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What’s in a name? Update from the WDWCO task force

November’s Bulletin report explained how ranked polling works as a democratic method of selecting the most popular choice from several options. This report is an update on considerations for choosing the favourite alternative name to ‘Church’ for the second and final vote. We have compiled a list of the popular names suggested during the January 2020 Forum, and this year, 2022, from the June Survey, September 18 and October 16 Forums, and emails and verbal recommendations over the years.

In January you will have the opportunity to rank your preferences for an alternative name on an online poll. The next and final vote will be between the most popular alternative name and the Unitarian Church of Vancouver.

Many have been disappointed to learn that the current version of the BC Societies Act expects the corporate suffix of either Church or Society for us to retain our charitable status. Our legal counsel informed us that exceptions are unlikely; however, we are seeking advice on costs and likelihood of successful application for a legal name without ‘church’ or ‘society’ as part of it. Most favoured names according to the results of the June 2022 Survey were Vancouver Unitarians, and Unitarian Community of Vancouver.

Whether our name should include ‘Universalist’ has emerged recently as a big question. It is also potentially divisive. We have members who strongly object to this and others who believe that this is who we are now.

Our shared values and diverse beliefs may be somewhat mixed up these days, which is inevitable within our progressive and liberal faith. It makes decisions about our name complicated!

WDWCO Task Force

wdwco@vancouverunitarians.ca

Fair voting explained: Update from the What Do We Call Ourselves Task Force

Our name is important to most of us as an essential aspect of our identity. Being Unitarians, we have diverse beliefs about what name best represents us and is sufficiently inclusive of our members and future ones. Consensus is an ideal that is also not easy to achieve in this case. Next best is a fair, comprehensive and democratic process of voting.

There will be two votes. The first one will be to rank the many popular suggestions for the potential alternate name to Church. Thanks to a great ranked polling platform that our Techies have found, the most popular name will become the contender for the next and final vote between it and the Unitarian Church of Vancouver.

Not everyone is ‘whatever’ about our name and the process of choosing a name we can all live with, which may be the one we already have, will take time. We hope to have the ranked polling platform for the alternative name online this month or by December. The final vote will most likely not happen until the new year.

Please look at the sample of how ranked polling works.

 

RANKED BALLOTS

 

BACKGROUND

We will need to determine what percentage of members will constitute a representative vote.

And what percentage is needed to declare one option a winner. This may be different from a simple majority.

The Board of Directors is the elected decision-making body and will determine the percentage to be used for voting, referencing the by-laws for Special Resolutions.

 

THE BALLOT

Multiple names have been suggested by engaged members of the congregation.

A survey was conducted in June 2022 polling over 100 congregations about their opinions regarding what we call ourselves. The most popular names from the poll will be listed on the ballot.

 

SAMPLE BALLOT using fruit for explanation

 

Rank any number of options in your order of preference.

Apples                         4

Bananas                      2

Oranges                      1

Grapes                        3

 

EVALUATE THE VOTES

Apples                         10%

Bananas                      30%

Oranges                      35%

Grapes                        25%

MINIMUM THRESHOLD IS A PERCENTAGE THAT EXCEEDS 50% 

 

Eliminate the name with the fewest votes, Apples.  Redistribute votes. Voters whose #1 choice was Apples will move to their  #2 choice. It now becomes their #1 choice. Depending on where these votes go, if equally distributed to Bananas, Oranges and Grapes, we now have the following percentages.

Bananas                      38 %

Oranges                       36 %

Grapes                        26 %

 

Eliminate the name with the fewest votes, Grapes. Voters whose #1 choice was Grapes will move to their next choice. Bananas passes the minimum threshold of greater than 50%. This would happen if most ‘Grape’ voters threw their next choice to ‘Bananas’ thus allowing it to surpass ‘Oranges.’

Bananas                      52 %

Oranges                      48 %

 

FINAL VOTE IS HELD AT A LATER DATE BETWEEN OUR CURRENT NAME OF UNITARIAN CHURCH OF VANCOUVER AND THE CONTENDING NAME (WHICH WILL NOT BE BANANAS). 

OUR BY-LAWS RECOMMEND 75% FOR SPECIAL  RESOLUTIONS.  THE BOARD WILL MAKE THE DECISION.  IF THE THRESHOLD IS NOT MET BY EITHER OPTION, THE CURRENT NAME REMAINS.

Members: Please get your surveys in!

