Author: Mary Bennett

June is Pride Month

For June the UCV Genders and Sexualities Alliance will have an information table in the courtyard every Sunday after the service including information of the many Pride flags. We will also be recording videos for using in the services highlighting some of the flags.

Members of the Genders and Sexualities Alliance will be present to answer any questions you may have.

For more info, search the website for GSA or Welcoming congregation.

Curious? Read more here:

Women’s Poetry Group – Try us out during April, National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry month and our women’s meditative poetry group is celebrating by inviting all women and non-conforming genders to try us out.

We are an intimate little group, currently four regulars who live between Vancouver and Fredericton (although admittedly whole provinces are not represented!)

We don’t mind being small AND we’d like to share our group and poetry practice with others. We’ve been meeting for a year and a half.

This year’s theme for National Poetry Month is INTIMACY. We trust that even if we double or triple in size, by the nature of what we do together, read and reflect on poetry, this will always be an intimate group.

We started in the fall of 2020, and have met at 9 am Pacific on Saturdays and Sundays ever since. It’s only 15 minutes and we take turns choosing and reading a poem 3 times with some sharing of reflections in between.

We have an email group and have now decided to forward all the poems we read so that those who can’t join us will get a specially curated poetry collection. We choose a theme for the month and take turns choosing and sharing a poem.

To join the Poetry email group: send a message to

To just show up during April, sign in to (for Canadian Unitarian*Universalist Women’s Association–our co-sponsor).

April is “just try it” month, but ultimately we’re looking for people who would usually attend at least once a week.

Start your weekend days with poetry–or if you’re in Eastern or Atlantic Canada, take a mid-day break for poetry.

If you’d like to see past themes and poets, (we used to choose just one poet to focus on) just search this website for “poetry”.

We’ve done

  • June – Indigenous
  • September – Latin American
  • March – Beginnings (Spring)

And rather random themes like Food!

The poets are almost always female (once we accidentally chose a male poet, not knowing from their name what their gender was!) and we try to find Canadian poets as much as possible.

See other posts and information on women’s gatherings here:

National Poetry month: from

This National Poetry Month, we invite you to celebrate with the theme of INTIMACY.

We crave it. We fear it. We are ready to build walls against it and dive headfirst into its open arms. Intimacy is the closeness we feel with those who love us, given freely through warm hugs or tender passions. Its a shared laugh or glance between strangers, a moment of comfort in an anonymous world. Intimacy is a-la-carte: romantic, platonic, aromantic, familial, spiritual: order up what you need, and intimacy will take you there. Let’s get intimate with poetry this April for National Poetry Month 2022.

Poem in Your Pocket Day

On a select day in April, celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day across Canada. The day encourages people to select a poem, carry it with them, and share it with others throughout the day. Find out more at

Join the #NPM22 Conversation!

Share your NPM activities and join the conversation by tagging us on Twitter @CanadianPoets. and use the official #NPM22 hashtag.

About National Poetry Month

Established in April 1998 by the LCP, NPM brings together schools, publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, and poets from across the country to celebrate poetry and its vital place in Canada’s culture.

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Each year on Poem in Your Pocket Day, schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and other venues ring loud with open readings of poems from pockets. As a special collaboration, the leading membership-based poetry organizations that sponsor National Poetry Month in North America—the
League of Canadian Poets and the Academy of American Poets—have created a guide to inspire and assist with local Poem in Your Pocket Day celebrations.

We could celebrate at UCV on Sunday, April 3.  Just tuck a poem in your pocket before you head to UCV that day.



President’s Column: the Ministerial Search process

 “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose “ 

the more things change, the more they stay the same…

 Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr 


Oh, my! The memories. I’ve called  it my “initiation” into Unitarian organizational life. I’d only been a member for two years but had gotten what a friend called “aggressively involved” at UCV.  The announcement to invite nominations to the search for the next minister had been made and at coffee hour, one of our elders (Sheilah Thompson by name) approached me at coffee hour. 

“Mary, you’ve got to put your name forward. The only people who have volunteered so far are all my age!”  Ahem. Yes, that was 30 years ago, so I am now that age! 

Then, as now, a majority of search committee members are elected by the congregation and then the board looks at “who’s missing”.  So although I was not one of those “first past the post” I was appointed, because I was new. (Just as an aside now it’s recommended that the board simply announce the full slate and not identify who was voted in and who appointed.)

Much has changed since Rev. Phillip Hewett retired! Technology has made some of the tasks much easier, such as creating a survey, sending “packets” and receiving information. A lot of that is now done through a website or pdf documents in a dropbox folder. 

