Author: Mary Bennett

Pride Art Installation – Interfaith support letter from Rev. Lara

You may have heard or seen of the desecration of the art installation at our neighbour’s site, Shaughnessy United proclaiming the message “God’s doors are open to all.”

Rev. Lara has sent a message of support on behalf of our congregation.

In case you missed it, here are two links for you:

SHUC Blog

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/church-vandalized-pride-1.6066146

Photo from the CBC story

Dear Rev. Dave Moors, Shaughnessy United

Many of our members at Vancouver Unitarian heard with dismay and sadness (but lack of surprise, unfortunately) about the desecration of your Pride installation.
As a “welcoming congregation” (our denomination’s  equivalent of “affirming congregation”) I and our Genders and Sexualities Alliance wanted to send you and your congregation a message of support.
We are filled with admiration of the creativity, message and beauty of the installation and so glad to hear you remain undeterred and enthusiastic about restoring the doors to their original splendour.
Indeed, currently we have an installation related to residential schools on our corner of 49th & Oak, and you’ve inspired us to think about making a Pride installation for Vancouver pride weekend.
Always some good comes out of these incidents, but don’t we wish it was not necessary.
Please know also that we are practically neighbours and if there were any events or initiatives where you would feel it good to collaborate, we would welcome suggestions.
I look forward to meeting with you, as I will be serving the Vancouver Unitarians for another year or two during their transition to the next settled ministry, and hope we can work together on some of these critical social justice initiatives.
Blessings,

Rev. Lara Cowtan

Interim Minister
Vancouver Unitarians
https://vancouverunitarians.ca

Help your GSA show how Welcoming we can be

Link to Saturday June 12 interactive panel discussion details

Log in for the discussion here.

Our Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) is leading an effort to have UCV recertified as a Welcoming Congregation.

Since we first became a Welcoming Congregation in 1995 the world has changed.  For one thing, there was no mention back then of gender identity or trans issues.  To address this, the UUA decided to be bolder with our Welcome in 2018.

The Five Practices of Welcome Renewal are five benchmarks that every congregation will need to integrate into congregational life in order to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, genderqueer, non-binary, and the like feel fully welcomed, centered, and embraced in our congregation.

Welcoming Congregations are required to meet the benchmarks annually in order to remain “current” as a Welcoming Congregation. This year so far UCV has completed three of the Benchmarks, and a fourth has been planned.

The 5th benchmark is an educational event.  For this the GSA has organized the panel on June 12 to discuss Mairy Beam’s play, What Difference Does it Make, which deals with issues of gender identity.  We need 10% of the members to attend to show that we are, indeed, interested to be bolder and to renew our Welcoming congregation certification.

Can you help us show how welcoming we are by attending this educational event?

Details of event are here.

 

Remembering Pulse Nightclub – 5 years later

UCV GSA (Genders and Sexualities Alliance) takes this opportunity to mark the 5th Anniversary of the murder of 49, and wounding of 53
attendees at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando Florida on June 12, 2016. This was the most horrific loss of lives to a domestic terrorist prior to the Las Vegas massacre in 2017.

The Pulse Nightclub was a LGBT club hosting a weekly Latin Night. As a consequence, many of the dead and injured were Latino. In keeping with journalistic ethics, the name of the shooter will not be named here, that his deeds be remembered, but not to give his name a place in history. The shooter entered the nightclub wit a SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and a 9 mm Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol. He shot over 200 rounds in 5 minutes. The shooter was killed in a firefight with the SWAT team.

The shooter, an American whose family immigrated from Afghanistan, claimed to be taking revenge in retaliation to US bombing of Iraq and Syria. Other witnesses claimed that he was conflicted about his own sexuality. What is clear is that his victims were innocent, simply enjoying a night out in a what should have been a safe space.

