CUC eNews: May 19, 2022 – Issue 139
In This Issue:
- Letter from Vyda
- The Breath that Sustains Us: May National Service
- Highlights from the 2022 Annual General Meeting
- Leadership Transitions at the CUC
- UUs Celebrate Dedication, Creativity and Innovation with Awards
- CUC Launches Decision-making Exploration Team
- Meet a Director of Religious Exploration: Kiersten Moore
- In the Shadows of Angels: Intimate Stories from a Hospice Counsellor
- Featured Event: Canadian UU Networking Power
- Featured Event: Elder’s Circle with Stephen Paquette
- Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ) AGM
- Canadian Unitarian Universalist Women’s Association (CUUWA) Annual Meeting
- An Invitation to UU Camp in Pacific Northwest
- Website Changes
- Job Opportunity: First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo
- What’s Making Us Smile
- Upcoming Events
Letter From Vyda
During the final Widening the Circle of Concern* session on Saturday, April 23, participants were invited to dig deep. We explored what it means to be the best versions of ourselves. To live with joyful accountability, held together in covenant. We reflected on how we were called to be in that moment. We explored conflict and cultural shifts, and honoured the complexities in our communities.
When asked what questions would spark movement, or different ways of thinking, my mind went immediately to dandelions. (It being spring-like.) Dandelions are little bursts of colour, almost always the first to pop their heads above the soil. They’re a little disruptive for folks who like a weed-free lawn, with their seeds being borne on the wind to any spot where they might take root and grow. What if we were like dandelions? Spreading colour, being (peacefully) disruptive, growing thoughts and ideas on sometimes unwelcome soil.
The CUC’s commitment to the 8th Principle calls on us in covenant to affirm and promote individual and communal action to dismantle racism and systemic barriers to full inclusion in ourselves and our institutions.
It calls us to be more like dandelions.
That transformation is underway, my friends. The CUC initiated new programs to help prepare the soil in 2021, with forums on dismantling racism, and continuing with the inclusivity Forums and the Widening the Circle series. We will continue to deliver programs that address systemic injustice. We are committed, like you, to becoming radically inclusive. Like you, we are challenging our biases, listening with intention, and acknowledging when and where we have caused harm.
Transformation is disruptive, and it can be uncomfortable. We are called to lean into that discomfort and stay there as long as necessary. Doing so will help us build and repair systems and relationships, just as dandelions loosen the soil and make way for new growth when they extend their long taproots deep into the earth.
*Widening the Circle of Concern was an eight-session series that invited change-makers to explore ways to be together that challenge the status quo. Held after the 8th Principle vote, these sessions broadened our understanding of equity and justice, and called us to have bold conversations in ourselves and with each other about the oppressions and barriers that reside in our faith communities.
Be well friends,
The Breath that Sustains Us: May National Service
On Sunday, May 15 over 300 Unitarian Universalists (UUs) across Canada attended a virtual national worship service like no other. There were no speakers, and it did not follow the traditional order of service. Instead, rich, evocative music, images, and affirmations guided participants through a 15-minute, multi-sensory breathing meditation, which ran three times, for a total of 45 minutes. Participants were free to leave or join breakout rooms at any time.
The response to the service has been overwhelmingly positive, demonstrating that there is an appetite for more experimentation and variety in how we worship. As one attendee said: “It seemed like the perfect way to bring peace to our troubled spirits, to soothe whatever we were suffering from after a year (or more) of challenge and anxiety.”
Others pointed out that the meditative format was radically inclusive. The typical order of service reflects our Protestant roots. The structure of this service centred a different source of our faith: direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life.
Executive Director Vyda Ng acknowledges that the different format of the service was unexpected, and challenging for some. “It can be difficult to allow ourselves to experience something different, and to meditate for 15 minutes or more. Meditation requires courage and curiosity,” she says. “It requires us to lean into discomfort, and to reflect on our thoughts and our reactions in the moment.”
