Author: Keith Wilkinson

Delegates for the CUC National Conference in Halifax

UCV needs 8 delegates named by 31 Mar 2020 to represent us at the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday 16 May 2020 (from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm PT).  Delegates may attend in person in Halifax, NS, or from elsewhere via zoom teleconference. Room Lindsey Priestley has been booked at UCV so that delegates who choose to participate from Vancouver can meet as a group. Only official delegates are eligible to speak but all UCV members and friends are welcome to attend. Contact Keith Wilkinson, Lynn Armstrong, Kiersten Moore, or Emilie Adin if you are interested in representing us—otherwise, we’ll come looking for you!

CUC Conference details here.

The AGM will be preceded on Thursday, 14 May, (3:30 to 5:00 pm PT) by an informal Plenary session, a cross-Canada dialogue on issues of common interest to Canadian UU congregations. .

Delegates will need to be approved by the UCV Board and once chosen, will have an opportunity to become informed about proposed CUC strategic initiatives, the proposed budgets, and a proposed technical change in the bylaws to improve continuity in board work.  When voting, UCV delegates will be expected to use their own judgment about what is in the best interests of UCV and the national CUC movement and vote according to their conscience.f

Watch UCV Connections pages to see upcoming postings about UCV’s global connections.

The following pages are older posts related to National events.

Can we penetrate the darkness?

The featured image for this posting is the detail of a drawing titled “Many suns cannot penetrate the darkness” created in 1989 by the late long time Vancouver Unitarian member Daphne Naegele. Now, 30 years after Daphne created this image and posed this question, we are still faced with it — can Unitarian Universalism help penetrate the darkness? Part of the answer to this question resides in our capacity to sustain ourselves financially. To examine our options, the UCV board has created a task force to examine the many facets of this question over the summer and fall. Get in touch with Sheila Resels or Keith WIlkinson if you’d like to be part of this discussion.

The UCV Board established a Financial Sustainability Task Force (FSTF) in July 2019. The purpose of the Task Force is to review and strengthen the financial sustainability of the Vancouver Unitarian congregation in the face of reduced levels of pledging, possibly static membership growth, and the general decline of religious community across North America over recent decades.

The Task Force includes the following working groups and teams:

  1. Membership Growth Team
  2. Member Generosity Team (which includes the Canvass Committee)
  3. Legacy Team
  4. Space Use Team
  5. Transition Team
  6. Site Development Team
  7. Investments Committee
  8. Fundraising Events Team
  9. Risk Review Team
  10. Marketing/Fundraiser Initiative Team
  11. UCV Internal Funds Review Initiative
  12. UCV (ad hoc) Budget Committee
  13. Other working groups/teams approved by the Board.

These groups and teams are relatively self-directed and are guided by the recent working document UCV Financial Sustainability Matrix. The working groups and teams are expected to prepare reports in time for the board and the congregation to discuss them well in advance of the 2019 AGM scheduled for late fall 2019 when a vote of the membership regarding possible site redevelopment is anticipated.

For further information, or to provide support to some of these working groups, please contact one of the co-chairs of the Financial Sustainability Task Force (FSTF):

CUC National Programs Update – May 2019

Latest eNews from the May 2019 CUC Annual General Meeting

The New 2019-20 CUC Board:

President: Margaret Wanlin | Western Region |
Vice-President: Chuck Shields | Eastern Region |
Treasurer: Joanne Green | Western Region |
Secretary: Kiersten Moore | British Columbia
BC Region: Michael
Central Region: Tanya Cothran |
Rev. Rodrigo Solano Quesnel |
Eastern Region: Glenna Hanley |
Minister Observer: Rev. Debra
Youth Observers: Liv Gardiner and Fiona Butler |

Executive Director: Vyda Ng

“Sort of” clockwise from 12 o’clock rear: Michael Scales, Kiersten Moore, Vyda Ng, Glenna Hanley, Joanne Green, Rod Solano Quesnel, Chuck Shields, Rev Debra Thorne, Tanya Cothran, Liv Gardiner, Margaret Wanlin. (Thanks for serving this big country!)


And check out this great resource – What we wish people knew about UU – statements from Unitarian Universalist Ministers across Canada, instigated by UCV’s Rev Steven Epperson (the 2019 President of UUMOC – Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada) and compiled by UCV’s multi-talented Marcus Hynes.

“Instruments of the Spirit”

UCV Demographics and Pledge Potential (DAPP) Report 2019

Executive Summary

In late 2018 the UCV Board asked interested volunteers to work together to provide some commentary on UCV’s demographics and pledge potential in the context of 2018-19 site development studies led by Michael Clague and Gordon Gram. Over the December 2018 to March 2019 period, a small group examined selected membership data provided by staff and began to examine other web-based resources on demographics and religious organizational trends. The resulting report provides a first analysis of data gathered and makes recommendations for the future.


