CUC eNews: August 25, 2020 – Issue 119

In This Issue:

Letter From Vyda

Smooth seas do not
make skillful sailors.

~ African Proverb

Last year, as we began planning in earnest for our 2020 Conference, we thought that choosing the theme of Making Waves would perfectly encapsulate the idea that our UUs have the potential to make positive changes in our congregations and our communities. Little did we know that the theme of waves and sailing would take on a much broader meaning as we navigate this year. 

For our upcoming Fall Gathering we chose Sailing Ahead to continue the theme. The past few months have been anything but smooth sailing – and yet we are learning so much about how we can connect virtually in ways that are meaningful, effective and valuable. While 2020 has given us a deeper appreciation for our in-person gatherings, being virtual allows us to transcend physical and geographical locations in ways we might not have experienced.

We are looking forward to the opportunity to gather virtually for our Fall Gathering which will build on what we have learned about connection and what it might take to nurture those connections virtually. There are  more preliminary details in this eNews edition about our program for the Fall Gathering and our virtual youth con, so mark the dates in the calendar and plan to join. We would love to see you.

As we look towards autumn and reestablishing a rhythm for our days and weeks, we’re featuring a lovely story about how Connect and Deepen has helped one UU stay connected to his UU practices even while he’s far away from any congregation. We’re also focusing on our Youth and Young Adults as we outline our 2020 topics for Gathered Here for young adults, and highlight some of the wonderful resources our former Youth and Young Adult Ministry Specialist, Asha Philar, developed to help congregations think strategically and connect more meaningfully with the young people in our communities.

I hope that your fall is full of moments of meaningful connection virtual  and otherwise.  Here’s to charting a new course!

Be well friends,
Vyda Ng 

Connect and Deepen Supports UUs Wherever They Are

When Jos Sharp moved from Vancouver to Trail, BC he gained a slower pace and a beautiful view, but he lost his easy access to a large UU community. It was relatively easy to integrate elements of his spiritual practice into his new life, but he missed the meaningful conversations that helped him think differently and deeply about a wide range of topics.

Now, each month, he joins other adult UUs for an online small group discussion. The discussion group, called Connect and Deepen, is facilitated by Joan Carolyn and Linda Thomson, the CUC’s Congregational Life Leads. Each month they select a topic and send out relevant readings and questions to the group in advance so that when they gather, the group can dig into interesting conversations and spiritual exploration. 

“Small group ministry is not new to UUs. Many congregations grew out of a group of people who wanted to come together to discuss important ideas about spirituality, love and justice and how to live those values in their daily lives. These discussions are an innate part of our UU culture,” says Linda Thomson. “The discussions are designed to get to the heart of what it means to live a meaningful, spiritually rich life in relation with others, with nature and with ourselves.”

“We started this program because we could see an opportunity existed to connect people looking for a deeper exploration of their spirituality. Some of our members, like Jos, don’t have a nearby congregation. Others are looking to supplement the support they receive from their congregations. And some are new to UU and looking to explore spirituality outside of traditional religious communities. Through our conversations and personal check-ins the group is evolving to be a real touchstone for our members,” says Joan Carolyn.

Past topics have included everything from the value of play to gratitude to integrating our 7 principles into daily life. As with a traditional UU service, Connect and Deepen has a structure with important rituals, including readings and music, the sharing of joys and concerns and closing words. But it’s the conversations that keep people like Jos coming back 

“Participating in the Connect and Deepen program has been a great opportunity to connect with other Unitarians in Canada. Our little group in Trail, BC was not able to sustain regular gatherings due to our small size and I was delighted to find another way to connect with others and share thoughts and experiences with them in an intimate setting. The themes and format of each session is thoughtfully chosen and provides a way to consider our lives in a deeper way, if only for a few moments. I always look forward to our next time together.” – Jos Sharp

If you would like to deepen your spiritual exploration, and form a connection with a welcoming small group, we invite you to attend Connect and Deepen. You can find more information about the group and their upcoming meetings by visiting the CUC website and following the CUC on Facebook.

