Author: Keith Wilkinson

O Canada 2021 – Twelve days of honouring celebrations?

Next year, 2021, let’s celebrate a whole collection of summer holidays (holy days) for one grand summer festival honouring all people and other beings while bearing witness to the challenges that call Unitarians to keep on working for justice…

My covenant group met on Canada Day in 2020 and we shared some thoughts about what we liked and disliked about Canada Day. There were many things we appreciated about Canadian culture and political systems, and also many areas where we felt we still fell short and needed to keep on working. Following are some celebrations we could perhaps honour next year leading up to a more complete and satisfying celebration of Canada Day. (Ah…but who amongst us might take the lead!)

2021   Jun 20 Sunday World Refugee Day

This event honors the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.

Jun 20 Sunday Fathers Day

Father’s Day is an unofficial holiday to celebrate fathers around the world—although the date for celebration varies.

Jun 21 Monday Summer Solstice from a scientific viewpoint

It’s the scientific start to summer in the Northern Hemisphere, when this half of the world tilts toward the sun.

Litha – Summer solstice from a Wiccan viewpoint

The Solstice Teaches Us   A poem from the UUA Worship Web

Jun 21 Monday National Indigenous Peoples Day

A day to celebrate and learn more about the cultural diversity of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada.

Jun 21 Monday International Day of Yoga

Yoga is practiced in various forms around the world and continues to grow as a sport and a lifestyle. Traditional yoga has a meditative and spiritual core in addition to the physical exercises. The result is a wide variety of schools, practices, and goals within the yoga community. It is because of yoga’s holistic approach to body and mind that the UN decided in 2014 to dedicate June 21 to this ancient tradition.

“Yoga is a sport that can contribute to development and peace. Yoga can even help people in emergency situations to find relief from stress.” said Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General.

Jun 23 Wednesday Public Service Day

The United Nations’ Public Service Day is held on June 23 each year. It recognizes that democracy and successful governance are built on the foundation of a competent civil service. The day aims to celebrate the value and virtue of service to the community.

Jun 23 Wednesday International Widows’ Day

International Widows’ Day was introduced to address poverty and injustice faced by widows and their children in many countries. It was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2010 and is observed annually on June 23.

Jun 24 Thursday Fête nationale du Québec (FR)

Fête nationale du Québec (EN)     AKA Ste-Jean-Baptiste Day  (EN)

The people of Québec celebrate their national holiday with more than 750 celebrations held across the province on 23 and 24 June. Organized by nearly 20,000 volunteers, the festivities of the Fête nationale include more than 1,050 events and 360 bonfires, in addition to some of the largest public gatherings in Québec.

Jun 25 Friday Day of the Seafarer

In 2010, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), decided to designate June 25th as the International Day of the Seafarer as a way to recognize that almost everything that we use in our daily lives has been directly or indirectly affected by sea transport.  The purpose of the day is to give thanks to seafarers for their contribution to the world economy and the civil society; and for the risks and personal costs they bear while on their jobs.

Jun 26 Saturday  International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represent to society. This day is supported by individuals, communities and various organizations all over the world. 

Jun 26 Saturday  International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Rehabilitation centres and human rights organizations around the world celebrate the UN’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on June 26 each year. The day serves as a reminder to people that torture is a crime. This event gives everyone a chance to unite and voice their opinions against human torture.

Organizations, including the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims and Amnesty International, have played an active role in organizing events around the world to promote the day. Activities may include photo exhibitions, the distribution of posters and other material to boost people’s awareness of issues related to human torture, and television advertisements.

Jun 27 Sunday Canadian Multiculturalism Day

Discover the significance of multiculturalism in Canada — ensuring that all citizens keep their identities, take pride in their ancestry and have a sense of belonging.

Jun 30 Wednesday International Asteroid Day

June 30 is the anniversary of the Tunguska impact, also known as the Tunguska event. On that day a large explosion occurred in the sky over the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Siberia, Russia.

