CUC eNews: June 26, 2019 – Issue 96

In This Issue:

Mark Morrison-Reed Receives Distinguished Service Award

Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison Reed an accolade and recognition of his service to the Unitarian Universalist community. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) conferred its Distinguished Service Award on Rev. Morrison-Reed at the General Assembly in Spokane WA on June 22, 2019. The award is one of the most prestigious awards given by the UUA and is awarded to those who have, over a considerable period of time, “strengthened the institutions of our Unitarian Universalist denomination or clarified our message in an extraordinary way. They should have exemplified what Unitarian Universalism stands for.”

Mark was co-minister with his partner Donna, at the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto for many years. He has written extensively on issues of race and racial justice within the UU community and was the keynote speaker at the 2014 CUC conference.  His message was about Radical Inclusion, which continues to inform the work the CUC does around racial justice.

In his acceptance speech, Mark said that the context for his life’s work was embedded in four congregations: his home congregation in Chicago; his internship congregation at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, Maryland; the two congregations where he and his partner, Donna, were co-ministers – First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY and First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto.

In 1952, Mark’s parents were looking for a religious home and a friend of his father’s introduced them to the First Unitarian Society of Chicago. He said, “I have no idea what my family’s life or my own would be like without that invitation. So I want you to think about that the next time you pass up an opportunity to invite somebody to church.”

Mark continued, “I didn’t do this on my own. Those that I collaborated with over the last 40 years, you know who you are. You have touched my life, you have blessed my life – I want to thank you. Foremost of this is Donna – my companion, my wife, my colleague. I have to tell you sometimes it felt like I was working for the UUA instead of our congregation. The only way it worked is because Donna, despite her own things she was doing, including the UUMA (UU Minister’s Association) Exec, had my back covered with our congregation, and most importantly, with our two children. She also did a lot of encouraging and editing, and more editing. God knows I needed editing. And she was usually fairly tolerant when one of my projects took over. Thank you, Donna.”

Mark recalled a time when there were only two African American seminarians in the pulpit, both part-time. He said, “We’ve come a long, long way since then. There were battles and disappointments, there was real pain. But our understanding evolved, our vocabulary did as well. But we kept falling short of our hopes, and we were never as progressive as we claimed to be.

Nonetheless, we did change. It was messy and it was incremental and it was cumulative and we tried different things. We made mistakes, lots of them, and then we’d adjust. Collaboration takes time and it takes patience or lack of it. In the process, I cried a lot, and occasionally I raged, and I tried to be a truth-teller. I also enjoyed figuring out what had happened before and what needed to happen that moment, and how to leverage the system to make it more inclusive and just.”

Mark ended his acceptance speech with, “In hindsight, I can see that I and the many with whom I worked, we made a difference. It just required showing up again, and again, and again. Just staying in the conversation and engaging respectfully, openheartedly, lovingly with people of good intent to shape a future none of us alone could imagine or create. “

Mark’s latest book, Revisiting the Empowerment Controversy: Black Power and Unitarian Universalism, was reviewed by Ellen Campbell, previous CUC Executive Director. As a historian of the African-American presence in UUism, he is the author of Black Pioneers in a White Denomination and Darkening the Doorways: Black Trailblazers and Missed Opportunities in Unitarian Universalism. He has also written In Between: Memoir of an Integration Baby, is co-editor of two meditation manuals Been in the Storm So Long and Voices from the Margin and has several pieces in Guarding Sacred Embers: Reflections on Canadian Unitarian and Universalist History. He also researched and wrote Menage a Trois , the beginnings and history of the International Council of Unitarian Universalists.

Read More About Mark

Unitarian Universalist Congregations Keep Busy During Summer

While summer in Unitarian congregations might seem at quiet at first glance as activities have slowed or shut down, a closer look reveals there’s still a lot going on. Here’s a sampling of what Canadian UUs get up to during this time.

Lay Services

Whether in the pulpit or on study leave, Unitarian ministers are still hard at work during much of the summer re-energizing, studying and planning for the coming year. Summer offers an opportunity for more informal, lay-led services. Westwood Unitarian Congregation in Edmonton, for instance,  holds Summer Serendipity Services, a friendly hour of reflection and discussion on varied topics.

Enjoying the Outdoors

During our water communion services, the water shared is gathered from our summer experiences including camping, sometimes as part of a larger group of Unitarians. In southern BC, the Northwest Wilderness Society Camp on Kootenay Lakes started up in the 1960s by a small group of Unitarians as an undeveloped camp and retreat. While the affiliation with Unitarians continues and many Unitarians camp there, it welcomes everyone. A thousand kilometers away in Dufferin County, Ontario, Unicamp (see the article below) occupies 50 acres of the UNESCO Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve. Whether relaxing at one of these camps or others, it’s a chance to reconnect with self, community, and nature.

