CUC eNews: August 16, 2022 – Issue 141

In This Issue:

Letter From Vyda

This summer, like many of you, I have been thinking about how we live out the 8th Principle, personally and collectively. Each week, I have taken a few quiet moments to read–and consider–the latest offering in our Summer Reflections series. 

I have been challenged and engaged by the thoughtful and often provocative questions posed by Beverly Horton, Rev. Linda Thomson, Rev. Danielle Webber, Casey Stainsby, and others. Questions like: When was the last time you or your congregation made a change? What is required of me? And, what is our next step on the journey toward beloved community?

On July 18th, I even shared some of my thoughts on accountability, asking readers to consider what it is about the concept of being accountable that makes some of us go squirmy and feel uncomfortable?

We could say the same thing about reflection. It isn’t always comfortable to look closely at our own attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours. But it is necessary if we want to do better. 

Many of you have reached out to say that you appreciate the weekly posts; thank you. Others have communicated their displeasure. Some have suggested that we should be reflecting on all the principles. I agree. 

This fall, the series will expand to include reflections on all eight principles–and I invite you to participate. If you have a reflection or story arising from your own experience, please share it with us.

Of course, it is not only our principles that make us Unitarian Universalist. It is our covenant, and the covenantal relationships we hold with people in our congregations and fellowships, within the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC), and with the wider world.

This coming year, the CUC will be asking what it means to live into covenant. In fact, “Living into Covenant” is the theme of the fall gathering (November 18-20, 2022), where we will explore this meaningful–and sometimes messy–practice in regional breakout sessions, in workshops, and in worship. 

Let us be inspired by this quote from American Unitarian Universalist Tandi Rogers. “I’m not interested in a pretty covenant with all the right words that sits dusty on a shelf. Give me a covenant with smudge marks, and coffee stains, and marked out words and added words and tear stains. Give me a covenant that makes us stretch for a lifetime and into the next generation.”

Speaking of stretching, this coming year, the CUC will continue to develop and deliver programs and events that look at issues through a decolonizing, anti-racist lens. On September 7, 2022, we invite you to attend the kickoff event for our social justice series on un-colonizing climate justice. And, on September 25, we will hold a national service called Unsettled and Unafraid in honour of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation (September 30, 2022).

I look forward to seeing you at these and other events in September. Until then, I wish you well.

P.S. This September, we will be encouraging congregations to participate in a Common Read for All Ages. I can’t share the details yet, but we will make an announcement soon. 

Be well friends,
Vyda Ng
Executive Director

Rest in Peace Bert Christensen

Bert Christensen, an active and much-loved member of Toronto First, the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC), and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) for decades, died on the morning of Friday, August 5, 2022. He died on his own terms, thanks to the new law, C-14, MAID: Medical Assistance In Dying. 

Bert passed quietly in Birchmount Hospital with his wife, Louise Ripley, at his bedside. He had been ill for some time. Thanks to knowing the date, he had emotion-filled visits with all his family in the week before he passed. Our heartfelt thanks to Dying With Dignity for the team who made this possible.

Bert was of invaluable service to the Canadian Unitarian Council, and received the Knight Award in 2005, which honours an individual who exemplifies the ideals of Unitarian Universalism in Canada. Rest well and peacefully, Bert. 

Help African UUs Come to a New Home in Canada

The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) has an opportunity to help a family from Rwanda settle in Canada. The father is a Unitarian Universalist (UU) minister who has faced persecution because of his UU affiliation. He was forced to uproot his wife and young child to another African country where they currently live as refugees. They continue to live in fear because of the close proximity between the two countries. 

The father is acquainted with several UU congregations in Canada. CUC Executive Director, Vyda Ng, met him in person at a UU conference overseas before he was forced to flee his home country. 

The family is open to resettling anywhere in Canada. The CUC has the allocations to sponsor the family of three, and we have provisionally found a congregation that could help with the settlement. The congregation and the CUC have some sponsorship funds available; however, we need to raise funds to cover the remaining costs – it costs between $25,000 to $30,000 to resettle a family of three. 

