CUC eNews: March 26, 2020 – Issue 110

In This Issue:

Responding to COVID-19

CUC responds to the COVID-19 virus

Dear Friends,

As the Covid 19 virus requires us to create physical space between us, I invite you to let that space fill with gratitude, compassion and kindness rather than fear. CUC staff has spoken with congregational leaders across the country over the past few weeks, and I have been moved by the care and love being focused on those in our congregations and in our broader communities. We are in uncharted territory, but we are travelling together. 

Our CUC staff and congregational leaders are working to create ways for congregations and UUs to connect in digital venues while continuing to nurture personal relationships. We have an evolving Resources for Congregations During COVID-19 folder, and a number of round tables (next ones are March 28 and April 4) planned so our congregational leaders can share ideas and offer support to each other. We find comfort in knowing that wherever we are, we can still gather through our shared words and experiences, and find strength in our community. 

I encourage all of you to rest in that community as you also work to strengthen it. 

Vyda Ng
CUC Executive Director

Resources for congregations for COVID-19

COVID-19 is quickly changing the way we move through our daily lives. As communities of faith, we can play significant roles in helping to prevent the spread of infection, in providing a calm and reasoned presence, and in modelling safe practices.

Services and Activities

By now, most, if not all, congregations have suspended in-person services and activities. To continue limiting the spread and reduce health risks, the CUC recommends that congregations continue to abide by this.

Roundtables and Resource Sharing

It’s important that we remain in conversation, support each other, and share resources. A series of roundtables have been scheduled for congregational leaders to share practical and pastoral resources for congregations, to provide information about online streaming options for those congregations who are pondering alternatives to Sunday services, and to address questions and concerns. We welcome you to join us in this opportunity to share resources and information about planning for and coping with the impacts of COVID-19 on your congregations.

CUC COVID-19 weekly updates

Session 2: March 28, – 1:00p.m. ET

Session 3: April 4- 1:00 p.m ET

The CUC has also set up a resource folder with information for congregations. The Folder can be found here, and include sections on

If you have additional resources to share, please email them to

Finding services online

If you are offering online services that would welcome other UUs from across the country, please add your information to our Calendar of Online Gatherings spreadsheet. Our goal is to help UUs find and be welcomed into a Sunday service, especially if their local service is unavailable. 

In the flurry of decision making, let us remind ourselves that this crisis has a spiritual dimension. As Rev. Shawn Newton observed in his recent sermon, “Love in a time of COVID-19”: “what I feel missing from the larger public conversation is any mention of the spiritual preparation required if we are to bring the best of our humanity to this shared health crisis. As it turns out, COVID-19 confronts us with some deeply theological questions about vulnerability and fear, about individualism and interdependence, about equity and compassion, about racism and how we relate to our neighbours”

Check Out the CUC COVID-19 Resource Folder

CUC’s National Conference and Annual General MeetingUpdate

The cancellation of 2020’s conference has been a hard decision to make. The planning and program teams met to explore options, and for now, the conference has been rescheduled to May 2021 in Halifax. This is contingent on COVID-19 having worked its way through the population, and travel and gathering bans being lifted before May 2021. CUC staff will continue to monitor and assess into the fall.

However, the unforeseen cancellation has created opportunities to consider online connections this May. As plans are confirmed, you will be kept informed. CUC office staff is in the process of contacting registrants about refunds.

Although the CUC’s National Conference has been postponed, the Annual General Meeting (AGM) will proceed online as planned on May 15. Since this will take place entirely online in this period of physical distancing, we are not recommending that delegates gather together, as with previous AGMs. Delegates will be participating individually via Zoom.

Getting Ready for the AGM

Once your congregation has confirmed its delegates, register them by April 1 here. We recommend that one person in your congregation be designated to do this.

Your delegates should then sign up for one of four orientation sessions to be held in April. This is necessary as the voting process will differ from that used in previous years; the orientation will focus on how to use Zoom as a participant and using the online voting system.

Your delegates will need:

    • A level of comfort using online technology
    • A laptop or desktop with a web camera, microphone, and speakers 
    • OR if no webcam or mic & speakers, the ability to join the Zoom meeting by phone 
    • Reliable high-speed internet

Delegates will be sent information about the online orientation sessions and the AGM, after they have registered for both.

Further Information About the AGM

Gathered Here – Online Young Adult Check-Ins – Are Now Every Week!

