CUC eNews: September 15, 2020 – Issue 120

In This Issue:

Letter From Vyda

“Generosity is the most natural outward expression of an inner attitude of compassion.” ~ Anonymous

As children and youth go back to school and congregations start their new year, September feels like a time for fresh starts. In the midst of Covid there is comfort in returning to some of these rituals in our calendar, even if they look different than in years past. Our staff and board are looking forward to our annual retreat at the end of September, held virtually this year. CUC staff are finalizing details for our upcoming CUC events and preparing for a busy year as we support congregations in their work during these challenging times. Our calendar includes workshops for congregations, more events focused on anti-racism and Truth, Healing and Reconcilliation work, and, of course, our national fall gathering in November. 

This work draws on the skills and experience of our small but dedicated team of staff, our board and our volunteers. It also requires the generosity of UUs across the country. In the next few weeks and months, there will be a number of asks made of our membership, including fundraising requests for programs such as  Northern Lights, refugee sponsorship and a Truth, Healing and Reconciliation grant, donations for Friends of the CUC and our annual program contributions letter. I recognize that there are members, families and some congregations facing financial challenges. Some of us are not in the position to give this year and we understand that your contributions to our congregational life and social justice work may take a different form. To those who are able to contribute financially to these worthy causes, I thank you for your support of our shared commitment to creating the world we wish to live in and pass down to future generations. As Helen Keller said “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”. 

Be well friends,
Vyda Ng 

Voting Information for Americans in Canada

Photo credit: Kari Sullivan

There are an estimated 650,000 – 1,000,000 Americans living in Canada, and observers believe these voters could play a crucial role in the outcome of the US election this November. As the Unitarian Universalist Association’s UU the Vote page notes, the stakes in this election are high, with critical issues such as LGBTQ rights, racial justice, climate change, and more, on the ballot. While religious organizations and charities such as the UUA are prohibited from endorsing particular parties or candidates, they can engage in advocacy on issues in the campaign, and doing so is an important reflection of our fifth principle of “The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.”

Most U.S. citizens 18 years or older who reside outside the United States are eligible to vote with absentee ballots for federal office candidates in U.S. primary and general elections, and some states allow overseas citizens to vote for state and local office candidates and referendums. In some states, U.S. citizens who are 18 years or older and were born abroad but who have never resided in the United States are also eligible to vote absentee. To vote from abroad, eligible voters must register with local election officials in their state of voting residence (the last state they resided in prior to moving abroad) AND request an absentee ballot, both of which can be done by submitting a completed Federal Post Card Application to local election officials. Help with completing or submitting forms is available at the nearest US Embassy or Consulate.

Detailed information on voting deadlines and rules for all 50 states is available on, a non-partisan organization that works to ensure all Americans living outside the US have the tools and resources needed to easily cast their votes. Information on the voting process is also available from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs

Watch the CBC segment on Americans living in Canada and the role they can play in the election this year. 

Recognize Orange Shirt Day on September 30

Thanks to the efforts of Phyllis Webstad, each year on September 30, Canadians mark Orange Shirt Day as a way of recognizing the strength and resilience of Indigenous people and their loved ones who survived the Residential School System.  As a young girl, Phyllis wanted to wear her new orange shirt on her first day at St. Joseph’s Residential School in Williams Lake, BC.  The shirt was taken from her as part of the school’s intake process, and that loss has come to symbolize all that was lost as a result of residential schools. But Phyllis wanted Orange Shirt Day to be about positive action, not just loss. Her goal is that we all use this day to ensure that Indigenous youth and their families have what they need to heal from past traumas and to thrive going forward.
Congregations are invited to recognize the day in a variety of ways: 

  • Consider how you can reach out to Indigenous groups, communities and organizations as a meaningful gesture that expresses collective remorse. 
  • If local events are planned by the Indigenous community, consider offering to help with logistics, promotion or other tasks as a gift of service. 
  • Educate yourself and others about the impacts of trauma (personal, cumulative and historical), racism and lack of opportunities for Indigenous communities. Find ways you can help. 

