CUC eNews: May 29, 2020 – Issue 114

In This Issue:

Letter From Vyda: Our National Gathering in May

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us much. One of the lessons is the creative ways people have found to connect with each other. At our Cross-Canada Sunday Service on May 17, we had more than 1,000 UUs and friends join together on Zoom and YouTube to celebrate Unitarianism in Canada. And through that service we raised over $9,000 for our two selected charities, Indspire and Childhaven International. While our conference was virtual, I know our connections are not. There is something amazing knowing so many of us were simultaneously listening, thinking, worshiping, and celebrating through shared messages, music, and readings.  

On behalf of all CUC members, I thank the Halifax organizing team for hosting our first virtual conference and all those from across the country who attended and participated in our Friday night gathering, Saturday’s AGM, and our Sunday Service. A special thanks to the delegates and our presenters from our AGM for their contributions and their time. And on a personal note, I would like to thank our CUC staff and volunteers for their hard work pulling together a virtual conference in under 2 months.

Our attention now turns towards how we can support congregations and leaders as we contemplate the next phases in our collective COVID response. You can help us by filling out our survey about congregational needs by June 20. We appreciate hearing your input.

This is a full newsletter, with lots of information about events, celebrations and programs. Typically, we try to keep our newsletter short. But just days after we celebrated our faith and our work together, it seems appropriate to share all these wonderful items and I invite you to savour them. There is so much to connect us, even in the midst of our physical distance.  

Be well, friends
Vyda Ng

Virtual Cross-Canada Service Brings Unitarians Together

More than 1,000 Canadian Unitarians joined together Sunday, May 17 for the Cross-Canada virtual service “One Storm – Many Ships.” Led by Rev. Norm Horofker of the Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax, the service took place on what was to have been the weekend of the CUC’s biennial conference, with a focus on the theme of Making Waves.

The occasion was bittersweet, marked by celebration that so many congregants and friends could still come together from across the country and beyond, and sorrow that they had to do so virtually. The service took place, as Horofker noted, on a beautiful spring day in Halifax, even as those participating found themselves caught up in a storm not of their making.

The service itself personified innovation, and the participants adapted to the changed dynamic readily. There was a virtual special collection which raised over $9,000 for the two charities featured, Indspire and Childhaven International. A moving healing ritual was led by Rev. Wayne Walder and Susanne Maziarz of Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Church in Toronto, which took the place of the normal candles for Joys and Concerns.

And in the spirit of innovation, the service put a new spin on Unitarian traditions as well. Unitarians’ history of riding waves of change was highlighted by all of the three ministers – Rev. Norm Horofker, Rev. Meghann Robern of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg, and Rev. Karen Fraser Gitlitz of Saskatoon Unitarians, who delivered brief homilies. They noted that it had not been an easy voyage, but that our faith community’s skill in riding out these storms was needed now more than ever. The shift from in-person engagement to virtual connection, Horofker noted, predated the pandemic.

A recurring theme, however, was that Unitarianism has survived this and other challenges by recognizing the value of people’s uniqueness and differing beliefs while being aware that we all share the same Blue Boat Home. And despite the turbulent waters this boat now finds itself in, the service reflected the faith that Unitarian Universalism can remain a source of inspiration for those seeking refuge.

If you missed the service or would like to view it again an edited version is available on our Youtube channel

Watch the Cross-Country Service

CUC’s Online AGM a Success

Our Annual General Meeting was held online on Saturday, May 16, with 203 people – 97 delegates and 106 observers – in attendance. Delegates received reports from CUC staff, various committees and working groups including QUUest on the future possibilities of Canadian UUism, the Dismantling Racism Study Group, and the Polyamory taskforce. Summaries of these reports have been included in our Annual Report. Alan Harman, our CUC Wealth Advisor provided an update of the CUC’s financial position. Reflecting both the actual and anticipated impacts of COVID, the CUC staff presented a revised budget that proactively reduced ACP contributions, and reflected changes to the travel portion of anticipated expenses, resulting from the CUC’s decision to halt staff travel in 2020.  The revised budget was approved.

Delegates also approved two key motions. The first defines the length of terms for members of the Board of Trustees who are elected to replace a member who is vacating the position early. The second motion adds two items to our strategic goals for 2020 focusing on developing and promoting Canadian resources, specifically online, to connect UUs across the country. Both these key motions passed, and the full text is available in our Annual Report. Read the approved resolutions on the CUC website. 

