CUC eNews: June 22, 2021 – Issue 132
In This Issue:
- Letter From Vyda
- Shining Lights Nominee Profile: Hamilton Congregation Revitalizes Children’s Programming
- The 8th Principle Process: Next Steps
- Document Provides Important Info for CUC Liaisons
- Rising Together Connects BIPOC Youth and Emerging Adults
- Announcing the MyceliUUm Youth Network of Canada
- CUC National Lay Chaplaincy Committee Update
- News from the CUSJ AGM
- Remembering Rev. Charles Eddis
- The CUC is Hiring!
- What’s Making Us Smile
- Upcoming Events
NOTE: The eNews will take a vacation in July and be back in August.
Letter From Vyda
“Live in the sunshine. Swim in the sea. Drink in the wild air.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Rarely has there been a summer as much anticipated as this one. While the pandemic is not fully behind us, the spread of vaccinations certainly offers hope for the future, something badly needed at this time. While individual circumstances vary, the summer of 2021 will hopefully offer a respite for most from what has been a very challenging year.
To be sure, as Rev. Anne Barker observed in her 2021 Confluence Lecture, the pandemic has offered some valuable lessons for our congregations, among them that we can be nimble and that we can do hard things. But the pandemic has obviously taken a toll, from its human cost in lives lost and illness endured, the inability to gather with friends and family, and the pressures of adjusting to new routines in work and school.
We cannot bid these and other consequences of Covid farewell just yet. But the ability to gather safely outdoors in the coming months will certainly be a consolation. We can take this opportunity both to socialize, and no less importantly, devote some time to individual reflection. As John Lubbock observes: “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
Rest and relaxation are indeed things we have all earned and need. Take the chance to engage in them this summer, and come back recharged and refreshed in the fall.
Be well friends,
Shining Lights Nominee Profile: Hamilton Congregation Revitalizes Children’s Programming
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.
The Hamilton congregation’s project, called “A Place at the Table”, was spearheaded by its religious educator, Tim Versteeg, who took on the role in late 2018. Upon assuming the role, Versteeg observed that children were largely tucked away within the far corner of the church and that their programming was limited to an hour on Sunday mornings. Building on best practices in UU religious education, “A Place at the Table” sought to centre children within the congregation and give them a more integrated experience of Unitarian life.
Adopting a multigenerational lens and also a full-week faith lens when it came to children’s programming, Versteeg and the church’s Religious Education Team instituted a variety of new initiatives, including a weekly multigenerational email bulletin; a program called UU Family, which in pre-pandemic times gathered members of the congregation for potlucks and games; and monthly multigenerational services. Although the pandemic has necessitated changes to these activities, Versteeg says the connections he’s witnessed between congregants of different generations continue, fulfilling the goal he had in establishing the project.
“It’s a way to get the kids in the church and the adults in the church both learning and celebrating together, rather than just doing things in their separate spheres, and being integrated in each other’s spiritual journeys,” he says. “So it’s about integration and ensuring everybody has a place at the larger table of our faith.”
Rev. Audrey Brooks and the Unitarian Church of Edmonton will be featured in an upcoming issue of the eNews.
The 8th Principle Process: Next Steps
The information package in preparation for the Special Meeting on November 27, 2021, titled The 8th Principle Process: Next Steps, is now ready. The Canadian Unitarian Council Board of Trustees is proposing the following motion to adopt an 8th Principle:
“We, the member congregations of the Canadian Unitarian Council, covenant to affirm and promote: Individual and communal action that accountably dismantles racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”
The CUC Board moves this motion in recognition of the strong support from the delegates at the 2021 AGM to adopt this 8th Principle and to correct the procedural error that took place.
In the meantime, there will be many opportunities for individuals, congregations, youth and young adults to share their feedback:
- CUC Roundtables will be held on the last Saturday of each month for conversation and questions about the proposed 8th Principle and process.
- Congregations are also invited to have their own discussions, and we have made some recommendations for this starting on p13 of the document.
- The CUC is also hosting a series of forums in September and October that are open to all. Youth and young adults will have their own forum in August as well. Information on the forums is on p5.
- Individual feedback: Share your individual thoughts on these Padlets (click on the bottom right + sign to add a comment). These questions are different from those asked in the feedback forms and all are welcome to add your thoughts.
- Q1 Padlet: What does it mean for you and for your congregation/ community to “accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions?”
- Q2 Padlet: What are some concerns about adopting an 8th Principle?
- Q3 Padlet: How do you envision your congregation/community when it is successfully engaged in dismantling oppressions?
- Feedback forms:
- For congregations: Please use the Congregational Feedback Form and designate one person from your congregation to share comments by October 20 to have these considered by the CUC Board.