Save the Date and Apply for Staff: Fall Online Youth Con!

On the weekend of October 23-25, 2020, the CUC will be hosting another online Youth Con! This will be in the tradition of the Western Regional Fall Gathering Youth Con, but is open to youth and advisors all over Canada.

We need both youth and adult advisors from the Western Region and beyond to help us plan it! Being on the volunteer “staff team” is an amazing opportunity to step into leadership and give back to your community. You’ll challenge yourself, learn new skills, make new friends, and inspire others to give back as well.

It’s also a big commitment. The planning team will be meeting (on Zoom) every two weeks for all of September and October, and more as we get closer to the event. You’ll be expected to attend meetings, regularly check your emails and messages and respond to them within 2 days, and complete the work that is assigned to you in your staff role. And of course, you need to be fully available online to attend the con. Questions? Email 

Ready to make that commitment? Fill out this form by September 1!

Gathered Here Dates are Confirmed for This Year

We are looking forward to another year of connection with our young adults. Join other UU 18-35-year-olds on Zoom  for sharing of joys and sorrows, deeper check-ins, prayerful reflections, and an opportunity to process the events of our lives with a spiritually grounded community. Each month we are joined by a member of the Young Adult Pastoral Care Team

The global pandemic has made this virtual gathering place more valuable than ever. While so much in our lives is unknown and unknowable, we can find comfort in familiar rituals and faces. By sharing our joys, our concerns, our sorrows, and our gratitudes, we know ourselves to be held in a loving community. Exploring the themes and spiritual practices helps us each remember our own creativity and resilience. We are all in this together, a part of a larger story.  

These are drop-in style gatherings, so you don’t need to sign up in advance and there is no fee. On the days you want to attend, just settle into a comfortable spot with your computer or smartphone, sign in to Zoom at the scheduled time, and bring your whole self for the hour and a quarter.  We welcome new participants at any of our meetings.

Here is the schedule for the 2020-21 programming year: 

September – Monday 14, 8 pm ET –
October – Thursday 8, 2 pm ET –
November – Monday 9, 8 pm ET –
December – Thursday 10, 2 pm ET – 

January – Monday 11, 8 pm ET –
February – Thursday 11, 2 pm ET –
March – Monday 8, 8 pm ET –
April – Thursday 8, 2 pm ET –
May – Break for CUC National Conferences
June – Monday 14, 8 pm ET –
July/August – Break for summer 


Check the Facebook event for the most recent themes and outlines of upcoming calls. You can also sign up to receive a reminder via text message the day of each Gathered Here by texting  @cucya to (502) 694-1142. 

Questions can be directed to Casey Stainsby at

Minister Profile: Rev. Diane Rollert

Rev. Diane Rollert has served the Unitarian Church of Montreal since 2006. Growing up in a non-practicing Jewish family, she came to Unitarianism as a young adult, serving as a religious educator for many years and on the board of her congregation before ultimately deciding she felt a calling to ministry.

Diane values the opportunities ministry offers to be with people during transitions and milestones and support them during challenging times, as well as watching people support each other. Although the Covid-19 pandemic presented some new challenges in the physical distancing it’s required, she’s also appreciated how the community has connected in other ways. With the congregation  offering multi platform services since March, she’s found  it exciting to gather in person and online at the same time.

“It amazes me how strong the congregation has been, everyone looking out for everyone else and making sure that everyone’s okay,” she says. “The congregation just went right into action, making sure that everyone was safe, that those who were alone got people to talk to and support. It’s been a time of serving but also following the congregation as much as they’re following me.”

In spite of the opportunities to connect online that the pandemic has created, Diane believes people still yearn for in-person community, and that Unitarianism will remain relevant as long it’s able to provide that. She also believes Unitarianism must remain true to its values of diversity and inclusion.

