Category: Recent News

The monthly e-newsletter selects about 5 news posts with this category. Priorities are news relevant to a wide number of people and especially of interest to visitors or new folk.

Blog: Donna Brown, Choir Director

Why I Do What I Do (or Musings of a Mu-U)

I think most members of the congregation would be surprised to find out how much time the choir spends learning and perfecting our music.  In fact, it is a little scary to do the math. On Thursday, Jan. 10, we started practising the Faure Requiem, which is the main piece for our April concert.  The Requiem is about 35 minutes long and we spent about 45 minutes working on the first of the seven movements. Between that rehearsal and our concert, we have approximately 18 rehearsals and we will spend between 30 and 60 minutes of each rehearsal working on the Faure.  That’s a total of about 15 hours. If you count person-hours you will have to multiply by the 45 members of the choir. And that doesn’t count all of the time that each of us will spend working on the music independently!  

What takes so long?  Well, first of all we have to learn the notes. In some places, the choir sings in unison (everyone on the same note, an octave apart for the men and women), but in many places there are at least four different notes and sometimes each part splits and there can be as many as eight notes. Then there is the rhythm and the language. The Requiem is in Latin, which is not a first language for anyone any more. Add to that the articulation (starting and ending together, or at least in the right place), the phrasing (musical sentences) and the dynamics (volume). There is lots to learn. And all of those things must be in place for us to make music – to express the emotion that is inherent in the music, to move beyond the technical.

But the big question is why? Why do we put so much time and effort into something so ephemeral, so fleeting as a musical performance?  I have pondered that question often and there are many possible answers. First of all, it feels good when we get it right. The music is incredibly beautiful. It is also fun to do. The choir members enjoy each other’s company. And of course, we enjoy sharing our music with the congregation. But it is more than that. I believe that making music together is a spiritual experience. For me, it is one version of prayer or meditation and helps me to be a better person.  

I met an American minister during the UUMN conference that was held at UCV in 2002.  She explained to me that she and many others call themselves Bu-U’s because they are Unitarian Universalists whose primary spiritual path is Buddhism. Well, I guess I’m a Mu-U, a Unitarian whose primary spiritual path is music. And I would guess that many in the choir would feel the same way.

When I first started conducting the Chalice Choir in 1999, I struggled a bit in justifying how much time and energy I was spending on my work with the choir. I have organizational ability and I worried that I should be spending my time doing something more directly beneficial to others, like volunteering in the DTES.  A very wise man – Phillip Hewett – helped me to find peace with my calling. He shared a quote with me, and although I’ve lost the exact words, the gist has stayed with me. Art and music exist to show the beauty that is possible in the world. And I would take it one step further – a choir helps us to experience the beauty that can be created by a group of people working together.  That is why I do what I do.

I hope that you enjoy sharing that beauty with us on Sunday mornings and I invite you to join us in experiencing the beauty that is the Faure Requiem at our spring concert on Sunday, April 28 at 7:30 pm.  

Donna Brown

Director, Chalice Choir

Unitarian Church of Vancouver

February 2014

 

First day of September and a lot of outdoor (and indoor) conversations and harvesting

Rev. Chris Wulff gave us a great sermon and a new twist on the Little Red Hen.

The Environment team met to plan the All Candidates’ Forum.

Circle dancing in later afternoon.

And we enjoyed another “back at it” Sunday while the sun is still shining.

Here’s Jodie and Kelly having a conversation under one of the trees.

And Sandy and Karen picking some King apples–they’re ripe and were enjoyed by many today!

 

Steven’s Welcome Message

Dear Vancouver Unitarians:

Welcome to our congregation’s 2019-20 program year of worship, learning, activism and fun!

More than ever, I am grateful to be a part of this congregation—one that first began 110 years ago and that has been at 49th and Oak Street for 55 years. We’ve been around for a long time and plan on being here for generations to come.

Here, we meet with people of all ages who share our deepest values, who seek to deepen soulful and ethical lives, and who are committed to intergenerational learning, connection and “generativity.” We honour our diverse stories and personalities. We welcome all who seek to be a part of our congregation and its commitment to “justice, equity and compassion in human relations,” as well as our promise to “respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”

Thank you to each and all and the roles we play: from serving coffee and tea to walking with our children and youth, from singing in the choir and lighting a candle for a loved one, to acting up on behalf of refugees, the environment and the cause for social justice, and much, much more.

I look forward to being with you as we walk our Unitarian Universalist path together.

Sincerely, Rev. Steven Epperson

Welcome back to a new program year from Kiersten

As you prepare to return to school year routines and schedules I want to offer you a glimpse into the rich material we are planning to cover with families this year at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver. Looking back through pictures reminds me of how much fun we have building community around here–and that certainly continues on!

What are we up to on Sundays?

We are continuing our structure around Soul Matters monthly themes and adding a focused exploration of World Religions—one of the six sources of wisdom, guidance, and spirituality that Unitarian Universalists draw upon. We are organizing into three groups this year:

  • Elementary Passport to Spirituality (ages 4-9)
  • Intermediate Crossing Paths (ages 10-12)
  • High School Youth Group (ages 13-19).