Read the CUC’s Annual Report

National Leadership Transitions

Board of Trustees

The CUC’s Board of Trustees works mainly in the background, guiding through policy and governance, the CUC’s work of ‘Growing Vital Unitarian Communities.’ This group of dedicated volunteers come from across the country – two from each region – and include a minister observer and two youth observers. 

We thank Tanya Cothran, Central Region, and Liv Gardiner, Senior Youth Observer, for their service to our national faith community., and wish them well on their onward journeys.

Top row: Margaret Wanlin, Joanne Green, Glenna Hanley, Margaret Kohr
Middle row: Chuck Shields, Rev. Rod Solano-Quesnel, Rev. Debra Thorne, Fiona Butler
Bottom row: Michael Scales, Linnea Granberg, Kiersten Moore

The 2020 – 2021 Board of Trustees is:
President: Margaret Wanlin, Thunder Bay – Western Region
Vice-President: Chuck Shields, Ottawa – Eastern Region
Treasurer: Joanne Green, Regina – Western Region
Secretary: Kiersten Moore, Vancouver – BC Region
Glenna Hanley, Fredericton, Eastern Region
Rev. Rodrigo Solano-Quesnel, Olinda, Central Region
Margaret Kohr, Toronto – Central Region
Michael Scales, New Westminster – BC Region
Minister Observer: Rev. Debra Thorne, Nanaimo
Sr. Youth Observer: Fiona Butler, SaskatoonJr. Youth Observer: Linnea Granberg, Thunder Bay

Nominating Committee:

The CUC’s Nominating Committee has the important task of searching out 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 the country.

We thank Wendy Shusterman, outgoing chair, and Rev. Helen McFadyen for their service on the Nominating Committee, and wish them well in their next adventures. 

The 2020 – 2021 Nominating Committee is:
Chair: Maury Prevost, Ottawa – Eastern Region
John Michell, Calgary – Western Region
Molly Hurd, Halifax – Eastern Region
Lynn Armstrong, Vancouver – BC Region

Two positions remain vacant in the BC/Western and Central Regions. If you, or someone you know, would like to express an interest, please email

UU Ministers of Canada

The professional UU 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 Rev. Steven Epperson, outgoing president, for his service to our national faith community, and wish him well as he embarks on new paths.

The 2020 – 2021 UUMOC Executive Committee is:
President: Rev. Anne Barker, Westwood in Edmonton
Vice President: Rev. Meghann Robern, Winnipeg
Treasurer: Rev. Norm Horofker, Halifax
Secretary: Ben Robins, Peterborough
Minister Observer: Rev. Debra Thorne, Nanaimo

National Lay Chaplain Committee

The CUC’s National Lay Chaplain Committee oversees training coordination for lay chaplain, updates to the Lay Chaplain manual, changes to policies and practices, and serves as liaisons to congregational lay chaplain committees. The committee can be contacted at

The committee thanks Joy Silver for her dedicated service to our national faith community and wish her well in her onward journey.

The 2020 – 2021 National Lay Chaplain Committee is:
Chair: Ellen Newman, ON
Members: Ann Steadman, Anne Coward, Mary Anna Louise Kovar, Rob van Wyck, Peter Scales, Yvette Roberts.
The committee is looking for a ministerial liaison; please email to express interest.

National Committees

Thanks go to the following for serving on CUC’s committees, task forces and study groups:

Northern Lights Committee: Rev. Norm Horofker, Susan Ruttan, Rev. Julie Stoneberg
Polyamory Task Force: Rev. Meghann Robern, Shoshanna Green, Rev. Beckett Coppola, Margaret Kohr
Theological Education Funds Committee: Rev. Wendy McNiven, Robbie Brydon, Rev. Debra Faulk, Rev. Debra Thorne
Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Team: Rev. Meg Roberts, Amber Bellemare, Forrest Smith, Rev. Helen McFadyen, Melissa Horvath-Lucid, Erin Horvath

UUs Celebrate Dedication, Creativity and Innovation with Awards

The Annual General Meeting gives us the opportunity to chart a path for our future. It also gives us the opportunity to recognize the achievements and aspirations of those who will help us get where we want to go. As is our custom a number of awards are announced during the AGM. 