So I share this to say, even if you’re pretty new (or if you’ve been around for a very long time), consider putting your hat in the ring.  From (likely) a group of 7, there’s a need for many perspectives and experience.  

During the time I was serving on the committee, a friend remarked, “That’s a committee designed for conflict.” Don’t get scared! All that means is when you intentionally bring seven people together for a very important task with a high degree of diversity, there will be, by design, a need to have excellent communication and teamwork skills.  

So here am I, with a nod to Sheilah, saying: Please consider this opportunity to serve our congregation by offering to take on the admittedly heavy responsibility to serve on a ministerial search committee.  

Some of the things that have not changed are:

  • You’d be expected to give up any other organizational “jobs” – sing in the choir, garden, attend Sunday services, but no committee or team work
  • You will be under a very high bar for confidentiality. Only one candidate will ultimately be presented to the congregation and you will go to your grave mum about the names of any other ministers who expressed interest
  • You will get to know your fellow committee members deeply (I’m crying as I write this) and it could be your initiation rite to lifelong commitment to our religion.



PS – There will be many opportunities over the next while to learn more and to nominate people, including yourself. Stay tuned!

Click here for information about the upcoming Board Forum on Sunday, March 13.

To see who’s on the board and a list of recent posts, go to


The Butterflyway Project – May Update

May 14, 2022 Butterflyway Update

Saturday, May 21 – Bee Day at Maplewood Flats/Wild Bird Trust Email if you’d like to meet up. You need to book a ticket

APRIL 22 – JUNE 6, 2022  Coast Salish Plant Exhibition: Celebrating Indigenous Ecosystems at Maplewood Flats

Wednesday June 1 – Pollinator Workshop plus optional potluck/foraging/socializing 5:30pm on

Saturday June 18 – 12 noon – Join youth from Invasive Species Council of BC to pull out periwinkle and plant native species

Needed: If you have property with native plants that spread, we’d greatly appreciate donations of any of the following: kinnickanick, bleeding heart, heart-leaved arnica, salal, pearly everlasting, trillium. Contact to arrange.


April 27, 2022 Butterflyway Update

Thank you to the Enviro team for allocating $100 for 20 native plants grown by Environmental Youth Alliance and to John Boyle and Ron Gibson for arranging reservation of the garden bundles.

May 7 from 10am-12noon, we hope to plant these native plants. All worker bees welcome. Karen Theroux will be coordinating use of tools etc. so just show up. If you like to wear gardening gloves, bring your own.


April 9, 2022 Butterflyway Project Update by Mary Bennett

Working with Patti of Buildings and Grounds, two areas (as well as the labyrinth) have been identified as #butterflyway pollinator pathways:

  1. Under the apple trees on northwest side of property. This is fairly sunny and has a watering system for summer. We plan to plant at least 50% native plants that need some sun, as well as some spring bulbs. Cathy will be at the 3rd Saturday grounds crew work party – Come along and lend a hand!
  2. The area between the parking lot and sanctuary where the daffodils are blooming right now has a lot of periwinkle (an invasive species). We’ll be removing the periwinkle and planting native plants that like a shaded or semi-shaded spot.

Want to contribute to this project? Fill out this form, and we’ll contact you.

If you’re on facebook, follow this page for news. We want to connect with our neighbours to encourage more butterfly pollinator gardens nearby.

Just search for Butterflyway – South Vancouver or click here:

Save the dates

April 16, a couple of us are meeting up at Maplewood Flats/Wild Bird Trust Coast Salish plant nursery in North Vancouver at noon. Bring your bagged lunch.

On April 24 after the Earth Day worship service, there will be an information display about butterflies and native plants outdoors and then a workshop in Lindsey-Priestley. Native Plant workshop


February 23, 2022 by Cathy Sevcik

UCV has been officially accepted into the David Suzuki Foundation’s program – “The Butterfly Way Project”.  The goal of the program is to establish consistent habitat for our native bees and butterflies.  This program has been active since 2017 and is part of a larger movement of “Rewilding Communities”

Pollinators are essential for keeping our ecosystem healthy.  As part of this program, we are tasked with planting at least 12 pollinator patches.  Some of these will be on the UCV campus and our small group of volunteers will be looking for ways to spread these pollinator patches to neighbouring growing spaces.

Some of our group have already met with the organizer of the Balaclava Pollinator Pathway. We look forward to collaborating with this group in a variety of ways: such as sharing seeds, attending events and learning from each other.  This initiative has the potential to provide our members with means to making a difference in our ecosystem and making connections in our city.  We are aware that some UCV members are already butterfly rangers in different areas of the city and look forward to collaborating with them also.