This is an OWL year for the youth

That’s shorthand for Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education and this year we are running workshops for grades 8, 9, and older youth who haven’t had an opportunity to take OWL before. Registration is open—you can read more on our website and contact Kiersten Moore, DRE for more information.

Worship Bingo Returns

Kids are given a bingo card on entering and when they’ve recorded hearing all of the words on the card, they yell out “Bingo”. Then get a reward at the end of the service.

Water Communion and In-gathering service

We start September 8th with our all-ages Water Communion and In-gathering service—Bring a bit of water from home or from travels to add to our communion bowl. If you haven’t collected water from your summer explorations, you may bring an item or memento for our altar—just be sure to pick it up again after the service.

“What does it mean to be a people of Expectation?”

September 15th we open our journey exploring the connection between expectation and the UU idea of Ongoing Revelation, the belief that we should expect our truths to change and grow. This expectation of growth leads us directly into our World Religions focus:

Passport to Spirituality (ages 4-9)

This class will imagine they are all travelling the world. At each country they visit, the children will receive a passport sticker, learn about a different religion, how it relates to the month’s theme, and engage in a spiritual practice utilized by that religion. The focus is to both learn a bit about religions around the world and see how they can be utilized to gain wisdom and develop our own spirituality.

Crossing Paths (ages 10-12)

This class follows a long tradition of Unitarian middle school field trips and explorations of neighbouring faiths. We will engage in a more in-depth exploration of five religions throughout the year, beginning with our own Unitarian faith. Crossing Paths is a direct Soul Matters curriculum that takes the approach of religious pluralism. Instead of claiming that one religion is best or that all religions are basically the same, pluralism understands religions as separate systems of belief dealing with distinct human challenges.

Parents of Tweens (ages 10-12) Please Note:

September 15th is our opening orientation for Crossing Paths and parents are included! Please plan for at least one parent to attend the Sunday RE session with your child beginning at 10:45 am. Crossing Paths group will not attend the beginning of service this week. This class offers parents an opportunity to learn alongside your child and to deepen your own spiritual understanding.

Youth Group (ages 13-19)

Our Youth plan to hit the ground running with the final zero waste results from last year’s action project and move forward on the youth group movie project. The youth choose their own curriculum or focus with their advisors in the fall and follow a small group ministry style of discussion with the aim to deepen connections to their selves, each other, and the wider community. Youth also hold social gatherings, attend conferences and regional events, participate in multi-age celebrations and pageants, and a lot more.

Outreach Opportunity Fund Nominations

Every year, the OOF Committee selects three recipients to be given 25% of the funds from the Sunday collection. The Committee would welcome nominations from individuals or a group in the congregation for the next recipient of OOF funding. Nominated organizations must comply with the selection criteria: priority is given to local organizations undertaking social justice, refugee support and settlement and environment sustainability, with a focus on vulnerable or marginalized communities. For more information go the UCV website, or check the notice board in Hewett Hall for nomination forms.

Please click below to fill in form.

OOF Nomination form

You can submit the form to Melody Mason or leave it in the OOF mail box in the UCV office.

Contact Melody Mason with any queries.

Meditate with us

Vancouver Unitarians have a dedicated “Meditation Room” that has been in continuous use for over two decades. Each Sunday morning and Wednesday evening an eclectic group of both Unitarians and interested Vancouverites meet for a 45-minute meditation session. 

For the past five years the group has been led by Victoria Oginski who has been meditating herself for over 35 years. As an enthusiastic student of Buddhism, Victoria has gone on long meditation retreats in Burma, studied in Bodh Gaya in northern India where the Buddha attained enlightenment, and Dharamsala, the home of the Dalai Lama. 

While the group is loosely informed by the Vajrayana school of Tibetan Buddhism anyone interested in meditation is wholehearted welcome!

On Wednesdays, after the meditation from 6:30-7:15 we take a break and then at 7:30 begin our book study. Currently we are reading (out loud) The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa (John Yates, PhD).

 

submitted by Carolyn Grant

“What Do We Call Ourselves?” Task Force

It seems it’s time for our Beloved Community to openly discuss how we see ourselves and what we want to be called.  Do we want to continue being known as a Church or would our principles and values be better represented by a broader descriptor like “Congregation,” or “Community” or something else.  Two forums are scheduled for September 29th and October 20th. We will also provide a survey opportunity as we want to hear from everyone.  A formal vote will then happen sometime in the future.

Comments or questions about the task force? Contact Sheila.

Here are comments from other congregations about congregational names.

What do we call ourselves – Some CUC leader views 20190911v3

We have several circle dance gatherings every month

If you’d like to get some gentle exercise, move to music from a wide selection of tunes from folk to contemporary and classical, we have several opportunities every month to try out sacred circle dance.

There has been a circle dance group at UCV for well over a decade and the opportunities keep increasing.

Usually it’s a small group of 5 to 15. We always teach the steps and welcome newcomers. You are encouraged to adjust the movements to your own needs. For instance, some people get dizzy when they spin, or find “cross-over” steps difficult on their body. Our mantra is: There are no wrong steps, only variations!

