Author: Director RE

OWL is Back!

We are excited to announce a new offering of the Our Whole Lives sexuality education for grades 8 &9 (ages 12-14). Because this class can only be held in person and students come from many different areas of metro Vancouver, we are requiring that all students be age 12 or older and fully vaccinated by the start of class (October 3rd). We will require masks indoors until they are no longer recommended by BC public health.

This is a comprehensive, school-year long program led by trained volunteers and staff. You can read more about this award winning curriculum on our website, check out the dates for this year’s class, and REGISTER HERE.

Community Impact

Earlier this year, Vancouver Unitarians extended a grant to the Broadway Youth Services Centre (BYRC) through our stewardship with the Robert and Anna Koerner Community Fund. BYRC has been able to grow their food program and provide food security to participants and their families. Their program employs youth as peer navigators and has been a source of community support and pride during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are enriched by our capacity to reach out to the larger community in this way and have an impact beyond our walls. You can read the impactful thank you letter from the BYRC below.

A Call to Become Actively Anti-Racist

We are called to action around racial justice within our congregation, ourselves, and in collaboration with our community. I encourage everyone to read this report from the CUC’s Dismantling Racism Study Group. –Kiersten Moore, Director of Lifespan Learning.

From Vyda Ng, Executive Director of the Canadian Unitarian Council:

The Dismantling Racism Study Group has completed their report on the work they have been engaged in since 2019. The report, along with background on the study, is available on the CUC website on the Dismantling Racism Study Group page.  You may read it directly with this folder link.

Our grateful thanks to the members of the Study Group who have spent many hours engaged in this work. They are:

Beverly Horton (Hamilton) – Co-Chair
Rev. Julie Stoneberg (Peterborough) – Co-chair
Douglas Ennenberg (Vancouver)
Charmaine Ferworn (Mississauga)
Ashlyn Noble (Winnipeg)
Pamela Smith-Loeters (Mississauga)
Catherine Strickland (North Shore, Vancouver)
Tamiko Suzuki (Vancouver)

Climate Justice and Food Sovereignty

What can we do individually and collectively to reduce harm and bring about climate justice?

Our food system has a huge impact on climate. Food production is fraut with racism and oppression of the people who grow our food. It is also a very complex system. Eating less meat, particularly red meat, has clear health and climate benefits. Large scale change needs to come from good policy and public pressure to create system change. The following organizations are working to create real change for those who produce and harvest our food as well as the impact of agriculture on our planet:

These are good places to start for information and action. Stay tuned for more!

Mystery Pals Deluxe 2021

Tangible Connection and a Break from Monotony

I feel a great desire for spring, for unplugging, for tangible connections to people. Zoom and video calls help me connect with people far away, but boy am I missing people’s prescence! How about some old-fashioned letter writing? It’s the time of year when we roll out Mystery Pals letter exchange for children, youth, and adults of all ages.  Some wonderful friendships and connections across generations have been made through this annual event–and if you haven’t tried it out yet, I encourage you to sign up!

This year we are forming a small organizing team to spice up our exchanges. Each Pal mails their letters to UCV and we send it on with Artist Trading Cards, art or activity prompts, or poetry slipped in.


Anyone age 4-104 can participate if you have regularly attended the Unitarian Church of Vancouver for six months or more, are known by someone in our church leadership (RE Director, Minister, Board, or committee member, small group leader), and can commit to exchanging weekly letters throughout April by Canada post (envelopes and stamps supplied.) 


April is the month of mail exchange and early May is our Reveal Party where you find out who exactly your Pal is. The reveal party will be facilitated in whatever way is deemed safe at the time–either a zoom party or outdoors if public health allows.


Sign-up with our Breeze form at by March 15th.

Kiersten and our Pals team will match folks up and assign each Pal pair a famous Unitarian to identify with. You will receive a Letter Writing Kit with addressed envelopes, stamps, and paper at the end of March to get you started. Write an introductory letter to your Pal, mail it to the church and it will be sent on. Watch your mailbox for a response and keep exchanging letters throughout April.

Education, Resiliency, and Healing

Vancouver Unitarians’ Koerner Foundation Funds Committee is pleased to announce that the Board has approved a grant for the Alderwood Family Development Centre for a project that provides the opportunity for education, resiliency and healing – by offering child and family drum making and drumming lessons. The drum is a symbol of culture, of togetherness and is a tool to honour unique and individual voices of children and families.

About the Centre

The Alderwood Family Development Centre serves the most complex and vulnerable children and families in Vancouver – these are children for whom there is no alternative schooling. The Centre provides a one year intensive day treatment program for children ages 6 to 12. It is family-centred and services and supports are collaborative, culturally sensitive, individualized and flexible.
The donation will be funded from annual grants given to UCV by the Vancouver Foundation from their Robert & Anna Koerner Foundation Community Fund.

Yemen— A Forgotten Nation

The Humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which I spoke of in the service on January 24th, affects 24 million people. My friend, Mostafa, lives in Taiz City. He is on the ground working for Save the Children to bring much needed nutrition and medical aid to young children, pregnant and nursing mothers. People are starving and it is heartbreaking work. 