Celebrating Pride

From coast to coast, in celebrations big and small, Pride events take place across the country over the summer, and odds are good the festivities will include the local Unitarians. A chance to reflect on victories achieved and still to come, Unitarian congregations often mark Pride with a special service as well as marching in the parade. 

Traveling this Summer? Find A Congregation Across Canada

Rev. Stefan Jonasson Receives Iceland’s Order of the Falcon

Rev. Stefan Jonasson, a Manitoba Unitarian minister, was among the Canadians recently awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of the Falcon by President of Iceland Gudni Th. Jóhannesson on a trip to Canada. Fewer than 75 Canadians have been awarded the Order of the Falcon since it was created in 1921, two years after the island nation achieved its independence from Denmark. It is the highest honour that the Icelandic state can bestow on individuals.

Stefan Jonasson is the editor of Lögberg-Heimskringla, the oldest continuously published ethnic newspaper in Canada, which was established in Winnipeg in 1886. Originally appearing in Icelandic, the paper has been published in English for several decades.

An ordained Unitarian minister, Jonasson served congregations in the Manitoba Interlake and was the Unitarian Universalist denomination’s district executive for Western Canada for eleven years. In 1999, the Boston-based Unitarian Universalist Association named him as director for large congregations, a continent-wide portfolio, and he later served as the denomination’s director of growth strategies before leaving in 2014 to seek public office. He became editor of the Icelandic community newspaper at the beginning of 2015. He is a member of the board of regents of the University of Winnipeg and previously served as president of the university’s alumni association. Among other volunteer commitments, he is a member of the board of the St. James Scholarship Foundation and first vice president of the Icelandic National League.

“This recognizes the contribution Stefan makes every day to increase our community’s knowledge and understanding of the culture and history of our Icelandic heritage”, said Lögberg-Heimskringla’s president, Alicyn Goodman. “Stefan has joined a very elite club. It is a well-deserved honour”.

Read Stefan Jonasson’s article on Icelandic Unitarians in North America

Summer 2019 at Unicamp!

By Yvette Salinas, ExecutiveDirector, Unicamp of Ontario

Unicamp is open for tent or trailer camping, or with cozy accommodations in a dorm or cottage, throughout the summer until Thanksgiving. Book your time away at!

Children’s and Youth Camps for ages 7 – 16 take place in July and August. These weeks are filled with fun and opportunities for spiritual growth for our young UU’s.

Unicamp is turning 50! We are marking our Golden Jubilee with a long weekend of festivities!  August 2-5, everyone is invited to join us for songs, stories, memories, and fun!  Weekend events will include an interpretive history walk, a starlight service of remembrance, classic camp games, storytelling, and much more!  Saturday should not be missed. We will have our celebration lunch and then what we hope will be the biggest evening dance in Unicamp history! Bring your photos, stories, and cotton shirts to tie dye.  It will surely be an unforgettable time as we honour the fifty years of hard work, dedication, heart, soul, and spirit that have shaped our truly special place. Contact for more information and book your meals/accommodation here. 

Family Camps are a wonderful way to connect with other Canadian UU’s. Children’s activities take place every morning, with special events like Wednesday’s candlelight dinner, fireside discussions, and Sunday service making it a truly memorable experience!

Artistic Expression and Exploration are yours to experience at various events taking place in Unicamp:

  • August 16 – 18, Sacred Circle Dance: dance to a variety of world music, uniting all in mind, body, and spirit!
  • August 19 – 23, Soulo Theatre Workshop: acting improv, writing exercises, and one-on-one coaching leading to a powerful and entertaining show.
  • August 23-25, Magic of Music: sound healing, drumming, chanting, group improv and more!
  • August 25 – 30, Connecting with Nature Artist Retreat: Create a series of small works in watercolour or drawing media of your choice with on-location inspiration from our picturesque vistas, dappled ponds, rolling hills, and fantastic forests!

Looking Ahead: Young Adult Retreat 2019: UU’s 18-35 are welcome to this time of community conversations, and outdoor activities with old and new friends!

Discover All of Unicamp’s Programming This Summer

Membership Trends at the Unitarian Congregation of Mississauga

The Unitarian Congregation of Mississauga has created a report on their membership trends from 2016-2018. Their report includes valuable information about their membership process and how people find the congregation, young adults, membership loss and gain, and long term membership trends.  

Douglas Hill shared, “I decided to do the study on my own, as Chair/Membership Committee. We were looking to see if our membership was declining over the long run (back to 2000) and the short run (2016-2018). We found that we were having a net loss in membership of about one a year, but it was two or three a year recently. We have been recording lots of membership data in our PowerChurch database since we started using it in late 2015, and having a scientific bent, I decided to see what we could learn from all available data.”

This kind of information can be extremely valuable in creating strategies for membership retention, and to foster outreach and congregational growth. Mississauga’s next steps include the planning of a formation of a Task Force on Growth.