If you attended the national service on May 15 (or if you plan to watch the recording on the Canadian Unitarian Council’s (CUC’s) YouTube channel), ask yourself the following questions: Where did I place my attention? What did I observe in my thoughts, feelings, and reactions? Did anything shift for me during the meditation?
We also invite you to consider what is blossoming in your life right now. This is the question we posed in the virtual breakout rooms, where attendees gathered during (and after) the service to connect with other UUs.
The past two years have been difficult. In the weeks leading up to the service, Rev. Shana Lynngood invited us to come together to “pause as a community”–and we did. Ng and the Board of Trustees would like to convey their thanks and appreciation to Rev. Lynngood, Rev. Danielle Webber, the CUC’s Special Events Coordinator Amber Dawn Bellemare, and Fiona Butler (a UU young adult) for creating this opportunity to collectively catch our breath.
In lieu of an offering to the CUC, we invite you to make a donation directly to the Indigenous Climate Action Network, an Indigenous-led organization that envisions: “A world with sovereign and thriving Indigenous Peoples and cultures leading climate justice for all.”
The Indigenous Climate Action Network is a non profit but not a registered charity. Canadian charities–all of our congregations are charities–are not able to donate to non-qualified donees (e.g. those organizations that are not designated as Canadian charities). Individuals, however, are able to donate to organizations of their choice. Please note that non-profits do not issue tax receipts.
Highlights from the 2022 Annual General Meeting
140 people – 82 delegates and 52 observers–attended the Canadian Unitarian Council’s (CUC’s) Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday, May 14. The work of the Board, staff, ministers, committees and CUC Affiliates can be found in the Annual Report.
Delegates received reports from CUC staff, various committees, and working groups. Highlights included an update on the recommendations of the Dismantling Racism Study Group and reports from both the Decision-making Exploration Team and the Bylaw Review Committee.
Joanne Green, the CUC’s Treasurer, presented reports on the audited financial statements and an overview of the CUC’s financial position. Our Executive Director presented a budget in principle for 2023, which was approved.
Delegates also voted on two key motions. The first motion proposed that “enact the 8th Principle” be added to the CUC’s strategic priorities for 2022 to 2023. The second motion proposed that the current cap on 10% increases to the Revenue Sharing Amount of the Annual Program Contribution (APC) be retained for the 2023 APC year. (A move that would limit the financial impact on congregations with reduced resources.)
Both of these motions passed. You may read the approved resolutions on the CUC website.
Read the CUC’s Annual Report.
Leadership Transitions at the CUC
CUC Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees works mainly in the background, guiding the Canadian Unitarian Council’s (CUC’s) work of “Growing Vital Unitarian Communities” through policy and governance. This group is formed by dedicated volunteers from across the country. There are two trustees from each region plus a minister observer and two youth observers.
Two trustees are leaving the Board this year. We thank Michael Scales (BC Region), Glenna Hanley (Eastern Region), and Linnea Granberg (the outgoing senior youth observer) for their service to our national faith community, and wish them well on their journeys.
The 2022 – 2023 Board of Trustees is:
- President: Chuck Shields, Ottawa (Eastern Region)
- Vice-President: Margaret Kohr, Toronto (Central Region)
- Treasurer: Joanne Green, Regina (Western Region)
- Secretary: Kiersten Moore, Vancouver (BC Region)
- Rev. Rodrigo Solano-Quesnel, Olinda (Central Region)
- Margaret Wanlin, Thunder Bay (Western Region)
- Yvette Salinas, Montreal (Eastern Region)
- Rev. Debra Faulk, Victoria (BC Region)
- Minister Observer: Rev. Shana Lynngood, Victoria
- Senior Youth Observer: Eric James, Saskatoon
- Junior Youth Observer: Artemisia Frolic-Smart, Mississauga
The CUC’s Nominating Committee has the important task of searching for Unitarian Universalists (UUs) with the necessary experience and skill to serve on the Board of Trustees. Their members span the country and possess knowledge of the requirements for Board members, and familiarity with congregations and UUs across Canada.
We thank Lynn Armstrong for her service on the Nominating Committee, and wish her well in her next adventures.
