CUC eNews: November 24, 2020 – Issue 125

In This Issue:

Letter From VydaVyda Ng

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” 

~ Vincent Van Gogh

Last week we were treated to a wonderful opportunity to connect with Unitarian Universalists across the country. We are so grateful for all who attended our National Fall Gathering, and offer our heartfelt thanks to all who participated and offered their energy, wisdom and time. Our National Sunday Service was a moving opportunity to hear from UUs across the country about why our connection with one another matters so deeply. We apologize for the issues with our YouTube feed and are pleased that the video is now available for all to see. Through our regional gatherings on Friday, and discussion with the Board on Saturday afternoon, we received positive feedback about what we have accomplished together since Covid turned things upside down. We also heard about areas where we still might do more especially as we face a second wave of Covid together. This feedback, along with our QUUest survey will help us plan our way forward in the short term, and over the coming years. 

One of the messages that was clear from the weekend was the continued need for opportunities to connect, formally with workshops and programs, informally through discussion groups and coffeehouses and spiritually through services and opportunities to discuss our spiritual foundations. In order to accomplish these goals we need your help. Our fundraising efforts need a boost so that we can offer the national and regional programs and the local congregational support needed during this difficult time. If you have the capacity, would you consider donating to the CUC ?

I also want to make a plea as we head into December. We know this year has been challenging for so many and that the prospect of a holiday without gatherings is difficult to contemplate. Please do your best to support one another, virtually, through this upcoming holiday season. Check out our story below for tips to navigate this time. And please keep yourself and your loved ones safe by keeping your own circle very small. We want all of you to be safe and healthy so that when we gather again, no one is missing.

Be well friends,

2021 National Conference Seeks Presenters

Our 2021 conference will be virtual, but as in previous years, it will offer something for everyone. There will be a full slate of events and workshops to draw us all together, to celebrate our faith and to build our connections with one another. The theme for the 2021 National Conference will be Sustaining Our Light, building on the same theme introduced for the National Fall Gathering. Registration for the event will open in February. 

As part of our process, we are putting out a Call for Proposals to offer a session for the conference. The proposals are due by November 30. Support will be available to help with the technical aspects of the presentation and we plan to offer training and networking opportunities to share ideas and best practices for virtual conference presentations.

We are also building a team to help plan and run the conference. If you are able to volunteer your time and talents please fill our volunteer form.

QUUest Survey Closes December 15

Photo by Greg Rakozy

Our QUUest survey is an opportunity for you to offer input and ideas for our future. The survey is the first step in the QUUest process which will guide us as we imagine who we are and who we can be as a faith movement entering our third century together.

You are invited to complete this survey independently or as a group. If you are completing the survey as a group, perhaps at your virtual coffee hour, during an online discussion group or check-in, at a youth or young adult group event, or at a gathering of UU colleagues, a short facilitation guide is provided on the CUC website. If you have completed the survey as part of a group, you are also welcome to answer the individual version if you have additional comments. Once the survey results have been compiled the Taskforce will develop a report for our spring AGM.

We have more than 4000 Unitarian Universalists in Canada and we want to hear from all of you!
The survey closes December 15 so please take a few minutes now to complete it.

Celebrating the Holidays in Covid’s Second Wave

Covid numbers are rising across the country and local situations are shifting quickly. It will be difficult not to be together in person to celebrate the winter holidays but our first priority must always be on the health and safety of our congregants. In your efforts to care for one another this holiday season, please rely on guidance from your local, provincial and federal public health officials as the baseline for your decisions. As we look forward to a time when it is safer to come together, we also want to consider how our decisions regarding reopening will impact our congregations as a whole. Who might be left behind in a decision to re-open our doors for services? How can we mitigate that? What are our responsibilities to each other?

The CUC is conducting a brief survey to gather information we can share with congregational leaders about current re-opening plans. And we’re offering a workshop on December 5: How Shall We Gather to explore various ways we may gather. 

Tips on Preparing for the Holidays

Photo by Josh Boot on Unsplash

Normally a time for gathering with family and friends, this year’s holiday season will be different from any in living memory. With most of Canada caught in the pandemic’s second wave, the risks associated with in-person gatherings make them something to avoid. But the need for connection is still going to be present, especially for those suffering from feelings of loneliness or isolation. While there is no perfect substitute for in person gatherings, the holidays can nonetheless offer opportunities for distanced fun, friendship and reflection.

