An Invitation to Circle Work on the Process and Content of the 8th Principle

a stout chalice of batik art texture holding a flame in the shape of the numeral 8. Titled "8th Principle"

You are invited to two circle sessions, to be held in the Fireside Room of the Hewett Center, Unitarian Church of Vancouver, on Saturday May 6 and Saturday May 20. The sessions will start at 1pm and be finished by 5pm and include a break for refreshments and treats provided by an Indigenous caterer.

The Unitarian Church of Vancouver has recently concluded a process of considering and lending support to an 8th Principle, adopted by the CUC. This process and the result have been received in different ways and for different reasons by members of the congregation. The result has been differences of opinion about the process and outcome and the development of uncomfortable relations that many would like to see healed.

Frank Tester will be facilitating circle work related to the process and outcome with regard to the 8th Principle.

Frank is a member of UCV. He has had no involvement with this process. He is also a Restorative Justice trainer and practitioner, with years of experience working with different levels of government, non-governmental organizations, and Indigenous communities in Canada and internationally. He is an Emeritus Professor at UBC, and an Adjunct Professor of Indigenous Studies, University of Manitoba and the Kutenai Art Therapy Institute, Nelson, B.C. Participants are required to register and, ideally, make a commitment to both sessions. This experience is available to Members and Friends of UCV.

Pre-registration is required. REGISTER HERE.

There are principles relevant to the work participants will be doing in circles.

The first four principles of the CUC recognize:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person
  • Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning

Content from the Covenant on Healthy Relations is also relevant.

  • Be compassionate and supportive in my relationships with others, assume their best intentions and be curious rather than judgmental.
  • Communicate with active listening and consideration.
  • Deepen our connections by getting to know and understand people of all ages and points of view within the congregation.

First Session: May 6

This will be circle work focused on ‘active listening’. It will provide an opportunity for those with different feelings about what happened, and the result, to share their feelings, and specific reasons for them with one another, in a format and way respectful of different experiences.

Participants will also be asked to recount what it is they have heard from others.

This will not be an exercise in debating what happened, what was said, done or not done.  It is an opportunity for all participants, regardless of how they feel about the process and outcome, to share their feelings, give reasons for their feelings, and to be reassured that they have been heard.

Second Session: May 20

The second session (May 20) will start by hearing from two members of the congregation with different feelings and positions about the 8th Principle. While the differences remain, they are comfortable with continued communication.

Participants will be asked to reflect on what they have heard. They will then be asked to speak to what has interested, concerned, or left an impression on them.

In the second half of this session, participants will be asked to reflect on, and indicate what they would find challenging, or would need to do in order to achieve a comparable outcome. What are the personal barriers, challenges, and possibilities of achieving, or not achieving, a comparable outcome with others?

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Two observers will also be present for these sessions. They will not participate in the circle work.

Muriel Harris is a UCV member. Macaela Bradley-Tse is a recent graduate of the psychology programme at SFU, and is President of the Vancouver Association for Restorative Justice.

They will share their observations with the facilitator, make suggestions for changes and improvements in the facilitator’s communication and management of the process, and assist in interpreting, understanding and appreciating what has transpired. Frank will prepare and submit a summary document to the Board. It will consist of general observations and suggestions for ‘going forward’, with no disclosure identifying what individuals have communicated in the circle.


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