The 2022 – 2023 Nominating Committee is:
- Chair: Maury Prevost, Ottawa (Eastern Region)
- Michael Dailly, Nelson (BC/Western Region)
- Alex Schumacher, Calgary (Western Region)
- Kim Turner, Halifax (Eastern Region)
- Carey McDonald, Guelph (Central Region)
- Lesley Giroday, Comox Valley (B.C Region)
Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada
The professional Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada (UUMOC) provide us with spiritual and pastoral guidance, and are an integral and vital part of our national faith community. They covenant together to promote excellence in ministry, within and outside of congregations. Through personal learning, growth and mutual support, they equip themselves to be visionary leaders within the Unitarian Universalist movement in Canada and internationally.
We thank Ben Robins, outgoing secretary, for his service to our national faith community, and wish him well in his future endeavours.
The 2022 – 2023 UUMOC Executive Committee is:
- President: Rev. Anne Barker, Westwood in Edmonton
- Vice President: Rev. Meghann Robern, Winnipeg
- Treasurer: Rev. Norm Horofker, Halifax
- Secretary: Rev. Rosemary Morrison, Edmonton
- Minister Observer: Rev. Shana Lynngood, Victoria
National Lay Chaplain Committee
The Canadian Unitarian Council’s National Lay Chaplain Committee oversees training coordination for lay chaplains, updates to the Lay Chaplain manual, and changes to policies and practices. It also liaises with congregational lay chaplain committees.
- Anne Coward, Eastern Region
- Mary Anna Louise Kovar, Western Region
- Peter Scales, BC Region
- Rob van Wyck, Western Region
- Yvette Roberts, Central Region
- Bob Armstrong, Eastern Region
- Vacant, Central Region
- Rev. Patricia Trudeau, Minister Liaison
UUs Celebrate Dedication, Creativity and Innovation with Awards
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) gives us the opportunity to chart a path for our future, and to recognize the achievements and aspirations of those who will help us get where we want to go. As is our custom, several awards were announced during the 2022 AGM.
The Sharing Our Faith grants recognize and support congregational initiatives that enhance ministry, aid congregational projects and outreach, and help grow the Unitarian Universalist movement in Canada. Congregations contribute to a special collection for the Sharing Our Faith fund. These funds, with contributions from the Foundation Fund held by the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, are allocated as grants to congregations who are implementing growth projects and initiatives.
In 2022, the following congregations were awarded Sharing Our Faith grants:
Unitarian Congregation of Guelph – $4,500
- To acquire the equipment necessary to make services available to all when the congregation returns to in-person services in its sanctuary.
- To be able to implement live streamed services using Zoom to enable those attending services remotely to integrate into the service as fully as possible.
Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship – $4,600
- To engage excellent ministers and speakers; and to hire a visiting minister, consultant, or facilitator to help the congregation find a new direction.
Westwood Unitarian Congregation – $5,000
- To maintain and develop the online connections we have made over the past two years while returning to in-person multi-platform services.
Unitarian Fellowship of Fredericton – $3,000
- To reduce our carbon footprint and reduce rising heating costs with an energy retrofit.
UU Ministers of Canada – $5,000 for Project
- The UU Ministers of Canada also submitted an application to produce two videos on Unitarian Universalism that could be used by congregations and national UU organizations. This is a worthwhile and valuable project, which is supported by the CUC Board. However, UUMOC is not a charity, thus the CUC is not able to grant funds (Canadian charities are not allowed to send funds to non-charities). CUC staff will work out an agreement with UUMOC to implement this project.
Theological Education Funds
While the Sharing Our Faith Award is granted to groups or projects, the CUC also recognizes and supports individuals. The Theological Education Bursaries consist of monies from the Rouff-Mackie Jenkins fund administered by the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, the Percy Simpson Bailey fund, and by special collections at ordinations and installations. The grants support Canadian Unitarian Universalists (UUs) who are studying to become ministers, and who have continuing education expenses. The bursaries also provide financial support to congregations that wish to hire an intern minister, or provide internships. This year, the Theological Education Funds were awarded to Arran Morton and Lori Turner-Otte, who will each receive $12,500, for a total of $25,000.
