Author: Keith Wilkinson

Canadian UU Events: Fall 2018, Spring 2019

Upcoming UU regional, national and international action:
– Referendum on BC Electoral Reform, before 30 Nov;
– CUC AGM, 11 May 2019 in Toronto;
– BC Interior UU Spring Gathering – “Creating Theology Together”, date & location TBA

CUC 2019 Annual General Meeting – Sat 11 May 2019 (weekend before the long weekend), online and live from Toronto. Participate online — being easy on the environment is part of the plan!

We suggest pre-reading and discussion in the fall of 2018 on this topic:     

Proportional Representation: Assessment of alternative models” – What national, regional, congregational, and individual action plans can we create in support of proportional representation? CUC may propose actions for approval under democracy resolutions endorsed by members at the 2013, 2005 and 2003 AGMs. Therefore, prepare early!

The Vancouver Westside Unitarian Neighbourhood Group (WUNG) discussed this topic at its October 2018 meeting. Here are some links related to those discussions.

“The Rural-Urban PR model proposed by the Attorney General for BC builds on the work of previous commissions and assemblies, combining Mixed Member Proportional and Single Transferable Vote to meet the challenges of BC’s geography. A model like this was proposed federally in 2016 by Canada’s former Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley, and something very similar to this is used in Sweden, Denmark and Iceland.”

BC Interior UU Spring Gathering 2019 – Joan Carolyn, Congregational Life Staff Team – Regional Lead, Western & B.C. will be leading discussions with a planning group for a BC Interior UU gathering on the theme “Creating Theology Together”.

Here’s a link to the research behind this theme, a work by John Morehouse, 2015.

CUC 2020 Annual General Meeting & Conference, 15-17 May 2020, online & live from Halifax. Plan ahead! Put it in your calendar now. Reduce carbon emissions! Take the train or drive an electric or hybrid vehicle. Participate online! Compare stones from West and East coast beaches!

Beach stones – natural
Beach stones – enhanced

UU Connections Committee – National & Global

UUCC  (you you see see) – UCV’s National & Global Connections Committee

Update – 5 July 2018 – from Keith Wilkinson, Committee Chair

This posting summarizes some of the national and global activities in which Vancouver Unitarians have been engaged over the years. Activity in various areas ebbs and flows as members and issues change. If you are curious about possibilities in this wider UU community, these entries can serve as starting places.

Vancouver has participated actively in national Unitarian work for many decades. Our Bylaws require that we be part of the national movement and we have had many members serving on board and staff of the CUC including:

  • Founding member, the late Rev Dr Phillip Hewett in the 1960s;
  • Mary Bennett, Executive Director, 2000-2008;
  • Leslie Kemp, Board member, 2009-2015;
  • Keith Wilkinson, Board member 2015-2018, and immediate Past President.

Following in this tradition of involvement, UCV’s Director of Religious Education, Kiersten Moore, has just begun her first three-year term as a CUC Board member (2018-2021) and is serving as CUC Board Secretary. Rev Debra Thorne, a former UCV member and Lay Chaplain and now Parish Minister at Beacon Unitarian Church in New Westminster, is UUMOC’s Minister Observer to the CUC Board.

Read more about the CUC Board, see their pictures, and read about the May 2018 Conference in the June 2018 CUC eNews


2019 CUC AGM – The UCV Board will need to select and prepare delegates for the 2019 CUC AGM. This will be conducted person to person in Toronto and online across Canada using zoom. Typically, the CUC Board will meet in Toronto with Greater Toronto congregational delegates who wish to attend in person. Others across Canada can sign in electronically. UCV will be entitled to 7 or 8 voting delegates depending upon official membership numbers in September 2018. If you’re a UCV member and would like to be considered to attend as an official delegate, please speak to someone on the UCV board.

The official CUC AGM will probably be on the weekend before the Victoria Day long weekend, that is, on Saturday 11 May 2019. (Victoria Day is 20 May 2019.) AGMs are open to all members and friends, but only formally appointed delegates can speak to and vote on resolutions.