- For youth and young adults: Youth and young adults are invited to provide individual or group feedback by October 20 by using the Youth & Young Adult Feedback Form.
- Delegates need to be registered by November 6 to be eligible to vote. Information is on p6 of the package.
Q&A sections will hopefully answer questions about the 8th Principle and the Special Meeting. These begin on p7.
Document Provides Important Info for CUC Liaisons
CUC Liaisons are the bridge between their congregations and the Canadian Unitarian Council. They keep their congregations informed about news and events at the national and regional levels, organize discussions on CUC-related matters, and provide congregational leadership change updates to CUC staff. Individuals who take on this role for their congregations should have an interest in national affairs, be committed to keeping informed, and enjoy being part of the larger UU faith community.
Liaisons can keep up to date by signing up for the CUC eNews and the cuc-leadership google email group (send an email to email@example.com and ask to be added).
Now, congregational CUC liaisons now have an easy means of staying on top of their responsibilities thanks to the document, Role of CUC Liaison, outlining the tasks and timelines associated with this role.
The document covers a wide range of tasks, from preparing for the CUC AGM to ensuring CUC news is included in the congregational newsletter. While liaisons don’t necessarily need to perform all of these tasks themselves, having a designated channel of communications between congregations and the CUC makes for more seamless interaction.
By actively taking an interest in what’s happening in other congregations and in the larger national community, congregations help fulfill the covenant they enter into as members of the CUC. Even though each congregation is self-sustaining, they are all in relationship with each other and benefit from ensuring their members stay aware of the national picture and have a voice in organizational discussions and decisions.
Rising Together Connects BIPOC Youth and Emerging Adults
Having recently held its fourth session, Rising Together, the CUC’s group for Black, Indigenous and other people of colour Unitarian Universalist youth and emerging young adults (ages 14-24), continues to foster connections amongst its members. Camellia Jahanshahi, a youth advisor at the Unitarian Church of Montreal and the program’s founder, says the isolation BIPOC youth and emerging adults often experience within the wider UU community drove her to establish the program, modeled after existing initiatives within the Unitarian Universalist Association in the US.
“As a person of colour who grew up as a UU I always knew that it could be a kind of an isolating experience and that there needed to be more spaces that welcomed and centered people of colour, Black and Indigenous people,” she says. “For healing and spiritual connection and community building, I think it’s an essential thing.”
Participants in Rising Together currently meet every other month to engage in themed worship, discussions, and workshop-style activities. The program seeks to help participants affirm each other with the aim of ensuring they have a confident voice in the broader UU community, something Jahanshahi believes is particularly important for BIPOC people within the age range Rising Together targets.
“A lot of our participants are people who have felt isolated,” she says, “who have maybe left their own congregations, either through just actual experiences of microaggressions and racism in their communities or through that feeling of isolation and a desire to belong, which is something that affects people of color but also definitely affects, specifically the age group I’m working with, 14 to 24-year-olds, because that’s a very kind of lost in the woods age range where having safe, solidarity community spaces can be hard to come by.”
Having created one such space, Jahanshahi hopes to eventually increase Rising Together’s frequency to monthly and to continue welcoming more participants.
“For now, definitely, my goal is to just continue expanding,” she says, “and to be consistent and having the space available and doing my best to respond to the community needs as they arise.”
Announcing the MyceliUUm Youth Network of Canada
By Casey Stainsby, CUC Youth & Young Adult Program & Events Coordinator
At CazUUm, the virtual national youth conference held in May 2021, the Youth Observers to the Board announced a plan to launch the MyceliUUm Youth Network of Canada.
The mission statement reads: “MyceliUUm Youth Network of Canada is a national youth representative body that aims to promote engagement and participation in Canadian Unitarian Universalism, to facilitate dialogue about youth issues, and to foster a greater national youth community and presence. We are committed to upholding the principles of Unitarian Universalism including the 8th.”
Our vision is that the MyceliUUm Network is not a traditional committee. We are inspired by the fluidity and interconnectedness of the natural world, and in particular, fungal networks. Mycelium is the name of the thread-like body of a fungus that spreads far and wide underground, and from which mushrooms appear when the conditions are right. We hope the UU youth network will reflect these qualities – deeply interconnected, growing as needed, responding to the environment, omnipresent, and essential to the health of the whole forest (our greater UU movement).
In terms of structure, there will be two main components: the MyceliUUm gatherings, and the Fairy Ring. The MyceliUUm itself is a large virtual gathering of any UU youth (14-19) in Canada who would like to attend, as well as their adult supporters (youth advisors and religious educators). These gatherings will occur 3-4 times each year, and last two hours each. The first half of the gathering will be devoted to a special activity such as community building games, worship, or leadership skills development. The second portion of the gathering will be an opportunity for youth to discuss issues that affect them and organize around these issues.