It destroyed about 2,000 square kilometers (770 square miles) of the forest in the area, flattening about 80 million trees. The area is sparsely populated, and there were no official reports of human casualties.

It is thought that an asteroid or a comet was responsible for the blast. The Tunguska event is considered to be the largest asteroid impact on Earth in recorded history.

2021 Jul 1 Thursday Canada DayUCV’s Patrick Dubois’ 2020 Musical Tribute

What do we need to do as Canadian Unitarians to help make Canada Day a time of celebration for all people and not just a settler’s celebration?

 

On-going

The Butterfly Way ProjectThe David Suzuki Foundation

Environmental Rights

Climate Solutions

Further information on 2021 holidays worldwide:

United Nations Holidays

timeanddate.com

UUA Worship Web – a poem on summer

Also:

  • Animal Rights Awareness Week – (Mid June) 13-19 June 2021?
  • Fish are Friends, Not Food Week! – (Last Week of June) 20-26 June 2021?
  • National Pollinator Week – 20-26 June 2021?

Aw, Canada! Canada Day 2020 – with UCV’s Patrick Dubois

Images – screenshots from YouTube

Canada Day 2020…

2020 Jul 1st Wednesday Click for UCV’s Patrick Dubois’ Musical Tribute for Canada Day 2020!

But alas! Canada Day still has the taint of past and current colonial injustices. What can we, as Canadian Unitarians, do to help make Canada Day a time of celebration for all people living in Canada and not just a settler’s celebration?

Here are some thoughts from one of our indigenous leaders:

“Speaking to CTV News Channel Wednesday, (1 Jul 2020) National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde admits that Canada has a long way to go in achieving equality for Indigenous peoples, but urged the community to embrace a positive message of hope. “There is a huge divide that must be closed, and we can only close that divide… by working together and have kindness and love and respect for each other as human beings,” he said.“We need more and more First Nations people around decision making tables… once you get more people around those decision-making tables we see ourselves in the system and that will lead to better legislation and better policy moving forward.”

Up next is a post about possibilities for next year, 2021, to continue the long process of addressing our colonial injustices.

 

In Memoriam – Reverend Andrew Backus

Rev Dr Andrew Backus died on 22 Jan 2020 at the age of 75. Many Vancouver Unitarians will remember Andy as UCV’s interim minister from 2000 to 2002, just before Rev Dr Steven Epperson began his ministry at UCV.

A memorial service for Rev Backus was held at 2 pm on Saturday, February 15, 2020, at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, 1207 Ellsworth St, Bellingham, WA 98225. Notes of condolences may be sent to Chris Backus at 2746 Broadway St, Bellingham, WA 98225.

The UUA Service of the Living Tradition honours all UU ministers who have died in the preceding year, and will be live-streamed on Thursday, 25 June 2020 from 3-4 pm Pacific Time. A written memorial to Andy is included in this memorial book prepared by UUA in support of this service.

Virtual UUA General Assembly: 24-28 June 2020

When they attend in person, many Canadian Unitarians find the very large Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) General Assemblies (GAs) to be inspiring and comforting. This year, in virtual mode, UUA’s GA promises to be something quite different!

The UUA lists 11 events that will be live streamed sessions open to the public without prior registration.  Click here to go to the UUA page that gives instructions for live-streaming any of these 11 open events.

The first UUA open event is scheduled for 5:45- 6:30 pm Pacific Time, Wednesday, 24 June 2020. This is the first  of six sessions of the UUA General Business Meeting – perhaps of particular interest to UU policy nerds. Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Co-Moderators Mr. Barb Greve and Elandria Williams will preside over the general sessions in which the business of the Association is conducted.

Other live-streaming events from the GA that Canadian Unitarians may find of more interest include the following:

SERVICE OF THE LIVING TRADITION, GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2020

Thursday, June 25, 2020; 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight; 3:00 – 4:00 pm Pacific Time

The Ministries and Faith Development Staff Group invites you to join us at this service where we honor those who have died, recognize those who have completed active service, and welcome those who have received fellowship, credentialed, or certified status in the past year.