Additional information, including resources for a service or discussion group, can be found on this document developed by the CUC  or by visiting the Orange Shirt Day website

Tips for Identifying “Spoofed” Emails

Photo credit: Stephen Phillips

Many Canadian Unitarian Universalists may have recently received or may receive in the future, an email appearing to be from a known, trusted source that was actually sent by someone else. This is an example of a common phenomenon known as “spoofing”.

Spoofing is the act of disguising a communication from an unknown source as being from a known, trusted source.

Spoofing can apply to emails, phone calls, and websites. Spoofing can be used to gain access to a target’s personal information, spread malware through infected links or attachments, bypass network access controls, or redistribute traffic to conduct a denial-of-service attack. It is not to be confused, however, with hacking, in which case someone has “broken into” someone else’s email.

Spoofed emails usually ask for help, a favour, or that the recipient purchase gift cards or make some kind of financial transaction. They may include links to malicious websites or attachments infected with malware, or they may use social engineering to convince the recipient to freely disclose sensitive information. Sender information can be spoofed by mimicking a trusted email address or domain by using alternate letters or numbers to appear only slightly different than the original or by disguising the “From”  field to be the exact email address of a known and/or trusted source

If you receive an email that appears suspicious, be on the lookout for poor spelling, incorrect/inconsistent grammar, or unusual sentence structure or turns of phrase. These errors are often indicators that the communications are not from who they claim to be. Also check the sender’s email address, which can be spoofed by changing one or two letters in either the local-part (before the @ symbol) or domain name. However, some spoofed email addresses will appear identical to the original.

Similar to email addresses, the URL of a webpage can also be slightly changed to trick a visitor who is not looking closely.  By default (make it a new habit), do not click on links in emails. If you receive an email regarding your account or transaction, go to your browser and login to your account to verify. Also, be sure to notify your account holder’s company or organization of any suspicious communications. And be sure to mark all suspicious emails as spam (this helps to protect others).

If you are unsure of an email’s authenticity, reply to the sender. If an email address is spoofed exactly, and you reply to it, the reply will go to the actual person with the email address—not the person spoofing it.

 Please refer to our previous article on hacking for tips on how to make your accounts more secure.

Plan to attend our National and Regional Fall Gathering November 13-15

Our team is hard at work coordinating events for our upcoming virtual National Fall Gathering in mid-November. We have a full slate of workshops and events. The weekend features regional gatherings on the Friday evening. On Saturday, workshops include topics on creating spaces for youth and young adults, anti-racism and social justice, resilient leadership, and options for children and families. After a break, there will be a conversation on our future hosted by the CUC Board of Trustees, followed by a Coffeehouse with music and stroytelling. The weekend wraps up with a national Sunday service. There’s something for everyone!

On November 14, as part of this event, our social justice team will be offering two workshops aimed at developing awareness and strategies to address racism. The first will focus on how systemic racism impacts us all, even in our congregations and beloved communities, and the second workshop offers resources and reflection on anti-racist education. 

In future editions of the eNews, we will highlight the sessions being developed by our youth and young adults, and leadership workshops offered by our Congregational Life Team. Schedules and registration information coming soon.

 Minister Profile: Rev. Jessica Purple RodelaRev. Jessica Purple

Rev. Jessica Purple Rodela has served Grand River Unitarian Congregation in Kitchener, Ontario, since 2008. Jessica first felt the call to ministry in childhood but was also aware she was a non-theist and thought this would be incompatible with ministry. Upon discovering Unitarianism, she became an active lay leader within her congregation in Texas, and ultimately realized ministry was a viable option, completing her studies at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.

