eNews: October 17, 2023 – Issue 154

This Issue:

A Letter from the UU Ministers of Canada’s President
By Rev. Samaya Oakley

One of the many things I love about Unitarian Universalism is that we are a living tradition. What is distinct about us as Canadian Unitarian Universalists is that we have five aspirations in addition to our eight principles and six sources that we turn towards to make meaning of the world in which we are living. And let me tell you, these are certainly interesting times in which to be alive! We find ourselves on the edge of so much that is changing in the world that we can barely keep up as we swirl from one event to the other. 

It shows up in the way that we do church these days. For those of us who are working hard at dusting off the cobwebs of what used to be done and trying too hard to re-imagine what is possible in these changing times, it can seem … well, to be frank, daunting at times.

Let us remember that in these moments we have choices – and that there are many roles to play. Last spring after the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) Symposium, religious educators, CUC Board members and staff, and members of your UU Ministers of Canada began a conversation about the reality of the religious landscape of Canada and our place in it. The result is multi-layered and at the bottom of it is the very real question of what is required of us during such times. What is true though is that it will take all of us to make our way through. What is at stake is the existence of our Canadian Unitarian Universalist faith.

We will each need to answer the question in our own way that makes the most sense for who we are in the world. The capacity that each one of us have in our lives holds two very real truths that are seemingly opposite to each other. We can be filled with enormous grief and sadness at what is happening in the world – in our congregations – in our personal lives. And at the same time, each one of us has the capacity to witness tremendous joy and beauty. We each have gifts and talents that are just waiting to be utilized. 

I invite each one of you to seriously engage with the invitation issued by the Board of the Canadian Unitarian Council to see if it’s a match for the gifts and talents you have to share with the world. You can find more information about it here.


Living into the Future: Emergent Sustainability

In the September 2023 eNews, we asked “How can the CUC and Canadian Unitarian Universalism be relevant and sustainable into the future?” We are launching this strategic planning initiative because we need a way into the future, a way that we can explore and decide on together. Called “Living into the Future: Emergent Sustainability” (LIFES), it is the hope of the CUC Board and Executive Director that the initiative will provide relevant, thriving and sustainable pathways for the CUC, Unitarian Universalists, congregations and UU communities into the future.

To start off, we are inviting expressions of interest for the overall coordinating team (LIFES Crew). This will be a team of up to 10 people to plan, coordinate and implement the initiative. We are seeking people who are tech-savvy (almost all of the work will be done online), can think in larger, longer terms and in radically inclusive ways, excited to explore a range of perspectives, grounded in / inspired by our faith, responsive in communications, collaborative, and who are keen to learn. 

Time commitment

    • There will three phases to the work:
      • Phase I: engaging people and collecting information 
      • Phase II: distilling and organizing the information
      • Phase III: designing an implementation plan
    • It is estimated that between 5-15 hours a month will be necessary for the work involved, depending on the tasks undertaken by each Crew member. Work will peak at specific times and when deadlines approach
    • There will be Crew meetings at least once a month, and probably more as tasks emerge
    • The range of time for the initiative is estimated to be between October 2023 to January 2025
      • Hours spent on this initiative may be used towards high school community involvement hours 

Read the full terms of reference here

The CUC Board and Executive Director invite expressions of interest from those with the preferred skill sets, and encourage Indigenous, Black and People of Colour, and people of all abilities, sexual/gender identities and orientations to apply.  Write to future@cuc.ca by October 31, 2023. 

Once the team has had time to gel the process together, conversations with you – our congregations, UU communities and UUs – will start in early 2024. Stay informed through your subscription to this eNews! 

National Voice Statement on Conflict between Israel and Hamas

On October 12, the National Voice Team issued a statement on the conflict between Israel and Hamas. We joined other faith organizations in calling on the Government of Canada to seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis, while condemning all violence against civilians. For this particular response, we consulted Rev. Diane Rollert, who is Jewish, and Rev. Peter Boullata, who is Palestinian. They both approved it.

There have been many comments from people who appreciate the statement and from many who want us to take a stronger or more forceful stance against one side or the other. Kiersten Moore, President of the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Board of Trustee, has written a response (in the comments below the statement), saying: 

“We believe that as a faith organization that respects the inherent worth and dignity of every person and our interdependence we can strongly state that no circumstances justify the horrendous acts of violence against civilians. As well, no circumstances justify subjugation, isolation, persecution, and violence against another group of people. Our statement calls for a peaceful resolution and condemns all acts of violence. We stand by this call.”