Shining Lights Recipient
On Saturday, April 30, the Canadian Unitarian Council awarded the 2022 Shining Lights Award to the You’ve Got Mail Group from the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto. You’ve Got Mail brightens the lives of those living with a developmental disability by sending mail to them. The group was commended for the straightforward, simple design of the program which could easily be adopted and replicated by other congregations across Canada.
“It was a difficult decision,” says Joan Carolyn, CUC Congregational Life Lead (BC/Western), acknowledging the incredible achievements of all of nominees, including:
- Vancouver Unitarian’s IBPOC (Indigenous, Black and People of Colour) Caucus
- The Ajashki Food Security Project from First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa
- Unicamp of Ontario‘s 2021 programming for children and youth
CUC Establishes Decision-making Exploration Team
Our 5th Principle calls us to uphold the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.
As Unitarian Universalists (UUs), we know that how we make decisions matters. Processes not only shape our decisions, they can define our relationships.
In December 2021, the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) established the Decision-making Exploration Team. Robbie Brydon, a lifelong UU with strong ties to the First Unitarian Congregation in Toronto and Westwood Unitarian in Edmonton, leads the small team of (mostly) young adults. Together, they are reviewing Robert’s Rules of Order–the CUC’s current decision-making model–and alternatives.
Brydon is passionate about the work. “It is vital,” he says, “for organizations like the CUC to stop occasionally to see if its processes are optimal. To ask: what is the best way for a dispersed group of UUs–and 40-odd congregations–to come together?”.
He believes the time is right to do this work. It aligns with the current review of bylaws by the Board of Trustees, and with the implementation of the 8th Principle.
“People have drawn connections between the 8th Principle and decision-making processes,” says Brydon. “The process we use to make decisions determines how power is formed. It determines if the space in which we work is equitable.”
To date, the team has identified three approaches to democratic decision-making that might be under consideration for the CUC.
- Majoritarian, or qualified majoritarian, models (e.g. Robert’s Rules of Order)
- Formal consensus models
- Consent-based models
In May 2022, Canadian UUs are invited to complete a survey on decision-making processes. Your input will inform the next stages of the team’s work, including a deep dive into the shortlist of systems under consideration.
In May 2023, the Decision-making Exploration Team will bring a proposal or prototype to the Annual General Meeting (AGM). It will make a recommendation at the 2024 AGM.
CUC Executive Director Vyda Ng emphasizes the need to conduct this research thoughtfully and deliberately. “It will take time to really understand the pros and cons of different decision-making processes, and to consult with congregations across the country.”
She goes on to say that the CUC has paid a lot of attention to “how we’ve set up the process for making a decision about how we make decisions.” The Decision-making Exploration Team is comprised of young adults and emerging leaders who bring diverse perspectives (and innovative ways of working) to the table. Ng says, “I intentionally made the decision to have young adults lead this work to bring in more fresh perspective, creativity and flexibility. The team will, of course, gather information from UUs who have experience with decision-making processes to make sure we have the information we need to proceed.” Brydon agrees that the team cannot work in isolation. Its members regularly consult an advisory council that has been established to support the process with additional insights, knowledge, and experience.
Meet a Director of Religious Exploration: Kiersten Moore
Each edition of the eNews will introduce you to a UU, either a religious professional or lay leader, who serves our local or national faith communities.
Kiersten Moore has served as a religious educator with Vancouver Unitarians since 2016. She currently holds the position of Director of Lifespan Faith Development. A Unitarian since age 11, she joined Vancouver Unitarians in 2015. One year after she moved to the city from Kentucky.
Kiersten appreciates opportunities to engage children and youth in “fun with meaning.” Working alongside a team of volunteers, she has led activities as varied as congregational group birthday celebrations and spirit play. Even amidst the pandemic, she says, children have shown up regularly for pre-service gatherings on Zoom.