The sermon will be delivered by Rev. Danielle Di Bona. Rev. Di Bona has served Unitarian Universalism for 30 years, and is the 2018 recipient of the Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism. In her retirement, she serves as the Palliative Care chaplain at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, MA. She has served as a member of the UU Nominating Committee and on the UU Women’s Federation board. She is the former President of the Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries, and continues to serve DRUUMM as Chaplain. Rev. Di Bona also serves on the Board of the Church of the Larger Fellowship. She is a Chaplain to the UUA Board of Trustees and Finding Our Way Home.

Dr. Zanaida Stewart Robles, Service of the Living Tradition Music Director, is a fierce advocate for diversity and inclusion in music education and performance. Born, raised, and educated in Southern California, she is in demand as a vocalist, conductor, clinician and adjudicator for competitions, festivals, and conferences related to choral and solo vocal music. She serves on the national board of the National Association of Negro Musicians and is co-chair of the board of directors of Tonality, a non-profit organization that promotes peace, unity, and social justice through choral music performance in Los Angeles.

The service includes a collection to benefit the Living Tradition Fund. Members of the public are welcome.

 

SYNERGY BRIDGING WORSHIP, GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2020

Friday, June 26, 2020; 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 3:00 – 4:00 pm Pacific Time,

This is a transformative multigenerational worship. Come be inspired and illuminated at a celebration of treasured worship elements, rites of passage and brilliant contemporary musical performances.

 

SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP: “BEYOND THE WATER’S EDGE,” UUA GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2020

This event is scheduled to occur twice on Sunday, June 28, 2020:

  • 7:00 – 8:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time
  • 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time
  • The service will also be available for on-demand viewing at 11:00 a.m. PDT.

“Join us for the largest annual gathering of UUs joining in worship. This powerful, communal worship experience is open to the public. Rev. Joan Javier-Duval will deliver the sermon at the 2020 General Assembly Sunday Morning Worship. She serves as Minister of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier, VT. She is the daughter of immigrants from the Philippines, mother of a kindergartener, and spouse of a proud Vermonter. Beauty, gratitude, and love are at the heart of her faithful striving for collective liberation and a thriving planet.

The worship service will include a collection for the Tomaquag Museum, an indigenous museum featuring an extensive collection and archive of Southern New England tribal communities.”

If you’d like to take part in the whole UUA GA you can register here for US$150 and will then have live access to all sessions including the Opening Ceremonies, Ware Lecture, and nine Featured Speakers.

Other resources are also mentioned in the UUA documentation, including a resource of accessible liturgical music composed by the late Rev Dr Andy Backus. Many Vancouver Unitarians will remember Andy who served as UCV’s interim minister from 2000-2002. Andy died on 15 Jan 2020. An obituary for Rev Backus will be listed separately on this blog and Andy will be remembered as part of the UUA GA Service of the Living Tradition on Thursday, 25 June.

Two poems for Steven

Some of you have asked about the poems I read for Steven’s final service, so here they are in print.

As some have remarked, it’s ironic that the poem of welcome from 2002 seems more complete now in 2020 when Steven has departed. Only now do we feel how fully welcome he was and is.

In my poem of farewell, I was reflecting on the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part, and the transience of all that we know, including Steven’s time with us, and I wanted to pay tribute to Steven’s annual sermons on science, which ranged from microscopic to galactic in their perspective. So Unitarian in their outlook! I had recently been reading about gamma ray bursts, one received reportedly from a source 12.8 billion light years away from earth, and so the oldest phenomenon humans have detected so far.

A long and interesting journey indeed! The great miracle, the great mystery of which we are a living part, and to which Steven helped us bear witness.

I wrote a second poem of farewell for Steven, too, which may be part of the printed package that was given to him. It’s a bit more complicated so I didn’t read it for the farewell service, but I may post it here sometime in the future. It’s a discussion of farewell, so long, and goodbye and has a particular slant on why “g’b’y” might be the right thing for us to say to Steven, which is what I said at the end of this farewell poem– “G’b’y Steven!”