Keep it Alight

“Keep It Alight,” written by Rev. Lynn Harrison, made its debut at the CUC’s National Conference in May 2021. With grateful thanks to Susanne Maziarz (Choir Director), Gordon Thorne (videographer), and the singers and flame passers. 

We are re-sharing this video because, frankly, it’s relevant and it’s moving, and we thought that it would be a good musical resource for you. The video was also recently used during the celebration of life for Rev. Rodrigo Solano-Quesnel in a touching tribute to him and his love for music.

Meet Rev. Lynn Harrison
By Kenzie Love

Rev. Lynn Harrison recently completed an eight-year tenure as an associate minister with the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, and had an opportunity in April to reflect on her ministry as it drew to a close. She observed that as a newcomer to parish ministry at the time she began with Toronto First, much of her initial focus was on simply familiarizing herself with this role.

“A lot of my aspiration was to really gain experience,” she says. “Gain experience in being in the pulpit, in working with people on a pastoral level on a regular basis, getting an understanding of how a congregation works. Being brand new to it, it was kind of a complete immersion in congregational life.”

Looking back on her time at Toronto First, Lynn found many aspects of her ministry rewarding. Foremost among them, she believes, were the opportunities for personal interaction with members of the congregation.

“The most rewarding aspect is simply to have the privilege of being present to people when they’re going through very significant events in their life,” she says. “When they’re wrestling with difficult decisions, sitting with people who are working through just the different challenges of life. It’s a real privilege to be able to do that.”

Lynn appreciated the opportunity to serve Toronto First as part of a team, alongside the senior minister, music director, and director of lifespan religious exploration. As with most parish ministers, however, she found there were still demands on her time she wasn’t always able to meet.

“When you’re serving a large community, you have to respond to needs as they come up,” she says, “and so there’s an unpredictability to congregational life, and parish ministry. I found that quite challenging, as I know other ministers do, too, and just the sense that there are always more projects, more wishes people have.”

In the short term, Lynn plans to do guest preaching for other southern Ontario congregations including Durham and Don Heights. Reflecting on the future of Unitarian Universalism in Canada, she acknowledges the challenges the faith faces, but believes it nonetheless has an important role to play.

“I still believe that this faith tradition has extraordinary potential to meet people’s needs in these times,” she says. “I think there’s an openness to it, and an understanding of what people are looking for now that I think is rare among the religious traditions. I think there’s also a real hunger and energy towards social justice concerns, and environmental concerns as well, which we work toward, imperfectly, perhaps, but we work toward it sincerely, and I think people respond to that.”

Meet the New Junior Youth Observer to the Board
By Casey Stainsby and Lea Bomford-Moore

Lea Bomford-Moore of Richmond, British Columbia has been elected by youth across Canada as the new Junior Youth Observer to the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) Board. The Youth Observers (YOBs) are tasked with bringing issues and perspectives from Canadian Unitarian Universalist (UU) youth to the Board, and for communicating relevant Board news to the youth community. Lea will join Senior YOB Artemisia Frolic-Smart (Hamilton, Ontario) in the role this year, and then will become the Senior YOB herself in the second year of her term. 

Lea brings a wealth of leadership experience from the UU youth world as well as school and her many hobbies. Here is what Lea would like you to know about her, why she is excited about serving as YOB, and what she hopes to accomplish during her two years on the Board: 

My name is Lea. I’m a grade 12 (17-year-old) student in Richmond, BC. A lifetime UU, I have always loved the youth community we have, my first con being CanUUdle 2019 in Calgary. After attending Coming of Age, I started attending Youth Group at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver (UCV) in 2018. I am Peer-Chaplain-certified and have staffed three-quarters of the cons I have attended, helping to facilitate a small reconciliation con, and taking on the role of youth chaplain for CanUUdle and Magic the GathUUring 2022. I was also this year’s youth dean for CanUUdle! I have other miscellaneous experiences, one of which was being the Game Master for UCV’s youth Dungeons and Dragons group from 2021-2022. Other things I’m into include theatre as well as being outdoors.

It is my understanding that this year the Board is focusing on strategic planning for the CUC, aiming to find the direction we intend to follow in upcoming years. This is a very exciting process, which I would love to participate in and bring youth insight on. I see great potential in MyceliUUm . . . I feel that a cross-national online network of youth would be amazing and we just need something to jumpstart it. 

Join us in welcoming Lea to this important role!  

2024 Annual General Meeting: Call for Motions

Mark your calendar: the 2024 Annual General Meeting (AGM) will take place on May 25, 2024 from 1:00 – 4:30 pm ET. 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, 2023.  Once resolutions are received they will be distributed to congregations by January 15, 2024 to allow for written comments and a final distribution of amended resolutions by March 15, 2024.