If you are a UCV member in good standing, you should have received an email with a congregational survey from the Ministerial Search Committee. Your completion of this survey is essential for gathering specific information required for the search process — about our community and about what you are looking for, and perhaps more importantly, what the congregation needs, in a new settled minister. Answers to these questions will help enrich the information that your Ministerial Search Committee shares with ministerial candidates. If you are a UCV member in good standing and have not received the survey by email, check your junk or spam folder for a message from moc@vancouverunitarians.ca. Deadline for completion of the survey is Nov. 6th.

What Do We Call Ourselves Task Force – announcement and report on latest forum

At the October 16 Forum we updated attendees about matters concerning our legal name.  31-34 were in the Fireside room and 3 attended remotely.

The September 18 FORUM was on the topic of WHAT NAME THAT WE CAN ALL LIVE WITH WOULD MOST LIKELY SUPPORT OUR FUTURE VIABILITY WHILE STILL HONOURING OUR JOURNEY TO THE PRESENT.

The October 16 Forum focused on VOTING PROCEDURES AND LEGAL REQUIREMENTS to maintain our charitable status.

Because of the diversity of opinions about whether our legal name should continue to contain Church or not, and uncertainty about whether we all can find common ground about our name, we presented a democratic method for decision making.  A PowerPoint presentation about ranked ballots was shown.  This is a way of eliminating the less popular alternatives one at a time to arrive at the most popular ones. A second vote will be held between the most popular alternative and Unitarian Church of Vancouver.

The threshold percentage for the second vote required to change our current name will be decided by the Board.

We do not want to rush through this process. It’s emotional for many who need time to consider the implications.  The final vote may not happen until the new year.

If you were unable to attend, you are welcome to contact us with your questions and concerns.

wdwco@vancouverunitarians.ca

Celebrating Latin American Heritage Month – recommended books and films to get started

Latin American Heritage Month runs from Oct. 14th to November 2nd.

Latincouver is hosting a number of events in Vancouver to mark the occasion. To learn more about the organization, or for the official website of all the events, visit latincouver.ca/lahm.

Thanks to Gabriella, a new friend and attendee of UCV, for putting together the following list of recommended books and films.

*

LATIN AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH

READINGS:

Open veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano (Uruguay)

Since it was published, in 1971, this brilliant text, written by the Uruguayan journalist and writer Eduardo Galeano, has set a new standard for historical scholarship of Latin America. “Rather than chronology, geography, or political successions, Eduardo Galeano has organized the various facets of Latin American history according to the patterns of five centuries of exploitation. Thus, he is concerned with gold and silver, cacao and cotton, rubber and coffee, fruit, hides and wool, petroleum, iron, nickel, manganese, copper, aluminum ore, nitrates, and tin. These are the veins which he traces through the body of the entire continent, up to the Rio Grande and throughout the Caribbean, and all the way to their open ends where they empty into coffers of wealth in the United States and Europe”. This an essential reading to understand the major consequences of colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism on Latin America and its people. (Image: pinterest.ca)

 

The posthumous memoirs of Brás Cubas by Machado de Assis (Brazil)

Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, known as Machado de Assis or Bruxo do Cosme Velho (Cosme Velho’s Wizard), was a Brazilian novelist, poet, playwright and short story writer and is regarded as the most important writer of Brazilian literature. Among his masterpieces, there is the 1881 novel The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas. The novel is considered the first romance of the realist movement in Brazil and is narrated by a ghost of a decadent aristocrat that decides to write his story from the end, noting his political ambitions and failed romances. The fact of being already deceased allows Brás Cubas to sharply criticize the Brazilian society and reflect on his own disillusionment, with no sign of remorse or fear of retaliation. The novel has been compared to the work of everyone from Cervantes to Joyce to Nabokov to Borges to Calvino and has influenced generations of writers around the world. (Image: pinterest.ca)

 

One hundred years of solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia)

Gabriel García Márquez, fondly known as Gabo, is considered one of the most relevant authors of the 20th century and a Latin American gem. The Colombian journalist, novelist, screenwriter and short-story writer is responsible for popularizing a literary style known as “magic realism”, in which realistic situations are combined with magical elements. And it is this combination that makes some of his novels so special, being One Hundred Years of Solitude one of them. The novel presents to the readers the story of Macondo, a fictional village that is the hometown of the Buendía family, with a realistic setting and fantastic episodes. Through rich and shrewd prose, Gabo makes the readers confront conflicts such as the desire for solitude through the lens of Greek myths. (Image: amazon.ca)