Finding new ways of having fun is a good starting point. Families that might ordinarily share a favourite dessert might consider doing a shared virtual baking session. Instead of watching It’s a Wonderful Life or The Grinch Who Stole Christmas together, there are numerous programs with which to host virtual watch parties. And many board and card games can be played online — even something as simple as working on a crossword puzzle together can be more stimulating than a simple conversation.

That said, keeping in touch with friends, particularly those who may be forced to spend the holidays alone, is still important, and doesn’t always require an innovative activity. The one gift anyone can offer, especially in a period when many of us may have more of it to spare than usual, is time, and even a brief conversation with someone you haven’t spoken to recently could be incredibly meaningful. And if you’re looking for ways to broaden your social circle, becoming a penpal to someone in your congregation or another community or joining a virtual choir or book club is an option. Some local animal shelters may even offer the chance to foster a dog over the holidays. Our friends at the UUA have some creative ideas for multigenerational connections. 

Gratitude can be a source of comfort during difficult times, and it’s important to be thankful for what we have. But feelings of sadness and disappointment are also to be expected, and sharing them, whether with a loved one or simply in a journal, can be a healthy way of coping. It won’t be easy, but letting go of the ways the holidays were celebrated in the past, accepting how they must be celebrated today, and having faith in the ways we might celebrate them in the future is likely the best way forward.

Chalica Offers a Chance to Celebrate UU Principles

Chalica is a week-long celebration of Unitarian Universalist Principles that first emerged in 2005 out of a wish to have a holiday organized around UU values. Chalica begins on the first Monday in December and lasts seven days. Each day, a chalice is lit and the day is spent reflecting on the meaning of that day’s principle and doing a good deed that honors that principle. Not all UUs celebrate Chalica, but it has a growing following. There is a Chalica Facebook page, blog, and many Chalica-themed videos on YouTube.

As Michelle Richards observes, “Unlike other winter holidays, celebrating Chalica or some variation of it offers UUs the opportunity to celebrate their unique faith in a holiday that highlights and celebrates our living tradition. With its specific emphasis upon the Principles, Chalica can serve as a learning tool for children who are eager to learn what makes their religion unique from others and encourage a rich sense of Unitarian Universalist identity.”

CUC is Raising Funds to Support our Work

young woman in a fur rimmed parka hood, holding a sparkler

Photo by Kaylee Eden on Unsplash

This past year has challenged us, our families and communities in ways we could not have imagined. Through it all, it has been our connections which have sustained us and helped us move forward. In the same way, it has been our CUC connections which have made all the difference this year to so many. Thanks to donations we have received from previous fundraising campaigns the CUC has been able to maintain and expand our support of our congregations, our programs and our social justice work, to meet the growing needs in our communities. In fact, the Sustaining Our Light theme for our National Fall Gathering and upcoming National Conference was sparked by the gratitude for your generosity and commitment to each other. 

Through your generosity, we have been able to continue our important work with refugees, launch Black Lives Matter and anti-racism programming, maintain a robust pastoral care team for our youth and young adults, and create new programming to help congregations navigate a new online reality. It is the donations we receive from individuals, and the contributions from congregations that support our work of growing vital Unitarian Universalist congregations and responding to the needs of our congregations. 

We are asking you to consider supporting the CUC directly by donating to the Friends of the CUC campaign. This year will be challenging for many in our congregations and we expect that our overall donations may decline just when our communities need us the most. Your generous support will help us continue to offer meaningful programming and resources and to Sustain our Light as we work to create the world we all want to live in.  Please watch for more information about our campaign in the coming weeks.

Mark CUC Month in February with the Sharing Our Faith Service

February is CUC month, a chance to reflect on the vital role the CUC plays within our national faith community.  There are many ways to mark CUC month, including selecting delegates for the coming AGM, taking place Saturday May 8 from 1 – 4 pm  and discussing motions. Another important part of CUC month has traditionally been the Sharing Our Faith service, which congregations across Canada have normally held using worship materials gathered by the CUC. This year the service will be held on Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 10 am PT | 1pm ET on Zoom and YouTube.  

