Testimonials

Sandy Riecken

My introduction to the Labyrinth was when I attended a Vancouver Island Unitarian Women’s weekend gathering at the Bethlehem Retreat Centre near Nanaimo. The Sisters of St. Anne who ran the centre had created the labyrinth a few years earlier.

The first Unitarian group I connected with was in the community where I was raised. My daughter was about five years old and we went for a visit with her grandma. Once her grandma’s youngest sister visited and said grace before the meal. Afterward my daughter asked, “Why is she talking to her plate?”.

Around that time a friend of mine told me the Nanaimo Fellowship wanted to start up a children’s program. Since I worked with young children and liked the content of their program, along with several other parents, joined the fellowship and ran the children’s program.

My daughter moved to Vancouver to study at UBC and has lived here ever since, currently in southeast Vancouver. I would come over from Vancouver Island for a short visit several times a year. Three or four years ago my youngest grandson found that wasn’t long enough. He and his brother told me that I should come and live with them ‘forever’ ….his word. So what could I say?

When I moved here it was after a lifetime of living on the Island and I needed something that was familiar in my life. UCV was reasonably convenient so I started attending in the fall of 2016.

My interest in gardening began when I first had a place to plant things in the ground although the mint that I am bringing to the swap was one of the first herbs that I acquired. It came from my friend’s mother’s garden in Victoria five decades ago, along with instructions to always keep it in a pot and never plant it in the ground! That mint along with other herbs has followed me through various moves. My interest in herbs has mostly been culinary in salads or teas.

It has been fortuitous that this spring several of my interests–herbs, labyrinths, gardening–have come together. With others at UCV, we have formed a team that’s planning several events at the garden labyrinth. While our ideas were percolating someone suggested we apply for a grant from South Vancouver neighbourhood house. (Funds are provided by the Vancouver Foundation Neighbourhood Small Grant program). We submitted an application and were successful! It is with gratitude that we are able to bring the series of Garden Labyrinth events to our community and neighbours.

Huguette Sansonnet

I am from France and now in British Columbia, an Anglophone province with francophones in a minority.

How did I end up here? In 1974, love brought me here: my husband had a job in BC. Twenty-six years later, after 30 years of marriage, we divorced. Shortly after, I joined the Unitarian Church. I was following a group of my friends who were involved in the Paganism Committee. This is what brought me to UCV, but I soon discovered there was a lot more available. UCV catered to most of my interests—open spirituality, social justice, concern for the environment, refugee support, art, music, dance, literature and a dynamic children’s and youth program. And most important the pagan committee or earth spirit council.

Although my children were all away at university or working, I was already thinking of grandchildren. So I came in 2001. I truly found my spiritual home.

Now I know everyone leaves home eventually. I left the Catholic home before; then the existentialist/atheist home. Will I stay home here?

If I left for any reason, I know I would need to come back to visit and reconnect with all I’ve experienced here. For now, I have no thought of leaving.

Lynn Armstrong

As a teenager in Vancouver in the 60’s, I babysat for a Unitarian family across the street so learned a bit about UCV and thought it would probably suit me better than the United Church my family was involved with. In 1988, recently separated with children ages 5 and 7, I consciously sought out a Unitarian community and have identified myself as a Unitarian ever since. I will be forever grateful for the children and youth programs that benefited my son and daughter as they were growing up including their truly beautiful and unique “Bridging Ceremonies.”

More about Lynn

 

Mairy Beam

In her search for community Mairy joined the First Unitarian Church of Toronto in the early nineties, thinking it was another liberal Christian denomination. The services were similar in format to those of her Presbyterian childhood. Slowly over the following months, she started to notice the differences but it was not until she attended the new members’ orientation a year later that she truly understood what UU was all about. There she learned about Starhawk and the Reclaiming tradition of paganism and found her spiritual home.

At Toronto First Mairy was very active in RE, the LGBTQ group, and Womynspirit. She served on the Committee on Ministry, the RE committee and as a Convenor. After moving away from Toronto, she was an active member of the Elora-Fergus Fellowship.

Mairy and her partner, Martha, moved to Vancouver in June of 2016 to be closer to grandkids. They were nervous about finding friends and communities here. They are grateful to this congregation for making the transition easier.