Young adults (18-35) are invited to check in with their spiritual community online and stay connected through this time of physical distancing. Here is the updated schedule for Spring 2020: 

Thursday, April 2, 9 p.m. ET
Monday, April 6, 8 p.m. ET
Thursday, April 16, 9 p.m.ET
Monday, April 20, 2 p.m. ET
Thursday, April 30, 9 p.m. ET

Monday, May 4, 8 p.m. ET
Monday, May 25, 2 p.m. ET

No registration required. 

RSVP to the Facebook Event for Updates and Login Information 

Connect and Deepen

Connect and Deepen are online gatherings for forging connections across the country, especially important now in this time of physical distancing. CUC staff host the groups, and welcome you to this on-line opportunity to gather with other kindred spirits in small groups to discuss matters of personal, spiritual, theological and lifestyle significance. 

Extra dates have been added, and Connect and Deepen is happening on:

March 29, April 12 & 26, May 10 & 24, June 14, July 12, August 9, September 13, October 11, November 8 

Time: 5 p.m. AT, 4 p.m. ET, 3 p.m. CT, 2 p.m. MT, 1 p.m PT (90 minutes) 

Register Now!

Minister Profile: Rev. Anne Barker

As a regular feature, we are highlighting our Canadian UU ministers and the vital work they do nurturing connection and spiritual growth within our congregations and communities.

Rev. Anne Barker has served Westwood Unitarian Congregation since August of 2008. She came to Unitarianism later in life, discovering it in 1999. She found it brought together people she was connected to in different parts of her life, while at the same time offering a chance to engage in many of the activities she enjoyed the most. 

“I came to recognize that not only were many of my favourite things to do spending time with people and talking about what’s meaningful, and speaking to what’s important, I was delighted to discover that that was actually a profession,” she says. 

Interactions with people are the part of ministry Anne finds the most rewarding. She appreciates the opportunities it provides to learn from each other, help each other, and gain a broader perspective on the world. She believes Unitarianism can remain relevant into the future by fostering this broader perspective, spending less time wondering what other Unitarians think, and more time focusing on what we can learn from those who may think differently.

And something you might not know about Anne – she spent years studying belly dance when her children were small, which changed the way she saw the world.

Learn More About Anne

Dismantling Racism: Assessing Where We Are

The Unitarian Universalist first principle calls us to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person. In the context of racial justice, how do we meaningfully live that principle in our congregation and the broader community? The Dismantling Racism Study Group was established to examine the role that racial justice can and should play in our UU community, and wants your frank and honest input. 

Your participation is needed to assess where we are in our racial justice work. What actions and efforts are you and your congregation taking to tackle the important task of racial justice? What has been your personal experience of racism and racial justice work within Unitarian Universalism? Read on for more information OR click here to do the survey right now! 

Recently, there was discussion at the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly about adding an 8th principal to our Unitarian Universalist guiding principles, calling for our congregations to accountably dismantle racism in our institutions and within ourselves. This precipitated the 2019 CUC resolution which created our Dismantling Racism Study Group. 

We need your personal responses to this survey. We want to understand where we are in order to lay out a path to where we want to be. The survey is entirely anonymous unless you choose to provide your contact information.

This survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete, and we’d appreciate your responses by April 12. 

Thank you,

The CUC’s Dismantling Racism Study Group | 

Beverly Horton and Rev. Julie Stoneberg, co-chairs
Douglas Ennenberg
Charmaine Ferworn
Ashlyn Noble
Pamela Smith-Loeters
Catherine Strickland
Tamiko Suzuki

Complete the Dismantling Racism Survey

Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Series

The CUC’s Truth, Healing and Reconciliation initiative has planned a learning and engagement series for the spring.

1.) THR: Reconciliation Through Film, Season 3

We invite you to thoughtfully delve into the themes of colonization and Indigenous resilience through film with our online national film screenings. We begin by individually viewing topical films and reading supporting materials and then come together for a scheduled video conference to discuss the concepts raised in the films. Our films are nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up – Saturday, April 11, 12:30-2:00 p.m. ET and  Freedom Road – Saturday, June 6, 12:30-2:00 p.m. ET

To join us:

    1. Register on the CUC website THR film page for each film before the deadline. Everything you need will be emailed to you the day after the registration deadline.
    2. Over the following 2 weeks, consider the reflection questions provided as you watch the film and engage with the supporting materials.
    3. Join the online Reflection Group to debrief. Commitment matters! Registration to view the film indicates a firm commitment to attend.