Will you help? Donate online to the CUC’s Refugee Sponsorship fund here; or send a cheque to:
Canadian Unitarian Council @Centre for Social Innovation
192 Spadina Ave, Suite 302
Toronto ON M5T 2C2  

Canadian Unitarians Reaffirm Commitment to Reproductive Justice

A statement issued on June 24, 2022 by the Canadian Unitarian Council’s (CUC’s) National Voice Team: UU Ministers of Canada (UUMOC) President, Rev. Anne Barker; CUC Board President, Charles Shields; and CUC Executive Director, Vyda Ng.

For more than 50 years, Unitarians and Universalists in Canada have advocated for reproductive rights. Members of the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) have adopted 10 resolutions on family planning, family life education, and abortion since 1968 and are proud that access to abortion is a protected right in Canada.

The CUC and the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Ministers of Canada (UUMOC) are deeply troubled by the Supreme Court of the United States’ (SCOTUS’) decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturns Roe v. Wade. With this decision, SCOTUS has determined that the right to an abortion is not protected by the United States Constitution and allows states to restrict or ban abortions.

“Human dignity requires that every person have the right to decide whether they shall bear a child,” says CUC Executive Director Vyda Ng. “Every child deserves to be wanted. With this ruling, millions of people will have these rights stripped away. Those who are already marginalized will be further victimized.”

“The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court does not change Canadian legislation,” says Rev. Anne Barker, UUMOC President, “but that does not mean we are not impacted by it. Our collective liberation is bound up together and we know that what harms one harms us all.”

In 2015, the CUC committed to “ensure that Canada continues to permit the right to abortion to be determined exclusively by the woman (sic) in consultation with a physician, and to ensure that abortions are available and accessible to all Canadians at a reasonable cost.”

“Today, we reaffirm our commitment to safe, affordable, equitable abortion in Canada and around the world,” says CUC President Charles Shields. “We re-assert our belief that the right to abortion should be determined exclusively by the person who is pregnant in consultation with their physician. And we express our solidarity with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and other organizations advocating for reproductive justice in the United States.

Canadian Unitarian Council resolutions related to reproductive justice:

Statement from our colleagues at the Unitarian Universalist Association:

Shining Lights Profile: First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa’s Ajashki Food Security Project

Each year, the Shining Lights Award celebrates innovative projects developed by Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations and groups. In 2022, the award was granted to the You’ve Got Mail group from First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto. Each of the four nominees for the award will be profiled in an issue of the eNews. This month, we feature the Ajashki Food Security Project from First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa (FirstU). 

The Ajashki Project began in 2020. A group of congregants from FirstU met with Algonquin Anishinaabe Elder Verna McGregor in a Sharing Circle, which later became known as the Circle of Support. They came together to generate ideas for the use of land on the FirstU campus. Land recognized as unceded, unsurrendered, ancestral territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Peoples. Elder Verna came up with the idea of creating an Indigenous Learning Centre that would be supported by FirstU. 

The first step towards creating the Learning Centre was to launch a food security project. The group engaged Kayoki Whiteduck, an Algonquin Anishinaabe young adult and Indigenous Horticulture Technician. The project, which also tied in with the congregation’s journey towards Green Sanctuary accreditation, was born. Later, it was given the name Ajashki (the Algonquin language word for soil).

As the Food and Climate Educator, Whiteduck developed a hands-on, Indigenous-led food security/sovereignty and climate education/work program. It provides exposure to Indigenous cultural experiences and builds bridges of understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and groups. Two young adults, called Future Food Warriors, helped him build a garden on the FirstU campus. Looking back, Whiteduck says his work with these young adults has been the most rewarding aspect of the project. 

“You can really see them developing an interest and passion for . . . food security and agriculture,” he says. “[You can] really see [them] grow and learn and become educated in the field.”

In addition to learning about food security and climate challenges, the Future Food Warriors could take produce home to share with family and friends. The rest of the produce was given to the Parkdale Food Centre and to people in the FirstU community who experienced food insecurity. 