The offerings collected at the services are distributed to participating congregations in the form of small grants to projects that enhance ministry, aid congregational projects and outreach, and enhance the Unitarian Universalist movement in Canada. Sharing Our Faith grants from 2019 allowed Unicamp of Ontario to make its program centre bathroom fully accessible and enabled Edmonton’s Westwood Unitarian Congregation to purchase and install a smart TV, along with a laptop.

In a change from past years, next year’s service won’t feature the worship materials packet and will instead be a virtual national service organized by members of UUMOC (Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada) and presented by Rev. Samaya Oakley and Rev. Shana Lynngood. The service will focus on anti-racism and racial justice work, and donations will be collected through the Sharing Our Faith fund, located on the Options for Giving page.

How Shall We Gather Workshop Explores Different Ways of Connecting

Canadian Unitarian congregations, seeking to remain meaningfully connected and safe, have been exploring various ways in which to meet. Some congregations have chosen to remain with online meetings to at least the end of 2020, while others are beginning to meet in small clusters, sometimes in their sanctuary and always welcoming people to join them online. 

Whatever stage their congregation is at, UUs from across Canada will have a chance to share best practices from their experience on December 5 at “How Shall We Gather?a workshop that will explore how to create meaningful services and community during the pandemic and beyond.

Many congregations are in the process of planning for 2021, and while individual circumstances vary, CUC Congregational Life Leads Joan Carolyn and Rev. Linda Thomson agree that most congregations that have started offering online services want to continue doing so, even once they resume in-person gatherings.

The workshop will be a combination of a webinar and a roundtable, with a presentation by a panel on models and resources for gathering, as well as time for discussion. The workshop’s second half will focus on musical considerations, as many UUs have expressed how they particularly miss activities such as singing in their congregation’s choir.

While Carolyn and Thomson will have resources to share during the workshop, they stress that it’s also an important opportunity for them to hear what congregations are doing and how they’ve made their decisions around reopening.

“A huge part for me is the sharing of the wisdom,” says Carolyn. “Because we’re all learning, this is new to all of us, and while I think we have something to share, we have a lot to learn from the wisdom on the ground.”

Becoming a White Ally with David Campt

For more than two decades, David Campt has been supporting people to have meaningful conversations about racism with compassion and empathy. His goal is to enable people to fight racism, one conversation at a time, in order to move to more equitable and just society. David is a renowned speaker, educator and author of the White Ally Toolkit and Equipping Anit-racism Allies: Unitarian Universalist Edition.  He has appeared numerous times on national television and consults with governments and multinational corporations around the issues of racism. 

The CUC is excited to be hosting a series of events with Dr. Campt in the new year.
Our Keynote event Monday, February 22, 2021, at 7 pm ET, will be a conversation around race, unconscious bias, White supremacist thinking, and how our natural tendency to give preference to those in our own groups impacts our abilities to be allies. 

In the following two workshops March 6, 2 – 4 pm ET, and March 13, 2-4 pm ET. Dr. Campt will teach his RACE method of addressing racism. RACE stands for Reflect, Ask, Connect, Expand and is a valuable tool for inviting and participating in meaningful conversations about racism in our communities. The second workshop will refine storytelling as a method of persuasion. 

Registration information will be available in the coming weeks. Please watch for information on our events pages and in future newsletters.

CUC Annual General Meeting Calls for Motions

Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held as part of our spring National Conference. As part of the AGM, delegates will consider motions on a variety of topics. These motions must be submitted using our stated process and be received by December 15.  Once resolutions are received they will be distributed to congregations by January 15 to allow for written comments and a final distribution of amended resolutions by March 15.

If your congregation would like to submit a motion for consideration, please review the process outlined on our website.  

Consider submitting a motion only if: there is no previous resolution AND it addresses a completely new issue;  it is of national importance;  it is timely. 

If your resolution meets these requirements, please reach out to us at to discuss the next steps. We welcome the opportunity to discuss this process with you and to answer your questions. 

As details are confirmed about the National Conference we will also be providing congregations with more information about the delegate selection process. Please watch for more information about our AGM!.

Featured Event: Rising Together, a Space for Young UUs of Colour

Join us for our first meeting of Rising Together – a welcoming space especially for Black, Indigenous and other people of colour (BIPOC) Unitarian Universalist youth and emerging young adults (ages 14-24). Led by Camellia Jahanshahi, a youth advisor of colour at the Unitarian Church of Montreal, this is the pilot session of what will hopefully become gatherings every two months with themed worship, discussions, and workshop-style activities. Join us for a chance to meet other BIPOC Unitarian Universalists across Canada and nurture our community with the aim of affirming each other and ensuring we have a confident voice in the broader UU community. 