  • Donations to UCV averaged $467,186 per year over the past decade excluding bequests but including capital donations. Annual variations have been sizeable. With inflation considered, the total value of donations has declined over the decade.
  • 21 bequests totaling approximately $132,000 were made to UCV over the past decade. The value varied widely year to year as did the size of the individual bequests.
  • Donations increased substantially at times when major capital improvements were being made.
  • The median donation in 2018 was $500 and the average donation was $1,041. Donations in 2018 were the lowest in a decade, totaling $375,734. However, this amount did exceed the $330,000 planned for achieving a balanced budget. A balanced budget also relied on rental and investment revenue. [**See note at bottom of page regarding 2019.]
  • A small number of donors have contributed most to the finances of UCV over the decade. In 2018 forty-two donors (12%) donated 50% of the funds and 319 donors (88%) donated the other 50%.
  • In 2018 the ten top donors (3%) donated 24% of all donations.
  • The ten top donors in 2018 were resident in eight different postal code regions of Metro Vancouver. Three of these resided in Point Grey. The others were, in alphabetical order: Dunbar-Southlands, Hillcrest, Kitsilano, New Westminster, Sunshine Coast, Victoria-Fraserview, and West End.
  • Postal codes were available for 99% of donors. Dates of birth were available for only 18% of donors.
  • Unitarian Universalist congregational membership declined approximately 21% in the USA and 19% in Canada over the period 2005-2015.

Recommendations for UCV

  1. Re-establish and animate a Legacy or Planned Giving Committee to help ensure that UCV members are giving consideration to recognizing UCV in their wills and in annual pledging. Bequests have been a significant source of funding for UCV and could grow as members of UCV age and die. Generous annual pledging is the heart of the church’s financial support.
  2. Give moderately high priority to adding birthdates to the church membership database (Breeze) to facilitate future planning for age-based services, donor planning, and ministerial transition.
  3. Continue to participate, animate, support, and celebrate the work of all Committees and Groups to foster a healthy and generous congregation. Membership and participation matter.
  4. Continue to call highly skilled professional ministers and religious educators. Churches in Canada with this feature seem to do better than those without.
  5. Thank our most generous donors.
  6. Consider asking generous donors to project their capacity to support the church in the future.

See the full 9-page report here: UCV Demographic and Pledge Potential Report – 20190308 Rev A

A site development report providing business plan options and other issues identified to date was distributed at a UCV Forum on 8 May 2019 and afterwards in the church. PDF copies of this report can be obtained by email from Gordon Gram ( or Michael Clague (

A group of congregants interested in discussing issues related to site development met as a Circle of Concern on 1 Mar 2019 and identified a number of areas needing further consideration. These issues of concern are summarized on this website here. Another forum for discussion of all three of these reports (Circle of Concern, Site Development, and Demographics and Pledge Potential) has been scheduled by the Circle of Concern for 12:30 – 2:30 pm, Sunday 26 May 2019 in the Fireside Room.


** As of mid May 2019, the average pledge by members and friends of UCV for 2019 was $2,023 per pledging unit (family or individual), and the median (middle point) pledge was $1,500 per pledging unit. Historically, pledge values have been slightly lower than actual donations. The church also has many “casual donors” who receive tax receipts for small donations. This partly accounts for the difference in value of 2019 median pledges and the 2018 median donations.

Chalice Choir in Bellingham

Notes by Leslie Hill, Pictures by Keith Wilkinson

On Sunday, February 24, 2019, Choir Director Donna Brown and twenty members of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver’s Chalice Choir met at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship at the invitation of BUF’s choir director, Kevin Allen-Schmid. During the service we sang ‘I Dreamed of Rain’ and with the BUF choir sang ‘One Day’, an anthem to peace. In the afternoon we attended an Interfaith Coalition Music Festival. We joined choirs from eleven other faith communities, from Jewish to Catholic, Methodist to Muslim. The UCV Chalice Choir’s reprise of ‘I Dreamed of Rain’ was sandwiched between singers from the Unity Spiritual Center and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The Interfaith Coalition Music Festival was raising money to help house the homeless in Bellingham. After every group had sung, we had a rousing sing-along with the audience, a brief and stirring address by Rev. Seth Thomas of St. James Presbyterian Church and concluded with a grand massed choir plus audience finale of ‘One Day’, featuring solos in Hebrew and Arabic.

It was an inspiring musical day and with any luck the UCV congregation will notice an additional spiritual shine on the faces of the Chalice Choir the next time we sing.