Members of the congregation have helped with the project in turn. They have watered the garden on days when the Future Food Warriors weren’t available. They also helped design a structure to prevent squirrels from eating the plants. 

Whiteduck believes other UU congregations could replicate the project. He adds that it’s an important initiative for every community to undertake. 

“I think this kind of project is not just important for the First Unitarian congregation,” he says. “At this point of climate change, [it’s important] for the whole world to have projects like this . . . focused on food security and climate change.”

Meet a Director of Music: Sandra Hunt, Unitarian Church of Montreal

In each edition of the eNews, we introduce you to a committed Unitarian Universalist (UU), who is either a religious professional or a dedicated volunteer. In this way, we hope to strengthen the fabric of our connections to each other.

Sandra Hunt has served as Director of Music at the Unitarian Church of Montreal since 1987.  At the time, the congregation was seeking a new pianist; she auditioned on a whim. Over the years, she’s found the opportunity to contribute to services a rewarding aspect of her position.

“I think really it’s being able to provide live musical experiences every week that are very meaningful in the context of the service,” she says. “I think our service team really works hard to make everything fit together, be relevant, and to be resonant with all the elements of the service.”

Sandra usually performs three pieces for each service: gathering music, a prelude, and music for the lighting of the chalice. The music she chooses has shifted in recent years, as Unitarian Universalists have become more conscious of social justice issues. A change she’s been happy to make.

“In the last two years I’ve really changed what I play for services,” she says. “I used to play the great classical works on the piano. I’m trying to introduce a lot more works by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) composers. That is really interesting for me actually; it’s a great challenge. And really eye-opening. And my congregation is really open to that, they’re coming along with me.”

Sandra recalls a recent service featuring guest speaker Carole McGregor, the female chief of the Rotiskaré:wake (Bear Clan) of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawà:ke. The congregation built its service around her talk, and Sandra played pieces by the Anishnabe composer Beverly McIver.

“It was a powerful service, for the precious contribution of our guest,”  she says, “and I was thrilled to have music that resonated with our themes.


Experimenting with Communications and Digital Ministry: Leaders’ Roundtable featuring Liz James from Mirth & Dignity

Saturday, August 27, 2022: 9:00am PT | 10:00am MT | 11:00am CT| 12:00pm ET | 1:00pm AT | 1:30pm NT (1.5 hours)

Liz James, founder of Mirth & Dignity, will join the Leaders’ Roundtable in August to answer your questions about communications and digital ministry.

Mirth and Dignity is a Unitarian Universalist (UU) organization founded on the belief that humour can be a spiritual practice and a powerful force for good. It is a message the organization has shared far and wide. Most notably through the The Cracked Cup (a humour podcast) and the UU Hysterical Society Facebook page. The latter doubled its membership last year, surpassing 145,000 members. In an average month, Mirth & Dignity puts the words “Unitarian Universalism” in front of more than 1.5 million people. (Most of whom are smiling.)

In this 1.5 hour webinar, Liz James will share her journey into digital ministry; the insights she has gained through experimentation; and tips on how to communicate effectively. 

 If you have a question you’d like her to address in the webinar, you may send it to Shelley Motz (Communications Manager, Canadian Unitarian Council) at

Please register here to attend this free event. Registration will remain open until August 27, 2022.

Community, Connection & What Really Matters: Canadian UU Religious Educators’ Odyssey Address

Sunday, August 28, 2022: 1:00pm PT | 2:00pm MT | 3:00pm CT | 4:00pm ET | 5:00pm AT | 5:30pm NT

Lynn Sabourin, a Religious Educator for 40 years and a recipient of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) MacLean Award for Excellence in Religious Education, will deliver her Odyssey address on Sunday, August 28, 2022. In it, she will reflect on her years of service, lessons learned, and experiences to pass on to others.

 Lynn Sabourin was the Director of Religious Education at North Shore Unitarian Church for 40 years, retiring in June 2021. She has been passionate about the work, having also been involved as a Renaissance facilitator, a mentor in the Religious Education Credentialing Program and as a Good Officer for CUURE (Canadian Unitarian Universalist Religious Educators). 