The Sharing Our Faith Award recognizes and supports congregational initiatives that enhance ministry, aid congregational projects and outreach, and help grow the Unitarian Universalist movement in Canada. Congregations are encouraged to hold an annual “Sharing Our Faith” worship service focused on the UU faith in Canada, with 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 2020, the following congregations were awarded Sharing Our Faith grants:

    • Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Durham: $4,500 for continued success and growth in religious exploration program
    • Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga: $3,500 for replacement of sign, visible from major highway
    • Unitarian Church of Edmonton: invited to submit a re-purposing of their unused $5,000 grant from 2019, to upgrade audio-visual technology

Northern Lights

Like the Sharing Our Faith Award, the Northern Lights Award also supports congregational growth projects across the country, but on a grander scale. The Northern Lights program is jointly sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada (UUMOC) and the Canadian Unitarian Council and provides grants in excess of $5,000 per project. The recipient of the Northern Lights Award is the Unitarian Fellowship of Northwest Toronto for their work in the first phase of the Unitarian Commons co-housing project.

The Unitarian Fellowship of Northwest Toronto owns the site of the project. It involves five congregations in the greater Toronto area working together. The congregation has spent about $5,000 on initial planning, and an additional $18,000 is needed for phase one of the project. The project has the potential to be a model for co-housing and a vision for multi-use congregational space. Sign up to be a Northern Lights supporter, and contribute directly to Northwest’s co-housing project.

Theological Education Funds

While the Sharing Our Faith Award and the Northern Lights Award are granted to groups or projects, the CUC also recognizes and supports individuals. The Theological Education Bursaries, supported by monies from the Percy Simpson Bailey and Rouff/Mackie-Jenkins funds, and by special collections at ordinations and installations, support Canadian UUs studying to become a minister or UU engaging in continuing education. Beginning next year the fund will also provide financial support to congregations wishing to hire an intern minister. This year the Theological Education Funds were awarded to Arran Liddell of Vancouver and Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana of Saskatoon. 

Knight Award

One of CUC’s most prestigious awards, the Knight Award recognizes a Unitarian whose commitment honours the ideals exemplified by the lives and work of Nancy and Victor Knight in furthering the principles of Unitarianism in Canada.

Rev. Frances Deverell

The Knight Award is presented by a previous Knight recipient to the newest member. In 2020, the award was presented by Betty Donaldson to Rev. Frances Deverell. In her remarks at the AGM, Betty recognized Frances’ many volunteer contributions at the national level including authorship of “Finding Common Voice”, the CUC handbook for Social Responsibility, and, later, leadership of the Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ). Frances has also been influential at the international level including organizational duties when the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) was held in Vancouver (1999), facilitating the participation of First Nations representatives and the women’s service. She also was a member of the Canadian group at the UU-United Nations Office, helping to establish our position with respect to human rights and lobbying for attention to environmental issues. From 2009 – 2014, Frances served as president of CUSJ and is credited with rebuilding it into a stronger and vital associate organization. In 2015, she received the CUC Social Action Award. She now serves as the lead on CUC Criminal Justice actions, which addresses crime prevention and aboriginal justice issues.

“I receive this special recognition from the Knight family and my fellow knights with humility and gratitude.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, in her note of thanks for the Knight Award, Frances was quick to share the honours and acknowledge the work of many brilliant and tireless advocates whom she has had the good fortune to work alongside. In particular, she wanted to recognize a number of the current board and recent past board members of the Canadian Unitarians For Social Justice: Margaret Rao, Bill Woolverton, Lynn Armstrong, Gary Campbell, Sally Palmer Woods, Joy Silver, Leslie Kemp, Andy Blair, Jim Sannes and Ellen Pappenburg, Cym Gomery, Bob Staveley, Philip Symons, and recently deceased and much loved Bob Stevenson from Ottawa as well as colleagues at the Climate Action network, A Democracy network, Human Rights networks, and Peace networks. She also offers thanks for the dedication of Irvin Waller who helped get the best possible criminal justice policy and action strategy, and the many inspiring leaders in the CUC, the UUA, at the UN, and around the world.