The Fairy Ring (named after the phenomenon of mushrooms growing in a circle) is a smaller group of youth and adult advisors who meet more regularly to plan the MyceliUUm gatherings and to ensure that the ideas that come out of them are followed through on. These positions require a commitment of at least a year, and in this first year, they will be selected by the Youth Observers based on an application.
Interested youth and adults are encouraged to apply now for the Fairy Ring. Previous experience is not required – we will provide training and learn together as we go! This is a great way to collect volunteer hours for school, learn new skills, and give back to your community.
Apply by Sunday, July 4
CUC National Lay Chaplaincy Committee Update
By Ellen Newman
Save the dates! Exciting training opportunities are coming up for the Fall/Winter 2021! Watch the CUC events calendar for registration updates.
Lay Chaplaincy Question & Answer Session
September 28, 2021, at 7:00 pm ET – no cost to register
Facilitated by Ellen Newman. For all those interested in becoming a lay chaplain, and for continuing lay chaplains with burning questions.
Communicating from the Heart – Enrichment Training for Continuing Lay Chaplains
October 22 – 24 & November 5 – 7 – times and sliding scale to be confirmed.
This will be advanced communications training focusing on effective listening on the first weekend, leading to building effective speaking skills on the second weekend, with some exercises in between. Registration will be open to continuing lay chaplains first, and then to lay chaplaincy candidates, ministers, ministerial students, and service leaders dependent on availability. Further details will be released closer to the registration date.
The committee said a very sad, but grateful “so long!” to long-time committee member Ann Steadman, from Sarnia-Port Huron. Ann served the committee for 7 1/2 years, and as Chair, shepherded the amalgamation of the former East and West Lay Chaplaincy Committees. She also played a key role in ensuring our lay chaplain databases were brought up to date and spearheaded the long-overdue revision of the CUC’s National Lay Chaplaincy Program Manual, which became available to all congregations last year.
Ellen Newman has ended her term as Chair as of June 30, 2021. She will continue to serve the Committee on the training development team, and as a lay chaplaincy trainer, as well as in the role of Vice-Chair until the end of 2021.
The CUC’s National Lay Chaplaincy Committee is an active and vibrant group, focused on continually improving training opportunities for lay chaplains. With these recent vacancies, there are openings available. Terms are two years, and all meetings take place by Zoom, and we take the summer off. Any current or retired members of a congregational lay chaplaincy committee, or continuing or retired lay chaplains, may join the Committee. We are a fun bunch! If you are interested, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
News from the CUSJ AGM
Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ) held its annual general meeting on May 22. A highlight of the meeting was the keynote address by Seth Klein, an adjunct professor with Simon Fraser University’s urban studies program and the former BC director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Klein spoke on the “The Green Transformation”, (read an excerpt from Klein’s book, “A Good War: mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency). The address was followed by questions and discussion moderated by Rev. Frances Deverell.
The meeting featured the usual business, including the presentation of reports, the election of directors, and discussion of a resolution on affordable housing. Following the meeting, attendees gathered in breakout rooms to discuss visioning CUSJ’s future and how they could bring this vision into being.
Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice was born in March 1996 and would welcome your thoughts and suggestions about how it can acknowledge and celebrate its 25th anniversary year. CUSJ would love to see photographs showing the actions of congregations doing work in social justice, particularly those done under the CUSJ banner, and would also welcome short stories/remembrances of this work. Other ideas are welcome! Thank you to all the wonderful Board members and to all the members and friends who have supported CUSJ this year in so many different ways.
Remembering and Honouring Rev. Charles Eddis
Rev. Charles Eddis, Minister Emeritus, Unitarian Church of Montreal, passed away on May 22, 2021. A founding member of the Canadian Unitarian Council, Rev. Eddis served as its first president from 1961-64.
Rev. Eddis was sent by the Unitarian Universalist Association to establish the congregation in Edmonton in 1953 and served there until 1958. He served the Lakeshore Unitarian Church in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, from 1958-1966. He then served the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Illinois, where he played an active role advocating for an end to racial discrimination in housing, and opposing the Vietnam War. Rev. Eddis returned to Canada, where he served as minister of the Unitarian Church of Montreal from 1977 to 1993. He led this congregation through the 1980 Quebec referendum, the church’s disastrous fire on Simpson Street in 1987, and oversaw the construction of the church building on de Maisonneuve.