 

MOVIES:

City of God (Brazil)

Released in 2002, City of God is one of the most famous and celebrated Brazilian movies. The film portrays the story of two young men, Rocket and Lil Ze, who live in the favela called City of God, in Rio de Janeiro, over three decades and shows the different directions that both take in their lives. Rocket becomes a budding photographer who documents the increasing drug-related violence in his neighborhood whereas Lil Ze turns into an ambitious drug dealer who uses Rocket and his photos to increase his fame as a turf war erupts with his rival. Something that called peoples’ attention is that most of the actors in the movie were, in fact, residents of favelas. The film received widespread critical acclaim and was nominated for four Academy Awards in 2004: Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Writing. (Image: imdb.com)

 

The secret in their eyes (Argentina)

The 2009 Argentinian crime drama was based on the novel La pregunta de sus ojos (The question in the eyes) by Eduardo Sacheri. The film depicts the retired Argentinian federal justice agent Benjamín Espósito, who decides to write a novel using an old closed case as the source material. The case is the brutal rape and murder of Lilian Coloto. With the help of a former colleague, judge Irene Menéndez Hastings, Benjamín attempts to make sense of the past. The journey through his memories sets Benjamín on a thrilling emotional path that leads to a shocking realization. The film received important awards, notably the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82th Academy Awards, making Argentina, with 1985’s The Official Story, the first country in Latin America to win it twice. In 2015, the American film industry made a remake of the movie, but it is important to highlight that the Argentinian version is the original one. (Image: themoviedb.org)

 

Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico)

One of the most acclaimed movies of the Mexican director Guillermo del Toro is the 2006 Pan’s Labyrinth. The movie takes into focus Ofelia, a child who believes in fairy tales. Following the Spanish Civil war, during the Francoist period, the little girl enters a world of cruelty when she moves in with her new stepfather. One night, a fairy leads her to a mysterious faun creature who informs her that she is a princess and needs to complete three tasks to establish her royal heritage. The Spanish-Mexican movie is considered one of the best fantasy films ever made and received widespread critical acclaim, with many praising the visual effects, direction, cinematography and performances. Pan’s Labyrinth also won numerous international awards, including three Academy Awards and three BAFTA Awards, including Best Film Not in the English Language. (Image: Wikipedia.org)

Healthy Relations Checklist from the Decision-Making Task Force (DMTF Weekly Lesson #1)

Healthy Relations Checklist

*Note: these are recommendations from the Decision-Making Task Force and not all are in place as official UCV policy.

  • Do we have a recently reviewed and affirmed congregational Covenant of Healthy Relations*?
  • Is the Covenant posted prominently in UCV’s physical spaces, and easily located on the website?
  • Do all committees, task forces, and other groups agree to the Covenant as individuals and as groups?
  • Is the Covenant reviewed periodically, and is there a process for considering and incorporating feedback about the Covenant?
  • Are new members asked to review and agree to the Covenant of Healthy Relations?
  • Is there at least one service per year devoted to the Covenant of Healthy Relations?
  • Does the Covenant include a system to track, intervene, and follow up on concerns and conflicts?
  • Is there a process for addressing conduct that does not uphold the Covenant, including recommended actions that bystanders can take?
  • Has a healthy relations advocacy team been established as a consistent presence in the community?

When a big project or decision-making process is undertaken:

  • is there conscious commitment of UCV leaders, project leaders, and congregation members to abide by the Covenant of Healthy Relations throughout the process?
  • are we collectively committed to a healthy process, and do we all collectively commit ourselves to taking individual and collective responsibility for making it work?
  • is a “healthy process” clearly described (and posted/circulated) so that all know what we are committing to?
  • as UCV members, do we put the collective community’s needs over our own personal preferences?
  • do members commit to sharing information that is (and can be confirmed to be) as factually accurate as possible? When errors in information and assumptions have been identified, do members agree that they will withdraw erroneous material?
  • Will the healthy relations team (or delegated members) work alongside the planning team for the duration of big projects with a mandate to help watch for and follow up on possible misunderstandings or disgruntlement? Does this healthy relations team have a protocol for dealing with questions and comments that impugn any person’s character or integrity?
  • Are there opportunities and resources to learn and practice elements of collaborative/ compassionate communication, participatory decision-making, and bystander intervention training?
  • Are values and commitments reviewed in the whole community, both at the start of and during big projects/decisions, as well as in an ongoing way, as part of the life of this community?

