Author: Director RE

Send Video Greetings for Sundays

UCV is up and running with online Sunday worship serviceThe virtual video greetings from members and friends around metro-Vancouver were a welcoming and heartening part of the service and we want to keep it going! 

For this week’s video (March 29) how about sharing “How IS everyone keeping busy?” Short and sweet—15 seconds max.  It’s a treat to see you and your families and know you’re well!  We will share these during the “turn to your neighbor” segment of the service. Send it by midnight Saturday for the following Sunday service! 

If you have a smartphone or tablet, just open up your camera, flick it over to video mode and then flip the camera to selfie mode so you’re in the frame. Then press the record button and say a few words with those around you (remember, less than 15 seconds please). 

When you’re finished, click the sharing icon (square with an arrow pointing up on Apple devices, dot to two dot triangle on Android) and then email that video to us at video@ucvrefugees.ca. 

That’s it! We’ll broadcast what we receive on Sunday morning and it would be a real treat to see familiar smiling faces. 

Here’s an example video. 

If you’re not sure about how to email a video, if you think you’ll have trouble viewing the service on Sunday morning from vancouverunitarians.caor if you’re struggling with Zoom for a church online eventplease let us know here and we’ll be in touch to help you get connected. 

Not cancelled – gardening with the grounds crew this Saturday–Mystery Pals …

I’ll attempt to add here events that are going ahead at UCV.

Grounds crew regular 3rd Saturday gardening 9am – contact Patti Turner for more information.

Depending on your situation, here are some ways to enjoy this time of relative low-contact.

Get outdoors. Dr. Bonnie Henry says the virus does not transmit outdoors. At UCV come and garden, walk the labyrinth or just sit outside in the sun.

Go for a walk. Use phone or email to connect up and plan a walk or visit with a UCV friend you’ve been wanting to get to know better.

Mystery Pals

Anonymous letter writing through email–physical distance with social connection.

Adults, children, youth, and young adults are paired up (by Kiersten–our Director of Religious Ed) and write letters to each other anonymously for four weeks.

At the end you get to find out who your Pal is! Families and Pals are encouraged to continue the relationship throughout the year.

All letter writing will be facilitated through Kiersten’s email:  dre@vancouverunitarians.ca

sign-up at ucv.im/pals

Annual Ancestor Shrine–Come and visit

Origins of Our Tradition

Mary, Catherine, Nancy, Terence, Morgan and Jen first created an Ancestor Shrine with the children’s program back in the fall of 2013. Transforming the meditation room into a place of remembrance at the end of October has become a firm tradition since then. It is something our children remember and connect with over the years.

Please come explore the Ancestor Shrine after Sunday service on October 27th.

You may bring a photo or remembrance to leave on the altar if you wish (to be returned the following Sunday), and there will be paper and twine with which to write your own remembrances and hang from the willow branches.

May we remember where we come from, and how the tree of life shows us that truly all that exists on Earth is related. Further back we find that we have evolved from the dust of exploded stars–what great mystery!

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.

Registration open for Harry and UU Summer Camp!

Another year at Hogwarts

Plans are rolling for a second year at Hogwarts. August 12-16 will see Hewett Centre once again transformed into the Great Hall and Hogwarts classrooms.

Harry and UU summer camp is theatre in action for kids ages 7-12. There are volunteer leadership opportunities for youth ages 13+ with a Red Cross first aid certificate. Visit our Summer Camp page to register now to hold your spot in the 2019 Hogwarts West experience.

This year our social justice focus will centre around water inspired by the national Canadian Unitarian Ripple Effect project. We will identify two local water issues to explore and learn about Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed techniques. The DA Creators will create a theatre as social action piece to fight our Horcrux. It becomes a week of living theatre, social justice, and a unique summer camp experience for Vancouver children and youth. (more…)

Sharing Our Faith grant received for our Hogwarts Summer Camp

Thank you to the Canadian Unitarian Council

I am pleased to announce that our Harry and UU Summer Theatre Camp has received a generous grant in the amount of $3,000 from the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Sharing Our Faith Fund. This grant will help us hire camp staff at a fair compensation rate, provide an excellent student-counsellor ratio, and insure affordability for Vancouver families. Check out our summer camp web page for more details.

