young adults as part of those communities

What are some of your favourite memories of your time with CUC?

I really treasure my memories of working with and connecting with youth and young adults at events and through leadership development. One of the particular initiatives I am most proud of is the development of the Pastoral care team for youth and young adults which allows for supportive listening from ministers via phone, text, or email. We began working on this in 2018 and I think it represents the best of the CUC. It uses our national platform to reach right across the country and create a network of pastoral care which no congregation would be able to replicate on its own.

My CUC colleagues will chuckle I am sure, but I am also proud of the processes we created to run events efficiently. Those processes meant we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel and we could easily evaluate and improve our planning and logistics. But more importantly, having processes in place allowed us to really focus on our main goal of developing programming and nurturing connections for youth and young adults. Those events were important venues for community for youth and young adults. 

Tell us why a specialized national/regional youth and young adult program has value for an organization like the CUC. 

I think the CUC has a unique role to play in connecting young UUs. The CUC is not a very large organization and we don’t have a very big staff but by drawing on relationships and systems we have in place we are able to create programs that reach right across our whole country to really connect youth and young adults. 

I think there is a lot of joy when we are able to gather with people our own age – just as there is joy in gathering across the generations. Our national and regional youth and young adult programs work to make sure that there inclusive, sustainable, and accessible opportunities for that to happen. 

What message do you want to give the youth and young adults you worked with? Any message for the congregations that support them?

I want to tell our youth and young adults that you are valued, and you are incredibly important to our faith and national community. I also want to let them know that it is up to all of us to find a place in this faith for ourselves and I would encourage them to create that for themselves and to step into leadership roles. Young people bring something special and important to our congregations and to our faith, not just because they represent the future, but also because their knowledge and perspective is valued right now.

For congregations doing the really important work of youth and young adult inclusion, I want to thank you and encourage you. This work can be difficult and uncomfortable at times but the benefits of creating welcoming congregations are immeasurable.

We know that Asha will be missed by her colleagues and the young people she worked with. “We very much appreciate Asha’s hard work and dedication. Her vision for the programs and the relationships and frameworks Asha built over her time with us have really advanced our goals for true inclusion for youth and young adults. We are grateful to have had her as part of our team and we wish her every success,”  says CUC Executive Director Vyda Ng.

Asha has started in her new role as  a Community Program Manager at House of Friendship in Kitchener, Ontario where she will use her organizational and community development skills to bring much needed supportive services to some of the region’s vulnerable populations and ensure a community where everyone belongs and thrives. She’s looking forward to spending more time putting down some roots and connecting with friends and neighbours.

In the next eNews, we will highlight some of the resources Asha developed to allow the CUC to continue her work. 

Learn More about the CUC’s Youth and Young Adult Programming

What’s Making Us Smile

Photo by Vera Davidova

When a deaf man couldn’t read others’ lips, he created a better mask.

From the article:
As someone who spent years becoming a keen observer of people’s expressions, Travers knows that masks have value beyond the transmission of language.

“Your smile is the door opener,” Travers said. “That’s going to make a person feel comfortable or not comfortable. So for me, the bottom line for this mask is communication, but it is communication through a smile.”

Read the Washington Post article

Upcoming Events (until further notice, all CUC events will be held online via Zoom.)

Please note that the COVID Leader’s Roundtable and our Coffeehouse Connections events will be on hiatus during July and August. 

Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact

Featured Events

Sunday Summer Services Series, 1 p.m. PT | 2 p.m. MT | 3 p.m. CT | 4 p.m. ET | 5 p.m. AT
August 16 – Hosted by Saskatoon Unitarian, Theme: Reverence for Wild Things
August 23 – Hosted by  Grand River Unitarian, Theme: Parable of the Plumber
August 30 – Hosted by Westwood Unitarian, Theme: Nature in the 6 Sources

Unitarians A-Z
Tuesday,  August 11, August 25, 4 p.m. PT  | 5 p.m. MT  | 6 p.m. CT  | 7 p.m. ET  | 8 p.m. AT

Save the date! The CUC 2020 National Fall and Regional Gathering will take place from Friday, November 13 to Sunday, November 15. Join us for regional conversations, interesting workshops, and a national Sunday Service.  Watch for more details and registration information coming soon!

Regular Online Events

Gathered Here: Young Adult Check-In
August 20 – 2 p.m. (all times ET)
August 31 – 8 pm

Connect and Deepen – Virtual Gathering
Sunday, September 13 & 27, 1 p.m. PT |2 p.m. MT| 3 p.m. CT| 4 p.m. ET| 5 p.m. AT 
Please register in advance.