 

*Note: The Covenant of Healthy Relations (COHR), also referred to here as the Covenant, refers to the Covenant of Healthy Relations that was congregationally developed and approved in 2005 and reaffirmed by the Board in 2020, to be distinguished from other UCV covenants developed for specific purposes.

Lifespan Corner: Your guide to 2022-2023 programming at UCV

Fall is upon us dear friends, and I hope to see many more of you in the next few months, may health prevail! The past three years have been a deep disruption in our lives and while many of you have been present in-person for Sunday worship, events, or small groups, I still talk with one or two people most Sundays who are coming back for the very first time in two-and-a-half years.  

This is a time of restarting, of renewal, of re-building our trust and belief in each other, in Unitarianism, and in this place we call home to our hearts and souls. Many of us are craving deep connections, meaning, and reassurance that we matter and that we belong here together. This year we are leaning into Covenant, into trust, and into building community anew.  

Olivia and I, your Lifespan Faith staff, have worked hard this summer to plan programs and opportunities for people of many ages, life stages, needs, and interests. My hope is for small groups, classes, and circles to thrive and nurture the deep connections gained in intimate spaces. 

To support and strengthen connections and to find your place in the sea of possibilities you can do the following: 

Join, Create, or Register a Small Group 

Do you want to connect with 6-12 people around a theme, interest, creative endeavor, or spiritual question?  

Do you already organize, facilitate or participate in a Small Group, Book Discussion, Circle, or regular small gathering in-person at UCV or through UCV Zoom?  Tell us about it with this form: www.ucv.im/small-groups-form 

Join one of our 2022 UU Wellspring groups: spiritual deepening for the UU Soul 

UU Wellspring is a unique 10-month small group program offered in a multi-platform setting. The twice a month, 2-hour sessions offer participants an opportunity for spiritual deepening that leads to more joyful living, increased confidence in Unitarian identity, and faithful justice making in their lives and in their communities.  

Read more about, and register for, Wellspring Sources and our shorter courses, Sacred Earth Reads and UU Wellspring for Young Adults on our website here. 

Stay tuned to our weekly and monthly newsletters  

We have plans for a Unitarian Elders Circle, a discussion circle on Tolerance and our First Principle, ongoing Death Café discussions, Community Dinners, Family Potlucks, and Vespers Circle Worship.  If you can help lift any of these endeavors off the ground, please be in touch with Kiersten and Derrick. 

Children and Youth Program Registration 

For all new and returning families, all children must be registered so that we have vital information about parent/guardians, children’s needs, photo permissions or restrictions, and so we can maintain appropriate child/adult ratios in the classroom. 

Register your child/ren for the 2022-23 Program Year at www.ucv.im/REfamily  

Read on to know what you are registering them for! 

Sunday Morning Programs 

Everyone starts in the service together and Kids leave to do their program after the story. Programs run a little longer than service so parents can enjoy coffee hour. 

 

Pray ground (Sanctuary friendly – floor zone)

small child and teen work on a puzzle together. Sitting on a gold carpet in the sunlight with pillows.

The pray ground allows parents to be present in worship with their children, it is up front because that is the best place for kids to see what is going on, be engaged as they are able, and teaches them that they belong here. They are safe in a loving community. It is designed for those who need to be near their parents for any reason. 

Our pray ground is the area at the very front of the sanctuary on the right side, with our teen volunteers ready to quietly play during worship or outside if needed. It has carpets and pillows, colouring and stuffies, board books and fidget toys! This zone is designed for those who are too wriggly to sit in a chair for an hour and not ready or willing to join a program. Children who are going to go to a program can hang out here until they are sung out, and those who are not able or don’t want to leave their parents can stay all service comfortably near their parents. 

Superhero Academy 

silhouette of muscled superhero with a cape on a primary color blocked background with sound effect words "wow" and "pow!" Title reads "Superhero Academy coming soon"

Focus: play-based learning about justice, covenant, and community 

Age: 5-9 (grades K-4) 

Time and place: 11:15-12:15 in person at UCV 

Are you a fan of the Teen Titans or Black Panther? Or are you more interested in learning about your values through playing games with new friends? Superhero Academy is our children’s group for this year, and you’re all invited!  