(The featured image is a detail from a 1989 artwork by long-time UCV member, the late Daphne Naegele, titled “Many suns do not penetrate the darkness”.)

A poem of welcome

on the occasion of Reverend Doctor Steven Epperson’s installation as Parish Minister at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, 13 October 2002.

 

The welcome we give today is not the welcome we will give tomorrow
for the Guest tomorrow will be known more deeply
and our welcome will be more complete.

Each day our welcome will be larger
and deeper than the day before
and never finished in its giving.

 

A poem of farewell

on the occasion of Reverend Doctor Steven Epperson’s departure as Parish Minister from the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, 21 June 2020.

 

Our time together
has reached its end.
Cosmos has shifted
and still does just what it wants
and still incorporates us.

And if comets or gamma-ray bursts
had eyes and poetic sensibilities,
what would they tell us
about their long and
interesting journeys?

G’b’y Steven!

CUC May 2020 National Conference & AGM Highlights

Featured image – Susanne Maziarz, Music Director at Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Toronto; co-leader with Rev Wayne Walder of a cross-Canada ceremony of remembrance, We are together, at the national gathering on 17 May 2020.

*12 more photos at the end of this post!

CUC eNews Coverage here.

CUC May 2020 National Conference Highlights

  • Video of the CUC Cross Canada Sunday Service One Storm, Many Ships
    (edited video, 90 minutes). The wonderful story for children of all ages read by Kiersten Moore has been deleted from the saved video pending copyright approvals from Disney.
  • CUC 2019 Annual Report (pdf document, 56 pages)
    The annual report is full of information about CUC’s work and how you might participate. It’s very worthwhile reading!
  • Attendance at 4 meetings via Zoom & YouTube: 150, 170, 200, 1,000
    (Numbers are approximate because more than one person may have been on one connection and some people had more than one connection!) Details of events follow.
  • If you’re interested in participating in these events in the future, contact the UCV UU Connections Committee – currently Keith Wilkinson, Lynn Armstrong, Kiersten Moore, & Emilie Adin. Text or phone Keith at 604-838-5643 or Lynn at 778-835-2546 or watch for a newly updated UCV Directory of Small Groups, Committees, and Teams, anticipated soon!

Plenary sessionThurs 14 May 2020, 150 participants; informal discussion of the resolutions being presented at the Sat AGM.

Gathering CeremonyFri, 15 May 2020, 170 participants, virtual banner parade with photos sent from many congregations across Canada, with music added, assembled by Amber Bellemare in Montreal.

Cross Canada Service – Sun, 17 May 2020, 1,000 participants, four ministers, many musicians and singers
Video available on CUC’s YouTube channel.

Annual General MeetingSat, 16 May 2020, 200 participants (97 delegates, 100 observers, 45 congregations)
See the CUC Annual Report for details.

  • Reviewed CUC’s expected investment performance with the investments manager;
    (investments at the end of Dec 2019 were valued at $6.1 million);
  • Approved an operating budget of $812,000 (compare this to UCV at $600,000);
  • Approved changes in procedures for electing board members;
  • Elected new board members;
  • Approved 2020-21 goals and strategic priorities;
  • Responded to questions about the International Council of Unitarians and Univeralists (ICUU) conference still scheduled for Montreal in October 2020;
  • Received reports regarding a few of the many initiatives outlined in the Annual Report:
    • Youth and Young Adults (Annual Report, pp 23-26)
      plus CazUUm – CUC youth zoom conference (34 participants)
    • Truth Healing and Reconciliation Initiative (Annual Report, pp 29-31)
    • Social Justice Action (Annual Report, pp 26-28)
    • Dismantling Racism (Annual Report, p 35)
    • Polyamory Task Force (Annual Report, pp 36-55 – the full 19-page report from the task force on this complex subject, including recommendations for the CUC.)
  • Celebration of special awards:
    • Sharing our Faith Awards – Awards to support emerging programs in several congregations (Durham, Mississauga, Edmonton)
    • Northern Lights Award – support for a major initiative, this year for Northwest Toronto Co-housing Project (involving Unitarian fellowship of Northwest Toronto)
    • Shining Lights Award – for new innovative programs (see CUC website for details)
    • Theological Education Fund Award – Co-sponsored by CUC and UUMOC (UU Ministers of Canada) for support of ministerial students (grants made to two ministerial students ths year)
    • Knight Award – Awarded to Rev Frances Deverell for dedicated service on social justice issues including work with the Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice CUSJ
    • See the above links or email the CUC office for more details about any of the CUC award programs.

