CUC eNews: July 21, 2020 – Issue 117

In This Issue:

Letter From Vyda

If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together. 

~ African proverb

In June, following the death of George Floyd and anti-racism protests around the world, the CUC asked 3 prominent Black UUs and representatives of the Dismantling Racism Study Group to speak about anti-Black racism in Canada. The presentations by Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed, Dr. Wilburn Hayden, and Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana were, unsurprisingly, moving, heartbreaking, and haunting. We knew we were asking a lot of our presenters. It isn’t easy to share profoundly personal experiences, repeatedly, in the hopes that others can come to understand what must feel obvious to our presenters. We are deeply grateful that they contributed to the continuing conversations around race and racism in this country and in our congregations. 

As UUs, our commitment to them must be to carry those conversations forward, to do our personal and organizational work to dismantle racism wherever we encounter it. We continue to have discussions about how the CUC can meaningfully support our congregations in exploring and eradicating racism and our social justice team is working to develop new programs and resources to address this need.

There is much work to be done, on many fronts. But we also have a lot to celebrate and many new opportunities to come together. Each Sunday during July and August different congregations and groups will offer an open Sunday service, inviting UUs from across the country to attend. And in the fall we are planning a weekend of regional and national virtual gatherings. As difficult as COVID-19 is, it is also teaching us how easy and important it is to broaden our congregational connections. And it affirms that we are stronger together.  

Be well friends,
Vyda Ng 

Sunday Summer Services Series Underway

The success of our May Cross Country Service, which drew over 1000 attendees online, has paved the way for more opportunities for Unitarians across the country to come together in celebration. This summer, From July 5 to August 30, the CUC is pleased to be offering virtual services every Sunday with nine different congregations or groups hosting special services with different themes. All UUs and friends are invited to attend to get the flavour of UU congregations across the country. 

If you missed one of the services that have taken place already, or won’t be able to attend an upcoming one, they’ll be available on the CUC’s YouTube channel. Please note, however, that the youth-led service on July 19 will only be live streamed due to safety concerns.

Congregational Survey Results Are In!

We want to thank the nearly 100 Canadian UUs who contributed to our Congregational Needs survey last month. The survey was developed to give CUC staff information about congregational needs and preferences as we develop programs to serve congregations during the pandemic and beyond. While we would have loved to have received more input, the results are helping us plan events, programs, and resources both now and into the fall and winter.

Linda Thomson, Congregational Life Lead for Central and Eastern Regions, says “the survey highlighted the value of the CUC in fostering national and regional connections and so pushed us to think about how we could support regional connections in a virtual way.” As a direct result of the feedback, Linda and Joan Carolyn, Congregational Life Lead for the BC and Western Regions, have begun discussions with regional representatives about the virtual fall gathering happening this November 13 – 15. 

Ninety-four responses were received from across the country, representing a broad selection of roles and perspectives. Respondents were asked to consider their congregational needs and prioritize the types of programs and the intended audiences most in need of support. When asked what type of groups the CUC should offer resources for, survey respondents placed the most importance on programming geared towards age-related groups, with a particular focus on youth and seniors. A large proportion also expressed support for building community online when it came to priorities for resource development. All-ages social events, such as coffee houses, youth, and young adult-only events, and technical skill development opportunities, all ranked highly among the types of events respondents would like the CUC to offer. 

The survey responses highlighted the need for diverse programs to support congregations as they meet the needs of their members. As the pandemic gives us the opportunity to re-evaluate the ways that the CUC can support congregations now and in the future, surveys and other feedback mechanisms are crucial to the staff team planning process. Joan Carolyn offers “ heartfelt gratitude to all who have been willing to share ideas with us. As your CUC staff team, we depend heavily on input from our member congregations as we seek to develop relevant resources and programming.

Want to Offer Further Feedback? Please Email

Save the Dates for Regional and National Virtual Gathering!

The CUC, in conjunction with our various regions, is planning an online regional and national fall gathering the weekend of November 13- 15 and we want you to attend!

On Friday, November 13, regions will gather together for Zoom events and conversations specific to each region. 

On Saturday, November 14, we will come together nationally for workshops and programming focusing on topics identified as priorities in our recent congregational survey. Following the workshops, the CUC Board will host a conversation. Multigenerational events are also being planned. 

And on Sunday, November 15, we will have a national Sunday Service with participation from congregations across the country. Our theme will be Sailing Ahead and we will imagine together the promise and the possibility of Unitarian Universalism in Canada. 

More information about the weekend will be available soon; a youth con is being considered for a different date. Please watch for details in future editions of the eNews, on our Facebook page, and from your local congregation.

More Details Coming Soon!

Black Lives Matter Roundtable a Moving Experience for All

On June 25th, more than 100 UUs joined Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed, Dr. Wilburn Hayden, and Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana to learn more about anti-Black racism in Canada and within our UU Community. The event began with opening words and a few minutes defining the intention for the evening as an opportunity to listen, deeply, for understanding. Each speaker then shared their personal, and professional perspectives which were insightful and often raw. Attendees were invited to breakout sessions to discuss what they had learned during the evening, and what they found to be hopeful in the midst of so much pain and protest. 