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 resolutions@cuc.ca to discuss the next steps. We welcome the opportunity to discuss this process with you and to answer your questions. 

Please watch for more information about our AGM in upcoming issues of the eNews.

Seeking Diverse Expressions of UUism in Canada
By Erin Horvath and Amber Bellemare, CUC Justice & Equity Team

The 8th principle calls us to look closely at our  institutions, including Unitarian Universalism. As part of this process, the Justice & Equity Team at the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) is examining how we can better support diverse expressions of Unitarian Universalism–not just diverse people within established expressions of Unitarian Universalism. 

We hope  to  interview individuals or groups representing  up to 10  different expressions of Unitarian Universalism. Through this process, we will explore the barriers they face and identify structural supports that would help these expressions thrive. We will share our findings with the national community through our blog and draw on them when we come together to envision a sustainable and inclusive future for Unitarian Universalism in Canada.

We have identified a few different expressions of UU principles in action. If you, or anyone you know, fits these descriptions, please help us to connect by filling out this form:

    • UUs doing social entrepreneurship (i.e., community housing, gardens, cafes with purpose, camp)
    • UUs using artistic expression to gather people around UU values (i.e., podcast, theatre, film, music) 
    • UUs using their space to engage the wider community (more than renting space to community groups)
    • A small congregation that is trying  new ways of being together
    • An emerging/new UU congregation or community 
    • UU groups meeting in non-congregational spaces, doing things other than church-style gatherings (i.e., online, in homes, cafes, in community spaces)
    • UUs using social media to reach out to others outside of UUism with similar values or causes 
    • Other creative expressions of UUism that are ongoing (i.e., a music group, centering meetings around a community meal, intentional community)

IThank you for your help! We look forward to sharing the stories of vibrant and diverse expressions of Unitarian Universalism from across the country. For more information about this research project, feel free to reach out to erin.horvath@cuc.ca or amber.bellemare@cuc.ca

Sociocracy Offers an Alternative Decision-Making Model for Congregations
By Kenzie Love

On October 21, 2023, the Decision Making Exploration Team  will be holding a “practice” session using sociocracy to address a contentious issue. The goal of this session is to learn by doing, allowing participants to reflect on how this system supports or hinders them in living their values when making decisions together.

Sociocracy, also known as dynamic governance, originated in the Netherlands in the 1980s and seeks to offer a flattened, responsive, and more inclusive structure for decision making. Aukje Byker, a board member at the Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough who will be leading the practice session, believes sociocracy has been an effective decision making model for that congregation’s board. 

Although the congregation as a whole has yet to adopt the model for its meetings, the board has implemented sociocratic principles for its meetings. For example, during discussions, they include  rounds  where every member is given a chance to speak; decision making is done by consensus rather than majority rule.

“Rather than a typical board meeting where people really try to make sure their point gets across and are arguing for that, we do much more listening,” Byker says, “and so we’ve been able to always come to consensus even when it seemed at first that we had quite strongly held differences.”

Byker believes sociocracy has helped the board address contentious issues such as deciding  whether to relax the congregation’s masking requirements. Although most of the board members were initially in favour of such a move, a board member who had asthma expressed concern about its impact, spurring the other board members to reconsider their position and leave the restrictions in place until HEPA filters could be ordered.

The Peterborough congregation will continue to explore how sociocracy might be used for decision making at a congregational level in the coming months. Byker also believes that while it would require some modifications given the scale of the meetings, sociocracy is one model that could be effective for decision making at a national level within the Canadian Unitarian Council.


The Decision Making Exploration Team invites you to sign up for the following workshops:

Invitation to a Youth Con hosted by the Vancouver Unitarians Youth Group
By Matthew Dalley and Esmé Mac, Youth Co-Deans 

Religious Exploration youth

The UCV (Vancouver Unitarians) Youth are putting on a conference this November. It’s called “Life is ConfUUsing (and that’s okay!).”

Youth conferences are spiritual ways to build community and friendships. A youth’s first con can be a life-changing experience. We make tons of friends and acquaintances at cons all over Canada.

For quite a while, youth have had yearly regional fall gatherings, which were also partnered with regional fall gatherings for adults. This stopped in 2017, to the dismay of our youth. Last year, we had so much fun at CanUUdle, our big yearly conference, that we decided to bring the fall con back! (At least, the youth portion.)

We’ve been working on creating a fabulous con since June, and we have a great team of youth making it happen.