Evenings

On the 1st Tuesday and 2nd Monday we meet in the hall from 7 to 9pm. We usually dance about 12-15 different dances with a short refreshment break in the middle.

GLAD – Gathering for Labyrinth Art and Dance

GLAD is now in its third year. Mairy, Mary and Darlene coordinate a mid-day creative retreat on the 3rd Thursday 11-1pm. We create art for a centerpiece to dance around; circle dance and then walk the labyrinth (time and weather permitting.

Circle Dance with Ease

On the 1st Sunday of each month from 2-3:30pm, we offer a “gentle” approach to circle dance, great for beginners or those who want to just relax into dancing. We select 4 dances and dance each one three times, the third time, with all four in sequence.

Pagan Ritual through Circle Dance

On the last Tuesday, a new offering we started in July, coordinated by Mairy Beam and Mary Bennett We will combine some earth spirit components with about 8 or so circle dances.  We start out with casting a circle, calling in the four directions and honouring the divine masculine and feminine. We use a combination of readings, lighting candles and dances that correspond to this sequence. In the middle we will do more circle dancing related to the season and some earth-centred activity (planting, harvesting, making) and then end the evening with opening the circle with devocations and a closing dance/chant.
We dance to some or all of these pagan chants in each session.

Casting the circle

Calling the 4 directions/elements

Invoking Divine Masculine/Feminine

Opening/ending the circle

For more details contact Mary Bennett at earthspiritucv@gmail.com
Or check out all earth spirit listings at vancouverunitarians.ca/earth-spirit

RSVP appreciated but not required.

Our Unitarian sixth source that acknowledges earth-centered traditions means we often dance to songs related to the turning of the seasons, for instance:

Summer time Songs

Pedacitos del Sol (Little pieces of the sun)

Join Our Social Media and Communications Team

Our UCV Communications Team is looking for someone to post web links to our facebook page. We’d like to post, on average, 5 links per week, preferably spread out over the week including posting the link for the Sunday morning service on Friday. Each post would only take you a couple of minutes if you regularly sign into facebook anyways.

You would be made an admin for the page and post as UCV (not as yourself). You would be welcome to get more involved than that such as adding photos, updating the cover photo more often, but that’s not required for the basic role.

Thanks to a growing team of volunteers, we have been able to increase our social media and web outreach over the past months and years.

Our Communications Team meets two or three times a year. You would be encouraged to attend to find out what else is happening and contribute your ideas. A lot goes on between meetings with individuals and sub-groups taking on tasks. Our meetings are mainly a check-in for individuals and small groups to report on what they’re doing and get feedback from others on their projects.

Video – We’d like to be able to do more

Our youtube channel has been mobilized. Here’s the link for Rev. Phillip Hewett’s Memorial Service and memories shared after the service.

 

People from across Canada and beyond have been so appreciative of being able to attend Phillip Hewett’s memorial service through youtube.

Among the notes I’ve received is one from Patricia Pavey (previously Yates) who attended UCV some time ago and is the composer of our “Carry the Flame” benediction. (And in case you’re wondering about the extra part that some congregations sing, that part was added by Louise Taylor who was music director at the Victoria congregation.)

We have podcasts of Sunday sermons

Click here to find the most recent three sermons–and check back regularly.

Our Closed Facebook Group

On advice from other congregations, we set up a Facebook Group (for community communications) that complements our Facebook page (for external/outreach communication). Our page has over 900 Likes (up from 800 in March, 2018).

You must have a facebook profile to join Members and Friends of Vancouver Unitarians. 

Note: you can see what’s on our Facebook page  even if you’re not on Facebook. If you are on Facebook – please go there regularly and like, comment and share. That’s how we increase our outreach.

Volunteers Needed

We need more help to continue to expand this work.

Some tasks, like posting links to our facebook page, take only a few minutes to do and don’t require much learning.

Most committees now have someone to post events and articles (“posts”) on the web but others need help getting their message out. Training is available and if you’ve used wordpress it will be easy to learn about our system.

We’d like more photos posted on instagram, facebook and the web, especially (with permission) of our many events and our beautiful campus (with people shown). If you like to take photos, we’d like to have you on board.

Other tasks such as editing videos (adding title pages, tweaking sound and light) take a lot of time. We need at least two more people if we’re to do video-recording, some of our events. Some ongoing tasks would only take about 15-30 minutes each week. Congregational consultant Peter Bowden says if he could suggest one thing it would be to do a very short video about the upcoming Sunday programs. Rev. Samaya Oakley of South Fraser Unitarians has been doing this.

How to attract and welcome visitors using social media

Are you interested in how Unitarian congregations can use social media well? I liked this article by Peter Bowden, emphasizing how much research visitors do before showing up in person and how important it is to respond very quickly to them.

Jason Shelton Singing Workshop Cancelled

I have just learned that Jason Shelton has had to cancel all of his fall obligations due to personal/family issues so the workshop planned for Sept. 27 – 29 has been cancelled.  I know that we are all disappointed and send our good wishes to Jason.  Thanks to everyone who registered – I am so pleased that so many of you wanted to come and sing with us!
Donna Brown, Director
Chalice Choir
Unitarian Church of Vancouver