Register now to attend this free event. 

Rising Together: Unitarian Universalist Youth & Emerging Adults of Colour

September 10, 2022: 1:00pm PT | 2:00pm MT | 3:00pm CT | 4:00pm ET | 5:00pm AT  | 5:30pm NT (1.5 hours)



On the first Saturday of the month, Black, Indigenous, and other Unitarian Universalists (UUs) of Colour (ages 14 to 24) are invited to join Camellia Jahanshahi for Rising Together.

You can learn more about Rising Together  and register for upcoming events on our website.

Un-colonize Climate Justice: Kickoff Event

Wednesday, September 7, 2022: 4:00pm PT | 5:00pm MT | 6:00pm CT | 7:00pm ET | 8:00pm AT | 8:30pm NT (2 hours)

Join us on September 7, 2022 for the Canadian Unitarian Council’s (CUC’s) first social justice event of the 2022-2023 congregational year. Our focus: un-colonizing climate justice movements. At this event you’ll learn:

    • The difference between colonizing, un-colonizing, and decolonizing;
    • How a Western worldview is showing up within our climate actions; and
    • How the Land Back movement is advocating for change.

Erin Horvath (CUC Social Justice Lead) and Amber Bellemare (CUC Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Coordinator) will be joined by an Elder-in-Residence and two guests: Arthur Hills of Emmanuel United Church in Waterloo, Ontario and Dave Skene of White Owl Native Ancestry Organization in Kitchener, Ontario. They will share their experiences participating in a Land Back exchange.

We highly encourage at least one person from each group or congregation to attend this event.  A minimum of 30 people must register by August 24, 2022 in order for it to proceed.

Registration fee: $25 or pay what you can. (Proceeds are given to the Elders and guests.).

Welcome to Connect & Deepen

Sundays, September 11, 2022, September 25, 2022, October 16, 2022, October 30, 2022, November 13, 2022, December 11, 2022, January 8, 2023, January 22, 2023: 1:00pm PT | 2:00pm MT | 3:00pm CT| 4:00pm ET | 5:00pm AT | 5:30pm NT

Canadian Unitarian Universalists (UUs) have found many ways in which to connect, even if isolated from in-person UU places of gathering. One such group is Connect & Deepen, an online community( run by the Canadian Unitarian Council) for adults interested in meaningful connection, conversation, reflection, and shared ideas for living our values. This is a welcoming space that encourages spiritual as well as philosophical exploration, with an eye to putting these explorations into action. 

Meetings are held twice a month. They begin with a time for connection–sharing joys and concerns–before moving into a chosen theme for the day. We examine a wide range of topics from the importance of playing and finding joy to living UU values in our daily lives. Participants are welcome to share theme ideas and forms of creative expression (music, poetry and so on). They also are invited to co-lead sessions.

Often a small group, Connect & Deepen participants are committed to the connections they have found with each other. Some thoughts shared in a recent survey:

    • I value our time very much. It grounds and centres me.
    • Any content that draws me out of myself to share is wonderful.
    • I enjoy sharing thought-provoking materials and dialogues.
    • Sharing thoughts and experiences with others. Learning of others’ journeys through life.

In closing, we warmly welcome you to join this group, explore together, share creativity, joys, concerns, and opportunities to deepen your faith journey. For upcoming themes, please visit the website or register to attend the 2022-2023 sessions.

Communicating from the Heart: A Webinar for Lay Chaplains

Saturday, September 24, 2022: 1:00pm PT | 2:00pm MT | 3:00pm CT| 4:00pm ET | 5:00pm AT | 5:30pm NT (3 hours)

As lay chaplains, we co-create meaningful, rich, and memorable experiences. Baby blessings. Wedding ceremonies. Memorials, eulogies, and more. To do so, we must understand the needs and desires of the couples and families we serve. We must listen to them with intent and ask skillful questions.

In this webinar, Sarah Hilton offers practical information and tips that will help you communicate more effectively, with greater confidence and curiosity.