Sharing Our Faith

The Sharing Our Faith program provides funds for congregational initiatives which enhance ministry, aid congregational projects and outreach, and enhance the Unitarian Universalist movement in Canada. Once a year, congregations are encouraged to hold a “Sharing Our Faith” worship service focused on the UU faith in Canada, with a special collection for the Sharing Our Faith fund. The fund consists of these monies, often supplemented by a Foundation Fund administered by the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto. The funds are allocated in the form of grants to congregations for growth projects and initiatives.

Your Support

Part of the grant asks for a show of faith from us in supporting our own initiative. You can help families with limited financial resources attend our engaging and unique program by donating to our Campership Fund.

A campership may include before and after care, public transportation, and lunch if requested. Applications will be processed on an ongoing, first-come, first-served basis as long as funds are available. A deposit in good faith of an affordable amount is requested to hold a spot.

Donate to Campership Fund

Donations to our Campership Fund are tax deductible and ensure that all children are able to attend camp with us, regardless of their family’s financial situation. Click the link above to send a secure donation by credit or debit card. Cheque donations to the Unitarian Church of Vancouver with “HP Summer Camp Donation” in the memo can be submitted using the Sunday morning donation envelopes or mailed to:

Unitarian Church of Vancouver
Attn: HP Summer Camp
949 West 49th Ave
Vancouver, BC V5Z 2T1

 

Solidarity with Christchurch

Dear UCV members and friends:

Most of us know by now that there was a deadly assault on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.  We cannot imagine the grief and loss.  I feel devastated and angry.

I urge all of us to think, with gratitude, of the relative peace and safety we enjoy gathering and worshipping together.  May we also be mindful that Muslim children, men and women are our sisters and brothers.  An attack on them at worship for Friday prayers, is very much an attack on us and all people of good will who value a diverse and free society.

I attended Friday prayers at the Jamia Mosque on 8th Avenue to witness and extend our solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Rev. Steven Epperson

There will be a prayer vigil tonight, Friday, March 15th, 7:30 pm at the Al-Jamia Mosque in Vancouver. All UU’s are encouraged to participate in solidarity and support.

From the Canadian Unitarian Council

The world weeps with the news of senseless violence and death, and hold in our hearts the victims and families of the New Zealand mosque shooting. Violence of this kind fueled by hatred and fear cannot be allowed to exist. We choose to respond with love and refuse to respond with more violence.

In the face of our grief, we pledge ourselves anew to act with compassion. Holding true to the inherent worth and dignity of each being, we are moved to respond with kindness and empathy when faced with ignorance and bigotry.

Unitarians will show up beside our Muslim colleagues and siblings. We embrace expressions of religion which champion inclusion and cooperation among all faiths. We will continue to work towards a world where our interdependence is manifested through love and justice.

To demonstrate solidarity and support, we encourage UUs across Canada to participate in vigils in their local communities.

– From the CUC Board President and Vice President, CUC Executive Director and the UU Ministers of Canada

Mystery Pals – They’re Back!

Make a Friend at Church

Back after an amazing 2018 launch: create connections across generations!

The mystery only lasts a little while, but the friendship can be much longer.

Sign-up to be a Pal to someone older or younger than yourself—we would love to have everyone involved and will match any pair from different generations (roughly 20 years apart). To facilitate anonymity, each pair will be identified by a Canadian Civil Rights Activist  with a corresponding “mailbox” envelope in the Hewett Centre Hall.

Celebrate May 5th after the service with a Mystery Reveal Party.

(more…)

Kiersten’s Blog: Smiles Build Community

How do we welcome children and youth?

by Kiersten Moore

We have vibrant children’s programs going on at that are engaging for families and should be continued in one form or another. Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation; Coming of Age; Our Whole Lives; Cosmology explorations; Spirit Play, garden time, etc., as well as peer community building among our children and youth. But what draws the most families in attendance are our special events: the ancestor shrine, pageants, wassail, everybody’s birthday, the services with children directly involved, and ritual celebrations.