The site of the Pulse Nightclub will be reopened as a memorial and museum sometime in 2022. At the time of the event, Federal and State buildings lowered their flags to half mast to honour the dead, and then-President Obama travelled to Orlando to pay tribute to bereaved family, friends, and citizens.

 

UUA Link: https://www.uua.org/lgbtq/blog/remember-pulse-nightclub-heroes-among-the-fallen (June, 2019)

Image from this link.

 

UCV is a Welcoming Congregation.

 

 

Women’s Meditative Poetry Circle

Do you need more poetry in your life?

UPDATE 

In June we’ll read local poet Natalie Lim on Saturdays and Nicole Brossard on Sundays.

Here’s what some of our regulars say about these short “poetry breaks”:

I’ve found our weekend meditative poetry readings a lovely way to start my day.  Hearing a poem read three times enriches my understanding of it more than I expected.  And, because we are generally finished in 15 minutes, it’s a commitment that is not at all burdensome.  I’ve rarely read poetry since I graduated from college and I’m grateful for the chance to get reacquainted with it.

  • Kathy Sayers
Our poetry group has introduced me to modern female Canadian poets most of whom, other than Margaret Atwood, I had no familiarity with.  It has been an enriching experience. 
I have expanded our weekly zoom visits with our son, two daughters and families to include poetry.   Our seven year old great granddaughter reads to us every week and so I decided it was my turn to read, yes a poem to her and her family.  So now each family hears the work of a Canadian poet each week.  I am just about to add Rupi Kaur for the four grand daughters in their mid twenties.
  • Barb Bowmar

I’ve tried various ways (often after making new year’s resolutions) to “get into” poetry – reading aloud; memorizing one a month, etc. This approach has turned me into a poetry-enthusiast. Some of what’s different is reading poems by contemporary women: accessible themes; and having a nice, small group of more contemporary women to share (not discuss or debate) with.

  • Mary Bennett

New Approach for May

We’d like to add a few more people. It’s OK to drop-in, but we also think more people might enjoy having this as a regular practice as some of us have had for about 6 months now..

For May we’ll focus on particular poets. If it turns out to be well received, the group may vote on the next month’s poet at the end of May.

Saturday group will be Margaret Atwood poems including from her recent collection Dearly.

Sunday group will be Naomi Shihab Nye, already a favorite of our group. If you haven’t already discovered her, we think you’ll enjoy. She also writes children’s books.

Background and Times

UCV women in collaboration with the Canadian U*U Women’s Association offer women’s meditative poetry gatherings on zoom.

  • Saturdays and Sundays at 9 am Pacific/12 noon Eastern
Click the following link to join the gathering:
https://ucv.im/cuuwa
Mary Bennett started this following Rev. Lara’s “Lectio Divina” series in October, 2020. Mary’s objective was to make her mornings go better and read more poetry. Both are almost lifelong goals worth revisiting regularly and it’s working.
You are invited if you identify as a woman or non-binary, gender queer or gender fluid. I/we invite suggestions how to ensure this is a welcoming space for you.
The facilitator will:
  • Read a poem written by a (usually) Canadian (almost always) woman three times with a one-minute pause and brief sharing between.
  • Participants listen during the first reading for words or phrases that strike them.
  • Second reading, listen for feelings or memories that are stirred.
  • Third reading, listen for a message or personal meaning.
  • We usually have about a minute’s of silence after each reading and then, as we’re usually a small group of 3 or 4, everyone shares briefly. We’re always finished within half an hour, usually 15 minutes.