The discussions in the breakout sessions were recorded by notetakers and shared when the full group reconvened following the breakout sessions. Overwhelmingly, participants commented that they were moved, often to tears, by the experiences and comments from the presenters and that they were hungry for more opportunities to discuss how to confront and work to dismantle racism. There is, again, the recognition that change is necessary now and requires hard work, honest self-reflection for non-black people, and consistent advocacy.

In the coming days, the CUC will make an edited version of the meeting and presentations available on our Youtube channel. Summaries of the presenters’ speaking notes are available so that those who were not able to attend can experience parts of this important discussion. Stay tuned for upcoming opportunities to learn about and combat racism. 

From our presenters: 

Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed: Let me begin my reflections by offering words from Tim Tyson’s address at the Granville County’s Human Relations Commission Annual Banquet, September 2004:

“…lean into it. I am talking about racial discomfort. I have certainly felt my share of it, through the course of my work, and I recommend racial discomfort to you.  Lean into it.  That is, doing exactly the opposite of your first instinct, which is to retreat as fast as possible and is also perfectly logical. None of us wants to feel uncomfortable. But there is no way we can have a fruitful and candid conversation about race in an interracial setting and always feel comfortable. But it won’t kill you to feel a little uncomfortable. Just go ahead, lean into it, and listen. Listen to other people, of course, but listen to your discomfort. It will teach you a lot.  You’ll be okay. And we’ll all get better at this.”

White folks don’t get it because most often, buffered as they are by white privilege, it does not touch them directly as it does black men who, almost universally, have been carded as I have been – or worse.

Full reflection here

Dr. Wilburn Hayden: Racism is Racism: Canadian racism is often cited as different from USA racism, but racism is racism. White supremacy is just as real in Canada as in the USA. Discrimination and segregation (by law or tradition) are racist. Canadian “colour-blindness” erases black lives and extends the legacy of colonialism and slavery as witnessed through the lens of black injustices, poverty, and exclusion. 

Full reflection here

Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana: I believe a faith community to be about hard stuff of life and death and everything in between.   I do not see religious communities’ goal or mission to be the pursuit of comfort of its members.  UU institutions should resist this urge.  I see them as safe spaces for people to face hard truths, to ask difficult questions, to grow as human beings and develop values for which they can live by or die for.

Anti-black racism is a pressing issue.  Black people within and outside our communities are hurting.  The current moment is full of hope. But black people and their allies will need to keep demanding change. They will need to keep the tension high.   Change will come if dismantling anti-black racism is seen for what it is: spiritual work.

Transformation is coming but it will not come without our boldness and leadership.

Full reflection here

Resources for Education and Reflection:
These conversations about racism, while not easy, are critically important. We have a growing list of resource suggestions.

We also offer these recent additions: 

On Being hosts a conversation with Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility and Resmaa Menakem, Minneapolis-based trauma specialist and author of My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies.

Article “This could be a turning point” by Jim Corrigall found on page 5 of the latest edition of the UK publication The Inquirer, The Unitarian and Free Christian Paper. The article outlines the writer’s impressions of a Black Lives Matter event very similar to our own.

Unmasking Racism: A CBC virtual town hall on how to dismantle systemic racism against Indigenous, Black and people of colour.

Read the CUC’s  Statement on Mourning the Deaths of More People of Colour 

Alternatives to Holding Online OWL

Our Whole Lives (OWL), the lifespan sexuality education program developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association, helps dismantle stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, and fosters healthy decision-making and relationships. Participating in it has been a valuable experience for people of all ages, and with many congregations shifting to online programming amidst the pandemic, it’s natural to wonder about offering OWL in this format. However, Melanie Davis, the UUA’s OWL program manager, strongly advises against online OWL sessions

“OWL wasn’t created for or tested for efficacy online,” she notes. “Its in-person interactions and experiential learning cannot be replicated on an online platform.  More importantly, the potential for harm exists online.” The UUA and its United Church of Christ publishing partner have permission to use the material in printed form, but not online.

While congregations who have offered OWL need to wait until it’s safe to gather in-person to resume the program, there are resources available in the meantime. The UUA has assembled a curated list of books and web resources offering ideas for all ages, including resources to support parents as their children’s primary sexuality educators.

While the need to postpone OWL may be disappointing, it’s worth remembering that just as the program has the potential to save lives, it can endanger them as well if not delivered properly. And as Davis observes, “nothing in Our Whole Lives is so timely that it is worth putting lives at risk.”

Learn More About Our Whole Lives

Minister Profile: Rod Solano-Quesnel

Reverend Rodrigo (Rod) Emilio Solano-Quesnel has served the Unitarian Universalist Church of Olinda since 2018. Rod’s introduction to Unitarianism came while he was living in Ottawa when he began attending the First Unitarian Congregation there around 2002. He became involved in the congregation’s young adult group and went on to serve on its board, as a worship associate, and as a lay chaplain. Exposure to these varied aspects of ministry made Rod realize it would be a good fit for him, and he proceeded to attend seminary in Montreal. Upon completing his studies, he was ordained by the Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation and served for two years as the Half-time Developmental Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ottawa.