In this Conversation that Launched the CUC article in the November 1981 edition of the Canadian Unitarian, Rev. Eddis described the events that led to the need for, and the establishment of, the Canadian Unitarian Council. In a private correspondence to Kim Turner, former CUC Board president and a Knight Award recipient, Rev. Eddis talked about a meeting in the fall of 1960 – “In a matter of an hour and one-half, we identified, I think, some major and salient reasons for having a Canadian Unitarian Council and we agreed to draw up something and meet again. At the second meeting, I began to see the sort of organization we were talking about….. Having visited Vancouver and knowing Phillip (Hewett) had been President of the Western Canada Unitarian Conference, I looked at what we were proposing and said, ‘look, what we are proposing would do just as well for the whole country – so why don’t we propose something for the whole country and see if people will buy it?’ So – we quickly got in touch with people across the country and everybody seemed interested and we had our meeting in Boston and there we got going!”
“On May 14, 1961, while the Unitarian Universalist Association was being founded in Boston, some 50 Unitarians and Universalists from places as distant as Halifax and Vancouver met that Sunday morning, adopted the proposed organization plan, and elected the Board. Overnight, it seemed the Canadian Unitarian Council had come into being. We have not looked back since.” (Charles Eddis in the November 1981 article of the Canadian Unitarian)
In addition to his service with the CUC, Rev. Eddis was the first president of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada (UUMOC), serving in the role from 1977-80, as well as Vice President of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association from 1981-1983. He was also an active leader in many organizations including the World Conference on Religion and Peace, Project Ploughshares, and Christian-Jewish Dialogue.
Rev. Diane Rollert of The Unitarian Church of Montreal has created a moving video tribute to Rev. Eddis, including excerpts from a conversation with her and a reading he gave for the church’s Christmas Eve 2020 service. Rev. Rollert said, “He knew what it was to live as a phoenix. He was one of Canadian Unitarianism’s greatest leaders, a pioneer and a pillar of our movement. His death is truly the end of an era.”
(Video credits: Rev. Diane Rollert, Blue Boat Home by Jason Shelton, sung by Eleuthera Diconca-Lippert with Sandra Hunt on piano.)
Rev. Rollert shares this meditation, written the day after Rev. Eddis passed away:
A Prayer in Memory of Rev. Charles Eddis
by Rev. Diane Rollert, 23 May 2021
Ground of Our Being,
I call out to you
because you are the name of God
that most spoke to our beloved Rev. Charles.
“Ground of being,”
words from Paul Tillich,
the source that comes before being itself.
Now, dear friend,
you have gone home to that source,
from dust to dust
a man of star stuff,
returned to the cosmos.
Kindest, loving soul,
you lifted us up out of the ashes
and kept us alive.
You tended this faith
with mind and heart
and never lost courage.
I cannot begin to fully name your legacy.
Today, I only weep,
remembering your friendship,
grateful for the many years,
that you shared this journey with all of us.
A day will come
when I will find the grand words,
when a eulogy will flow forth,
as you would have wanted it to be.
For now, bless these tears
and this ache in my heart,
for I cannot imagine
what my life would have been
without knowing you.
I can hear your voice
in the words of Tillich,
invoking the subtle,
that is God,
that has waited for you
at the end of the good full
life you have lived.
May the Ground of Our Being
bless you and keep you,
shine its countenance upon you
and give you peace.
With love and deep condolences to all who were blessed to know Charles,
Rev. Diane Rollert
Read the professional obituary for Rev. Charles W. Eddis.
The CUC is Hiring!
We’re looking for three 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.
Web Guru – 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.
There is a possibility that this position might work in partnership with other congregations. (If you are a congregation in need of a web guru, please contact email@example.com).
Youth and Young Adult Engagement Specialist – Part-time
Our YaYA Engagement Specialist has amazing relationship-building skills, is deeply committed to Unitarian Universalist values, works collaboratively with youth, young adults, youth advisors, religious educators, and religious professionals to support and enhance youth (14-19) and young adult (18-35) engagement and ministry development. The YaYA Engagement Specialist also has a thorough understanding of congregational and organizational dynamics and has prior experience working with youth and young adults.
For job descriptions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apply for these positions to email@example.com by July 11, 2021.
What’s Making Us Smile
Whether or not you love dogs or Pokemon cards, it’s hard not to find your heart warmed by this story.
Upcoming Events (online via Zoom)
Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Youth and Young Adults Forum on the 8th Principle
Saturday, August 7, 11 am PT | 12 pm MT | 1 pm CT | 2 pm ET | 3 pm AT
Regular Online Events
Gathered Here: Gathered Here will return in the Fall. Dates will be on the CUC Calendar of Events.
Connect and Deepen – Virtual Gathering
Sunday, June 27, July 11 & August 8, 1 pm PT |2 pm MT| 3 pm CT| 4 pm ET| 5 pm AT
Saturday, June 26, July 31 & August 28, 9 am PT |10 am MT | 11 am CT | 12 pm ET | 1 pm AT
UU BIPOC Space
Saturday. July 17 & August 21, 9 pm PT |10 pm MT |11 pm CT | 12 pm ET | 1 pm AT