 

Some screen shots from the CUC Canada-wide Virtual Service, Sun 17 May 2020  

(Google the congregational web sites for more images and information!)

Sunday Service Leaders:

Rev Norm Horofker, Halifax Universalist Unitarians

Rev Karen Fraser Gitlitz, Saskatoon Unitarians

Rev Meghann Robern, Winnipeg Unitarian Universalists

Rev Wayne Walder, Neighbourhood Unitarian Fellowship, Toronto

Rev Samaya Oakley, South Fraser Unitarians, Surrey BC

Spoken Word

Taz Trefzger, Hamilton Unitarians & 2020 CazUUm Co-Dean

Carter Mahoney, Peterborough Unitarians, Young Adults Ensemble

Wonderful singers and musicians from across the country

Halifax, Peterborough, Toronto, Vancouver…

James Morris (guitar), Halifax, playing Making Waves, composed for the occasion.

Peterborough Unitarians – Spirit of Life (Mark, Julie, Katherine, Stephira, Ben, Linda)

Vancouver Unitarians Elliott and Edgar playing work by Cape Breton’s Allistair MacGillivray

James Hill teaching us the ukulele “peace chord”.

Vancouver Unitarians Choir Leads: Beth, Erin, Bryan, Gavin
leading Canadian Unitarians in Blue Boat Home.

 

Four National CUC Online Gatherings – Victoria Day Weekend

Thursday, May 14: Informal Plenary

3:30 pm PDT | 4:30 pm MDT | 5:30 pm CDT | 6:30 pm EDT | 7:30 pm ADT  – 1.5 hours
Prior to the AGM on May 16, the CUC Board invites you to an informal dialogue amongst congregational delegates, leaders, board members, and CUC staff to discuss issues of importance to congregations, in support of the CUC’s vision, goals, and strategic priorities.
Register in advance at  https://bit.ly/CUCPlenary to join the plenary.

 

Friday, May 15: National Gathering
3:30 pm PDT | 4:30 pm MDT | 5:30 pm CDT | 6:30 pm EDT | 7:30 pm ADT  – 1.5 hours
We will gather across the country, virtually, on the Friday of what was to have been the start of the National Conference. Come, we will join together to celebrate our connections and our faith. All welcome!

Register in advance at https://bit.ly/CUCGathering to join the gathering.

All are welcome.

Saturday, May 16: 2020 Annual General Meeting

9:00am – 12:30pm PDT | 10:00am – 1:30 pm MDT |  11:00am – 2:30pm CDT | 12:00pm – 3:30pm EDT |1:00p.m. – 4:30 pm ADT

WHERE: Online via Zoom. All members of CUC member congregations and fellowships can participate but only registered delegates can vote.

Register in advance at https://bit.ly/CUCAGM to attend the meeting.

 

Sunday, May 17: Cross-Canada Sunday Service – Live Online
9:30 am PDT | 10:30 am MDT | 11:30 am CDT | 12:30 pm EDT | 1:30 pm ADT | 2:00 pm NL
Join UUs from across Canada for a unique opportunity to celebrate in a national Sunday Service together. Rev. Norm Horofker from the Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax, with his ministerial colleagues, will lead a worship service for Canadians across the country and worldwide. Let’s come together virtually to celebrate our national connection and our national conference. Join us on Zoom or watch on the CUC’s YouTube channel. We welcome you, wherever you are. Register in advance at https://bit.ly/UUSundayService to join the service.

