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Climate emergency: We’re part of a new effort to ramp up climate action in B.C.

In September, the Vancouver Unitarians were proud to join 200+ organizations in signing the following open letter calling on the B.C. government to implement climate action of the scale and urgency required. This coming Thursday, Oct. 28 Seth Klein, one of the initiators of this new climate effort, will kick off a special series we’re hosting on Faith, Spirituality and the Climate Crisis. If you’re interested in getting more involved in climate action here at UCV, consider getting involved in our Environment Team!

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We write on behalf of diverse environmental, Indigenous, labour, health, business, local government, academic, youth and faith communities who collectively represent well over one million British Columbians.

We call on the B.C. government to recognize the urgency and alarm that people all over the province are feeling as the climate crisis directly impacts our communities and our health: deadly heat waves, wildfires, drought, floods, crop failure, fisheries collapse and costly evacuations and infrastructure damage. These climate-related impacts are unprecedented and intensifying. Indigenous peoples stand to be disproportionately impacted by climate events despite successfully taking care of the land since time immemorial.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a “code red” for humanity. The International Energy Agency has called on world governments to immediately stop investments in and approvals of new oil and gas projects. The provincial government’s CleanBC climate action plan is insufficient to limit warming to 1.5 degrees and will not keep British Columbians safe from the worst impacts of climate change.

We therefore urge the B.C. government to develop and implement a transformative climate emergency plan that recognizes interconnected climate, ecological and social crises; embeds equity, anti-racism and social justice at its core; and upholds Indigenous title and rights as well as treaty rights.

To implement the rapid systemic change that is required, we call on the provincial government to demonstrate the leadership necessary to confront the climate emergency, and immediately undertake the following 10 actions:

1. Set binding climate pollution targets based on science and justice.
Reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 7.5 per cent per year below 2007 levels. Set binding reduction targets of 15 per cent below 2007 levels by 2023; 30 per cent by 2025; 60 per cent by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2040. Review and update targets regularly as climate science evolves.

2. Invest in a thriving, regenerative, zero-emissions economy.
Invest two per cent of B.C.’s gross domestic product, which is $6 billion per year, to advance a zero-emissions economy and create tens of thousands of good jobs. Spend what it takes to immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create new economic institutions to get the job done. Ensure that the economic component of Aboriginal title is recognized through the sharing of benefits and revenues that result.

3. Rapidly wind down all fossil fuel production and use.
Immediately stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure including fracking, oil and gas pipelines, LNG and fossil fuel-derived hydrogen. Rapidly phase out and decommission all existing fossil fuel production and exports.

4. End fossil fuel subsidies and make polluters pay.
End all fossil fuel subsidies and financial incentives by 2022. Ensure that industries that profit from fossil fuel pollution pay their fair share of the resulting climate damage.

5. Leave no one behind.
Ensure a just transition for fossil fuel workers, resource-dependent communities and Indigenous and remote communities impacted by fossil fuel production. It will be critical to collaborate in true partnership with Indigenous peoples in climate action. Prepare our communities for the impacts of the climate crisis to minimize human suffering and infrastructure damage. Support those most vulnerable to climate change impacts.

6. Protect and restore nature.
Protect 30 per cent of terrestrial and marine ecosystems by 2030; support and invest in Indigenous-led conservation initiatives; restore natural ecosystems to enhance ecosystem functions and services, preserve biodiversity, increase carbon sequestration, and improve human and ecosystem resilience to climate impacts. Impose an immediate moratorium on the industrial logging of all old-growth forests which are critical carbon sinks.

7. Invest in local, organic, regenerative agriculture and food systems.
Incentivize carbon storage in soil, restore biodiversity and ensure food sovereignty and food security across the province. Increase consumption of plant-based foods and reduce food waste. Support Indigenous communities that wish to maintain traditional food systems and enhance their food security.

8. Accelerate the transition to zero-emission transportation.
Invest in affordable, accessible and convenient public transit within and between all communities. Reallocate infrastructure funds from highway expansion to transit and active transportation (cycling, rolling and walking). Mandate zero emissions for all new light vehicles by 2027 and all medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2030.