 

Crossing Paths   

Focus: understanding the religious and spiritual practices of our neighbours and ourselves 

Age: 10-12 (grades 5-7) 

Time and place: 11:15-12:15 in-person at UCV; also includes fieldtrips once a month to other houses of worship in our community (carpool/transit buddies can be arranged) 

Crossing Paths is a core program for UU children. We invite kids beginning to question life-death-and-the-beyond to join with us in exploring many faith traditions and how they relate to our own. We start with Unitarian Universalism and aim to cover many other traditions practiced in our area, from Buddhism to Islam to Paganism to Coast Salish spirituality. This year’s program is a continuation of last spring’s program, which already spent time on Judaism and Christianity. However, there is no need to have attended last year to attend this year.  

 

Special Program Registration 

Special programs take place at different times outside of Sunday morning. They are often specific to a peer cohort of similar age. They aim to build community within UCV, work on justice in the community at large, and build deep connection to values and identity. Youth may join on their own regardless of parent involvement or membership.  The Our Whole Lives program does have a required parent orientation. 

 

Coming of Age  

Focus: UU identity and our community 

Age: 12-13 

Register here: www.ucv.im/CoA  

Time and place: twice a month for two hours each, exact time tbd; in person at UCV 

Coming of Age is a core program for UU kids as they become youth. A group of bridging-in youth become a close-knit community as they ask themselves “what is Unitarian Universalism and why does it matter to us?” UCV elders and our facilitators work with participants to learn what they receive from community, what they give back, and how communities practice their values.  

 

Youth Group  

Focus: covenant, worship, games, exploration, justice – everything chosen by youth! 

Age: 13-18 or currently in high school 

Contact Olivia Hall: youth@vancouverunitarians.ca 

Time and place: 1-3 pm Sunday afternoons in person at UCV; also sometimes includes sleepovers on Saturday nights, fieldtrips, and discord game times 

How to possibly describe youth group? Youth group is fun because teens hanging out is fun! Youth group dives deep because teens dive deep! Youth group is led by teens alongside adult advisors in a safe and supported space to be themselves, be weird, find purpose, and give back. This group is open to all teens connected (however loosely) to UCV. You’re always welcome here. 

 

Bridger’s Program  

Focus: preparing our oldest youth for the transitions in their lives 

Age: 16-19, or gr 11, 12, and first year post high school 

Contact Olivia Hall: youth@vancouverunitarians.ca 

Time and place: two Mondays a month 7-9 pm in person at UCV; also some sleepovers 

Unitarians call the process of moving from youth to young adulthood “Bridging”, the symbol of moving into a new life stage. We create a metaphorical bridge to existing in the world and as a Unitarian with more autonomy and shared responsibility. 

Bridger’s Program is a small group for our oldest youth who have been part of UCV or a neighbouring congregation for a while. Two Wednesdays a month, and some sleepovers, we will gather to be with each other in this time of transition. Our leaders help youth to plan post-secondary endeavors (What’s a bursary? What’s a course requirement? How do I fill out my application? Do I even want to keep going to school?), read through Wellspring Youth Sources (What are our UU sources? What spiritual practices keep me grounded? How do I take care of myself and others?), and lead our OWL program (What’s a healthy sexual relationship? How do I make space for my own gender and sexual identity?). And it’s fun.  

 

OWL for Senior High (gr 11-12)  

Focus: trans and queer affirming sexuality education 

Age: gr 11 and 12 

Register Here: www.ucv.im/OWLregister  

Time and place: one Monday a month 7-9 in person at UCV; some Saturday evenings as well 

Cost: pay-what-you-can sliding scale, $25-$125; no one will be denied due to lack of funds, no payment is required 

Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education is a program used by UUs and other denominations all over the place to support us at all stages of our lives. The grade 11-12 program focusses on sexual health, lifespan sexuality, building healthy sexual relationships, and sexuality and social issues. Our three leaders (two of whom are queer adults themselves) are trained through the program. Our group this year is a majority queer group of amazing teens. Though OWL is offered through UCV, it’s a secular program. Gr 11-12 OWL is part of our Bridger’s Program for older youth, but youth are able to do this part separately without joining the Bridger’s Program. Please join us! 

 

In the Interim: Welcome back from summer!

“I was so shocked to learn that the opposite of belonging is fitting in. Because fitting in is assessing a group of people and changing who you are. But true belonging never asks us to change who we are. It demands we be who we are.” – Brené Brown

Welcome back from Summer!

I hope the warm months were nourishing in many ways.  For me, the break was a perfect blend of activity, adventure, personal and spiritual growth, relaxation and preparation for returning refreshed and excited about our year ahead.  This is our final year of interim ministry together, and I am looking forward to moving deeply into the final stages of helping UCV to prepare for its next settled ministry, as well as simply being here with you and for you as your minister.