Contact the CUC’s Congregational Life Leads Rev. Linda Thomson (Central/Eastern region) and Joan Carolyn (BC/Western region) for information on fostering congregational growth.

Request the Report

Letter to Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH) Association Members

By Debra Simpson, Sponsorship Agreement Holder  Secretariat (received on World Refugee Day, June 20, 2019)

June 20 is World Refugee Day, a day to celebrate the resiliency of the human spirit while lamenting the prevalence and menace of war and strife. Hopefully, many of you have been able to join celebrations that honour newcomers, that welcome newcomers as members of our communities, and that bring recognition to the many contributions newcomers bring to this country.

The 2019 global trends report from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) confirms what we feared, that the number of refugees and internally displaced people continued to grow this past year – 70.8 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide, the largest number in the organization’s history. Children constitute almost half of the world’s refugees. Only 7% of refugees in need of resettlement found new homes. Now that the US has drastically reduced its resettlement program, Canada has become the largest resettlement country.

Meanwhile, also in Canada, we know that negative public opinion about immigration is growing and will influence the campaigning around, and possibly the outcome, of the federal election.

May we re-commit to work together to make Canada a more welcoming place for newcomers, to extend that welcome through private sponsorship, and to do our part to make peace at home and around the world.

Below you will find a reading list, starting with a resource you can use to help shift public opinion in favour of refugees, and then moving to links to the role Canada (and private sponsorship) plays in responding to the refugee crisis and to UN reports and newspaper articles about the global refugee situation:

    1. The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) has joined with three partner organizations (Amnesty International, the Canadian Council of Churches and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers) to work on a project designed to shift public opinion by focusing on positive messages. Please join this effort! See for resources and a list of what you and your organization can do to make refugees welcome in Canada.
    1. Links to articles about Canada’s role: the role Canada plays in responding to the refugee crisis:  

    1. Links to the UNHCR reports and newspaper articles about the global refugee situation:

Learn More About Becoming a SAH

Seeking Youth and Adult Staff for the Western Region Youth Con in Edmonton

The Western Region Fall Gathering (WRFG) will take place at the Unitarian Church of Edmonton, October 18-20, 2019. We need both youth and adult advisors from all over the Western Region to help us plan it!

For more information on what being on staff involves, and to apply, check out this simple form. Applications must be in by Wednesday, June 26, midnight CST.

Questions: Casey Stainsby,

Fill Out the Youth Con Staff Application

Summer eNews Schedule

Please note that the eNews will not be published in July. In August two editions will be published. The publication will return to its weekly schedule the first week in September.

Church Pews Available – Livonia, NY

Skye Sawyer contacted the CUC recently with an unusual request: “I live in Livonia, NY where my husband and I recently bought an old Catholic church building that we are converting into a home and bookstore. It still has all the original oak pews and we would love for them to be able to go to another church.” Sawyer hopes someone (church or individual) will provide homes for the pews.

 Contact Skye Sawyer for More Information

Like the Canadian Unitarian Council on Facebook!

Upcoming Events 2019

Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact
Deadline: 14th of each previous month.

Youth and Young Adult 

Online – Gathered Here: Young Adult Check-In, July 8, August 12, 8 p.m. ET
Gathered Here is a monthly online check-in and gathering for Canadian Unitarian Universalist young adults.

Serving With Spirit: Leadership Development

Serving With Spirit Nurturing UU Leaders – EAST, 3-day retreat, Friday, July 26 – 28
Carleton University, ON, Registration deadline: June 24

We invite you to a weekend to explore where you find the “springs” which fill your life’s well of energy, and how you can live out of that rich resource.
Facilitators: Revs. Peter Boullata and Linda Thomson

Serving With Spirit Nurturing UU Leaders – WEST, 3-day retreat, August 9 – 11
Providence Renewal Centre, Edmonton, AB, Registration deadline: July 10
Facilitators: Revs. Anne Barker and Chris Wulff

Online & In-person – Serving With Spirit: Stronger Together, Planning for Partnership, 1-day workshop, August 10
Providence Renewal Centre, Edmonton, AB, Registration deadline: July 10

Facilitator: Rev. Joan Van Becelaer


Eastern Region Fall Gathering, October 19, First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa
More information and registration coming soon.

Western Region Fall Gathering, October 18 – 20,  Unitarian Church of Edmonton
Hosted by the Unitarian Church of Edmonton and the Westwood Unitarian Congregation, Theme: Towards A Thriving Future. More information and registration coming soon.

Western Region Youth Con, October 18 –  Oct 20, Unitarian Church of Edmonton
Youth and their adult advisors from across the Western Region will gather in Edmonton to strengthen their community, find spiritual sustenance and look towards the future. More information and registration coming soon.


UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar On Climate Justice, April 15-18, 2020, New York, NY

International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) Meeting & Conference, October 26 – November 1, 2020, Montreal, Canada. More information coming soon)