There will probably also be an informal sharing of ideas at a Cross Canada Dialog on the Friday evening of 10 May 2019. These dialogs are open to all members and friends and are often lively and respectful exchanges of views about controversial, critical, and emerging national and global issues. These sessions are sometimes set up as resolution plenary sessions if formal resolutions are being presented at the AGM.

The CUC’s National Conference in 2020 will take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia from May 15 – 17, 2020. Once again, the 2020 AGM will be available face-to-face or globally online.

  • (Note that CUC AGMs in even years are usually on the Victoria Day weekend and in odd years are on the weekend preceding the Victoria Day weekend.)

Parliament of the World’s Religions (POWR) –

  • Meeting in Toronto ON, 1- 7 Nov 2018
  • The Parliament of the World’s Religions was created to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.
  • To accomplish this, we invite individuals and communities who are equally invested in attaining this goal.

UU-UNO Spring Conference  New York City, 11-13 Apr 2019.
The UU-United Nations Office is a program that connects the UUA to United Nations work. Canadians have been participating in a variety of ways including donations and youth visits to the UN.



ICUU – International Council of Unitarian Universalists

  • Organized under the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)
  • Encourages emerging UU groups globally. Approx 30 members and emerging national groups from Africa, Australia, Europe, India, Phillipines. Canada has had members serving on the Executive for many years.
  • Last gatherings were in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 2016 and Kathmandu Nepal in 2018; next gathering TBA
  • The CUC makes charitable donations annually for ICUU work that meets the requirements of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

UCV’s Partner Church in Brasso, Romania

  • Vancouver Unitarians have a special relationship with the UU congregation in Brassó, Romania and often arrange to visit that congregation. For info about the UCV Partner Church Committee contact Alison Pearson
  • The Vancouver Partner Church program is one of 186 partnerships facilitated by the UUA’s Partner Church Council.
  • Here is a list of the 186 UU partnerships around the world. If you travel, visit!

UUA – Unitarian Universalist Association (USA)

  • The central organization for the Unitarian Universalist (UU) religious movement in the United States. Over 1,000 member congregations.
  • In 2001 the CUC and the UUA agreed that many services for Canada should be organized through the CUC. (An important exception is the training and certification of UU ministers.) A few Canadian congregations remain members of both the UUA and the CUC.
  • UUA continues to develop many resources that can be of value to Canadians. In 2016 the CUC Board identified these as opportunities CUC should pursue.
  • UU-UNO – A program that connects the UUA to United Nations global work. In past decades, Canadians have been active participants in this program and the CUC still makes charitable donations annually for designated global projects that meet the requirements of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The next UU-UNO Spring Conference in New York City is 11-13 Apr 2019.

CUC – Canadian Unitarian Council  

Some ways to get involved in CUC national projects:

Andrew Cathers, “Heart Labrynth”
  • Online events – webinars and roundtables
  • Regional gatherings – The CUC is organized into four regions, currently BC, Western, Central, and Eastern. A range of gatherings are regularly scheduled for different age levels and interests.
  • Check the websites of BC’s 12 congregations or the other 34 congregations across Canada for local events. Visit them when you travel.


CUC Background:

  • The CUC was formed in 1961 operating with support from the American UUA.
  • On 1 July 2002 the Canadian Unitarian Council became the main association and service provider for Unitarians and Universalists in Canada.
  • In 2018 there were 46 member congregations of the CUC.
  • Visit the CUC website to learn more about the programs and services supported by the CUC.
  • See Milestones in CUC History 1940-2002.
  • Funding for CUC’s operations come from the following sources:
    • Annual Program Contribution (APC) from all members congregations – currently based on membership size, but an alternative may be recommended in 2019.
      Approx CUC income in 2017 from this source: $366,000 (43%)
    • Donations to Friends of the CUC and to special CUC projects and joint projects of CUC and other groups like the UU Ministers Association of Canada (UUMOC). Special projects in recent years have included Sharing Our Faith, Northern Lights, Shining Lights, and the Theological Education Fund. Approx CUC 2017 income from this source: $314,000 (37%)
    • Investment income – the CUC has reserves invested in ethically and environmentally screened enterprises. Approx CUC 2017 income from this source: $126,000 (15%)
    • Event registration – Many CUC programs and conferences include a revenue component to help them be self-sustaining.
      Approx CUC 2017 income from this source: $36,000 (4%)
    • Other income – Approx CUC 2017 income from this source: $17,000 (2%)
    • Total Approx CUC income in 2017: $838,000 (100%)