This year, from November 10 to 12, we’re inviting any and all Unitarian youth from the Pacific Northwest for a weekend of fun, games, worship, and community. For more info, check out https://ucv.im/Fallcon2023.

Join us for a Weekend in November
By Revs. Anne Barker and Linda Thomson

We invite you to join us for a weekend of workshops and worship.

Working Well Together: Congregational Workshops for Resilience & Renewal
Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023
Focusing on how the larger cultural tensions of our time impact our Unitarian Universalist communities and congregations, these three workshops include ways to prepare and respond thoughtfully and with intention, along with opportunities to share your concerns, ideas, and initiatives. And don’t worry – it’s not all work! There will be nurturing and nourishing space as well.

Session 1: Locating Ourselves in a Changing Culture
 9:30 am PT | 10:30 am MT | 11:30 am CT | 12:30 pm ET | 1:30 pm AT | 2:00 pm NT  (90 minutes + one hour break)
We’ll begin by identifying global and local themes that impact our congregations and communities. Focussing on right relations and covenantal practices, this conversation will identify concerns and possible responses. Resources for proactive options will be shared. 

Session 2: Building Relationships Toward a Common Good
12:00 pm PT | 1:00 pm MT | 2:00 pm CT | 3:00 pm ET | 4:00 pm AT | 4:30 pm NT (90 minutes + 30 minutes break)
Sometimes we feel like we are alone in our justice efforts. In this session we’ll think about partnerships to build mutual support, safety, and intentionality into our work. Resources for safety and preparedness will be shared. 

Session 3: Practices for Resilience & Renewal
2:00 pm PT / 3:00 pm MT / 4:00 CT / 5:00 pm ET / 6:00 pm AT / 7:00 pm NT (90 minutes)
We’re doing big and important and difficult work together. Part 3 will share practices, resources, and tools for sustaining our collective well-being, including a shared ritual for all who are gathered. 

National Worship Sunday Service: Reemerging, Reimagining, & Renewal
Sunday, November 26, 2023
10 am PT | 11 am MT | 12 pm CT | 1 pm ET | 2 pm AT
Reemerging, Reimagining, & Renewal
After the last few extraordinary years, we find ourselves different than we were before, both as individuals and communities. And the world around us has also changed. Who are we becoming? What happens now?
Live Streamed on Youtube  &  Live on Zoom
A pre recorded version will also be available by request, beginning Nov. 20, for use in your congregation at your local time. Contact Anne Barker to request the recording.

2024 Youth and Young Adult Conferences will take place in Edmonton 

Save the date! CanUUdle, the national conference for Unitarian Universalist (UU) youth (ages 14-19) and its sibling event, Chorus (for young adults ages 18-35), will both be taking place in Edmonton, Alberta over the May long weekend next spring. That’s May 17-20, 2024. Keep an eye out for opportunities to lend your talents to support these beloved events in the coming months. In the meantime, questions can be directed to casey.stainsby@cuc.ca. See you in Edmonton! 





Fulfilling, Magical and Rejuvenating: the Young Adult Retreat at Unicamp

These are a few of the words used by participants to describe their time at the Young Adult Retreat, which took place at Unicamp in early September. Nina Strang, from the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, attended this event for the first time. You can read about Nina’s experience in their own words in an upcoming post (October 25, 2023) on the Canadian Unitarian Council’s blog, Call and Response: Conversations with a Reckoning Faith Organization




Blog Roll

Have you read our new blog? Call and Response: Conversations with a Reckoning Faith Organization is a forum where we ask provocative questions, share practical tips and resources, and really explore issues. 

You can read the blog on our website. To get you started, here are the links to the last four posts:

Let us know what you think! Share your feedback, thoughts, and questions in the comment section of the blog.

Did You Know?

Role of CUC Liaisons

CUC Liaisons are the bridge between their congregations and the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC). They keep their congregations informed about news and events at the national and regional levels, organize discussions on CUC-related matters, and provide congregational leadership change updates to CUC staff.  Individuals who take on this role for their congregations should have an interest in national affairs, be committed to keeping informed, and enjoy being part of the larger Unitarian Universalist faith community. Congregational CUC liaisons can stay on top of their responsibilities thanks to the document, Role of CUC Liaison, which outlines the tasks and timelines associated with this role.


Job Opportunities

  • CUC CanUUdle Coordinator Position: 2023-2024
    The CanUUdle Coordinator position is the main staff support for the CUC’s annual national
    youth conference, CanUUdle. This is a 7 month part time contract position, with the option
    of a second year renewal.
  • CUC Chorus Coordinator Position: 2024
    The Chorus Coordinator logistically supports all aspects of Chorus, the Canadian Unitarian Council’s
    (CUC) national young adult (YA) conference. This is a 5 month part time contract position, with the
    option of a second year renewal.

