Hosted by the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa and supported by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ottawa

The Eastern Region Fall Gathering offers participants an opportunity to meet other UUs as we explore some of the ways that we can respond to the challenges we face.  Opportunities to consider personal practices, congregational responses and social justice efforts are part of the program.  The program workshops have been designed with young adult and youth participants in mind.

Theme: Surviving and Thriving in Turbulent Times

Program Descriptions

  1. Workshop Sessions #1 (90 minutes)
    1. Taking Off the Cloak of Racism – Part 1 (participants are encouraged to attend all 3 sessions)
      At the May Annual General Meeting, the CUC passed a resolution to form a “Dismantling Racism Study Group.” Arguably, the process of dismantling racism requires that we name and accept the challenge of destroying the protective (and harmful) coats worn by those with privilege and power. It is a process that requires courage, vulnerability, and self-awareness. In this interactive workshop, we will be exploring what we see when we remove the cloaks of racism we wear on our personal and institutional backs and what we do with what lies beneath.
      Rev. Julie Stoneberg is the minister of the Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough and Beverly Horton is a long-time member of the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton. Together they proposed the resolution that has resulted in the CUC’s ‘Dismantling Racism’ study group.
    2.  Songs of Hope and Resilience
      Come sing some of your favourite songs of hope, strength and power! You might even be introduced to new ones to take back to your congregations. Lyrics will be provided.
      ​Deirdre Kellerman is an innovative choral conductor based in Ottawa, ON. She is currently the Director of Music at the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa and the Assistant Director of the Ottawa Choral Society.
    3.  Vital and Growing Congregations
      Often when we think of growing congregations we think of numeric growth.  Yet, growing in vitality and maturity are essential if we are to develop our capacity to welcome new members.  In a changing world, we need to ask ourselves if our assumptions about congregational life are valid ones.
      Rev. Guthmann Haresch is currently serving the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ottawa as Developmental Minister.  Rev. Thomson is the Congregational Life Lead for the Eastern Region of the Canadian Unitarian Council.
    4. The Landscape of Stigma, Resilience, and Mental Health
      Jose Ortega y Gassett wrote, “Tell me the landscape in which you live, and I will tell you who you are.”  This workshop will explore the impact of stigma and shame on people with mental health issues and their loved ones.  In my community ministry, I work as a psychotherapist with family members who love people with addiction issues.  One common thread in my counselling work is identifying and addressing the shame people feel, in part because of the stigma that comes with addiction in families.
      As Brene Brown says there are three crucial aspects of shame: 1) it is universal; we all experience shame, it is one of the earliest human emotions, 2) the less we talk about shame, the more it grows, and 3) the  difference between guilt and shame is “I did something bad” and “I am bad”, which is why guilt can be motivating and shame is paralysing. Suggestions for moving from stigma to resilience for individuals, families, and congregations will be discussed. “Be truthful, gentle, and fearless.”  – Gandhi
      Rev. Linda Goonewardene, MDiv., ICADC, R.P.
  2. Workshop Sessions #2 (60 minutes)
    1. Taking Off the Cloak of Racism – Part 2 (participants are encouraged to attend all 3 sessions)
      Read the description above.
    2. Self-Care – Spiritual Practice
      Mindfulness and similar practices help one to become fully present and experience flow such as when creating art and writing.  How do spiritual practices help us cope with stress?  How can meditation practice help us in our spiritual development, individually and as a community?  What are the many ways we are already applying meditation in our daily activities? Come and learn how you can explore and expand your own practices, with Evangeline Danseco of the UU Fellowship of Ottawa. Evangeline is a lay chaplain at the UUFO and has been coordinating their bi-weekly meditation sessions for the past 5 years. She is an ordained interfaith minister through One Spirit in New York City and was trained as a   developmental psychologist. In her full-time job at the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health she supports agencies in improving their services.
    3.  Revitalizing Your Congregation’s Social Justice Program
      The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ottawa has a vibrant Social Action Cluster (SAC) that actively involves the whole congregation in several ways.  Come to find out how this group functions and thrives with support from the Fellowship community. We’ll also have a chance to hear from a larger congregation, learning how they re-imagined their social justice work.
    4. Support the United Nations and Our UU 6th  Principle
      This workshop will explore how Unitarian Universalists of all ages can be involved individually and through their congregations in action to advance United Nations initiatives and move our planet towards the peaceful, liberated, and just world community that our faith calls us to pursue.
      Allison Hess serves as International Engagement Associate at the Unitarian Universalist Association where she works to connect American and Canadian UUs with opportunities to engage with our global faith, the work of the United Nations, and worldwide justice programs. She also chairs the UU United Nations Office’s annual Intergenerational Spring Seminar. Allison grew up in Thousand Oaks, CA, and is a third generation UU.
  3.  Workshops Sessions #3 (60 minutes)
    1. Taking Off the Cloak of RacismPart 3 (participants are encouraged to attend all 3 sessions)
      Read the description above.
    2. Climate Justice
      This workshop, led by Mike Fletcher of First Unitarian Congregation of  Ottawa, will cover: the basic science of climate change; why climate change has recently come to be understood as more serious than before; several specific climate and social justice issues (e.g. impact on the poor and flooding of nations and cities), and possible responses in activism and personal actions.
      Mike Fletcher has a BSc in Microbiology and a post graduate degree in brewing science. He spent his first 22 year of his career working in biologically based businesses (Brewing, citric acid manufacturing and biofuels). Six years ago Mike joined the City of Ottawa and is currently leading the development of the City’s renewable energy strategy.
    3. Walking the Talk; Settler Canadians Standing with Indigenous Peoples
      What does it mean for settlers to stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples? Matthew Behrens, a long-time organizer and non-violent direct action trainer and participant, discusses the challenges and opportunities for settlers to work with and walk alongside of Indigenous land and water defenders, using examples as diverse as the campaign to stop war testing over Innu territory, the current crisis at Muskrat Falls,  the decades-old struggles for justice in Manitoba Hydro-impacted Indigenous communities, and working with Indigenous prisoners.
    4. Spirituality and Mental Health
      In this presentation, Patricia will share why she believes “mental illness” could be reframed as “spiritual emergency”. Questions considered will include, “What does it mean to be a spiritual person? What is a spiritual emergency? How has my spirituality, especially my connection with nature helped me to cope with mental health challenges? There will be an opportunity for participants to discuss the questions and material, in small groups.
      Patricia Stockwell has been a member of the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa for three years and was previously a member and a chaplain at the Unitarian Fellowship in London, Ontario. She is a retired teacher with a B.A. in psychology and English as well as a Masters of Counselling. She is currently writing a book about her personal experiences with mental health issues titled Out of the Cave: My Mental Health Journey.


8:45 a.m. – Registration opens
9:45 a.m. – In-gathering
10:05 a.m. – Break
10:15 – 11:45 a.m. – Workshops 1 (90 mins)
12:00 p.m. – Lunch
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. – Workshops 2 (1 hour)
2:00 p.m. – Break
2:15 – 3:15 p.m. – Workshops 3 (1 hours)
3:15- 3:30 – Break
3:30 p.m. CUC Board info & input session
4:15 p.m. – Closing
5:30 p.m. – Optional dinner (sign up by noon, so the reservation can be made, location chosen by the host team)

Child Care
Provided from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Trained and screened childcare providers will plan activities that are suitable for those that register. Children will join their parents for the lunch break. Ages: we will do what we can to welcome all children.

Limited billeting is available on a first come, first served basis.

 Registration deadline: October 8 

Unpublished form