CUSJ – Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice

  • CUSJ describes itself as “A national faith-based organization that supports Unitarian values through action”. It has a number of very active campaigns and publishes a newsletter regularly.
  • CUSJ is a not for profit non-charitable national organization that operates independently from the CUC so that it can take political action beyond what would be allowable for the CUC as a charitable organization.
  • CUSJ was formed in 1996 has regional chapters including Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands, West Coast Region, Southern Alberta, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Ottawa, and Quebec.

Encounter World Religions Centre  –

  • Mission: Encounter promotes religious literacy and informed understanding of cultural diversity.
  • Approach: Encounter is an educational organization that blends academic and experiential learning to foster encounters with the four P’s of religious communities: their people, places, practices and philosophies.
  • Operates from Guelph Ontario. Has conducted sessions at CUC Conferences.


Silver Star Mountain

Other Global Organizations with compatible values

World Federalist Movement – Canadian branches

USC Canada – Focus on Global Seed Security

UCV labyrinth dancers

White Poppies for Peace – Wreath-making

The final wreath-making event happened on Wednesday evening, 10 Nov 2017. Half of the wreathes created were placed at UCV for 11 Nov 2017 and half were placed at the Canadian Memorial United Church and Centre for Peace at 16th and Burrard. Following are photos of the wreathes placed at UCV.

For child soldiers
For lost potential from education disrupted by war
For the environmental devastation caused by war







For indigenous victims of genocide and cultural destruction
For peace advocates everywhere
Let peace be their memorial


For the children of Palestine
For the children of Palestine.
For PTSD sufferers, civilian and military
To the hundreds of thousands of victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1945


In memory of the victims of the on-going war in Yemen
At the UCV workshop

Global UU News – Nov 2017

I’ve created some links to BC, Canadian, and International UU activities plus some related non-Unitarian organizations under the title Global Community. The tab leading there hadn’t been added to the Community section of our tab structure at time of writing, but I expect it will soon. You can also get there by using the search button on the home page and entering “global”.

In faith,
Keith Wilkinson

CUC National & International News

Feedback to CUC requested from member congregations

The CUC Board is seeking thoughts from members across the country on three main subjects for further discussion this fall. The three subjects are as follows:
a) CUC vision implementation suggestions
Vision – “Our interdependence calls us to love and justice.”
Suggestions: Can we do better at fostering interdependence amongst non-Unitarian organizations or other faith communities that share some of our values (e.g. groups focussing on climate action, environmental protection, civil liberties, affordable housing, global peace, animal rights, democratic practices…)
b) consideration of revising the CUC Sources statement similar to what UUA did and perhaps changing the Principles statements as well.

  • Sources – In Source #2, should we replace “women and men” with “people”?
  • Principles – In Principle #1 should we replace “person” with “being”?
  • What do we think of the proposal to add an eighth principle opposing white supremacy?

c) identification of social justice issues that are inspiring the attention of our congregations.
Does our congregation have a common social justice focus? Do we wish to have one? Do we have the structure, skills, resources, and time to develop a consensus about a common focus, or should we not try to prioritize social justice issues?