What’s Making Us Smile

Christian Schmidt’s Welcome to All Manner of Creatures puts a fitting Halloween-themed spin on the traditional UU message.

CUC Events from October 17 to July 10, 2024

Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact communications@cuc.ca

Decision Making Exploration Team: Practicing Together – Sociocracy Decision-Making
Oct. 21: 10:00 am PT | 11:00 am MT | 12:00 pm CT | 1:00pm ET | 2:00  pm AT  | 2:30  pm NT (2 hours)

Youth Advisor Training
Oct. 26, Nov. 30, Jan. 25, Feb. 29:  4:00 pm PT | 5:00 pm MT | 6:00 pm CT | 7:00 pm ET | 8:00 pm AT  | 8:30 pm NT (2 hours)
Oct. 28, Nov. 25, Jan. 27, Feb. 24: 12:00 pm PT | 1:00 pm MT | 2:00 pm CT | 3:00 pm ET | 4:00 pm AT  | 4:30 pm NT (2 hours)

Gathered Here
Nov. 14: 5:00 pm PT | 6:00 pm MT | 7:00 pm CT | 8:00 pm ET | 9:00 pm AT | 9:30 pm NT

Decision Making Exploration Team: Practicing Together – Formal Consensus Decision Making
Nov. 18: 10:00 am PT | 11:00 am MT | 12:00 pm CT | 1:00 pm ET | 2:00 pm AT | 2:30 pm NT (2 hours)

Connect and Deepen: Looking for Light with Rev. Linda Thomson
Nov. 19: 1:00 pm PT | 2:00 pm MT | 3:00 pm CT | 4:00 pm ET | 5:00 pm AT | 5:30 pm NT  (1.5 hours) 

Working Well Together with Revs. Linda Thomson and Anne Barker
Nov. 25: 9:30 am PT | 10:30 am MT | 11:30 am CT | 12:30 pm ET | 1:30 pm AT  | 2:00 pm NT

National Sunday Service: Reemerging, Reimagining and Renewal
Nov. 26: 10:00 am PT | 11:00 am MT | 12:00 pm CT | 1:00 pm ET | 2:00 pm AT  | 2:30 pm NT

Gathered Here
Dec. 8: 11:00 am PT | 12:00 pm MT | 1:00 pm CT | 2:00 pm ET | 3:00 pm AT | 3:30 pm NT

Connect and Deepen: Winter Dreaming with Rev. Anne Barker
Dec. 17: 1:00 pm PT | 2:00 pm MT | 3:00 pm CT | 4:00 pm ET | 5:00 pm AT | 5:30 pm NT (1.5 hours) 

Rising Together: Unitarian Universalists of Colour
Jan. 10: 4:30 pm PT | 5:30 pm MT | 6:30 pm CT | 7:30 pm ET | 8:30 pm AT | 9:00 pm NT (1.5 hours)

Gathered Here
Jan. 16: 5:00 pm PT | 6:00 pm MT | 7:00 pm CT | 8:00 pm ET | 9:00 pm AT | 9:30 pm NT

Gathered Here
Feb. 9: 11:00 am PT | 12:00 pm MT | 1:00 pm CT | 2:00 pm ET | 3:00 pm AT | 3:30 pm NT

Gathered Here
Mar. 12: 5:00 pm PT | 6:00 pm MT | 7:00 pm CT | 8:00 pm ET | 9:00 pm AT | 9:30 pm NT

Rising Together: Unitarian Universalists of Colour
Apr. 10: 4:30 pm PT | 5:30 pm MT | 6:30 pm CT | 7:30 pm ET | 8:30 pm AT | 9:00 pm NT (1.5 hours)

Gathered Here
Apr. 12: 11:00 am PT | 12:00 pm MT | 1:00 pm CT | 2:00 pm ET | 3:00 pm AT | 3:30 pm NT

Gathered Here
Jun. 11: 5:00 pm PT | 6:00 pm MT | 7:00 pm CT | 8:00 pm ET | 9:00 pm AT | 9:30 pm NT

Rising Together: Unitarian Universalists of Colour
Jul 10: 4:30 pm PT | 5:30 pm MT | 6:30 pm CT | 7:30 pm ET | 8:30 pm AT | 9:00 pm NT (1.5 hours)

Enews Prepared and Formatted by Brigitte Twomey, Website Specialist