Grand River voted to call her as its settled minister the year of her graduation, and Jessica recalls that when she came into the sanctuary after the vote, the congregation was singing the song “Consider Yourself at Home”. It’s a memory that’s stuck with her for its dual meaning, both in offering her a place to settle after years of frequent moving, and for the welcome the congregation seeks to offer everyone who walks through its doors.

“’Consider Yourself at Home’ is a bit of an aspiration,” she says. “A congregation is not the same as a family, but we really hope to extend that radical hospitality to anyone who chooses to show up. And I’ve certainly felt at home with this congregation, we’re a happy match.”

The community building that occurs when congregants gather on Sunday mornings has been Jessica’s favourite part of ministry, and she feels grief that this has been lost as a result of the pandemic. However, she’s grateful that her congregation has tech-savvy members who’ve helped deliver services online, and that the congregation has been willing to experiment amidst this new reality. Jessica presented “The Parable of the Plumber”, one of the CUC’s Sunday Summer Services, in August. 

Jessica believes that Unitarian Universalism will remain relevant because of its ever-evolving nature. While she acknowledges the faith, like any other, has sometimes been on the less-popular side of certain social issues, she notes how it has also adapted to changing times.

“I’ve watched us really embrace ‘when we know better, we do better,’ and I have faith that we can continue to do that and be on the leading edge of change in society,” she says. “We value innovation, and that’s going to serve us well.”

Sunday Summer Services a Success

When the CUC launched the Sunday Summer Services Series, the idea was to connect UUs across the country – and to build on the great success of May’s virtual cross-country service — and we are thrilled with the result. The pandemic has led us to find new ways of connecting, and this series of services was an excellent example of what we can create together. Congregations from across Canada presented services on a wide range of topics, joined by participants of equally great geographical diversity. Warm thanks to all those who presented a service — your contribution was much appreciated!

Participants in the services enjoyed the opportunity to connect with fellow Unitarians from across Canada in ways they hadn’t before. 

“It’s pretty exciting to be able to see people I usually see at the conference, and that I don’t see for the rest of the year,” said Jo-Anne Elder-Gomes of the Unitarian Fellowship of Fredericton. “To be able to see them week after week, there were a lot of us who were there for several of the services, so that was great.”

Sara McEwan of Westwood Unitarian Congregation in Edmonton also liked being able to stay connected during these times. She found that while the readings, reflections, music, and other common elements of a Unitarian service were present in each one she attended, there was also great diversity, and that many of the services were strongly rooted in the place they came from, even if the participants were from elsewhere.

“Each one was unique,” she said.

To decide how best to present similar national virtual events in the future, the CUC would like participants to complete a short survey. This feedback will be valuable as we plan future events.

Two Virtual National Services Coming Your Way

November 15, 2020: As part of the CUC’s Fall Gathering weekend and led by a group of ministers, the National Service on Sunday muses on our experiences during this unusual time with music, meditation, a story, and reflections. Join us at 10 am PT | 2 pm AT.

February 7, 2021: February is CUC month, a chance to deepen connections within the Canadian UU community and come away with a better understanding of what the CUC does and why it’s necessary. An important part of CUC month is the annual Sharing Our Faith service, which congregations across Canada have traditionally held using worship materials created by the UU Ministers of Canada (UUMOC). The offerings collected at the services are awarded to recipient 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.

In a change from past years, 2021’s Sharing Our Faith service will be a virtual national service organized by members of UUMOC, instead of the usual package of worship materials. 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.

Beloved Community – Heal the Impact of Racism

Canadians are welcomed to join in a virtual adaptation of the Beloved Conversations program being offered this fall. Beloved Conversations—the signature offering of The Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard Theological School—is a program for Unitarian Universalists seeking to embody racial justice as a spiritual practice. In Beloved Conversations, we are here to heal the impact of racism on our lives, in order to get free together.