Send your thoughts to

Four strategic priorities

In addition to exploring member answers the above questions, the CUC Board is encouraging congregations to work on improving performance in support of the four strategic priorities approved at the 2017 AGM:

1. Financial Sustainability – 

The  CUC raised its annual program contribution (APC) from $93 to $100 per congregant for 2018. This is the first increase in quite a few years and brings us up to the inflation rate for this period. The increase will enable CUC to pay all of its staff at an appropriate level. Investment income, donations to Friends of the CUC, and event fees are the other primary sources of funds for conducting national UU work.

2. Improved Communication Capacity –

A lot of value has arisen in the past two years from video-conferencing using the zoom platform. With zoom we can see and hear each other across the country, talk to each other in a group context, and let others see our documents by sharing our computer or tablet screens. Some special interest groups and individual congregations are using zoom to reduce travel time for meetings.

CUC staff have used zoom for formal webinars and informal roundtable discussions on special topics. The CUC board meets 8 times a year via zoom and some ministers use zoom for their meetings. Individuals can set up their own zoom conversations with local or regional teams, committees, or groups of friends to discuss anything at all. The chief limitation to using zoom seems to be lack of experience in setting up a call. Here are some options about how to set up a zoom meeting.

Create your own zoom account Use one of CUC’s 3 zoom accounts
1.       Google zoom or click here and create your own account. It’s free, but your meeting times are limited to <1 hour. You can upgrade to a more robust service for a fee.

2.       Follow the tutorials on how to use your microphone, speakers, camera, and chat features.

3.       Determine a date and time for your call.

4.       Create a meeting and send the meeting ID number to a friend to chat.

5.       Invite other people using the same process.

6.       Yakety-yak yakety-yak!

1.       Determine a date, time, and duration for your call.

2.       Ask the CUC office to set up a zoom conference for you at that date and time. The office will do that and send you a meeting ID number. Email the CUC office:  or phone Ahna DeFelice, the new CUC Organizational Administrator toll free at
(Learn more about Ahna here)

3.       By email invite those you want to participate in your discussion and send them the meeting ID number. All they have to do is click on the ID number and follow the prompts. If they don’t have zoom on their laptop they’ll be prompted to download it. They should do that. They can also join by phone without video, but it’s nice to see friendly faces.

4.       Sign in to your meeting early and study how to use your microphone, speakers, camera, and chat features.

5.       Manage your meeting.

Advantages of your own account:
Set up meetings any time at your convenience – just like using a telephone.The zoom and CUC tutorials are pretty good so if you start small, you may find it isn’t too hard.Disadvantages of this option:
You’re on your own!
You may run out of time in a meeting unless you purchase the upgraded service.
Advantages of using the CUC account:
CUC sets up the meeting link for you.
No fees involved for you.
More time available.
Sessions can be recorded for later access offline.Disadvantages of this option:
There may be a time lag between your request and the meeting set-up.
Note that the CUC office is only open from      6:00 am – 1:30 pm Pacific time, Mon-Thu.


3. CUC support for truth and reconciliation between indigenous peoples and other Canadians –

One of 18 granite sidewalk medallions by Susan Point on West Broadway. There are another 18 medallions by local Greek artists.

This third priority is likely to be one for a long time. What are the issues and what can we do about them?

When Europeans first came to this continent they did not uniformly treat indigenous peoples with respect. There were many failings — there was blatant racism, indigenous peoples were treated as less than human, and treaties negotiated in good faith between First Nations and European powers were disregarded by successive Canadian (American, British, French, Spanish, and Mexican) governments. In too many situations European actions were directly and intentionally harmful to indigenous people. Indigenous peoples were killed, their land taken, indigenous languages, and cultural and spiritual practices banned, exclusionary racist policies enacted, and children taken from families and put in residential schools where many were abused and neglected. Many Canadians, and the Canadian government, now recognize that these actions were wrong, and that contemporary Canadians have an ethical obligation to do their best to correct these wrongs. This is going to take a lot of effort, by many people, over a long time, so where can we start? Following are some ideas.