We have an email group. If you want to e-meet the other group members and receive occasional reminders or links to poetry, please join by sending an email to womens-meditative-poetry+subscribe@googlegroups.com  If you need assistance joining contact Mary at ucvconnect@gmail.com

See the CUUWA page here: https://cuuwa.org/meditative-poetry-circle/

 

Gender and Theatre – Join an Interactive Panel Discussion

Watch Mairy Beam’s provocative and enlightening play What Difference Does it Make?  available now on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQU6WT6Igs8  and join us for a Play Discussion moderated by our own Rev Lara Cowtan on Saturday June 12 at 7:00 pm. ucv.im/gsa

What Difference Does It Make?  Minutes before Carmelle’s best friend arrives for a visit from Toronto, Lucy comes out as non-binary. A day later they’re all trapped together isolating from Covid 19. In this hotbed of needs and limitations the characters play out their destinies against the backdrop of a city in virtual lockdown. A sensitive and illuminating portrayal of a person in transition, a partner struggling to adjust and a broken-hearted houseguest inadvertently making things worse.

From the audience: 

  • “Up until I saw this play I didn’t get how significant and important and fundamental the journey to non-binary is.”
  • “captivating, touching, challenging, humorous, sad and informative”
  • “this play is a gem”
  • “true and raw”
  • “I have some thinking to do  . . . “

What Difference Does It Make? was originally produced by Toronto’s Haven Theatre, in February 2021.

This event is coordinated by UCV’s Genders and Sexualities Alliance as part of UCV’s recertification as a Welcoming Congregation.

Registration appreciated but not required:

https://ucv-gender-theatre.eventbrite.ca

Search the website for “gsa” for other information and events.

Our GSA meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 7:30pm.

All genders and sexualities welcome, even cis-straight.  Email gsa@vancouverunitarians.ca for the zoom link and agenda.

 

Time to Spill the Beans

It’s time for the Mystery Pals to reveal their true identity.

We had hoped to be able to have an event at UCV and considered zoom, but…  have decided to just invite you all to do one last letter or email “spilling the beans” – sharing your true identity and expressing (we hope) an intention to meet on zoom or in person at some point in future.

Indeed some congregations consider the mystery pal program a year-long event. We know that some of you have found some things in common and we’d love to think it’s just the start of something rather than the end.

We’d like to share some of the stories. From “eavesdropping” on emails or hearing things, we know there’s some fun connections that have been made. Could you send us 150-200 words – or pictures even better – about how the program went for you?

ucvconnect@gmail.com

Zoom Coffee Hour Hosts Needed

Ms. Brown and Mr. Smith (their real names) need your assistance.
When a few of us put “coffee hour” on zoom mid March 2020, we had no idea it would be for 14 months and counting.
Summer is coming and two of the 4-person team aren’t available.
In any event, Donna and John and Erin and Nan have done a year of hosting and it’s time to pass the flame. Can YOU carry this flame?
We’re looking for 4 volunteers, each person to take responsibility for one coffee hour per month. Coaching and training and support available. You need to have access to zoom through a computer so you can set up the breakout rooms and be willing to sign in about 10-15 minutes before the service ends to set up the breakout rooms and welcome people when they arrive.
You get to say “hello” to everyone as they arrive, so a good chance to meet people–a little like serving coffee in the before times. You’ll always have a co-host, and once everyone is sorted into their groups, you can either join a breakout room yourself or leave our virtual Hewett Hall.
Perks: If you’re using zoom for other reasons, you’ll learn a lot about how to use it more effectively and how to help less experienced people get where they want to go. You get to hang out with Mr. Smith and/or Ms. Brown–two of the nicest people in our entire congregation. (IMHO – Mary Bennett)
Please contact John Smith, Donna Brown or Mary Bennett if you’d like to know more.
One of us can set up an orientation or you can dive in and schedule a date to be a co-host and learn the ropes.

Mystery Pal Update May 2021

We’re all a little tired of hearing “This year will be different…”

It certainly applies to our Mystery Pal program.

This  program matches up two individuals from different “generations”–which could mean a 40-year old with an 80-year-old or a 5-year-old with a 22-year old (or 13-year-old since “generations” are a bit different for the very young!)

In previous years, each  Sunday for a month, both partners brought mail and left in their “mail slot” (paper bag) in Hewett Centre.