The new Beloved Conversations: Virtual will be rolling out over the next several church years, beginning in September 2020. This new version of this program will be released in three phases:

    • Within (the individual, personal work we each need to do);
    • Among (the institutional, systemic change needed in our congregations); and
    • Beyond (the work outside our congregations, with our local communities)

The first phase “Within” is open for registration now, and focuses on the internal work that each of us needs to do as we engage in racial justice. This work is different for White folks and for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) and will be done entirely in race-based caucuses.

The first phase of the program consists of:
Six online Lessons with resources for learning, including videos, readings, music, and artistic resources, as well as questions for reflection and projects to explore your inner landscape vis-a-vis racial justice. These online Lessons are available via the learning platform Teachable and a new Lesson will become available approximately every 2 weeks, starting October 1.

Six Learning Pod gatherings where you will engage this material in small groups of 4-5 other folks from this learning community.

Four Meaning-Making Sessions where we will come together in a large group via Zoom (in our racial caucuses) to worship, learn, and share our evolving understanding of this journey.

Registration closes on September 20.

The fee for registration is $150 CDN. Please use the coupon code BCVFALL2020CANADIAN (case sensitive) – this will entitle you to pay the Canadian amount instead of the US amount.

More information about the program and links to register are available on the Beloved Conversations website.

The Social Justice Team is Planning for a Busy Fall

The Social Justice calendar for fall includes a few important dates to remember:

Orange Shirt Day is recognized on, or about, September 30 each year to honor those who experienced Canada’s Residential School system and to raise awareness about the ongoing inequity Indigenous children experience compared to non-Indigenous children.  We encourage congregations to incorporate elements recognizing Orange Shirt Day into their services and have created a resource package to help make that possible.

Registration for the Truth Healing and Reconciliation Film Guide Season 4 is open now! The deadline to register for the reflection for film #1, The Whale and the Raven, is Friday, October 2.

Applications for the THR Communities of Reflective Action is open now, deadline Nov 30, begins Jan 6. Meeting once a month until June 2021, the conversations focus on how our faith and our actions intersect. This community is intended for folks who have completed the Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Reflection Guides and want to deepen their understanding of how to take action in a decolonizing way. Over six months, the Community of Reflective Action meets six times to intentionally challenge internal bias and to support one another while working through the materials at home and in the world.

Wednesday, Sept 23, 5:30-7:00 ET/2:30-4:00 PT- Free event

Dr. James Makokis & Anthony Johnson, winners of the Amazing Race Canada, will share “Our Existences Are Political: Identity and History As Pathways for Transformation”.  Learn more and register. This is not a CUC event, but immediately after the session, Erin & Amber host an informal Coffee Chat Debrief (7:15 pm ET – 8:15 pm ET). 

Oct 21 –  7:00 pm – 8:30 pm ET  (please note the new date for this event)

Internalized Racism:  How do we recognize and dismantle it? 

Part of the CUC’s ongoing series on anti-racism, this session of guided reflection and small group discussion is designed primarily for white people who want to better understand internalized racism towards People of the Global Majority (People of Color). Together we will explore how racism reveals itself in our lives,  how to acknowledge it without shame, and how to confront and neutralize it.  As preparation for this conversation, please review these resources.

National Social Justice Team Call Out – Deadline: October 31, 2020.

Now more than ever, there is a need to stay informed about social justice issues and emerging movements.  We are looking for people who already follow specific issues to help CUC staff coordinate actions and educate other UU’s about important issues. Apply here if you are willing to give 5-10 minutes of time each month to share in this way.

Northern Lights Recipients Launch Their Fundraiser

Northern Lights is a unique fundraising program that directly supports growth projects in Unitarian Universalist congregations and communities across the country. The grants program relies on donations from Chalice Lighters who commit to donating in support of creative, innovative projects which demonstrate UU values in action.  The recipient of this year’s grant is the Unitarian Commons Cohousing, a project to create affordable, accessible and environmentally responsible homes centred on Unitarian Universalist principles.