We look forward to connecting with you!

2) Pipelines, Democracy and Aboriginal Title: A Conversation with Dr. Niigann Sinclair
Online event: Sunday, May 24, 2020, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. ET

Join Dr. Niigaan Sinclair in a conversation about how non-Indigenous people can be in solidarity with Indigenous Nations when they are divided. This session will explore issues around Aboriginal land title, hereditary vs. colonial leadership, consent, consultation, and the various layers of justice to be considered when addressing issues such as climate action. This session is intended for settlers who want to engage in relationship building and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and communities.

Niigaanwewidom James Sinclair is Anishinaabe and originally from St. Peter’s (Little Peguis) Indian Settlement near Selkirk, Manitoba. He is a respected author, editor and regular commentator on Indigenous issues for CTV, CBC, and APTN Niigaan also teaches courses in Indigenous literature, cultures, histories, and politics at the University of Manitoba. He is a proud Treaty One member. The son of Senator Murray Sinclair who was the Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Niigaan has been steeped in conversations related to reconciliation and comes with a wealth of lived experience with the complexities of implementing reconciliation on a political and grassroots level.

Purchase Tickets at Eventbrite

Continuing Financial Support for Religious Professionals and Church Staff During COVID-19

Coronavirus is demonstrating in a very real way the interdependent web of existence. As Sunday services and congregational events are transformed and cancelled, we remind ourselves that the work of our congregations and staff is ongoing, even as it takes a different shape. 

There are financial implications for many as a result of the global situation, and we will not know the end result for some time. Daily, we read and hear of those whose income has been abruptly cut off, including religious professionals and church staff. As much as possible, we hope that all members are able to prioritize their financial contributions so that your congregation’s staff remain paid, and supports continue to be offered to our communities. By asking those who are able to offer a little more, we can all support those who are impacted. 

There are some things congregations can do now to support financial health. 

      1. Review financial plans and make adjustments so you can continue to pay your staff.
      2. Organize online donation options if you don’t already have that in place. PayPal accounts are easy to set up; some congregations use, a church-based tool for pledges.
      3. Reach out to those who regularly offer cash or in-person donations to see if there are easy ways to facilitate ongoing donations.
      4. In your communications with your congregation, continue to stress the importance of their donations and pledges and how it supports your staff and community.

Update: UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar On Climate Justice

The UU-UNO and 2020 Planning Committee have made the decision to move this year’s Intergenerational Spring Seminar to a virtual event rather than an in-person one, due to the current threat posed by the COVID-19 coronavirus. The programming in this virtual gathering will be different from what we could do in person, and it presents us with an exciting opportunity to explore how to be in relationship and learn together what it means to be “All In for Climate Justice,” even when we can’t be in the same room. The virtual event will take place during the time originally slotted for the 2020 Seminar: April 16-18.

UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar Programs & Schedule

Earth Hour 2020

Started by the World Wildlife Fund and partners as a symbolic lights-out event in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour is now one of the world’s largest grassroots movements for the environment, engaging millions of people in more than 180 countries and territories.  Taking place this year on Saturday, March 28 from 10:30 – 11:30 p.m. ET, it has become a catalyst for positive environmental impact, driving major legislative changes by harnessing the power of the people. Some Unitarian congregations have hosted Earth Hour events in the past, and while these may be virtual this year, you can still make an impact. Take the opportunity to turn off the lights, read up on issues (and solutions), and learn how to live more sustainably. 

Earth Hour: One of the World’s Largest Movements for Nature

Lay Chaplaincy: Finding Meaning in Ritual

By Louise Bunn, Lay Chaplain

From time to time we feature submissions from our congregations about the work they are doing and the people who are making a difference in their communities. In this edition, we are featuring Louise Bunn, Lay Chaplain.

My name is Louise Bunn and this is my third year as a lay chaplain. It is rich and rewarding work. I love ritual and see it as an essential part of the human experience. When people are going through a transition in life – be it getting married, having a child, or having a loved one die, to name some of the big ones – the natural flow of life is disrupted. Properly done, ritual aids the participants in befriending the disruption, so that the change can be integrated into their lives. Ritual helps the participants to feel less like they are tossed upon the tempestuous seas of fate and have, at least, a hand upon the tiller while they ride the ocean of life. The rituals we lay chaplains lead provide a backdrop of continuity and a buffer of support while allowing change to be integrated. 