Massed choir and guests, First Congregational Church, Bellingham, WA

Chalice Choir on deck

Market Green, Fairhaven, WA

Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship Sanctuary

“It’s happening @ BUF”

Pledging Ahead! Why Do We Do It?

Most Unitarian Universalist congregations/communities/churches rely on pledges from members and friends to help them plan the year ahead. Ultimately, it’s donations, rentals, investment earnings, and bequests that pay for all of our costs, but pledging helps the board to predict revenue and to plan expenses for the year ahead, adding or subtracting services depending upon our predictable overall revenue. Donations in the form of honoured pledges is UCV’s biggest source of support, so please help your board and congregation by pledging generously. Your 2019 Canvass Committee asks you to prepare now for pledging during April!

Please watch for the Pledge Packets that will be distributed in mid-March by email to members and friends with an email address on file, and by slow mail to everyone else.

Or…donate online now! All your gifts are appreciated!

In faith,

Your UCV Canvass Committee (Cathy, Eleanor, John, Keith, Lynn)

Wanted: Delegates for the CUC AGM 11 May 2019

UCV FORUM: 17 Feb 2019 – 12:30 – 2:00 pm in Fireside Room.  Come to discuss feedback to send to Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) on motions proposed for the 2019 AGM:
1) study group for a possible 8th principle on racism, based on a UUA draft motion;
2) bylaw amendment to facilitate regional representation;
3) bylaw amendment to clarify ministers’ eligibility to participate;
4) CUC strategic priorities for 2019-20;
5) application of CPI to Annual Program Contribution (APC);
6) new basis for APC using membership numbers and annual revenue.
And—discuss UCV’s process for picking delegates for the CUC AGM.

Discussion facilitated by Keith Wilkinson, Chair, UU Connections Committee and former CUC Board member.

About the CUC AGM

Vancouver Unitarians are entitled to 7 voting delegates at the Canadian Unitarian Council Annual General Meeting to be held online from UCV 9:30 AM – 1:00 PM Saturday 11 May 2019. The UCV board approves delegates from amongst members who express interest. Delegates are entrusted to study the proposed resolutions, consider the arguments presented, and then vote in whatever way they believe would be in the interests of UCV.

If you plan to be in Toronto on 11 May you can attend the AGM in person, whether a delegate or not, at the CUC’s office at the Centre for Social Innovation 192 Spadina Ave.

An orientation for UCV delegates will be arranged between February and May 2019. If you’re a UCV member and are interested in serving the church as a delegate to the meeting of our national body, please contact
Keith Wilkinson, Chair of the UCV UU Connections Committee  or
Leonie Armstrong, UCV Board President.

Here is more information regarding the CUC AGM.

About the 2019 CUC AGM

Specific information for being a delegate

Six resolutions/motions are scheduled for debate. The UCV Forum on 17 Feb 2019 (12:45 – 2:00 pm) will provide an opportunity for members to provide feedback on these resolutions which include:

  1. Study group to review the appropriateness of an eighth CUC principle on racial justice;
  2. New method of calculating the annual program contribution (APC) for the CUC.
    The proposed method would be based on membership numbers and annual church revenue.
  3. Four other motions including approval of strategic priorities for 2019-20.

Feedback from UCV members will be submitted to the motion originators before 28 Feb 2019.

Information about 2019 resolutions here.

There will be an online Plenary Session the evening prior to the CUC AGM. Plenaries are informal ways to discuss forthcoming resolutions or other issues of interest to members across Canada. They’re typically quite fun and relaxed. The 2019 Plenary is scheduled for 4-6 pm Pacific Time, Friday 10 May 2019 via zoom in a UCV room TBA, and possibly online from any location.

8 Feb 2019 Update 

Asha Philar, CUC Congregational Life Team – Youth and Young Adult Ministry Specialist advises as follows:

“After consultation and discussion with religious professionals, advisors, youth and parents, we have decided to change the age range of our national youth conference, CanUUdle, from 14-20 to 13-19. We feel that this is more in line with the age range of youth groups in our congregations and will allow more youth to participate. 2019 will be a pilot year, so we will evaluate the change after CanUUdle in May.

CanUUdle registration is open from February 15 to April 30 on the CUC website We hope you will promote this wonderful event to youth in your congregation!”

(This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA-NC and made available courtesy of UUYO Youngstown Ohio and used with thanks!)


Inspiration and Resistance for Global Citizens in 2019 and Beyond

The seventh Unitarian Universalist principle calls us to affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. When human and other life is so critically threatened by human-induced climate change and kleptocracy as it is now, it is even more important that we find ways to affirm life. Following are some links to a few inspiring books, films, and podcasts to help us remember that our efforts toward environmental protection, climate change mitigation, and opposition to tyranny matter, and, collectively will make a difference. (All of the podcasts are accessible through iTunes and the Apple podcast app.)