9. Accelerate the transition to zero-emission buildings.
Ban new natural gas connections to all new and existing buildings by the end of 2022. Create a Crown corporation to mobilize the workforce to retrofit all existing buildings and eliminate fossil fuel heating by 2035, and to build new affordable zero-emissions buildings.

10. Track and report progress on these actions every year.
Embed all of these actions in legislation to ensure accountability, transparency and inclusion. Establish rolling five-year carbon budgets that decline over time towards zero emissions by 2040 or sooner.

Tackling the climate crisis offers an unprecedented opportunity to generate new, vibrant economic and social wealth as we transform where our energy comes from and how it is used. It offers an opportunity to achieve energy security, ensure food security, develop more sustainable local economies and jobs, transform our buildings, redesign transportation, reduce pollution, improve human health and well-being, and enhance our quality of life. The transition from fossil fuels to a zero-emissions economy has clear benefits for people and natural ecosystems, and is an opportunity to create a more prosperous, just and equitable society.

Every person, every business, every industry and every government has a role to play as we co-ordinate individual and collective actions to create a thriving, resilient and regenerative society that respects its interdependence with healthy ecosystems and a safe climate. British Columbia is positioned to become a visionary world leader and demonstrate that innovative and rapid change is possible as we transition to a zero-emissions economy.

We urge you to seize these opportunities and demonstrate to British Columbians that our government is indeed a true climate leader by implementing the 10 climate emergency actions set out in this letter.

We must act now.

Register NOW for Paganism 101 – sessions start October 25

There are spaces now available for Paganism 101 – with sessions starting Oct. 25. Sign up now to reserve your spot!

Register now for Paganism 101: https://ucv.im/Paganism101

About Paganism 101

Paganism 101 is a 10-session curriculum created by Louise Bunn, a member of our congregation. Louise is offering this 10-session course starting October 25 on sliding scale of $25 to $75 for all 10 sessions.

Today’s Pagans revere the Earth and all its creatures. We see all life as interconnected, and we strive to attune ourselves to the cycles of nature. Our practices are rooted in a belief in immanence – the concept of divinity residing within.

The many modern pagans who have found a home in the Unitarian community are grounding our work in the rational structure, the intellectual balance, and the humanist core values that have descended to us from the Enlightenment. We’re working to develop a religiosity that is entirely compatible with, and complementary to, modern Unitarian rationality.

Paganism 101 is an experiential curriculum that will enable participants to conduct Pagan rituals on their own as independent practitioners. It introduces the practices, beliefs, and history of Modern Pagan spirituality, a nature-based worldview that is deeply rooted in Western Esoteric traditions. It is an active and powerful way to engage with Unitarianism’s Sixth Source — Spiritual Teachings of  Earth-centred Traditions that Celebrate the Sacred Circle of Life and Instruct us to Live in Harmony with the Rhythms of Nature.

Celebrating Latin American Heritage Month at UCV

In Canada, October is Latin American Heritage month and UCV’s IBPOC (Indigenous, Black and People of Colour) caucus (plus Allies) are arranging for each Sunday to include something to celebrate this. You’re invited to join a movie discussion night on Oct. 15 about “being ñ,” a short film about Latino identity. There are also limited spaces still available for a dine-out evening Oct. 20 at Alimentaria Mexicana on Granville Island. In addition to food and film, we’ll be honouring Latin American Heritage Month by featuring the work of female poets of Latin American heritage.

New program available: Anti-Racist Foundations

Leonie Smith and Catherine Strickland will co-host an 8-week series, Anti-Racist Foundations. This program is for UCV members and friends interested in building their capacity and skills as antiracists. The series will focus on the skills of racial self-awareness, identifying and attending to impact, communicating about difficult topics, and empathy and self-empathy practices.

The series will run from the week of Oct. 21 through December. *Update: the first four sessions starting Oct. 21 will be available on Zoom only.

Four of the eight sessions will be led by Leonie Smith, an antiracism trainer certified in Nonviolent Communication. These sessions will focus on learning. The remaining four sessions will be hosted by Catherine Strickland and will focus on practice and integrating the learning. The sessions will start at 7p.m. and last for 90 minutes. The sessions will be accessible both in person at UCV and online using the OWL camera and other AV equipment. We wish to acknowledge the generous support of the R&A Koerner Foundation Fund in making this program possible.