About the Facilitator: 

My name is Camellia Jahanshahi (she/her) and I’m a queer, Iranian-American woman, a multidisciplinary artist, cook, witch and religious professional. I hold a B.A. and M.A. both from Concordia University in the field of Religions and Cultures where my work centered around navigating contemporary identity politics from a faith perspective. Specifically, I look at how people of marginalized communities use faith and religion to fight against systematic oppression. I also have a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace from Cornell University and have been actively working with families and young adults for the past 7 years leading both worship and workshops alike within various Unitarian Universalist spaces, academic conferences, and nonprofit community settings. I am so excited about this new space we are creating together! As a lifelong UU, I know how isolating it can be as a person of color and how frustrating that can be as you are navigating your identity in your teen and early adult years. I believe through active community building we can fight against those feelings and create a network of support that nourishes and uplifts us all so we can continue Rising Together.

Saturday, December 19; 1 pm PT |2 pm MT |3 pm CT |4 pm  ET |5 pm AT (90 minutes)
For Youth (14-19) and emerging adults (18-24) of colour
Cost: Free

What’s Making Us Smile

Black man in red sweater sitting on a beige couch beside envelopes and boxes

Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana of Saskatoon

The CBC recently featured Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana and Eric James for their efforts to bring a family of six refugees to Canada. Rev. Fulgence was himself a refugee and Unitarian Universalists around the world, including Eric, worked for his release and to bring him to Canada through the CUC’s Sponsorship Holder Agreement. Since joining us in Canada, Fulgence has been a part of UU communities in Montreal, Saskatoon and most recently has moved to Ottawa to continue his studies.  Eric and his family are longstanding members of the Saskatoon Unitarians.
We are thrilled to see these familiar UU faces in the news and excited that they are getting recognized for their work and their important cause, which is so near and dear to our own hearts.

CUC Holiday hours

Please note that the CUC offices will be closed for the winter holidays from December 23 at noon ET through to Monday, January 4. All our staff wishes you a safe, healthy and joyous holiday. 

Upcoming Events (online via Zoom)

Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact

Featured Events

Lay Chaplaincy Question and Answer Session – Thursday, November 26, 9:00 am PT | 10:00 am MT  | 11:00 am CT | 12:00 pm ET  | 1:00 pm AT
Please join with members of the National Lay Chaplaincy Committee for an informal information session.
More information

Black Lives Matter Round Table Series “And My Heart Starts Pounding”: Undoing systemic racism – find, notice, listen, show up fully, love — and repeat  Wednesday, December 2, 4:00 pm PT  | 5:00 pm MT  | 6:00 pm CT  | 7:00 pm ET  | 8:00 pm AT
More information

How Shall We Gather? Hybrid In-Person & Zoom Gatherings, Saturday, December 5, 2020, 10 am PT| 11 am MT| Noon CT| 1 pm ET| 2 pm AT| ( 3 hours)
More information 

Rising Together: UU Youth and Emerging Adults of Colour – Saturday, December 19; 1 pm PT |2 pm MT |3 pm CT |4 pm  ET |5 pm AT (90 minutes)
For Youth (14-19) and emerging adults (18-24) of colour
More information

Ceremonies for the End of Life
Saturday, January 16, 2021,11 – 1st session: 9 am PT |10 am MT |11 am CT |noon ET |1 pm AT, 2nd session: 12 pm PT |1 pm MT |2 pm CT |3 pm ET|4 pm AT
Lay chaplaincy – focusing on ceremonies related to Medical Assistance In Dying (MAid), family-led and home funerals, and online memorials
More information

Regular Online Events

Gathered Here: Young Adult Check-In
December 10 – 2 p.m. ET
More information

Connect and Deepen – Virtual Gathering, Sunday, December 6 & 20,  1 p.m. PT |2 p.m. MT| 3 p.m. CT| 4 p.m. ET| 5 p.m. AT
More information

Leaders Roundtable, Saturday, November 28, 9:00 a.m. PT | 10:00 a.m. MT | 11:00 a.m. CT | 12:00 p.m. ET | 1:00 p.m. AT
More information