In addition to sponsoring planting events, we hope to provide educational and social opportunities surrounding this initiative to the wider UCV community and our neighbourhood.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you are interested in being involved in a hands-on manner, please complete a volunteer form on our website here:

from Cathy Sevcik and Mary Bennett, new Butterfly Rangers


UCV’s Enviro Team voted to support this project at the February 29, 2022, meeting.


Musqueam Artist Pollinator Plant Map

Scroll down on that page to see posters of 8 native plants with the Musqueam names

Attract butterflies with native plants – Western Canada

8 popular butterfly species in Metro Vancouver (from David Suzuki Foundation 2019 Butterfly Ranger tool kit).

Click to access DSF-8-Butterfly-illustrations-Lower-Mainland.pdf

Board Covenant

Here is the interim board covenant (to be improved over time).

We have started pasting it at the bottom of every agenda and allocating time at the end of our board meetings to look at how we used it during our meeting.

All groups are encouraged to develop their own covenant taking into consideration specifics that relate to our congregational Covenant of Healthy Relations.


Vancouver Unitarians Board Covenant


A. Be considerate toward one another.
B. Be open, honest and respectful.
C. Serve our role to the best of our ability.
D. Foster a spirit of patience and courage.
E. Speak with one voice.
F. Develop and promote genuine relationships.
G. Honour our Faith

We promise to each other that we will:


A. Be considerate toward one another

We agree to:

  1. Follow through on our individual tasks,
  2. Ask for help when we need it,
  3. Be on time for meetings,
  4. Arrive prepared for meetings by having thoughtfully read materials in advance
  5. Be fully present for each meeting,
  6. Stay on schedule during the meetings so that they end on time.

B. Be open, honest and respectful

We agree to:

  1. Truly listen to one another,
  2. Consider ideas not our own,
  3. Be tolerant of other ideas so we all feel free to contribute,
  4. Admit our own mistakes,
  5. Bring disagreements or concerns directly to the people involved so that we can maintain a healthy working environment.

C. Serve our role to the best of our ability

We agree to:

  1.  Remember that we are working to fulfill the mission, not our personal desires,
  2.  Maintain focus on the priorities and goals of the Board,
  3.  Work only on issues that belong to the Board,
  4.  Push the bounds of creativity,
  5.  Be familiar with the Congregation’s bylaws, policies, tradition and finances.

D. Foster a spirit of patience and courage

We agree to:

  1. Acknowledge that we each bring unique skills and styles to the work of the Board,
  2. Be willing to disagree with respect.

E. Speak with one voice

We agree to:

  1. Remember that only the Board, as a whole, and not its individual members as such, has any power or authority except as explicitly delegated by policy.

F. Develop and promote genuine relationships

We agree to:

  1. Get to know each other well enough to build trust,
  2. Take time to have fun, relax and laugh with one another.

G. Honour our Faith 

We agree to:

  1. Always remember that as leaders we hold a special commission to live out our Unitarian Universalist principles and bring them to bear on our work and decisions.

New Approach for CUC Delegates

At our January board meeting, our UCV board endorsed the approach that the Canadian Unitarian Council has recommended for many years. Starting this year in 2022, instead of appointing delegates to attend one specific CUC meeting, we are looking for people willing to serve a one or two-year term. Over time, all delegates will be appointed for a two-year term, so they’d attend two CUC Annual General Meetings and be involved with sharing information from CUC to UCV in between meetings.

Although this is a new approach to us, we understand that many congregations find this a very successful model and allows for both continuity and for new people to get involved. Here’s the handout that will be available for inperson participants: cucdelegateshandout

Call for CUC Delegates

The Canadian Unitarian Council Annual General Meeting will be held electronically Saturday, May 14, 2022 from 10:00 am – 1:30pm Pacific. UCV will submit names of our 6 delegates by April 1, 2022.

The UCV board will appoint six delegates to participate and vote on CUC’s strategic priorities, financial reports and any other matters which may be proposed. 

At the January board meeting, the UCV board adopted the CUC-recommended process of appointing delegates to serve a two-year term, during which they would represent us at two consecutive AGMs and between meetings will keep informed about CUC matters and communicate with the congregation by written posts and discussion forums. 

The board will host a Board Forum on Sunday, February 27 at 12:30 pm to share the background on this decision and respond to questions.  Those interested in being delegates are asked to attend this session if possible. All are welcome. Several members who have served as delegates at CUC AGMs in the past will be present to share their experience.