“I really value the relationships with families that continue to come consistently,” she says. Within those relationships, she has the opportunity to help people find their joy. They lean into deep questions together, and build a community of support. “It is rewarding.”
Kiersten acknowledges that there are challenges within religious education in Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations, but she observes many congregations across Canada and the United States working to address them. They are making their activities more multigenerational, and ensuring that what they do “isn’t like school.”
Kiersten believes faith development is a much broader area than people often realize. “Everything that we do is faith development,” says Kiersten. “Whenever we get together (in our spaces or outside our spaces) as Unitarian Universalists, how we are together is faith development.”
In the Shadow of Angels: Intimate Stories from a Hospice Counsellor
For 20 years, Dr. Susan Breidall worked as a hospice counsellor. During that time, she held space for people who were dying and their loved ones.
She noticed that people often referred to her and her colleagues as “angels.” The name implied that “it takes a “special kind of person to listen to people’s stories about grief and dying.” Dr. Breiddal disagrees.
“Anyone who has the desire can increase their ability to hold space, to hold strong emotion,” she says. “You learn to do it by practicing.”
In November 2021, Dr. Breiddal released In the Shadows of Angels (FriesenPress). It is an intimate collection of true stories that she hopes will encourage readers to talk openly about death, loss, and grief with people of all ages.
We often exclude children from the process, she says, because we believe we are protecting them from the truth. But we are actually creating confusion and betraying their trust.
She has heard about husbands who do not tell their wives they have cancer, and parents who do not tell their adult children how much they are suffering. They do this to avoid a difficult conversation. But, she adds, “when we don’t make our wishes known, we cause pain. People who are left out of the process are in a completely different place of grieving when their loved one dies.”
Dr. Breidall acknowledges most of us are not comfortable talking about these subjects. As a hospice counsellor, she would tell people to “feel your way through this.” There is no script. No best practice. No point in figuring out what you are going to say ahead of time.
The stories she recounts in her book follow her as she “feels her way through” different situations. She hopes it inspires readers to consider how they might respond under similar circumstances. For example, there are stories that model how to speak to a child about death or how to celebrate the life of a loved one.
Celebrations of life are important to Dr. Breidall. She writes movingly about her experience, as a mother mourning the death of her young son, being led through a series of meaningful rituals by a Rabbi, who was introduced to her by Jewish friends. It was, she says, all part of the beauty of being Unitarian.
Dr. Breiddal loves the way Unitarian Universalists (UUs) willingly wrestle with difficult topics like Medical Assistance in Dying. She invites congregations to offer more forums, where UUs can come together to learn how to speak openly–and invite others to speak openly–about death, loss, and grief.
But we need not wait for our congregations to organize a formal event, she says. “Start by approaching people at coffee hour or in neighbourhood groups to say: ‘I hear you are going through a hard time” or “I am going through a hard time.” We need to practice being open and inviting others to be open if we are to create a real community.”
Featured Event: Canadian Featured Event: UU Networking Power
Saturday, May 28, 2022: Online via Zoom
9:00 am PT | 10:00 am MT | 11:00 am CT | 12:00 pm ET | 1:00 pm AT (90 minutes)
The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) invites representatives from Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations and organisations to come together May 28. In this 90-minute webinar, we will explore concerns, share resources, and find creative ways to address challenges.
We will begin our time together, then break out into smaller groups based on topic and size. Topics include, but may not be limited to:
- Hybrid service developments;
- Creative programming for all ages; and
- Technology use by small groups or congregations.
We are pleased to announce that Galen Elfert from Vancouver Unitarians will join the discussion on technology to share ideas and answer your questions. Questions can be emailed to Galen in advance care of firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can use this email address to suggest additional topics for discussion at the roundtable.
Please register to attend this free event. (Registration will remain open until May 28.)
Featured Event: Elder’s Circle with Stephen Paquette
Elder’s Circle No 4: Stephen Paquette
Wednesday June 1, 2022: Online via Zoom
4 pm PT | 5 pm MT | 6 pm CT | 7 pm ET | 8 pm AT (90 mins)
We are honoured Stephen Paquette has agreed to be an Elder to the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) this congregational year. We have offered tobacco and asked him to share a teaching that will guide us as we work towards becoming a radically inclusive community.