Registration is limited, so sign up today: https://ucv.im/AntiRacismWorkshops

 

About the Facilitator

P. Leonie Smith has worked in frontline and senior management positions in non-profit organizations. She has almost 20 years experience training, coaching, and in mediation. In particular, she focuses on surfacing the practical implementation of principles of nonviolence, including care, connection, and shared understanding in service to collective work.

Putting faith in action for the climate

Catherine Hembling was among those arrested last week, as part of large-scale non violent civil disobedience attempting to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX).

Catherine is a retired teacher and a long-time member of the Vancouver Unitarians. Our environment team here at UCV is proud to organizing with multi-faith communities to act on climate and in support of Indigenous land defenders.

Explaining her willingness to face arrests, she said, “As a person of conscience, I cannot allow thousands of trees to be cut down for such a short-sighted project. We are in a climate emergency and a mass extinction event. Along with our allies around the world, we call on our leaders to listen to science, follow their commitments and rise to the task imposed on humanity. Put a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure, as per the International Energy Agency. And put a moratorium on cutting down mature trees and intact forest.”

The TMX pipeline is partially completed and there are currently land defence actions in a number of locations. Catherine’s arrest took place near the ongoing treesit in the Brunette River Conservation Area, which sits on the path of the planned expansion to the existing 1,150-kilometre pipeline.

IBPOC is back – Fall plans are underway

The IBPOC Caucus is back! (IBPOC = Indigenous, Black, People of Colour)

After taking a break for the summer months, the IBPOC (aka BIPOC) caucus is meeting again, feeling rejuvenated and ready for the Fall.

We are continuing to share our lived experiences of being IBPOC in a White society, which is the main focus of our group. We are also discussing what else we would like to do. Ideas include inviting in refugees, IBPOC artists, or social justice organizations as guest speakers, and working with our “IBPOC+Allies” group to put on congregation-wide events such as Heritage celebrations, film nights, and FUNdraisers.  (All in-person plans subject to the latest pandemic regulations of course).

October is Latin American Heritage Month. If you have ideas or could be involved to help plan and coordinate some events, please contact Mary ucvconnect@gmail.com.

Currently we have IBPOC members from UCV, Beacon, and North Shore congregations. We also have inquiries from Unitarians as far away as Victoria and Calgary. Some of our members have connected with the BIPOC caucus in Ontario and DRUUMM, the UUA People of Color Ministry and anti-racist collective in the US.  Zoom has been one of the bright spots in the Pandemic as it gave us the ability to bring individuals and small groups together despite the distance!

Get involved!

If you are a UU IBPOC and would like to join us, please contact Tamiko at bipoc@vancouverunitarians.ca

If you are not IBPOC but would like to support IBPOC events and initiatives, contact Mary at ucvconnect@gmail.com  She will put your name on the IBPOC+Allies email group to be alerted when help is needed.

 

 

 

Register now for UU Wellspring!

UU Wellspring is a 10-month small group program that fosters deep connections and learning between members and personal spiritual deepening. It aligns with our principle of supporting each other in our search for truth and meaning by exploring the six sources that Unitarians draw on for theology.

REGISTER NOW

There are 5 essential components to UU Wellspring:

– Small group connections: meeting for two hours twice a month.

– Daily spiritual practices: your own, starting where you are at, drawing on things you already do.

– Spiritual direction: your own connection with a personal Spiritual Director.

– Deeper knowledge of UU history and theology: through short readings and videos you can spend 1-3 hours with between meetings.

– Putting UU faith into action: Asking each other, “so what?” “now what?” to put knowledge into practice.

We’ll start off with a 4-hour retreat Sept. 26! After that we will meet the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month from 7-9pm, October through June. We are using a multi-platform model with technology to allow meeting online and in-person at the same time.

Sign up HERE.