Criteria for Individual Delegates

  1. Member for a minimum of six months (same as serving on board from bylaws)
  2. Recent active involvement in at least one team, committee or task force, preferably in a leadership role
  3. Demonstrated interest and knowledge of CUC through attending gatherings, workshops or roundtables/webinars
  4. Good written and verbal communication skills, preferably comfort with public speaking/facilitation
  5. Comfort and access to computer, webcam, online communication programs (zoom, email, etc.)

Criteria for the team of delegates

  1. A range of newer members with more experienced members
  2. Provide opportunities for first-time delegates with support from each other and previous delegates
  3. Diversity of age, gender, heritage, length of time as UCV member and areas of involvement at UCV 
  4. At least two who are experienced at setting up online or in-person forums to discuss issues with the congregation
  5. At least two who are willing to write web and e-news articles about CUC issues at least three times per year.

Note: depending on the issues coming to a particular AGM, the board may adjust this in any one year

Please submit your expression of interest by Friday, March 11, 2022 so selection can be made at our March 15 board meeting. The board plans to appoint three delegates for a one-year term and three for a two year term. If sufficient interest, the board will also appoint two alternates in case a delegate withdraws for whatever reason.

Interested? Here is a link to a form to express interest in representing UCV at the upcoming May meeting. You can choose a one or two-year term or offer to be a back-up in case needed. or 

Selected delegates will be asked to submit a short bio (200-250 words) and a photo to share with the congregation. 

Here is a link to the CUC recommendations which UCV board endorsed at our January meeting:


Practising the Art of Inclusion – President’s Message February 2022

from Mary Bennett, UCV Board of Trustees President

“How can we get young people involved?” is where the conversation started at our board retreat. We decided to set up a task force!

After toying with names like “Beyond Boomers” or “Generational Transformation” the board settled on the simple term “Generational Inclusion” and charged the task force with exploring what practices are required to ensure that all generations feel invited to actively engage with the important religious and spiritual work of our community. Vice-President, Bruce McIvor and I are just getting started on this work and I hope members from all 7 “living generations” will engage in this conversation.

Currently the Canadian Unitarian Council are creating video recorded interviews and hosting forum discussions to help us welcome people from diverse relationships and families, people of all dis/abilities and people of all classes. I’ve watched the first series and they’re very enlightening. I encourage you to register.

The focus on anti-racism over the past years has resulted in our own very active IBPOC affinity group as well as “IPA” – IBPOC Plus Allies team – to plan initiatives that bring to our awareness the lived experiences, heritage and culture of people of colour within our congregation. 

With the leadership of board members, Diane Brown, Bruce McIvor and Jenny Malcolm the board is beginning a journey of “decolonizing our board.”  

In 1995 we were one of the first congregations in Canada to complete the Welcoming Congregation Program which focuses on welcoming to LGBTQ plus persons. 

It’s inspirational and moving to hear the stories of people who have different lives than our own, whether because of age, race, class, abilities, gender or sexual identity and there are, as well, some simple practices we can all use in practising the art of inclusion.  

Make space; take space is now the phrase used to remind us to notice who is in the room–whether literally or on our zoom screen–and find ways to include those who for whatever reason are not being heard. 

There are well-developed methods for encouraging all voices to be heard such as dynamic governance/sociocracy and convergent facilitation. There are also everyday opportunities to simply notice frequently how much space each of us is taking and then learning a few lines to even things out when they’re out of balance.  A study I read many years ago said people who spoke a lot in a group underestimated the amount of time they talked and those who talked relatively little overestimated the time they spoke.

Back to the generational inclusion focus, did you know that Gen Z (those between age 11 and 26) is “the most diverse group – in terms of not just race, but also gender. .. It’s the most likely group to have individuals who identify as nonbinary. They expect diversity to be a top priority. That means things like gender-neutral bathrooms, equal pay for equal work, and support for racial inclusion movements. ” (Deloitte study)

Seen on instagram recently: If you’re over 45 and don’t have an under-30 mentor (not mentee) then you’re going to miss fundamental shifts in thinking that are happening. 

If you are willing to experiment with some ways to get to know the “others” in our congregation, I’d love to hear your stories about making space and taking space. If you’re under 30 and willing to be a mentor to one of us who’s over 45, I’d especially love to hear from you. 

Send me a note to and share with me how we at UCV can continue to develop our skills in the art of inclusion. Meet all the board members at and review our Covenant of Healthy Relations here


Here’s a summary of the 7 living generations and an analysis of UCV’s data about generational distribution at UCV. It may not be what you think!

Thanks to Keith Wilkinson for preparing this document.

Generations Table 2022-01-24


Zero Waste – Your goal for 2022?

Want support for reducing waste?