As we move into this new year together, I want to share with you the 3 Program Priorities that we will all be working towards together through the many ministries of UCV.

  1. Embodying our Covenant.
    Drawing from great suggestions from the Board report and the DMTF report as well as other sources, a variety of activities, presentations, materials and programs will be geared towards building trust, dealing with past and present conflicts, learning about communication tools and building community relationship. The Healthy Relations Team and Ministerial Transitions Team will be working together to engage the congregation in many ways.
  1. Enacting the 8th Principle.
    This will include multiple ways for people to engage in anti-racism and anti-oppression learning and work at many levels, from beginner to advanced. Building on the Widening the Circle, Bystander Intervention Training, Book groups, Giving up Racism for Lent and more that was available this past year. The goal is to incorporate the essence of this new Principle into the body of UCV’s ministry, considering and reviewing whether current practices and culture inadvertently perpetuate systems of oppression, colonization and marginalization, and offering consistent messaging and learning about what we can do differently.
  1. Exploring Landscapes of Ageing.
    Lifespan faith development will continue to support family programming, and will also increase opportunities for specific topics and experiences more relevant to our older demographic. This group has had a harder time engaging in online communications and may be feeling more disconnected or under- served, also considering how much has changed during the past couple of years. An example are the two “Death Cafe” gathering that were held in June and August.

These program priorities are in alignment with the Board’s Strategic Priorities and the vision of UCV. The will help to transform the culture of UCV, build stronger volunteer engagement, increase membership, encourage fiscal stewardship and promote Legacy giving.  Look for opportunities to become involved and to lean into these goals to build this community together.

…..

From our Soul Matters theme of Belonging

You hardly knew
how hungry you were
to be gathered in,
to receive the welcome that invited you to enter entirely…
You began to breathe again… You learned to sing. 

But the deal with this blessing is that it will not leave you alone, will not let you linger…
this blessing
will ask you to leave,
not because it has tired of you but because it desires for you to become the sanctuary that you have found… 

– Jan Richardson 

Richardson begins with hunger. And so do we. Just saying the word “belonging” conjures it up: The primal hunger to be included; the longing to be let in. No one likes standing outside the circle. No one likes leaning against the locked door listening while everyone is laughing inside. From the time we are little, belonging is the thing we seek. It’s the hoped for Holy Grail. The promised resting place.

But Richardson will have none of that. Our own belonging is only the beginning. That’s what she wants us to know. One minute she’s wrapping us in comforting words about settling in and allowing ourselves to finally breathe. The next she’s shaking us awake and telling us to get up and go.

That shaking should tell us something.

In other words, this is no gentle invitation, friends. No sweet reminder to think of others. It’s a warning. A desperate hope that we will wake to the fact that there are two kinds of belonging: one that wants to bless us and another that wants to enlist us.

Deep down we know this. The hard part is to remember it. To use Richardson’s language, if we find ourselves being invited to linger rather than leave, alarm bells should go off. We need to be weary of those who welcome us with a club jacket and a soft couch. They may have let us in, but soon they will enlist us into the work of keeping others out. There will likely even be a part of us that wants to keep others out. After all, closed circles don’t just set us apart, they sit us above.

But they also keep us small. Maybe this is why Richardson’s blessing is so intent on not leaving us alone. It knows that we only grow when the circle does. Circles that keep others out also keep the air out. No one inside a closed circle truly sings; they only suffocate, slowly.

It’s all one big reminder that the true blessing of belonging is not that you get to come inside the circle; it’s that you get to participate in expanding it. Again, as the circle grows so do we.

In this month of “Belonging”  I offer you these questions for reflection:

  1. How does the assurance of belonging most often enter your body? Through words? Touch? Silence? Song? Solitude? Nature? Creative expression? Prayer? Memory?
  2. What one change in your UU church community would increase your sense of belonging?
  3. If someone asked you, “How do you belong to the land?”, what would you answer?

This month’s theme of “Belonging” has had me reflecting a lot about where I belong and who my people are, and I truly feel it is you, the UCV members, friends and community, to whom I belong and who are “my people” in so many ways.  I am grateful to be here with you during this special, transitional time, and will embrace all of the opportunities this coming year offers as your minister.  With that in mind, I want to share with you this somewhat anecdotal and evolving list for your reference as encouragement and invitation to you to reach out to me.

When to Call the Minister?