Continuing the conversation on the 8th Principle: A message from UCV President Diane Brown

The Board is continuing our consultation process with the membership, which has so far spanned six months, by offering another Forum on the New Org Design Sunday Oct 24 at 12:30 by Zoom. Just go to ucv.im/forums and you will find Board members and New Org Design Task Force members on hand discussing many aspects of the how’s and why’s of this new structure and how it continues to evolve. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Also, the UCV Board of Trustees would like to invite each and every committee to please host conversations within your groups on the proposed 8th Principle. We recommend that you and your committee members first read the Dismantling Racism Study Group final report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions 94 Calls to Action, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People prior to holding your committee conversations. We ask that someone take summary notes of the committees thoughts, and submit those notes to Galen Elfert (guelfert@gmail.com) by Oct. 18, 2021 so that these can be compiled and sent along to the CUC by their deadline, and sent to our UCV Delegates who will be attending the CUC meeting on Nov. 27 regarding the 8th Principle.

As always, email president@vancouverunitarians.ca if you have any questions.

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8th Principle Meetings – Guiding questions for group discussions 

 

FOCUS: The heart of the proposed principle is dismantling racism; these forums should not focus on wordsmithing.

Read aloud the Responsibility Covenant.

Opening reflection questions; when are you at your ‘best self’?

What does accountability mean to you?

What is contributing to your hesitation / discomfort?

What will it mean/look like for your congregation to accountably dismantle racism?

What is affirming about the 8th Principle?

What are your IBPOC membership and young people saying to you about the 8th Principle and what it means to them?

 

If you are white, have you been listening to what IBPOC and young people have been saying locally and nationally about the 8th Principle and what it means to them? Please do not put any IBPOC that may be in your meetings on the spot by asking them to justify the 8th Principle – this is for you to reflect on.

 

 

Embracing Possibility – In the Interim

“Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings.

Not all things are blessed,

but the seeds of all things are blessed.

The blessing is in the seed.”

Muriel Rukeyser, 1913 – 1980

 

Embracing Possibility – this is our Soul Matters theme for the month of September, which is perfectly fitting as we anticipate returning to the beautiful UCV Sanctuary with upgraded sound and lighting equipment along with refinished floors and brand new chairs, offering countless possibilities for gathering in new ways. 

Embracing possibility is also the way we enter this second year of transitional ministry together.

This transition period of three years in-between settled ministers is a special opportunity for UCV to rediscover itself and plan for the next chapter of its future.  This is a pivotal and exciting period of exploration, reflection, and preparation for the church to look at its entire system through the lens of the five developmental/ transitional tasks, which are:

  1. History – Reviewing how the Congregation has been shaped and formed; encouraging and hearing all of the stories about the Congregation’s past, as the foundation upon with the present rests; and embracing the rich variety that makes up the Congregation.
  2. Mission & Identity – recognizing its unique identity and its strengths, needs, and challenges; Defining and redefining sense of purpose and direction; clarifying the faith community’s identity and core values; working to develop, update, and revitalize mission and vision statements; and reviewing strategic and tactical plans including stewardship and the financial health of the congregation
  3. Leadership – clarifying the appropriate leadership roles of minister(s), church staff, and lay leaders and navigating the shifts in leadership that may accompany times of transition; Reviewing the membership needs and its ways of organizing and developing new and effective leadership; providing opportunity for individuals and the Congregational organization to examine the types of leadership needed for new leaders to emerge, and for seasoned leaders to recommit or to refocus their gifts.
  4. Connections – making appropriate use of CUC, UUA, and other outside resources; Discovering and revitalizing all the association, interfaith, and community relationships a congregation builds outside of itself; and re-assessing old links and considering new ones.
  5. Future – Developing congregational and pastoral profiles that position the congregation for its next ministry, including a healthy and honest assessment of the other focus points so that the congregation can turn its energy toward proactive decision-making for the future.

Embracing possibilities means being open to new ways of thinking and doing things, to letting go of old ways and patterns. This is especially important as we engage in conversations about the proposed 8th Principle to move forward with our commitment to dismantling racism and colonialist culture in our UU institutions and as we go deeper into the hard work of anti-racism within ourselves as individuals. Culture change is hard and sometimes painful work. We are blessed to be in community with one another in these complex times.  Let us be aware of how our words and actions may impact others and remember that we are all one family, one body, so please be gentle and kind with one another. 

UCV has adopted a new organizational design that streamlines the work of the congregation. Embracing and creating possibilities for new leadership to emerge bringing fresh ideas and energy while celebrating and sustaining the foundations  built by many generations of dedicated members. This is an exciting time to be here at UCV. 

