CUC eNews: June 4, 2019 – Issue 93

In This Issue:

Marriage Licensing for Lay Chaplains in Ontario Recovers from Setback

Margaret Kohr with CUC Executive Director Vyda Ng

In the fall of 2017, a problem was made known to the CUC office in a roundabout way. An Ontario lay chaplain, who had applied for a license to marry through the CUC office, received a letter from the Ontario Marriage Office informing her that her application could not be processed due to “irregularities.” It was subsequently discovered that the Marriage Office had updated their computer systems and was processing applications for licences to marry in a different way.

For all ministers, ministerial students, and lay chaplains, license applications are sent by the CUC office to the relevant provinces (with the exception of a few) requesting that the provincial offices issue the licences to lay chaplains and ministers. Each provincial office operates in a different way. In Ontario, when the CUC first applied in the early 1970s to be recognized as a religious body, there were two categories under which marriage licences can be issued to officiants: ‘ordained as clergy’, or ‘appointed by religious body’. Because only one category could be chosen, the CUC went with the ‘ordained’ category.

When the ON Marriage Office updated its processes in 2017, the lay chaplain applications were rejected because lay chaplains are not ordained. The CUC couldn’t submit the applications under the ‘appointed category,’ because only one category was accepted. There ensued a long, convoluted conversation between the CUC and the ON Marriage Office, with the Marriage Office stating that the Marriage Act had not been followed and that the CUC needed to include specific items about lay chaplains within its by-laws.

At wit’s (and patience’s) end with the delays and legal implications, Executive Director Vyda Ng enlisted the help of Margaret Kohr. Margaret is a retired government lawyer, a member of the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, and a retired lay chaplain and therefore well placed to sort through the tangle with the Marriage Office. With determination and after numerous emails, phone calls, digging through archives, and cutting through bureaucratic red tape, Margaret was successful in convincing the Marriage Office that the Marriage Act hadn’t been contravened and no by-law changes were necessary, as it was not a legal matter, but one of interpretation and process. Ontario lay chaplains could once again be licensed.

The debacle caused delays, discouragement, and frustration with Ontario lay chaplains. The applications in process were suspended for a year and a half, no new lay chaplains came forward, and training had to be cancelled. It was with huge relief that applications were once again sent in for processing in March 2019.

On June 2, 2019, Margaret Kohr was recognized at the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto for her persistence and skill in restoring the licensing ability for Ontario lay chaplains. She was presented with an orchid and wine, with much appreciation and gratitude from the National Lay Chaplain Committee.

Learn More About Lay Chaplaincy

USC Canada and Unitarians: 75 Years of Shared History

By Jane Rabinowicz, USC Canada Executive Director

Jane Rabinowicz, Executive Director of USC Canada with Mateus Mia from Resilient Agriculture and Economy through Biodiversity in Action (RAEBIA), our partner in Timor Leste

I have always felt the significance of lineage. This has been especially true over the last 2 years since Martin Settle and I stepped into the role once held by USC Canada’s founder, Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova. Lotta was more than an Executive Director. She was a force of nature who brought out the best in Canadians and inspired them to be their most generous selves. Hers are big shoes to fill!

Lotta came to Canada as a refugee from Czechoslovakia during World War II. A Unitarian-run medical centre in Marseille saved her life when she was near starvation. When she arrived in Canada and wanted to help communities rebuild in post-war Europe, she turned to the Unitarians once more. In 1945, she founded the Unitarian Service Committee, now USC Canada.

I can’t help but connect Lotta’s story to the story of my father’s mother, my Oma. You know those people in your life who truly help define who you are? My Oma was such a person for me. She worked in a button shop, and I grew up visiting her there, playing with the shiny buttons and hearing her stories.

Both Lotta and my Oma were born to Jewish families in Europe and fled to Canada during the war. Both were tiny but mighty, strong, smart, independent women. My grandmother’s only child, my father, was born in 1945, the same year Lotta’s only child, USC Canada, was born. I have always tried to honour my grandmother in my work. Now I seek to honour Lotta as well, becoming part of the lineage of USC Canada.

And what a lineage it is! Lotta was tireless in her efforts to alleviate suffering and poverty. She believed in the dignity of all people and respected their inherent rights and their capacity to make their own best decisions. Not surprisingly, Unitarians and others across Canada embraced these values. Since Lotta planted the first seeds, thousands of people have helped them grow.  

Many shared traditions have been passed between Unitarians and USC Canada. We recently learned that the mitten trees decorated at Christmas by so many Unitarian congregations harken back to the post-war period when Lotta mobilized armies of volunteers in church basements to collect and bundle winter clothing and other necessities for families in need.

USC Canada’s staff meetings offer a precious carry over from the Unitarian tradition with our perennial opening agenda item: Joys, Successes, Complaints, Concerns. This is a time we all look forward to, not just for sharing professional news and accomplishments but as a time to share our personal joys in a birth, a marriage or the sadness of a friend’s passing. It is a moment when staff can remind one another of our human connection and our shared journey to continue on Lotta’s path of making the world “a better, kinder place”.