Visit our website for more information and to register for this webinar.


Unsettled & Unafraid: National Service will Honour Truth & Reconciliation

Sunday, September 25, 2022: 10:00am PT | 11:00am MT | 12:00pm CT| 1:00pm ET | 2:00pm AT | 2:30pm NT (1 hour)

The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) is hosting “Unsettled and Unafraid,” a national service to honour The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Join Elder-in-Residence Sharon Jinkerson Brass, Rev. Danielle Webber, and people from across the country as they reflect on their experiences with the process of un-colonizing. 

The service will be followed by a FREE 2.5-hour art therapy workshop facilitated by Rev. Karen Fraser Gitlitz and Ceremony Keeper Carey Jeanette Sinclair. It will be based on their popular multi-day workshop called “Unsettling Our Spirituality.” (Look for details in the September eNews.)

A pre-recorded service will be available to congregations on September 21. Please contact to receive the link.

For information on how to watch the service on YouTube or Zoom, visit our website.

Hold the Dates: Fall Gathering; Sharing Our Faith Service & National Event in May

Mark your calendars. We don’t want you to miss these upcoming national events.

November 18 to 20, 2022: The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) will hold a virtual fall gathering on the third weekend in November. We will explore this year’s theme–Living into Covenant–in regional breakout sessions on Friday evening and in workshops on Saturday. On Sunday, everyone is invited to attend a national service. We encourage each congregation to send at least two members to the fall gathering. More details will be provided in the September issue of the eNews. 

February 5, 2023: The national Sharing Our Faith service will take place on the first Sunday in February. For the third year in a row, the service will be virtual. More details to come.

May 19 to 22, 2023: This is a big weekend! The CUC will be hosting our first in-person and multiplatform national event since 2019. We are pleased to announce that CanUUdle and Chorus will take place at the same time. Details on theme and location are being confirmed. More details will be released in the coming months.

Why does Unicamp exist? Take this survey to tell us what you think
By Dianne Heise, Chair, Unicamp Charter Review Committee

Unicamp is our Unitarian Universalist (UU) campground and spiritual retreat center. What Unicamp hopes to achieve with its programs and activities is described by our charitable purposes. Our current purposes are not so current–written in 1969 when Unicamp began. We need to update our charitable purposes to reflect who we are now. (Purposes also need to meet legal requirements for religious charities.) A Unicamp committee of delegates, staff and board representatives, are seeking feedback from everyone interested in Unicamp, about the proposed updated charitable purposes. 

You can tell us what you think by completing this short, anonymous survey  by August 31 or by participating in a focus group (a structured feedback session) at Unicamp during each of the family camp weeks in August.

To learn more, see the reports:  Executive Summary  or  Preliminary Report  or contact

Rise Up & Call Her Name: A Woman-honouring Journey into Global Earth-based Spiritualities
By Jo-Ann Elder, Canadian Unitarian Universalist Women’s Association (CUUWA)

Participants will meet on Zoom for 13 sessions beginning on Saturday, September 24, 2022 – 12:00pm PT | 1:00pm MT | 2:00pm CT| 3:00pm ET | 4:00pm AT | 4:30pm NT

Join the Canadian Unitarian Universalist Women’s Association (CUUWA) online in 2022-2023 to explore this curriculum, which draws from the positive female divine and its connections with the processes of nature. Focusing on goddesses and Earth-honouring aspects of spiritual and religious practices, these sessions will offer a much-needed balance to the current environmental and social crises, and opportunities for women striving for growth and change to nurture themselves and each other.

For complete information and to register, contact Jo-Anne Elder at Please note that the final date for registration is September 12, 2022.

West Bequest Trust Invites Funding Applications
By Shripad Pendse, President, Board of Trustees of the West Trust

The West Bequest Trust, administered by a board of trustees in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is receiving applications. The bequest funds projects which work towards fulfilling our Unitarian Universalist (UU) principles, and may include:

    1. Publishing books, pamphlets, periodicals or other modern forms of media (such as tapes, DVDs, websites, etc.) as well as programs to attract new UU members;
    2. Providing partial support towards employing a minister (either clergy or lay person); or a religious education director for children and young adults;
    3. Assisting financially weak or small UU congregations or founding new ones; and
    4. By such other methods of UU church extension as the West Trustees shall deem best.