Initiated by the Unitarian Fellowship of Northwest Toronto (UFNT) and supported by 5 congregations in the Greater Toronto Area, the project will incorporate the beautiful heritage stone building which currently houses the UFNT. The Commons will include 9 new residential units; common spaces will be shared by the UFNT and the Unitarian Commons Cohousing members for weekly meals and community activities.  

As with many large urban centres, there is a distressing lack of affordable, accessible housing and both the City of Toronto Planning and Heritage Departments have provided enthusiastic feedback about this innovative project.  In order to move to the next stage of the process, the Unitarian Commons Cohousing project needs to raise $18,000. 

To learn more about how to become a Chalice Lighter and support programs like the Unitarian Commons Cohousing project please visit the Northern Lights page on the CUC website, and click on the link to the pledge letter.  

What’s Making Us Smile

Working from home, as so many are doing amidst the pandemic, comes with various challenges for everyone, but some are unique to pet owners.

As this video illustrates, pets don’t always know where to draw the line between work and play.


Upcoming Events (online via Zoom.)

Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact

Featured Events

Save the date!

The CUC 2020 National Fall and Regional Gathering will take place from Friday, November 13 to Sunday, November 15.
Join us for regional conversations on Friday evening, interesting workshops on everything from anti-racism and social justice, to peer pastoral care, and leadership and conflict management. There will be an open conversation with the Board and CUC staff about our QUUest vision and we will cap it off with a national Sunday Service.  On Friday our Regional Gatherings will happen at the following times:

    • British Columbia: 7:00-8:30 pm PT
    • Western (Albert, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Thunder Bay, ON): 7:00-8:30 CT / 6:00-7:30 pm MT
    • Central (Ontario, except for Kingston, Ottawa and Quebec): 7:00-8:30 pm ET
    • Eastern (Kingston, Ottawa, Quebec, Atlantic provinces) 7:00-8:30 pm AT

Watch for more details and registration information for the Regional and National Gathering coming soon!

Our Fall Youth Con is being planned for the weekend of October 24 and is open to youth and advisors all over Canada. Watch for more details and registration information coming soon!

National Youth Service Viewing, September 16, 8:00 p.m. ET
The National Youth Service,” Celebrating Life in a Time When Life is Limited,” was originally presented on July 19th.  If you missed it the first time or would like to watch it again, please join us for a screening on Zoom. Register now!

Coffee Chat Debrief – Dr. Makokis & Anthony Johnson, Wednesday, September 23, 4:15 p.m. PT | 5:15 p.m.MT | 6:15 p.m. CT | 7:15 p.m. ET | 8:15 p.m. AT
University of British Columbia (UBC) is featuring a talk by the couple who will share their personal transformations, from their early years facing adversity around two-spirit and Indigenous identities to a lifetime of education, transforming them into leaders, activists, and role models. Join the CUC immediately following the UBC presentation for a Coffee Chat debrief. Register now!

Internalized Racism:How do we recognize and dismantle it?  Oct 21 –  7:00 pm – 8:30 pm ET
Part of the CUC’s ongoing series on anti-racism, this session of guided reflection and small group discussion is designed primarily for white people who want to better understand internalized racism towards People of the Global Majority (People of Color). Together we will explore how racism reveals itself in our lives,  how to acknowledge it without shame, and how to confront and neutralize it. Please visit for more info.

Regular Online Events

Gathered Here: Young Adult Check-In (all times ET)
September 14 – 8 p.m. ET

Connect and Deepen – Virtual Gathering
Sunday, September 13 & 27, 1 p.m. PT |2 p.m. MT| 3 p.m. CT| 4 p.m. ET| 5 p.m. AT 
Please register in advance.

Leaders RoundtableSaturday, September  26, 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 Congregational leaders are invited to gather monthly to share ideas and insights with each other and CUC staff. Zoom:

THR – Reconciliation Through Film: The Whale and The Raven
Registration ends Friday, October 2
Watch the film and read the materials: October 3 – October 17
Reflection Group: Saturday, October 17, 12:30-2:00 pm ET