“Our diversity is so important, to not just say, you have to be a humanist, or you have to be a theist or you have to be a spiritual seeker,” she says. “We should be creating space for people coming from all different kinds of theologies and backgrounds and coming together and making that place, and if we can’t do it in our own communities, what hope do we have for the world?”

Learn More About Rev. Diane Rollert

Canadian Congregations Invited to Sponsor Refugees Again This Year

Drawing by 10-year-old new Canadian to thank the CUC.

The Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax Congregation has been working hard this summer to raise funds and organize supports to welcome a new refugee family to Canada in the coming year. They are continuing a long-standing commitment to offering assistance and support to refugees. Over the past 25 years, Canadian UU congregations have come forward to welcome refugees from countries like Syria, Eritrea, Iran, Burundi, Iraq, Lebanon, Bangladesh, and more, to their communities.

Around the world, the number of refugees is increasing. In June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)  published its annual Global Trends report showing that the number of people forced to flee their homes reached an unprecedented 79.5 million in 2019. The pandemic is expected to amplify the problem. 

As an organization, the CUC has an agreement as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to sponsor refugees. In 2020, CUC received 60 refugee spaces, and there are a few spots remaining.

Samia Tecle, CUC’s Refugee Support staff, is encouraging congregations to consider sponsoring a refugee family. “For many years now, CUC along with its wonderful congregations, have been working hard to resettle dozens of refugees across Canada. On the one hand, it’s difficult for me to sum up how heartbreaking it can be to hear daily the stories of refugees from all over the world looking for refuge in Canada, but on the other hand, it is equally difficult to put into words the joy we feel when a refugee family safely resettles in Canada. We hope that our work is contributing to making Canada a more welcoming society for all.”

A refugee family who was recently sponsored by the CUC visited the office in January. This family, who fled their home country only to face numerous threats and challenges, are now safely in Canada, thanks to the work of the supportive team at their local UU congregation. The three young children have settled into life in their community, making friends through school and enjoying their first experiences with snow. Their parents are both working and upgrading their credentials so they can return to their previous professions. Both parents are so grateful for the support they continue to receive; the family went to the CUC office to personally thank staff and brought gifts and drawings by the children.

If your congregation is interested in this rewarding work, we invite you to let us know soon if you will consider a sponsorship in 2020. Please visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website for background information and watch for more information coming from the CUC in September. If you have immediate questions, please email

Learn More About the CUC’s Refugee Sponsorship Initiative

New Youth and Young Adult Resources Help Congregations Build Community

Before she left her position, Youth and Young Adult Ministry Specialist Asha Philar completed developing and updating a wide range of excellent resources to support congregations and staff in their youth and young adult ministry. Based on stories and best practices from local congregations, the documents worked to answer questions from staff and leaders, and share experiences and insights from our youth and young adults simple, easy to use guides and documents. All of the new and updated resources are now on the CUC website’s Youth Ministry Resources and Young Adult Ministry Resources pages, along with a multitude of other useful information to explore.

The Youth Ministry and Intergenerational Connections guide provides concrete ideas and action plans to help congregations support youth programs, and create meaningful relationships between people of all ages. There are sections on congregational activities, Sunday morning worship, connecting on social media, and more. The youth ministry resources also include guides for youth ministry visioning and building a youth advisor team.

The Young Adult Resources includes Building Connections, a guide full of specific actions congregations can take to improve young adults’ connection to others in their age group and build relationships with people of all ages through meaningful involvement. There’s also a young adult ministry congregational self-assessment and a website checklist.

As Jill Schwendeman observes, “An intergenerational congregation goes out of its way to welcome all individuals, helps them connect in a way that is meaningful, includes their lives in the patterns of weekly worship, and blesses them in their uniqueness”. May these resources help our congregations do just that.