The deadline for receipt of applications this year is Friday, October 7, 2022. You don’t need to use the application form but your submission should include all the required information. (Please read the information through before applying.)

Job Posting: CUC Seeks Financial Administrator

The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) seeks a knowledgeable, experienced Financial Administrator.

This position is responsible for maintaining and coordinating all the CUC’s financial processes, and assists the Executive Director with providing effective financial controls for the organization. This is a part-time position at 55 hours a month. Please send applications to by August 20, 2022, and refer to the job description for details.

Job Opportunities with Unitarian Universalist Congregations and Fellowships

Kingston Unitarian Fellowship has an opening for a part-time Religious Exploration Coordinator. The position is 10 hours per week and runs from September to June annually. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis, with interviews scheduled at the end of August or early September. For more information, please consult the job description

The Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist (UU) Congregation in Toronto, Ontario seeks a contract minister with a focus on transitional ministry. The position starts November 1, 2022 (with flexibility to start earlier or later). If you are interested, please consult the position details for Unitarian Universalist ministers and non-Unitarian Universalist ministers.

Looking for work? Visit our website regularly to find new job postings and volunteer opportunities.

CUC Office Closure

Please note: the Canadian Unitarian Council’s office is closed until Friday, August 19 for summer break. We will reopen the office on Monday, August 22, 2022.

What’s Making Us Smile

How many Unitarian Universalists (UUs) does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Members of the UU Hysterical Society respond to this timeless theological question in their Statements of Theology

Upcoming Events (online via Zoom)

Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact

Leaders’ Roundtable – Experimenting with Communications & Digital Ministry
August 27: 9:00am PT | 10:00am MT | 11:00am CT | 12:00pm ET | 1:00pm AT | 1:30pm NT (1.5 hours)

Community, Connection, & What Really Matters: Canadian UU Religious Educators’ (CUURE’s) Odyssey Address
August 28: 1:00pm PT | 2:00pm MT | 3:00pm CT | 4:00pm ET | 5:00pm AT | 5:30pm NT

Un-colonize Climate Justice: Kickoff Event
September 7: 4:00pm PT | 5:00pm MT | 6:00pm CT | 7:00pm ET | 8:00pm AT | 8:30pm NT (2 hours)

2022 Unicamp Young Adult Retreat
September 9: 6:00pm ET – September 12, 1:00pm ET
Registration deadline: Monday Sept 5: midnight PT

Rising Together: UU Youth & Emerging Adults of Colour
September 10: 1:00pm PT | 2:00pm MT | 3:00pm CT | 4:00pm ET | 5:00pm AT  | 5:30pm NT (1.5 hours)

Connect and Deepen: Anniversary of 9/11: A Reflection on Violence and Active Resistance
September 11: 1:00pm PT | 2:00pm MT | 3:00pm CT| 4:00pm ET | 5:00pm  AT| 5:30pm NT (1 hour)

Communicating from the Heart: A Webinar for Lay Chaplains
September 24: 1:00pm PT | 2:00pm MT | 3:00pm CT| 4:00pm ET | 5:00pm AT | 5:30pm NT (3 hours)

Unsettled and Unafraid: National Service to Honour Truth & Reconciliation
September 25: 10:00am PT | 11:00am MT | 12:00pm CT| 1:00pm ET | 2:00pm AT | 2:30pm NT (1 hour)

Inclusivity Forum Session 4: Welcoming People of All Gender Expressions and Identities
October 5: 4:00pm PT | 5:00pm MT | 6:00pm CT| 7:00pm ET | 8:00pm AT | 8:30pm NT (2 hours)

Inclusivity Forum Session 5: Welcoming People of All Ages
November 2: 4:00pm PT | 5:00pm MT | 6:00pm CT | 7:00pm ET | 8:00pm AT | 8:30pm AT (2 hours)