CBC Tapestry podcast: “Finding Hope in the Climate Crisis”- 4 Jan 2019. Link. Excerpts from the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto. The podcast features comments by Margaret Atwood and Vandana Shiva. Host: Mary Hynes. Related Film: The Seeds of Vandana Shiva. Trailer.

CBC Front Burner podcast: “China’s plans to dominate space” – 7 Jan 2019. Features comments by Namrata Goswami about China’s very long range plans to secure resources from beyond the earth to sustain their culture. Host Jayme Poisson. Link.

Slate’s Live at Politics and Prose – podcast link: YouTube Video.

“Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty lessons from the twentieth century.” 9 Mar 2017 – Published just after the election of Donald Trump as 45th President of the USA, Snyder succinctly alerts readers and listeners on strategies for resisting tyranny. Two years old now, this book and podcast ring truer than ever. The Youtube version shows the lively nature of this bookstore and we get to see the people asking the questions. Snyder also has a more recent book “The Road to Unfreedom”. Both books are available from the Vancouver Public Library.

Slate’s Live at Politics and Prosepodcast – Sarah Kendzior “The View From Flyover Country.”

A series of essays originally published in Al Jazeera English on the rise of oligarchy in the USA and globally based on Kendzior’s experience as a reporter and scholar on Western Asian autocracies.

Gaslit Nation – podcast – Sarah Kendzior and Andrea Chalupa host a very hard-hitting, no holds barred commentary against oligarchies.

 And…Gaslit Nation has one of the best-ever graphic images. Image source.

The UrbanDictionary defines “Gaslighting” as “A form of intimidation or psychological abuse, sometimes called Ambient Abuse where false information is presented to the victim, making them doubt their own memory, perception and quite often, their sanity.

USC Canada – Like Vandana Shiva, USC Canada (formerly the Unitarian Service Committee) is a Canadian Charity that is strategically focusing its work on building resilience through ecological agriculture, and especially through global seed security and diversity. Link.

Canadian UU Winter Highlights – 1 Dec 2018

CUC December eNewsThe CUC Enews is getting better and better, (19 pages in this issue!)

In January 2019 it will be coming out weekly, so be sure to subscribe! (See bottom of CUC Homepage.)

Ontario – selected UU winter/spring lineup…

Livestream on YouTube Most Sundays, 7:30 AM Pacific time, First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto complete worship service. [And afterwards you can attend a live service with a BC congregation!]

30th Annual Midwinter Retreat 1-3 Feb 2019 – “Connecting our Stories.” YMCA Cedar Glen Retreat Centre, Bolton, ON — in case you’re planning to be in the area.

Mindful Journey to Northern Vietnam and Angkor Wat – 15-27 March 2019. Led by Rev. Wayne Walder, Minister of Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Toronto.

First Light – First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto weekly newsletter. Subscribe!

Saskatoon Unitarians ?



North Shore?

UU Community in Europe 2019

Berlin 2019, York, Global Social Justice initiatives…

Join this gathering in Berlin!

European Unitarians Together (EUT) – Retreat in Berlin, 7-10 June 2019

  • “EUT 2019 is a 4-day retreat and conference centered about the theme:

Vielfalt – Würze des Lebens? Variety – Spice of life?

  • We intend to explore the many faces of diversity: its challenges, its benefits and its potential for a better Europe. The event will be simultaneously interpreted into at least English and German.”

Past EUT Retreats (1983 – 2018)

Or visit one of these congregations 

  • Great Britain  170-180  congregations, from Aberdare to York


UU community elsewhere on the globe…in case you’re traveling (by sail boat, of course)

Some national UU social justice actions you can join

  • Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice – CUSJ is active on a wide range of social justice issues. Past action areas have included democracy, climate change, environment, peace, health, human rights, criminal justice, and more. And you can keep helping out in these areas.  Check out CUSJ current action areas and the CUSJ Archives of past actions.
  • CUC National Social Justice Teamemail: Erin Horvath, CUC Social Justice Lead Bringing together under one umbrella UUs across Canada who have been active in the CUC’s various Monitoring Groups (e.g., criminal justice, environment, racial justice, affordable housing…)

And if you’re traveling by social media…

The Rise and Fall of Unitarianism in America – YouTube Video 17 mins
Published 11 Oct 2018 by The Cynical Historian

And lest we forget – red and white poppies for remembrance and peace everywhere:

Angel of Mercy – Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, photo K Wilkinson