Explore the CUC’s Youth Ministry Resources and Young Adult Ministry Resources

COVID at the Root of the Cancellation of ICUU

It is with both understanding and disappointment that we share a letter we received from Rev. Sara Asher, Executive Director of the International Council of Unitarian Universalists (ICUU). Rev Asher recently sent notice  to the CUC and other organizations and participants confirming the cancellation of this fall’s ICUU Council meeting and conference. In her email, she said that the persistent unpredictability of the corona virus and the resulting travel restrictions make it unwise to continue with the event, originally scheduled to take place in Montreal this fall. 

While we are disappointed, we certainly understand their decision and look forward to information about future conferences. 

The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) is a network of member groups around the world who mostly are known as Unitarian or Unitarian Universalists. ICUU brings together leaders to learn, share resources, develop leaders and leadership, inspire, and support each other in building spiritual community.

Learn More About the ICUU

Events of Interest

“Our existences are political”: Identity and History as Pathways for Transformation

In 2019, Dr. James Makokis and Anthony Johnson became the first two-spirit Indigenous couple to win The Amazing Race Canada. But the real victory for them was raising awareness and shattering stereotypes. The pair used the competition as a platform to tackle topics like gender and sexual identity, racism, mental health and the environment. They did so through an Indigenous lens, naming their team Ahkameyimok, a Cree word that roughly translates to “never give up.”

In this talk, Makokis and Johnson will share their personal transformations, from their early years facing adversity around two-spirit and Indigenous identities to a lifetime of education, transforming them into leaders, activists and role models. They will explore what it means to fully connect with our histories and embody the values of our ancestors.


Register now for: “Our Existences are Political”: Identity and History as Pathways for Transformation with James Makokis and Anthony Johnson

The First Unitarian Church of Hamilton hosts 6 Minute Memoir event

On Friday, September 25, 13 storytellers will share their tales on the theme of “Forgiveness” as part of a regular event that challenges presenters to tell a compelling story in 6 minutes or less. The event, which is hosted by the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton raises funds for the congregation and local charities. 

“Alexander Pope said that ‘To err is human, to forgive is divine’ and while it may be noble to offer forgiveness, often it is not easy. And sometimes it can be more difficult to forgive ourselves. I am looking forward to what our presenters will do with this topic,” says organizer Anne Bokma, a member of the Hamilton congregation and author of My Year of Living Spiritually. 

The line-up for this event includes retired TV journalist Jojo Chintoh and bestselling author Tom Wilson, along with folks from the Hamilton community and members of the First Unitarian Church, including its minister, Rev. Victoria Ingram.

Tickets are $10 per household and are available at

Donations above the basic ticket price are gratefully accepted. For more information please visit

Thanks to an increase in virtual and online events, we will occasionally share information about non-CUC or non-UUA events that may be of interest to Canadian Unitarian Universalists. Please note that while we do research these events in advance, they are not CUC sponsored or organized events.

What’s Making Us Smile

photo of a black woman and a young white girl wearing masks and bumping elbows

photo credit Sherri Gonzales @sherrisgirlsempowermentintl_

“When a Colorado mom heard her 4-year-old daughter yell ‘Black Lives Matter’ to a woman in Home Depot this summer, she wasn’t expecting such a beautiful friendship to blossom for the pair.

Sherri Gonzales was out shopping in Commerce City when she heard a little girl say the words that have been chanted on thousands of streets around the world this summer.”  Read the rest of the story!

Thanks to the Good News Network for sharing this story and for the work they do in bringing a smile to our faces.



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

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 30 – Hosted by Westwood Unitarian, Theme: Nature in the 6 Sources

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

Thanks to the Don Heights congregations for sharing this event with all of us.

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 on Friday evening, interesting workshops on everything from anti-racism and social justice, to peer pastoral care, and leadership and conflict management. There will be an open conversation with the Board and CUC staff about our QUUest vision and we will cap it off with a national Sunday Service.  Watch for more details and registration information coming soon!

Regular Online Events

Gathered Here: Young Adult Check-In (all times ET)
August 31 – 8 p.m. ET
September 14 – 8 p.m. ET

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.