The number of children who come to the children’s program on Sunday regularly has increased this year and involves 11 to 12 families, 21 children. However, we serve 50 to 60 children over the course of a year, including visitors; those who attend off and on; and members whose children do not connect with “Sunday School”. For every child who engages with our Sunday morning program, there are two for whom it doesn’t work either for them or their family as a whole. How do we serve these families?

It’s been hard to retain young people into the high school years and beyond in the absence of direct peer friendships. This is partly due to intense scheduling and many demands on teens and parents. I maintain that the absence of teens in our pews demonstrates youth do not feel connected to our services, that they haven’t found a place within adult worship or the larger congregation. Even when youth group is strong, few youths have come to worship at 11 am, even though that time was set specifically with teens in mind back in 2005, and youth group meets after lunch. How do we engage more fully with our youth and young adults?

We engage our young people best by establishing whole congregation worship from an early age. Connie Goodbread, congregational life staff of the Unitarian Universalist Association Southern Region, says, “Unitarian Universalism is all we teach. The congregation is the curriculum.”

Children learn by doing and by observing from a very young age.
If we do not include children fully within our worship services we implicitly teach them that worship in the sanctuary is not for them, at least not past the first 10 or 15 minutes. If their only place of belonging is the Religious Exploration gatherings, how can we expect them to come back after they graduate? What do they have to come back for?”

The biggest challenge to engaging children and adults in faith topics at the same time is the culture shift required to make it happen successfully. It takes work and commitment. There are many examples of UU congregations and other denominations worshipping all together that we can draw from.

Enjoying some aspects of worship more than others is tied to the person, not the age.
There are adults for whom the sermon topic makes their decision on which Sundays to attend, but it is important to acknowledge that we have adult members in our congregation who do not come for the sermon, but are fulfilled each Sunday by other aspects of worship. The sermon is not the be-all and end-all to worship.

Some children love music and singing; others the story or the chalice lighting.

Some children like silent meditation, others are bored by it—this is the same for adults. We teach how to be in the sanctuary together by modeling, by quietly answering children’s questions, and by quietly drawing their attention to the rituals and interpreting what people are saying. We teach them they are valued by accepting their child noises as they learn to be in community.

I see three areas to concentrate on improving:

There are worship design considerations.

Designing worship for multiple intelligences (language, aesthetic, interpersonal, kinesthetic, etc.) helps many people of all ages connect with the aspects of worship that speak to them the most.
We should always strive to make our sermons and whole worship accessible. When we design good worship aimed at engaging a diversity of people—even if they aren’t currently in our pews—we end up with worship for a diversity of ages, abilities, backgrounds, and personalities. We move closer to the beloved community we want to be.

There are physical space issues to address when welcoming whole families to be together in worship.

We want to make it easy and welcoming for both parents and children. This means addressing seating, pews, floor seating, and safe, inviting space for young children to wiggle.
Children will be most engaged when at the front of the sanctuary, right in with the action, where they can see more than the back of our pews and heads; where their need for some movement is accommodated.

There are expectation issues.

Many of us have a personal expectation of comfort free from distraction. This expectation comes from a place of privilege. Why is a child talking more disturbing than an adult’s cough or sneeze? They’re close to the same volume.We must develop an expectation to welcome and support children and parents.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor stated to his synagogue when concerns about child noise were raised: “A sanctuary is not a sanctuary from children. It is a sanctuary we’ve built for our children, and their children after them.” As a parent I personally find managing my toddler’s behavior in worship involves distinct levels of stress depending on whether people around us are frowning or smiling. Imagine which facial expressions put a parent at ease and which encourage them to leave. Smiles build community.

I encourage you to read more on this subject from Kim Sweeney, the author of The Death of Sunday School and the Future of Faith Formation, who has a very thorough list of resources on Whole Congregation Worship at her website: www.courageousfaithconsulting.org

Worshipping together does take work and intention, I hope we are up for the challenge!

If Sunday School isn’t for everyone … What is?