Early in January, before Trump left office, the U.S. Secretary of State designated the Houthis a Foreign Terrorist Organization and Specially Designated Global Terrorist. These are very strict designations that prohibit any U.S. company or individual from doing business or providing aid in Houthi controlled Yemen.  70% of Yemen’s population lives in the territory affected, and the entire country imports 88% of their food through two ports, both in Houthi controlled territory.  The designations make it harder for non-US aid agencies to do their work, Oxfam International, for example, receives millions of dollars towards their work from US organizations and individuals. 

Globally there is more money in weaponry and arms going into the war in Yemen than food and aid to the millions of people affected.  Canada provides both aid to Yemen and weapons to Saudi Arabia which are fueling the conflict.  

What Can We Do?

  1. Personal Connections.  When I asked Mostafa, he says what he wants most is to immigrate to Canada to be able to work here and help his family.  If you can help me in this endeavor, please email Kiersten Moore.  He is unable to apply for UN refugee status from within Yemen.
  2. The immediate need of the people of Yemen is food and medical aid. Organizations that are actively involved in this work include:
    1. Islamic Relief Canada:
    2. Muslim Hands Canada
    3. Save the Children—Yemen response (84% direct to programs)
    4. Oxfam:
    5. Red Cross:
  3. Petition your MP and the Trudeau government to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The main reason the government gives for continuing to supply arms is that Canadians will lose money, and potentially jobs, if we pull out of the contract put in place by the Conservative government. The Saudi’s have been over 3 billion dollars behind on their payments and Canada is on the hook to the U.S. manufacturer supplying the light armored vehicles out of London, OT. You can read the available news on this issue to support your petition to your MP:
    1. Canada’s role in the Yemeni civil war, by McGill International Review, Nov 2020
    2. CBC April 9, 2020 Canada Strikes New Deal with Saudi Arabia
    3. Radio Canada International, Feb 2020 on the Canadian-Saudi LAV contract
    4. CBC Oct, 2019. Saudi Arabia $3.4B behind on payments
    5. Defense News, May 2020 on the company contracted to supply LAV’s in Canada
    6. Globe and Mail, June 2020, “Ottowa’s lifeline to Saudi-LAV maker”
  4. History and News releases on the Yemen crisis from Oxfam International

BYRC–a little about who we support

Vancouver Unitarians have donated $12,000 to the Broadway Youth Resource Center towards a Food Security program for youth and their families. The funds donated come from grants received from Vancouver Foundation’s Robert and Anna Koerner Foundation Community Fund. Here is a little more about BYRC and their work:

Check our webpost here for more information about the Food program, and visit the BYRC website.

Food Security, Youth, and UCV

UCV has made a donation of $12,000 to the Broadway Youth Resource Centre (BYRC) towards a food security program with grants received from Vancouver Foundation’s Robert and Anna Koerner Foundation Community Fund. BYRC is a one-stop youth space that provides a wide range of social, health, education, employment, and life skills services to youth. The food security program focuses on food justice and food security for youth, in particular in the East Vancouver area. It will offer Fresh Food Kits that include produce, dairy, and proteins to youth and families, weekly Food Kits that include non-perishable food items and pantry goods, as well as hot meals for youth available on a drop-in basis during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also gives youth the opportunity to develop cooking skills, to learn about how to grocery shop on a budget and how to access more sustainable sources of food including community gardens, food co-ops and food hubs.

More about our financial support for organizations

Participate in Water Communion

How to Participate in Water Communion, September 13th, 2020

Due to Covid-19 safety concerns the worship service can only be attended online, yet we may all still participate in our Water Communion. This year, recognizing the deep complexities we are all facing, you are invited to share what you have been grieving, the sorrows and losses experienced in these past months of uncertainty, isolation, and disruption. Your words will be read as waters are poured to mingle our shared sorrows, and then also what you would like to share of new joys and celebrations. Words and waters of sorrows and loss as well as hope and renewal will flow together in meaningful ritual.

Rev. Lara Cowtan
Interim Minister, Unitarian Church of Vancouver

There are three different ways to participate in the Water Ceremony ahead of time, please pick the one that suits you best:

  1. Drop off a physical jar of water and written words to be shared at the table outside by the blue admin office door—before September 13th.
    Please share what you have been grieving in the past six months of isolation and disruption, and what joys and celebrations are lifting your hope or renewing your spirit.
  2. Submit written words online through our secure form Your words of grief and/or joy will be spoken aloud by Rev. Lara Cowtan as she and Diane Brown pour collected waters into our communion bowl.
  3. Submit a video online at of yourself pouring water. (You may record directly at the website or upload your video file.)
    Please introduce yourself and share either a grief/sorrow or a joy/celebration while you pour water from a container into a bowl.
    If you want to share both a grief and a joy, please submit two separate videos as these will be distinct parts of the worship.

We will also use the YouTube chat at the beginning of the service on Sunday the 13th to gather any last-minute words to share for the Communion.