This year, most of the 14 pairs are sending mail by Canada Post. To keep identity secret, they mail to UCV and Kiersten mails out anonymously just using the “codename” for the pair. Now we realize of course, that the postal service lag means that the exchanges will likely be every two weeks, so a partner can receive mail and then respond.

This necessarily slows down the process, but the good news is we believe everyone has received at least one letter in the mail by now (and the email pals are already emailing up a storm–they go to Mary Bennett and then are forwarded).

More good news (we hope) is that the current public health regulations will be changed after the May long weekend. We (Kiersten and Mary) are hoping that on the last weekend in May or early June, we might be able to have a modified in-person “Reveal Party” such as arranging people in smaller groups of 10-15 to meet or even staggering pairs to meet. Masked and outdoors, we hope will be possible for at least 10 at a time.

Mary will be setting up an ATC (Artist Trading Card) sharing/trading station and we’ll do some other outdoor games and activities.

As one family put it, we’re *really* hoping for “anything but zoom!!”  But we’ll have to see!

 

You can send suggestions and questions to ucvconnect@gmail.com

Women’s Memoir Writing Series

Note: This series is now at capacity.

If you registered by sending an email to Mary prior to Saturday, March 27, and haven’t received a confirmation email, please send another email to the address below.

Our Lives as Stories

Maybe you would like to commit to paper (or your laptop) a few of the stories knocking around inside you. Maybe you’re seeking a new way to deepen your understanding of yourself and your connection with others. Or maybe you’ve been longing to write your memoir. Whichever is the case, this series of workshops could get you started.

Session 1: Finding Stories. (Gathering the Sensory and Emotive Details)

Session 2: The Craft and Building Blocks of Stories.  (Writing the Scene(s))

Session 3: From Draft to Polished. (Giving and Receiving Feedback)

⦁ The three two-hour workshops will be spaced a month apart providing lots of time in between for other activities.
⦁ For the first two sessions, the whole group (up to twenty participants) will meet for instruction and guided exercises. Sharing time will involve breakout rooms of five or six, and everyone will be invited to share a portion of their work with Maggie by email if they wish.
⦁ The third workshop will happen in 3 sessions, with up to six gathering each time, to share their work and give and receive guided feedback.

FREE to UCV members
$100 registration fee for non-members

Bio

Maggie de Vries is the author of eleven books including the Governor General Literary Award nominated Missing Sarah: A Memoir of Loss and teen novel, Rabbit Ears, winner of the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize. Maggie’s TEDxSFU talk The Red Umbrella: Sex Work, Stigma and the Law has been viewed more than forty-thousand times. Hooker Monologues, a collaborative production Maggie co-produced, co-wrote and performed in, staged six sold-out shows at Vancouver’s Firehall Arts Centre in 2016.

Maggie was children’s book editor at Orca Book Publishers for seven years and a substitute teacher in Surrey for five. In 2005 and 2012, she was the inaugural writer in residence at VPL and UNBC respectively. For some years now, she has been a Lecturer in UBC’s Creative Writing Program, and a Martha-Beck-certified Life Coach who mentors writers, runs workshops, leads writing retreats and offers creative writing courses in her Ladysmith, Vancouver Island community and beyond.

She is in the process of reconnecting with UCV, where she was married in 1995 and attended more and more regularly from 1999 until she moved away from the city in 2017.

www.maggiedevries.com

Dates: May 8, May 29 (2 – 4 pm)
and

June 19/20 The last class is meant to be divided into three groups for workshopping, with Maggie present for each one. People will sign up for one of these slots: Saturday: 9:30 to 11:30, 12:30 to 2:30 or 3 to 5 or Sunday: 12:30 to 2:30 or 3 to 5.

Registration required: contact Mary Bennett ucvconnect@gmail.com

Zoom link will be sent to registered participants before the first session.
Minimum: 10; Maximum: 20 participants

Supported by the Vancouver Unitarian Women’s Retreat Fund.