Stephen skillfully builds bridges between cultures and is passionate about helping people understand Indigenous history and culture. We are excited to have him lead another teaching circle for the CUC.
Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ) AGM
May 28, 2022, 10 am PT | 11 am MT | 12 pm CT | 1 pm ET | 2 pm AT
The Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ), an affiliate of the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC), is holding its 2022 Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday, May 28 on Zoom.
The event will begin with a keynote presentation on “Militarism and the Climate Crisis” by Tamara Lorincz, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. The business meeting that follows will include a circle discussion on the future of CUSJ, with a possible motion to wind up the organization.
To register or obtain more information, please visit the CUSJ website.
Canadian Unitarian Universalist Women’s Association (CUUWA) Annual Meeting
June 11, 2022
The Canadian Unitarian Universalist Women’s Association (CUUWA), an affiliate of the Canadian
Unitarian Council (CUC), is a UU women’s organization with specific goals: to raise awareness about women’s history, rituals, and perspectives, through training, communication, celebration and many resources.
An Invitation to UU Camp in the Pacific Northwest
Dear Canadian Unitarians, Your Friends and Families,
The Eliot Institute in Seabeck, WA holds four multi-day family camps each year geared toward members and friends of Unitarian Universalist congregations in the Pacific Northwest. People young and old come to Eliot; most are from Unitarian Universalist churches in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon.
For three of Eliot’s camps, there is a morning program on topics that range from spiritual growth, social justice, environmental issues, and the arts. Programs for youth and children run concurrently with the adult morning program. Afternoons and evenings are filled with traditional camp activities. Our fourth camp, Creative Arts Eliot, features workshops led by artists instead of a speaker.
Visit our website to learn more and read about specific camp descriptions and dates. Seabeck Conference Center has a variety of housing options. Proof of vaccination is required by Eliot Institute and there are scholarship funds available. If you have questions, you can contact our administrator, Bev Hesterberg, at email@example.com
Here are a few testimonials:
- “I was overjoyed to be with such a loving and welcoming group of folks.” – First Time Camper from British Columbia
- “Had an amazing week in the Young Adult Program! It tied in really well with the theme of the speaker, while also being quite unique. The coordinators were so great and kept things very fun! We had tons of variety in the activities we did each day, and when we had group discussions, they both contributed comments and thoughts as well which I found really amazing and have never experienced that in the program before so that was great!!!” – Young Adult from British Columbia
From Kay Crider, for Eliot Institute
It is time to freshen up the CUC website. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be making a few small improvements to the menu structure. We won’t be removing any content, but things will look a little different. If you have questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Job Opportunity: First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo
The First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo is searching for a 3/4-time contract minister to begin when its current minister, Rev. Debra Thorne, steps down at the end of February 2023.
For more information about the ministerial position, please reach out to the Search Committee by emailing the Committee Chair, Bob Goodman, at email@example.com.
What’s Making Us Smile
Search, the new novel by American author Michelle Huneven, reveals the characters, recipes, and humour involved in a Unitarian Universalist church’s search for a new minister.
Upcoming Events (in person or online via Zoom)
Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, May 20, 5:00 pm– Monday, May 23, 12:00 pm PST
Leaders’ Roundtable: Canadian UU Networking Power
Saturday, May 28, 9:00 am PT | 10:00 am MT | 11:00 am CT | 12:00 pm ET | 1:00 pm AT
Elder’s Circle No 4: Stephen Paquette
Wednesday, June 1, 4 pm PT | 5 pm MT | 6 pm CT | 7 pm ET | 8 pm AT
Rising Together: UU Youth and Emerging Adults of Colour,
Saturday, June 4, 1 pm PT | 2 pm MT | 3 pm CT | 4 pm ET | 5 pm AT
Monday, June 13, 5:00 pm PT | 6:00 pm MT | 7:00 pm CT | 8:00 pm ET | 9:00 pm AT