  • When you haven’t met me yet, but would like to.
  • When you have problems to discuss—about anything.
  • When a sympathetic ear might help.
  • When you’re going in the hospital or know someone else who is.
  • When someone close to you dies or is critically ill.
  • When you’re planning to be married, or thinking about it.
  • When you return from vacation and want to reconnect.
  • When one of your children graduates from university or moves away.
  • When you have a child to be dedicated.
  • When you’re pregnant but wish you weren’t.
  • When you’ve been arrested, or ought to be.
  • When you want to learn more about Unitarian Universalism.
  • When you’re scared or feeling unsure about who to talk with.
  • When you’d like to plan for a bequest to the church.
  • When you’re considering joining the congregation.
  • When a friend of your wants to know more about our faith.
  • When you have suggestions about the programs for the congregation.
  • When you have suggestions for worship services.
  • When you’d like to help with any congregational activities.
  • When you want to discuss community issues.
  • When you’re mad at me.
  • When you’d like to talk religion with me.
  • When you are considering end-of-life issues.
  • When you want to reflect on a meaningful question or even in your life.
  • Call early, call often!

With warmest blessings,

Rev. Lara Cowtan

Interim Minister, Vancouver Unitarians

What do we call ourselves – summary of June 2022 survey

Introduction

A paper copy of the WDWCO survey was handed out at the Sunday services of June 19 and 26. After June 26, the survey went online with the submission deadline of 06 July 2022. 122 people responded – 81 by paper, and 41 online. 103 were members, 16 were friends, and 3 were visitors.

 

SYNOPSIS OF THE RESULTS:

All Respondents (n = 122)
Very Positive Moderately Positive Neutral Moderately Negative Very Negative No Answer
Keep Current Name 20% 17% 15% 30% 16% 2%
If I Have My choice of a name 53% 23% 14% 4% 6% 0%
Keep Acronym UCV 22% 39% 22% 7% 8% 2%
Unitarian Campus of Van. 5% 7% 9% 30% 41% 7%
Unitarian Centre of Van. 21% 25% 11% 18% 16% 8%
Unitarian Community of Van. 37% 22% 15% 8% 15% 3%
Unitarian Congregation of Van. 24% 29% 17% 16% 10% 5%
Vancouver Unitarians 39% 25% 18% 7% 7% 4%

*Positive means willing, satisfied, important. *Negative means unwilling, dissatisfied, unimportant

 

 

COMMENTS

While some wish to retain “Church” and others don’t, many expressed a willingness for a name change if it is in the best interests of our future viability.

 

Love for our spiritual community:

Steven Epperson’s very clear statement at the New U in a Day session in November 2010 that Unitarians are people who form spiritual communities with ”no dogma and no hierarchy” made me want to join UCV, and I signed the membership book at the end of the session that day.

We need younger members – what would connect with this group?  I realize my choice may not be chosen.  But I hope that our wonderful group will remain for 100 more years.

I am new to this community and love the work that is being done here.  I do feel slightly uncomfortable saying “church” so I do not use it when describing where I am on Sundays. Perhaps a name change would entice other younger and possibly those who are racialized or minorities to join.

 

Love for the WDWCO Task Force:

Thank you for undertaking this survey. I hope you get a lot of responses and I look forward to seeing the results.

 Many thanks to you all – Eva, Louise, Sheila, Carrie, and John – for doing this important work.

 Good work.  Carry on.

 Thank you! I hope enough people complete this survey in time.

 I am very grateful for this opportunity.  Many thanks to the careful wording of this request.

 Excellent survey!

Thank you for asking and for your work!

No love from one survey participant – This survey is manipulative because it assumes name change is happening and hence is worthless.

 

Love for Church as our name:

 We’re a church.  It’s a flexible word.  It’s a social contract.  It feels weaselly to drop it; like we’re happy to enjoy all the privileges churches have without having to carry the baggage.  Will a more neutral term attract newcomers?  Maybe.  Will it disproportionally attract people who want to escape the work of examining privilege and dismantling systems of oppression by congratulating ourselves that “we’re not like THOSE guys” and rolling gaily on?  Maybe.

 The word ‘church’ helps identify us to others.  What’s more, it translates into French easily.

I am just fine with Unitarian Church of Vancouver. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

 It’s extremely important to me that spirituality remain at the forefront of our name and activities.  Social action, arts, etc., are integral but not central. “Church” says spiritual/religion to me.  The other names do not.

 If we cease to call ourselves a church, are we still self-identifying as a religion?