Registration fees and donations will be used to replenish the fund for future events.

Testimonials

Insightful, hardworking, thoughtful and encouraging, Maggie provided the literary expertise to solve the structural and editorial issues that plagued early drafts of my memoir.  Coincidently, she identified areas where I struggled to probe and encouraged me to explore, improve and flourish.  She helped me to dig deeper and write better. Maggie is terrific!

Renée Hetherington, MBA, PhD
Writer, Scientist and Businesswoman
British Columbia, Canada
February, 2021

Maggie de Vries runs a humdinger of a writing retreat. In an island setting, I was so deeply comforted by the schedule she set for us—one I could decide not to partake of at any moment should the writing bug o’er take me or should I simply need a walk in the woods—that I was inspired to fully involve myself in the opportunities. I was encouraged to share my writing, something I’m truly not used to doing, and I found it thrilling; that shell remains open, well after the retreat, and I’m delighted to feel the change.
Maggie took care of each of us by combining inviting reflection and prompt-driven writing sessions, literary focus, and guided workshops with lots of individually spent time too: free writing in our separate (stunningly beautiful) spots and one-to-one sessions with Maggie.  These check-ins allowed us to look wide to see the larger project and then to perceive the minute detail of scene writing and character perspective.
All that Maggie engaged us in over the 3-day retreat stays with me, weeks later, because I heard myself articulate a deep desire to do this. I said it in a safe and supportive environment; that baby step feels giant to me now. And Maggie helped us envision each of our books in the mess of journals and papers, in the engagement and the intention of the writer. I see these things now. I am showing up for this part of myself.
Thanks, Maggie, for knowing the world of writing so thoroughly and letting us in on its mysteries and delights.

Jane Slemon
Retreat Participant
UCV Member
November, 2019

 

Maggie’s experience as an author and writing coach has given me the courage to finally write my memoir. Her guidance has helped me see more clearly how to structure my book, stay true to my purpose, and tell a story that will engage the reader.  I know I couldn’t do this without her expertise and dedicated commitment to my project. Thank you, Maggie

Jeri Ross, MPH
Licensed Health Educator & Entrepreneur
Author of See You in the Sky: A Memoir of Prison, Possibility and Peace
Santa Cruz, California
June, 2018

 

PDF Description

Women’s Memoir Writing Series – Google Docs

 

 

Virtual Coffee Hour: What would you like to talk about and with whom?

Coffee hour starts at 12 noon. Join at ucv.im/coffee

Breakout rooms are set up with a variety of options including some of these:

  • sermon discussion – share comments about today’s service hosted by a member of the Connect and Engage team
  • open discussion – you just want to connect with some other Unitarians – talk amongst yourselves and perhaps meet some new people!
  • (Please let us know, preferably in advance, if there’s a topic you’d like to discuss so it can be added.)

Please make sure your name and any additional information (pronouns, location) are in your name rather than your phone # or name of your device (ipad)  From: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/200941109-Attendee-controls-in-a-meeting

You can now choose your own breakout room and go back to main session to choose a different one. You need to have updated your zoom client within past two months.

When others leave your breakout room, you can return to the main session to be placed in a different room.

Co-hosts: There will be several co-hosts on to make sure we’re only letting in identifiable UCV folk.

It helps us to know it’s you if you have updated your zoom profile with a name we’d recognize and also your picture. Click here to see how to do that https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201363203-Customizing-your-Profile.

We like to continue to keep the main session as a “welcome table” – Just like the entrance to Hewett Hall there’s not space for people to congregate there so I hope you’ll move along and find your group.

If you’re not familiar with zoom, please join the monthly zoom practice session if you can.

On Sunday, just click here to join us: ucv.im/coffee

All members and friends are welcome to join. Watch our Sunday service on youtube and then join us for coffee. Visitors welcome. You can come directly after the service, or drop-in at any point.