At USC Canada we have been in a period of deep reflection with regards to our lineage. This comes in part with age—we will be entering our 75th year soon! With this approaching milestone, we look forward to sharing some big news with our supporters this fall. We hope you’ll stay in touch and continue to be a part of our shared history and exciting future. If you have stories of your own connections to either Lotta or USC Canada we would love to hear from you. Please contact me anytime at

Learn More About USC Canada

Celebrating Bonnie and Rev. Fred Cappuccino

On Sunday, May 26, the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa celebrated the extensive life’s work of Fred and Bonnie Cappuccino. In 1953, Fred, first a Methodist minister then becoming a Unitarian minister, and Bonnie, a student nurse, fell in love, married and started a family. Conscious of world overpopulation, they chose to have two biological children and adopt one or two more. In addition to those two children, they ended up adopting 19 children from around the world.

But they weren’t finished caring for children. In 1985, they co-founded, with Dr. Natubhai Shah, Child Haven International. This non-profit organization assists children and women in developing countries, who are in need of food, education, health care, shelter and clothing, emotional and moral support. Child Haven has helped thousands of children and grown to include nine separate homes and centers in Nepal, Tibet, India, and Bangladesh.

Like Mahatma Gandhi, the Cappuccinos are pacifists, vegetarians, lovers of the truth. They accept every human being, regardless of race, religion, sex, or caste, as equally valuable in the world (source:

Fred also resided in sanctuary at First Unitarian with a refugee (read more in upcoming issues of the eNews). The Cappuccinos have won many awards for their work, including the 1992 Friends of Children Award from the North American Council on Adoptable Children, the Order of Canada in 1996 and the ONEXONE Difference Award.

Bonnie Cappuccino has shared, “We try to live by what Gandhi said – if you possess more than is required for your basic existence, you are stealing from those who don’t have enough.”

For the service on May 26, some Cappuccino children and grandchildren (two lit the chalice) were present, along with Dr.Shah, volunteers for Child Haven, individuals and/or family members of refugees and others with a deep connection to the Cappuccinos. Child Haven volunteers (Anne and Phil Nagy) spoke of their experiences and Laura Evans delivered greetings from the UU Fellowship of Ottawa (where Fred is Minister Emeritus), noting Rev. Fred’s involvement with the founding and growth of the fellowship. Salim Uddin, an immigrant from Bangladesh and supporter of Child Haven since 1984, shared remarks. The service ended with Fred leading the singing of Bonnie’s favorite hymn, “Bread & Roses.”

Fred quotes poet Rabindranath Tagore: “‘Let me light my lamp’, says the star, ‘and never debate if it will remove the darkness.'”

Donate to Child Haven International

Young Adults Find a Home at Chorus

By Casey Stainsby, CUC Youth and Young Adult Ministry Program and Events Coordinator

My favourite part about Chorus is getting to spend time with like-minded, positive young adults. Overall, the weekend creates a sense of community for me that carries on past the weekend and reminds me that there is a place where  I belong.

I just want to thank you for organizing such a wonderful and restorative event, and for encouraging me to go.

I’m so glad I came. It feels like coming home. See you next year!!

These are words written by participants of Chorus as our magical weekend together came to an end. From Friday, May 17 to Monday, May 20, thirty young adults from across Canada gathered together at a beautiful camp, an hour’s drive outside of Calgary. Some of these young adults had been away from the Unitarian community for 10 years or more. Some of them were relatively new to Unitarian Universalism, hoping to connect with others close to their own age. Some had bridged from youth-hood recently enough to have experienced a strong young adult community waiting for them, and have benefited from programs that were designed specifically for “emerging adults,” those in the 18-24 age range.

We played games, shared in preparing and enjoying meals, sang many songs, and stayed up late around the campfire. It was a jam-packed schedule, with workshops on UU history, theology, personal spiritual practices, improv games, and art-making for the UU Young Adults for Climate Justice zine project, Theologies of Place. There were big conversations about the future of our faith movement and many intimate, silly, and sacred moments.

Any young adult gathering becomes such a reflection of those who are there. Those who came to Chorus 2019 brought a genuine desire for connection and a curiosity as to whether this faith has a place for them. They were vulnerable and generous with each other and created a truly magical community that sent each person home with a clear message: you are part of something bigger.

Discover the CUC’s  Young Adult Ministry

CanUUdle XIX in Calgary a Delicious Success!

By Casey Stainsby, CUC Youth and Young Adult Ministry Program and Events Coordinator

There were 64 youth and adult advisors from across Canada at the Calgary Unitarians over the May long weekend for CanUUdle XIX: Roots & Wings. CanUUdle is led by a volunteer “staff” team of youth and adults, who had been working hard since January to create an experience of community and spiritual grounding for all the participants. This year was special for a few reasons: not least because of trial-running a new age range of 13-19. The youth staff provided high-quality programming and an inspiring example of youth leadership for the “CanUUbies.”