 The only “C” word that makes sense to me is “Church.”  The other options all have different meanings to different people.  Either keep Church or don’t, but don’t try to make something fit that doesn’t.

 I’m not unsatisfied with the word “church” being used but I do find myself explaining that we are non-denominational, not “Christian Church” but welcome diverse orientations to faith and belief systems.

 

Love for a change to our name:

Do not like Church.

I’m strongly in favour of changing the name to something I feel is more appropriate for today.  Mostly I want the word ‘church’ gone.

I am in favour of losing “church” and very open to whatever people are comfortable with.

Please think outside the box.  There are too many long-time members who don’t want to let go of the church.  It alienates and confuses so many people.  if you want to be relevant to newer generations, to survive (I don’t see it ever thriving), you need to move away from “church.

The word “church” could be a barrier for indigenous community.

I think it is important to not use the word “church” – mostly because there are a number of members, I’ve spoken with who really cannot abide this word.

I strongly support a change from “church” – it denotes a Christian denomination which we are not.  Also, some people may have had negative experiences with Christian churches so this word may not be welcoming/appropriate for them.

The only proposed “C” word to replace Church that denotes a religious community  and one that is not necessarily Christian is Congregation (“a group of people regularly attending a particular place of worship”), so I vote in favour of this new version of UCV.

Please register as a concern that the current legal name almost put me off joining UCV.  It most likely has put off many potential members from even visiting UCV.

I have a negative association with church type words such as church, congregation, worship, praise…I feel a visceral sense of discomfort. I know that if I do, so do many others, thus it is a barrier not a draw.  How can we do better?

If UCV changes to any of the above suggestions I will seriously consider changing my status from ‘friend’ to ‘member.’

 

Name preferences:

VERY WILLING to change our legal name to a name I agree with and I am VERY UNWILLING to change it to a name I object to.

Why not include Universalist in the name?  Unitarian Universalists of Vancouver. 

If we are going to change our name, it should be updated to reflect the theology (UU).  A search for “Unitarian” finds a very different  definition than Unitarian Universalists.  People should know who we are by our name. Unitarian Universalist Church of Vancouver or Unitarian Universalists of Vancouver. 

The other proposed “C” words – Campus, Community, and Centre – can refer to many types of non-religious communities and so will not identify us as a religious/faith community.  This is why they are not acceptable choices to me (and the word Unitarian does not to many people denote a religious community because they do not know that Unitarian refers to a distinct religion with its own principles and practices.)

Congregation has spiritual, democratic, and community connotations.

My personal favourite is Unitarian Congregation of Vancouver.  Congregation is a word used by both Christian and non-Christian groups.

Community is a word widely used, understood and appreciated.  It is suggestive of “people together,” an entity with “things in common.”  Congregation is less well appreciated and understood. What it implies is anything but clear.  It has references to conventional religious traditions that are not who we are.

I hate Vancouver Unitarians!  It’s not a huge deal and I don’t want to outweigh, the many voices who like it, but to me it doesn’t say the right thing to the wider world.  Religious communities have a sense of gravitas, and that name doesn’t do that at all. To me it makes us sound like a club rather than a religious institution, which I think sends the wrong message to people in the community about what we’re about.

I think “campus” is misleading.

If we are called Van Unitarians, what do we call the place where we gather for a service? I don’t feel comfortable with Sanctuary.

I think it’s important to include a reference to our physical space in our name.  How to answer questions such as “Where will the memorial service be held?”  The buildings are a strong part of our identity and should be reflected in the name.  I think “Centre” accomplishes that.

Like Vancouver Unitarians re the group but less easy re the place.

“Temple” is a religion specific term denoting a space of sacred organizing and community ritual or practice.  It’s more specific to what happens here than the other options presented.  Has it been discussed?  Also, should we lose ”Vancouver” in favour of something decolonizing?

My only concern in changing the name is the cost of changing out any signage, stationary, concrete, placards, etc.  however, if changing the name will assist in broadening and diversifying the congregation, it will be worth the incremental cost.  It should be a well-supported new name, though. It would be ironic to me if the change drove more people away than it attracted, particularly if the diversity of the congregation were not improved. 

It’s funny, fundamentalist Xtians sects are also dropping the word “church” because it’s too pagan and/or insufficiently biblical?  That’s why you see so much “Assembly of Christ” and ”Congregation of Christ” when you’re driving through the hinterlands.  Whee!

Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at wdwco@vancouverunitarians.ca.