Mairy enjoys the many opportunities to dance with the Sacred Circle Dance groups. She appreciates the time spent with the kids in the RE program. She is delighted to join with others honouring the pagan holy days as well as maintaining and walking the labyrinths. She finds the sermons inspiring, and joins in the protests and other social justice and environmental activities as much as she can. Recently, she became a member of the Board. She appreciates getting her hands dirty in the gardens at UCV.

Another passion of Mairy`s is theatre. Several of her plays have been performed (one in Vancouver). Themes include: immigration, mental illness, forgiveness, gender. Her play, Let Me In, will have a reading as part of the Bodacious! Series on Saturday, Feb 24 at 7:30 pm at Presentation House, North Vancouver. Cast: Vivian Davidson, Killeen Delorme, Michelle Travis, Emily Beam

Admission by donation (suggested $5).

 

 

Vivian Davidson

I was first introduced to the UU church and faith by a dear World Federalist colleague and long-time Unitarian who thought, given my love for being curious, asking questions, meeting interesting people and being open to new ideas, that I would find a home here.
The first service by Rev. Epperson he talked about climate change and politics. Having been raised all over the world and having been exposed to many religions and faiths I had not found any of them to be nearly as insightful, compassionate, all-encompassing as the Unitarian one seemed to be.

(more…)

Tamiko Suzuki

As the daughter of two non-religious scientists, I was never interested in church. As a university student in Montreal I checked out the Unitarians but decided the Sunday services got in the way of skiing, hiking or just sleeping in.  Similarly, once I had a family, Sundays were for the kids’ hockey and soccer games.It wasn’t until five years ago, my kids grown up and gone, when my husband passed away suddenly, that I found a need to find a spiritual community.

I showed up at the North Shore Unitarian church and would sit in the back then slink home after the sermon. I felt I had nothing in common with all those white-haired West Van congregants until one day I joined some church elders at lunch after the service. We were sitting quietly enjoying the soup, when one grey haired lady suddenly slammed her fist on the table and said, “Can you believe what Stephen Harper just did?”  That started a rousing discussion about what was wrong with the latest bill in Ottawa. I sat up and knew right then that I had found my church!

A year later, I moved from North Van to Vancouver and purely because I didn’t want to spend  time commuting, joined UCV. I enjoyed the sermons and the music and this time I was more proactive. I started looking for a group to meet people and be able to help out. I found the Environment Team!

More about Tamiko Suzuki

 

Karl Perrin

Whenever I go to a Unitarian church or event, I feel “at home”. Unitarian Universalists are diverse, and congregations are diverse, but I find some things are common in most of them.They are one of the few places where different generations enjoy each other: from babies to centenarians.  We are a rainbow of ages. Since I am a life long Unitarian (I am also a Universalist, but too many syllables), I have experienced our religion from all the ages up to 72, so far.  (More about Karl).

Léonie Armstrong

I’m an actor, writer, college student and life-long Unitarian. Originally from Victoria BC, the traditional territory of the Leqwungen Nation, I grew up in First Unitarian Church of Victoria.

After taking an extended break from service attendance and being awake on Sunday mornings, although not from my UU identity, I began attending services here in 2010, when I moved to Vancouver as a young adult. (More about Leonie)

 

Diane Brown

In no particular order, I am an award-winning director and actor, co-founder and long-time Artistic Director of Vancouver’s own Ruby SlippersTheatre. I am the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Bra D’Or award, a national award annually presented by the Playwrights Guild of Canada, in recognition of years of championing works by women. I am a mom. A Masters Degree in Theatre holder. A Unitarian.

There is a paradigm shift going on in the arts, and indeed within society, where inclusivity and diversity are major values of social change and justice. These are Unitarian values. I have been one of many at the forefront of this movement of diversity and inclusivity in the arts..

And thus I invite you to Advance Theatre at the Fringe this year. Every weekday 1:30 pm by donation.

Read about Diane’s involvement and Advance Theatre: New Works by Diverse Women

Mary Bennett

When I jokingly made a new year’s resolution to become spiritually developed and have matching towels, I had no idea where that would lead. This church was one of three religious groups I checked out back in 1989–and with all of its (and my) warts and all, this is what stuck. I joined in 1991 after “just browsing” for two years.

In 2017 Mary was awarded the Lifetime Member Award.

(More about Mary.)