Those who work for social and climate justice rely on a network of committed activists and inspiring leaders not only to do the work but also to offer encouragement and perspective when the work becomes difficult or discouraging. Over the years Frances has drawn inspiration and energy from the words of Maude Barlow, Marting Luther King Jr and Margaret Mead who once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Congratulations to all this year’s recipients!

Youth and Young Adult Online Conferences a Success

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

Who would have thought, mere months ago, that it would be possible for our UU youth and young adults to gather in community while staying safely at home – and that they would be able to capture the same loving community spirit that defines our beloved annual events?

These online cons were given new names, to help participants understand that it would be an entirely different kind of experience.  CazUUm was the name given to the online conference for youth (14-19 year olds) and their adult advisors. 40 youth and advisors from across Canada attended the virtual youth con, which included workshops, games, small groups, worship, unstructured hang out time, as well as a talent show, movie night, and dance party! The image shown is of a collaborative art piece created through Zoom during the CazUUm closing circle. 

Ensemble, the online version of Chorus, offered a series of young-adult (18-35 year olds) only gatherings exploring the theme of Thresholds through small and large group activities, discussions, and worship. Many of the 25 young adults who registered also attended the National Gathering, the Annual General Meeting, and the Cross-Canada Sunday Service. Youth, advisors, and young adults came together for the Bridging Ceremony, to honour the passage from youth to young adulthood of 10 members of our communities. 

While the youth and young adults missed being together in person, there was a clear desire from both groups for more events like these to be offered for as long as we are unable to hold large events safely. If you are interested in collaborating on more online cons, training programs, and other kinds of events – please reach out to Casey at

Huge thanks go to Alex Okrainetz and Carter Mahoney, the CanUUdle/CazUUm and Chorus/Ensemble Coordinators, respectively, and to the volunteer planning teams for both conferences who poured so much creativity and care into making these virtual experiences possible. You are amazing!

Explore the CUC’s Youth and Young Adult Programming

CUC’s New Survey Assesses Congregational Needs

The CUC staff team has developed a survey to help assess congregational priorities as we go forward with new online resources and programming.  Anticipating that physical distancing is necessary for a while, we are looking for input from a variety of perspectives – ministers, board leaders, committee chairs, religious educators, youth, young adults, seniors. We would appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to fill out the survey by June 20th and share your thoughts. 

Take the Survey by June 20

What Is Making Us Smile This Week

So many moments during our virtual conference made us smile.
We are deeply grateful for everyone who organized, participated and attended. There is so much power in showing up together.

Here are some of the many comments we received following our Cross Country Sunday Service.

“When you belong to a small congregation where attendance of 25 people at a Sunday service is the norm, participating in a Sunday service with more than 1,000 UUs is just gob-smacking awesome. The national Sunday service was a great event, but so too was the whole of our virtual weekend.”

“I felt connected with everyone and was moved perhaps more than I would have been in person, to see people reaching out from their different homes all across the country. It gave me a greater appreciation about the fact that there we all are, being UUs in each of our unique settings. Is it possible to feel more connected when we’re farther apart?”

“I wanted to express my deep appreciation to all who created this very moving, and thoughtful event. It touched my heart. The music, the homilies, the participation of youth were all so meaningful.”

“It was a truly inspirational and unparalleled event demonstrating what can now be done in community bonding at a national level using some real creativity and the tools now available to us.”

“p.s. The women in my chat room loved this opportunity to reach out to each other across the country. One woman in the West Island of Montreal was hoping maybe we could do another service like this. Lots of positive energy going on thanks to Zoom.”

A special thanks to James Morris for the beautiful song Making Waves. Access the words, music and videos in this Google folder.

Our thanks also go out to the many who made our online events a success.

For the Friday National Gathering Ceremony: Margaret Galbraith, Molly Hurd, Dorene Bernard, Jessica Friesen, Orion Bent and family, Casey Stainsby, Rev. Steven Epperson, Jo-Anne elder Gomes, Carlos Gomes, Liz James, Katharine Childs, Rev. Anne Barker, Rev. Norm Horofker, Rebecca Mellett.

The Making Waves Team: James Morris (composer), John Lindsay-Botten, Amber Bellemare, Karen Dunk-Green, Dallas Bergen, Jane Perry, Cindy Carey, Rachel Derry, Deborah Wiggins, Paul Galbraith, Norm Horofker, Charlie Pond, Jeff Morris, Julieth Dawson, Judy Clarke, Katherine Morris.