We’re starting a short, monthly, check-in and sharing of successes and challenges. Join us on the 3rd Sunday at 12:30 pm or fill out this form to suggest other ideas:

Zero Waste Circle

a monthly, fairly social, definitely supportive zero waste circle check-in.
We *might* come up with initiatives but it would be mainly those of us wanting to share successes, ask for support and ideas to meet each other and learn more about reducing waste.

Plan for each session

  • chalice lighting and inspirational reading
  • “lightning” check in – less than 1 minute – introduce yourself with a “success” (even an ongoing success – e.g. I’m still getting to London Drugs regularly to recycle all my plastic bags or I’m still paying attention to food waste and improving in that regard.)
  • 2nd round – something you’ve been struggling with and would like feedback from others.
  • Education/sharing: A focus on an educational piece by one of the members.
  • closing reading, extinguish chalice
Leadership roles of facilitation, zoom hosting, note-taking if needed will be rotated.
It might even be a “gateway drug” towards more involvement with UCV in general and Enviro team in particular.
More information: contact
To join our email group, send a note to

Board Notes January 2022

The UCV Board met on Tuesday, January 18.
We confirmed a Generational Inclusion Task Force co-chaired by Mary Bennett and Bruce McIvor that will start by interviewing Millennials and Gen Z’s.
We ​will move toward the CUC’s recommended process of selecting delegates for a two-year term. Criteria and a selection process will be shared with the congregation by mid-February.
Diane Brown, Bruce McIvor and Ingrid Luters will be exploring and recommending ways to promote engagement with our Covenant of Healthy Relations.
President, Mary Bennett, will be on Zoom this Sunday 12:30-1​ ​pm if you have questions or comments on these or other board matters.
Meet the board and see recent posts at

Being President/Being Present

by Mary Bennett, UCV Board of Trustees President, December 28, 2021

Come into this place of memory and let its history warm your soul,

Come into this place of prophecy and power and let its vision change your heart.

Singing the Living Tradition, #429 

Rev. William Schulz, Unitarian Universalist Association President 1978 to 1993

I’ve been indulging in nostalgia this month. Recalling past Decembers both with my own family and friends and at UCV.  As I sat at home visiting three congregations over youtube on Christmas Eve this year, I recalled my first Christmas Eve at UCV. In darkness to the singing of Silent Night, we lit each others’ candles. On leaving I was asked to put my candle in a basket. I did so reluctantly; I wanted to keep that candle. I got my courage up to head over to the hall where the minister was serving hot apple cider from a big punch bowl. 

Wind the film back to January 1989 and you’d find me making my annual New Year’s resolutions. That year I’d decided to make a resolution for each of the 8 aspects of the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator. I self-mockingly summarized my list as “to have matching towels and become spiritually developed.”  UCV was one of three spiritual groups I tried out. Once I gave up trying to figure out exactly what this religion was, I realized I’d found my people and so “signed the book.”   

As well as nostalgic memories, I have been studying our recent past: reading last year’s board meeting minutes, task force reports, by-laws, terms of reference and previous strategic plans. The board will be embarking on its “prophetic” role of developing a strategic plan. 

January, named for the Roman God Janus, the two-faced God looking both back and forward, is a good time to do this work.  

Meanwhile, we live in the present. What of UCV at this very moment, or at least this very month or year? 

Some of you have likely engaged in a “SWOT” analysis before. What are our Strengths? Weaknesses? Opportunities? Threats? 

As I consider these questions, I’m aware that every individual on the board brings their own history, perspective and hopes. We are something like the blind men encountering an elephant. You likely know the story. Since they can’t see the animal, they each describe it based on the part they touch whether the ear, the side, the tail or the tusk. The moral of the story is for everyone to share their knowledge in order to build up an understanding of what an elephant really is.

The first item under duties in the President’s job description exhorts me to “encourage everyone to engage”. This will be my Prime Directive for the coming year. I am genuinely curious to hear more of each board member’s perspective. Together we can build up a better idea of what this animal we know as UCV actually is and where it might want to be led. 

The board will continue with regular forums to invite congregational input into important decisions. As well, I’d like to try an occasional AMA – Ask Me Anything session.  Since I’ve asked you to treat me as “Just Mary” (not the board president) when you see me at UCV, it seemed fair to set up a way to make “President Mary” available. If it wasn’t Covid-times, I would book a room in Hewett Centre and invite you to bring your coffee and drop in. Join me on zoom through on Sunday January 2nd and… ask me anything. We’ll see how that goes. 

Meet the board members and see past governance messages here

Send a note to if you have a question or comment for the board president.