Highlights from the weekend included a fishbowl workshop, the coffee house, and a visit to the pool on Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon, CanUUdlers were joined by the young adults of Chorus for a musical celebration workshop, followed by the Bridging Ceremony and Dinner. These two events are rituals of the transition between youth and young adulthood, and give an opportunity for youth to be welcomed into the young adult community.  

CanUUdlers were spoiled by top-notch meals and snacks by Red Seal chef Dean Kasner and his team of friendly volunteers – what a treat! Members of the Calgary Unitarians also generously donated their time towards airport pick-ups and overnight supervision. Thank you, volunteers!

Many youth are already excited for CanUUdle XX next year in Halifax – it will be the 20th anniversary of CanUUdle and shouldn’t be missed!

Explore the CUC’s  Youth Ministry

Meet Ahna DiFelice, CUC Organizational Administrator

Working alongside the Executive Director and supporting the team members, Ahna is the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Organizational Administrator. In many cases, she will be your first point of contact. While it is definitely a role that comes with ‘many duties as assigned’, Ahna derives the most satisfaction from organizing the myriad of logistics for large scale meetings and events such as the CUC’s Annual General Meeting and Conference as well as working on the ‘geekier’ aspects of aligning office processes with technology.

When she’s not ‘geeking out’, Ahna is rappelling 30 story buildings, walking the edge of the 147 stories CN Tower, or zip lining in Maui!

Active in congregational life, currently as a Lay Chaplain, Ahna is committed to living the values of inclusivity, contribution, service and bringing people together. Currently enrolled in a Death Educator and Guide training program, Ahna is learning to help families to cope with death by recognizing it as a natural and important part of life.

When asked about Unitarianism, Ahna’s “elevator pitch” is “Unitarianism  is a dogma-free faith that promotes the free and responsible search for meaning, spiritual growth, and social justice through education, worship services, and networking.” (Developed with coaching by Rev. Wayne Walder, Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation, on creating “elevator pitches’ that works for individuals based on what they personally believe.)   

For Ahna, meditation, dance and travel are restorative and essential!  A big fan of Einstein, Rumi, Alan Watts, and Dr. Seuss, today’s quote of the day comes from Albert Einstein, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”  

Meet More of  the CUC Staff

In Memoriam: Joy Isabelle Johnston (1932 – 2019)

Born in England in 1932, Joy trained and worked as a nurse before coming to Saskatchewan. She worked there in Maryfield, then in an Assin’skowitiniwak community, before moving to Alberta. From her new Edmonton home, she hiked and skied thanks to earlier experiences with Guiding and Youth Hosteling.

Marrying in 1962, she took a career break to start a family. In 1974, the family moved to Saratoga Beach, where they ran Killarney Resort. Soon after, Joy returned to nursing. She retired from the Campbell River hospital in Jan. 1989.

In 1995, Joy and Art retired to Comox. Joy was now free to volunteer more as a Unitarian and in the wider community. In her declining years, friends returned her love manifold.

Remembrances from ministers and previous CUC  Board members:

“Joy served on the CUC Board and those who knew her remember Joy’s enthusiastic support for the CUC, her energy and passion for social justice, and her commitment to Unitarian Universalism. Joy attended many CUC Annual General Meetings as a delegate, and her presence gave life to the conferences. CUC staff and Board members received warm hospitality from Joy when they were in the area, and several staff members recall that Joy was very supportive of them in their roles. Joy and Art were very active in the life of the Comox Valley Unitarian Fellowship, and Joy will be remembered for her verve, that sparkle in her eye, her humour, and her unflagging energy for getting things done.”

In lieu of flowers, Joy asked that friends donate to Child Haven International, 19014 Concession 7, Maxville, ON K0C 1T0.

Comox Valley Record Obituary for Joy

Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly Coming Soon!

The General Assembly (GA) of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) will be held from June 19 – 23 at the Spokane Convention Center, 334 W Spokane Falls Blvd, Spokane, WA 99201. Many UU Canadians, particularly from the West coast, are planning to attend. You must register if you plan to attend.  

Canadian UUs (and friends!) are invited to gather socially on Saturday, June 22 from 9 p.m. at The Onion Bar and Grill, 302 West Riverside, just a 5-minute walk from the Convention Centre. No RSVP necessary.

More Information About GA

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, June 10, 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, 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, Hosted by the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa
More information and registration coming soon.

Western Region Fall Gathering, October 19 – 21,  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 available by the end of June.


UUA General Assembly 2019: June 19-23, Spokane, WA
General Assembly (GA) is the annual meeting of our Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). Attendees worship, witness, learn, connect, and make policy for the Association through democratic process.

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