For the Annual General Meeting: CUC Board, CUC staff, Dylan Fijal, Mary Ella Keblusek, Kalvin Drake

For the Cross-Canada Sunday Service: Rev. Norm Horofker, John Piccolo, Rev. Samaya Oakley, Taz Trefzger, James Morris, Kiersten Moore, Christian Malcolm, Rev. Meghann Robern, Elliott Dainow, Edgar Bridwell, Carter Mahoney, Rev. Karen Fraser Gitlitz, Rev. Wayne Walder, Susanne Maziarz, Rev. Fred and Bonnie Cappuccino, James Hill, UC Vancouver Choir, Maya James. 

Visit & Like the Canadian Unitarian Council on Facebook!

Upcoming Events – Until further notice, all CUC events will be held online via Zoom.

Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact

CUC COVID-19 Leaders’ Update Sessions
A roundtable for congregational leaders to connect: these weekly sessions invite leaders to share, learn, inform and muse together, with CUC staff, on coping and resiliency during COVID-19. 
 May 30, 9 am PT  | 10 am MT  | 11 am CT  | 12 noon ET  | 1 pm PT – Running virtual AGMs
June 6, 8:30 am PT  | 9:30 am MT  | 10:30 am CT  | 11:30 am ET  | 12:30 pm PT NOTE change in time) – Addressing congregational needs
June 20, 9 am PT  | 10 am MT  | 11 am CT  | 12 noon ET  | 1 pm PT – Supporting congregations over the summer

CUC Coffeehouse Connections, Saturdays, 3 pm DT  | 4 pm MT  | 5 pm CT  | 6 pm ET|  7 pm AT
May 30 – Multigen Music and More, Music, stories and jokes by, for, and with kids and youth. Find more information and the links to the Zoom meeting at

THR: Reconciliation Through Film, Saturday, June 6, 12:30 – 2:00 pm ET
Film: Freedom Road. Please note the registration for this event closed May 22

Regular Online Events

Gathered Here: Young Adult Check-In, June 8 – 8 pm, June 22 – 2 pm, July 6 – 8 pm, July 23 – 2 pm, (all times ET) (please note the revised schedule)
Join other UU 18-35-year-olds on Zoom for sharing joys and concerns, deeper check-ins, prayerful reflections, and an opportunity to process current events with a spiritually grounded community. Find more information, including the links to the Zoom meetings at

Connect and Deepen – Virtual Gathering, Sunday, June 14, Saturday, July 11, 1 pm PT |2 pm MT| 3 pm CT| 4 pm ET| 5 pm ADT Connect and Deepen is a monthly online small group ministry and gathering for those seeking Canadian Unitarian Universalist connections. Register and access Zoom information here.

Processing the Pandemic: Young Adult Grief Ritual, Thursday, June 18, 5:00 pm PT | 6:00 pm MT | 7:00 pm CT | 8:00 pm ET | 9:00 pm AT (1.25 hours)This pandemic continues to impact our daily lives and future plans in significant ways. Young adults (18-35) are invited to gather together to share about the impacts of small changes and large sacrifices, and to support each other as we move through our grief in healthy, spiritually grounded ways. More information is available at

Fostering Healthy Congregations, Saturday, July 18, 9 am PT | 10 am MT | 11 am CT | 12 pm ET | 1 pm AT ( 6.5 hours with breaks) Registration Deadline: July 11
Healthy relationships are crucial to building a strong and inclusive congregation. How can we respond appropriately and sensitively to conflicting priorities and perspectives within our congregations? Leaders, board members, ministerial staff and committee chairs are invited to explore aspects of congregational connection and conflict. Cost:Sliding scale – $10, $20, $30, $40, Groups (3 or more) – $20 per person – one person must register the whole group at one time. Find more information, including the registration information at

International Events

Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly, June 24 – 28, 2020,
The UUA General Assembly is a 100% virtual event this year – a great opportunity to attend. Online registration is $150 USD. The CUC will be presenting a live online workshop on Truth, Healing and Reconciliation, with guest Sharon Jinkerson Brass, on Sunday, June 28.