 

“Enough angels in heaven, more needed in hell.” – Alastair McIntosh

The UK Unitarians Annual Conference 6-9 April 2020 was billed as Being Together – A three-day virtual gathering for spiritual connection. Mary Bennett and I, both from Vancouver, signed up to hear the keynote address at the conference on 8 April via zoom. It was scheduled in a Greenwich evening time slot (conveniently a Pacific mid-morning time slot!) and featured Alastair McIntosh speaking with 150 participants on the theme “The Revolution Will be Spiritual”. Alastair is described as an independent writer, broadcaster, speaker and activist who is involved in a wide range of contemporary issues, from land reform, globalization and nonviolence to psychology, spirituality and ecology. His forthcoming book ‘Riders on the Storm’ explores the science, psychology and spirituality of climate change, and of the need to build soul and meaning in these troubled times. Alastair is a Quaker, and is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Glasgow University.

Meeting Safeguards – There were many safeguards in place for this zoom gathering to reduce the chance of zoom-bombing and meeting hijacking. All of this was carefully explained by the host to those who had been admitted. There was a password, a waiting room, all microphones were muted and under the control of the host, and chats and video sharing were disabled. The co-hosts, (zoom-bouncers for the zoom-bombers), watched and listened for malicious interlopers and were ready to eject them permanently from the meeting if some inappropriate video content was displayed. Happily, there were no disruptions.

The keynote theme – Alastair spoke on the “the interiority of the spiritual”, ethical activism in the form of small acts of kindness, and drew from a diverse range of spiritual writings including the Upanishads, the Bible, the work of American theologian Walter Wink, and WB Yeats’ poem, The Second Coming.

The 150 participants were divided randomly into 20 breakout rooms afterward for a short discussion of what we’d heard and how we were doing during the pandemic. Like many zoom activities, these small groups were intimate and interesting. My small group included participants from congregations in York and London in the UK, and me from Vancouver.

A recording of the video is expected to appear soon. Watch for more at unitarian.org.uk .

It is also linked at: http://www.alastairmcintosh.com/

Recordings of some of the other sessions can be found here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNKHWNVhvQxTVcSnPh9Vdsw/videos?fbclid=IwAR3ZG8MtpHp4yv6fOXh7hlOVnAPGc4igze8-7B58IdbG3tyGjKXfeRTmkA4

“We shall be known by the company we keep”

UK General Assembly 2020 Closing Worship Service

Seventy-five participants joined in the Thursday (GMT) closing worship service of the three-day all-online annual General Assembly of the UK Unitarians. I was touched by this statement of gratitude, so suitable to our time, by Kate Brody McKenna, one of the worship leaders:

“Let us treasure the spirit that has danced between us on our screens.”

Service leaders were Rev Bob Janis-Dillon, Warrington Unitarians (right); Rev Kate Brady McKinnon, Bury Unitarians (left), and Rev Anna Jarvis, Monton Eccles Manchester Unitarians (below right).

Closing choral piece was We Shall be Known by MaMuse
(Worth hearing!)

 

Additional links added by Mary:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX11MEtbkXI

 

Pledge! Your Unitarian community needs you!!

All Unitarian congregations call for pledges from their members and friends to provide support for their activities. Pledge drives are commonly held either in the spring (for a fiscal year beginning 1 July), or in the fall (for a fiscal year beginning 1 January). Check the details about how to pledge for a CUC congregation near you – or give to the national organization, Canadian Unitarian Council .
Keep the Unitarian movement strong by pledging!

To pledge or donate to Vancouver Unitarians go to the UCV Giving page.

“Permission is not required for film or video productions showing a general indication of currency and where there is no danger of images contributing to counterfeiting (e.g., for a television commercial).”  Bank of Canada / Banque du Canada