During his ministry in Olinda, Rod has sought to deepen connections with existing congregants, while also building bridges with the wider community, and he enjoys both the pastoral care and worship leading aspects of this. UU minister Robert Fulghum has been a particular source of inspiration for him in crafting his sermons.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Rod to make some changes to his ministry, organizing Sunday services using Zoom while being mindful that this option may not be available to everyone.  Thus, he’s sought to stay in touch with congregants through other means as well, trying to put Unitarian Universalist theology into practice by maintaining the broadest possible outreach. Rod believes the pandemic has also reinforced the importance of the UU principle of an interdependent web of existence, and that this will help ensure the faith’s relevance going forward.

In his spare time, Rod sometimes plays a musical saw, a carpenter’s saw he can play with a violin bow, which produces music he describes as “an acquired taste”. He has also recently begun playing the ukulele, which he hopes to bring to the next National Conference. Rod is also a member of the CUC’s Board of Trustees.

Join Us for the Sunday Summer Services Series

Help Bring a Rwandan UU Family to Canada

The Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax is sponsoring a Rwandan family of four and needs your support. 

In 2008, Jean Paul (not his real name) met Unitarian Universalists from the US and Burundi who introduced him to the Seven Principles. Jean Paul was so impacted by this meeting, he went on to establish his own NGO (non-government organization), based on UU principles, which works for a Rwanda where everyone can live in peace and love.

As a result of his work, Jean Paul has been kidnapped twice and brutally tortured. During his second kidnapping his wife gave birth to their second son. Following his release, his church was closed and his NGO was under extreme political pressure. He and his wife realized they would never be safe and must flee. Even in their temporary residence, they are not safe.

UUs have a chance to bring Jean Paul, his wife, and their two boys to Canada but need your help to fundraise $36,000 to support the costs of relocation, housing, and other necessities for Jean-Paul’s family’s first year in Canada. The UU Church of Halifax’s volunteer team will welcome this family and work closely with them during their settlement year providing logistical, social, and emotional support.

Please Give Generously to This GoFundMe Campaign

 Unicamp Needs You

Unicamp, the beloved UU camp in Ontario, is accepting applications for board positions until the end of July. Strong leadership and management skills are needed as Unicamp navigates the challenges brought on by COVID, and positions itself for success going forward. The nominating committee is specifically seeking applications from candidates with particular expertise in how nonprofits are managed, experience making and monitoring a budget, UU leadership experience, experience as camp staff, property management, human resources, law and marketing and business skills.

This is an excellent opportunity to give back to the Canadian UU community at large and help preserve and guide this unique UU place. 

The term for new board members starts in September 2020. Terms are two years, with the option to renew. The board meets online monthly for up to two hours via Zoom conferencing. Board directors must be members in good standing of a church, congregation, or fellowship recognized by the Canadian Unitarian Council. The CUC has committed to providing development training to the new board.

To apply for a board position please email your C.V. and a note regarding your area of interest to Unicamp nominating committee member Barb Wentworth by July 31, 2020.

Find More Information on the Unicamp website 

What’s Making Us Smile

Baby Beluga, the beloved song performed by Raffi Cavoukian turns 40 this month. In celebration Yo-yo Ma joined Raffi to perform the song and include a new verse that speaks to the parents, grandparents and kids of all ages.  

“Now you’ve grown and you’re on your way,
Making waves in the boundless bay
With your shining light and your dreams alive
For the ones you’ll have one day.
Grown-up beluga, grown-up beluga—
Sing a song of peace, sing with all your friends,
We need to hear you!”

Watch Raffi and Y0-Yo Ma perform Baby Beluga


Upcoming Events

As we head into the summer months please note that the COVID Leader’s Roundtable and our Coffeehouse Connections events will be on hiatus during July and August. 

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
July 26  – Hosted by the Unitarian Church of Montreal, Theme: Lessons from the Prayground: Reflections from RE teachers
August 2 –  Hosted by Young Adults, Theme: To Get to the Other Side
August 9 – Hosted by Unitarian Fellowship of Fredericton, Theme: Connections Between the UFF and the One-time Harvey Universalist Church
More information is available on the CUC Events Calendar.

Unitarians A-Z
Tuesday, July 28, August 11, August 25 4 pm PT  | 5 pm MT  | 6 pm CT  | 7 pm ET  | 8 pm AT 

Regular Online Events

Gathered Here: Young Adult Check-In
July 23 – 2 pm, August 3 – 8 pm, (all times ET)

Connect and Deepen – Virtual Gathering
Saturday, August 81 pm PT |2 pm MT| 3 pm CT| 4 pm ET| 5 pm AT 
Please register in advance.


Please note: The CUC National Office will be closed from July 20 through to August 4 and administrative staff will be on holidays. Other staff will continue to be available by phone and email.