Rituals mark what has happened for the individual. They mark how relationships have been altered. Our rituals happen in public – they call upon family and friends to participate in giving voice to what is important to us. 

The greater part of lay chaplain work involves weddings and memorial services. Working with a couple to craft their wedding and holding the space for the couple as they deeply connect with each other to say their vows is a profoundly satisfying experience. But what I have really come to love and find satisfaction in is the memorial services, particularly the challenging ones.

Holding space for families and making sure that a transition is as graceful as it can be, is a humbling and powerful experience that lay chaplains feel privileged to carry on people’s behalf. We thank them for the honour and the opportunity. We lay chaplains carry a lantern for people going through sobering and emotional passages. With grace and good fortune, we show them a way through. This is an extension of the ministry we all perform for one another as members of this religious community. In the words of Albert Schweitzer, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.  Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

Learn About the CUC’s Lay Chaplaincy Program

In Memoriam: Melvin Webber

Mel Webber was a well-known and well-loved member of the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton. Mel and wife, Pat, have been long-time supporters of the Canadian Unitarian Council and were part of the host team when Hamilton hosted the CUC’s National Conference in 2018. CUC Board and staff send condolences to Mel’s family and grandchildren, which includes Rev. Danielle Webber in Kelowna.

Read the Obituary 

Visit & Like the Canadian Unitarian Council on Facebook!

Upcoming Events 

Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact

Youth and Young Adults

ONLINE: Gathered Here: Young Adult Check-In, March 23 – 8 p.m, April 2 – 9 p.m. April 6 – 8 p.m., April 16 – 9 p.m., April 20 – 2 p.m., April 30 – 9 p.m., May 4 – 8 p.m., May 25- 2 p.m.
June 8, July 13, August 10  – 8 p.m. ET

Gathered Here is a monthly online check-in and gathering for Canadian Unitarian Universalist young adults. Zoom (


CUC COVID-19 Updates, Session 2: March 28,  1:00 p.m. ET, Session 3: April 4 –  1:00 p.m ET
Join the CUC’s weekly update on the COVID-19 virus. Congregational leaders are invited to share resources and information about planning for and coping with the impacts of COVID-19 on their congregations. Zoom information listed on each linked event page.

ONLINE: Connect and Deepen – Virtual Gathering, March 29, April 12 & 26, May 10 & 24, June 14, July 12, August 9, Sept. 13, Oct. 11, Nov 8 – (2nd Sunday of the month), 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. ET Join us for the opportunity to discuss matters of spiritual and theological significance in small groups and connect with people across the country.

ONLINE: AGM Voting Orientation, April 7, April 8, April 16 or April 27 at various times
The 2020 AGM will include on-line participation and voting, with the same system that was used in 2019. We strongly recommend attending an online voting orientation session in April if you are a new delegate and for the online voting managers. Please sign up here.

THR: Reconciliation Through Film, Saturday, April 11, 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. ET
Film: nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up,
register on the THR film page – deadline April 3 

ONLINE: AGM Plenary Discussion, May 14, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. AT
Prior to the AGM on May 15, the CUC Board invites you to an informal dialogue amongst congregational delegates, leaders, board members, and CUC staff to discuss issues of importance to congregations, in support of the CUC’s vision, goals, and strategic priorities.

ONLINE: 2020 CUC National Annual General Meeting, Friday, May 15 from 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. AT,12:00 – 3:30 p.m. ET, 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. CT, 10:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. MT, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PT

ONLINE: Pipelines, Democracy and Aboriginal Title: A Conversation with Dr. Niigann Sinclair
Sunday, May 24, 2020, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM ET –  Registration 

THR: Reconciliation Through Film, Saturday, Saturday, June 6, 12:30-2:00 p.m. ET
Film: Freedom Road,
registration on the THR film page- deadline  – deadline May 22


ONLINE: UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar On Climate Justice,  April 16 – 18, 2020
With a deep passion for and commitment to international human rights, youth and adults from all over North America gather annually for our three-day seminar to dig deeply into issues with global impact: programs and schedule.

Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly, June 24 – 28, 2020, Providence, RI
Be sure to book refundable travel.

International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) Meeting & Conference, October 26 – November 1, 2020, Montreal, Canada
Supported by the CUC, this ICUU Conference is an excellent opportunity to meet and get to know UUs from all over the world. Donations from Canadians go to support leadership development for participants from emerging members groups. More information coming soon.