Change is inevitable, and it is so often met with resistance, which can manifest in different ways. Resistance is usually about fear of the unknown, of letting go of what is familiar and taking a risk. Something must be lost so that something new can happen. The pain of loss is real and part of our ongoing human experience. The joy of new beginnings is also real, so let us celebrate the start of this program year together as a community by embracing possibilities to shape UCV’s future for coming generations. 

From the CUC (Canadian Unitarian Council) website:

Seven principles guide our choices. Six sources nourish our spirits.

Five aspirations help us grow.

As Canadian Unitarian Universalists, we aspire to be:

Deeply Connected: We strive to foster healthy relationships amongst and within UU communities, with the broader world and with all life.

Radically Inclusive: We strive to create hospitable, diverse, multi-generational communities.

Actively Engaged: We strive to work joyfully for a just and compassionate society, experimenting with new forms of community.

Theologically Alive: We seek to be ever-evolving in our understanding, open to new knowledge.

Spiritually Grounded: We seek transformation through personal spiritual experiences and shared ritual

 

Friends, may we grow together towards these Five Aspirations, embracing the possibilities to nourish our spirits and heal our world. 

 

Blessings, 

 

Rev. Lara Cowtan

Interim MInister

 

A Proud History: Reflecting on Decades of Same-Sex Ceremonies at The Sanctuary

The first same-sex ceremony of union at UCV was conducted nearly half a century ago in 1972 by Reverend Dr. Phillip Hewett, who served for over three decades as minister of the Vancouver Unitarians. In this Q&A, former lay chaplain Katherine Roback explains more of this important history. 

The Sanctuary is aptly named, because for many years our heritage building here at Oak and 49th was one of the few places in Vancouver that would officiate marriage and other ceremonies for same-sex couples. What was the earliest ceremony that you can remember? 

Katherine Roback: The earliest same-sex wedding I officiated was in 2003, the minute weddings honouring 2SLGBTQ+ couples became legal in B.C. Those were busy years, as many couples came here from the United States and other countries where their love could not yet be legally recognized. Prior to that, I was officiating commitment ceremonies for couples who wished for a beautiful ceremony honouring their love. 

 

How did the Vancouver Unitarians deal with push back or opposition to 2SLGBTQ+ equality both in general and within the multi-faith community? 

I don’t believe there was any resistance within the congregation. In fact, we had an LGBTQ+ programme called “Unison” and opened it up, with strong requests, to the whole congregation. As far as opposition in the multi-faith community, couples from many denominations (or none at all) came to Vancouver Unitarian Church to have their love respected and legalized.

 

Minister Hewett was decades ahead of many others in performing same-sex ceremonies. Could you talk a bit more about his role? 

Rev. Phillip Hewett actually founded the Lay Chaplaincy Program in Canada in 1972, as he was overwhelmed performing up to eight weddings in a day. This program trained and licensed lay people to officiate ceremonies. He began officiating gay and lesbian ceremonies of union and entered their ceremonies in the official record of Provincial weddings, to legitimize them. He signed certificates of marriage for each couple. 

 

In our tradition, what’s the distinction between ministers and chaplains?  

A minister is ordained by their congregation after completing their theology degree and being called to serve the congregation. A minister marries members of the congregation. 

A lay chaplain is a Unitarian who shows special qualities that can serve anyone wishing a beautiful wedding — non-members of the church.

 

Could you explain the difference between a marriage ceremony and some of the other ceremonies for couples offered by Unitarian chaplains? 

What makes a marriage ceremony legal are four components that include the couple’s vows, the signing of the marriage license, and the pronouncement by the officiant — and enthusiastic cheers! 

We also perform Ceremonies of Union — just like a legal wedding, but without the signing of the license. Our lay chaplains are also honoured to create, together with couples, ceremonies of all kinds for all occasions, such as a ceremony where couples renew their vows of love and commitment.

 

Why do you think Unitarian Universalists, in Canada, the U.S., and elsewhere, have often played a leading role in movements for 2SLGBTQ+ equality? 

Rather than dogma and creed, Unitarian Faith is founded on a set of principles to live by. The UU First Principle affirms and promotes “the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” That says it all.