Suggestions for truth and reconciliation work:

  1. Read and discuss with friends the Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the 94 calls to action (notably #60 regarding the role of churches.)
  2. Listen to what indigenous peoples are saying about land claims, environmental protection, and the impact of residential schools, and respect their views. If you can, follow their lead.
  3. Consider what we may need to do as individuals to give land back to indigenous people.
  4. Study aboriginal spiritual teachings. Talk with aboriginal leaders to learn if any of these can be incorporated into UU services without being considered to be cultural appropriation.
  5. Acknowledge the gifts of knowledge, skill, patience, and sharing of resources that indigenous peoples offered to European settlers and continue to offer in our current multicultural context.
  6. Take part in one of the age-appropriate study sessions about colonialism and residential schools developed by a CUC task force as Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Reflection Guides. The adult course based on these guides is a series of eight, 2.5 hour sessions (20 hours). Sessions for other age groups are under development.  See details of the adult THR program here: Overview of the eight 2.5-hour study sessions for adults
  7. Learn more about other aspects of the CUC’s truth and reconciliation program and fall and winter 2017 training programs here.

Following are a few more resources related to reconciliation:

Horses in the Stein River Valley. Picture from a UCV history field trip by members in 2015. (The trip was arranged as a service auction item.)

The Kairos Blanket Exercise is an experiential learning process developed by Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives to help non-indigenous people understand the impact of colonization. It is offered independently by a range of sponsors, and as part of CUC’s truth and reconciliation program. Visit the Kairos Blanket Exericise Resource Centre site for information about additional resources.

Land rights – Here are links to an interesting website and related podcast from BBC World Service “South Africa and the Land Question”, released Jun 30, 2017. Audrey Brown’s documentary Give Back the Land tells the story of a white Western Cape vineyard owner attempting to make reparations for the land his family “stole” 6 generations ago. Land rights and reparations remain contentious in South Africa 23 years after the end of apartheid, and are close to the heart of Audrey, whose family come from this area. (Image: Solms winery in South Africa Credit: Solms Delta Estate.)  A similar act of reconciliation in Canada related to The Esk’etemc First Nation (Alkali Lake B.C.) is described here. (Credit: CBC Radio, As it happens, Friday May 12, 2017. ‘Reconciliation in its best form’: B.C. rancher gives land back to his First Nation neighbours.)



Photo of a community church in Penticton, BC. UCV is also a community church!

4. Encouraging young adult membership in our congregations –

What is UCV doing in this area? Attention to this demographic group isn’t new to the UU movement, but it seems like a realm of chronic uncertainty. In 2016, UCV and CUC both provided special funding to stimulate work for young adult ministry nationally and locally, but proponents have provided limited communication back to the congregation about that work. Can anyone out there bring us up to speed?

Asha Philar is the CUC staff member devoted to youth and young adult programming and is available and eager to talk with congregational leaders and young adults about this area of work in Canada. Contact Asha at 519-900-2995 or .

The CUC website also lists links to some supports for young adult ministry, though many of the links appear to be dated. (The same is the case for web pages at other congregations across Canada.) There is a UU Young Adult Facebook group that appears to be active, but it’s a closed group, so you’ll have to ask to join. Inter-generational work doesn’t appear to be a current focus.

CUC’s international initiatives

Heavy luggage at YVR

Next report I’ll aim to provide some information about CUC’s international initiatives, notably information about work with the UUA’s UU-United Nations Office (UU-UNO) and the International Council of Unitarian Universalists (ICUU).  ICUU is scheduled to meet in northern India 11-15 Feb 2018. If you’d like to go to India or sponsor someone from an emerging UU group in another country to attend, please get in touch with me!

Keith Wilkinson

2017-18 BC Rep to the CUC Board

Canadian UU National News – July 2017

CUC Vision Contest

In 2016 the CUC approved a new statement of vision and aspirations. Now the CUC is sponsoring a sermon-writing contest and an art contest to highlight these new statements. There are three age categories for art submissions and prizes for winners in both sermon and art contests. Deadline for submissions: 1 Feb 2018. For more info contact .

As Canadian Unitarian Universalists,
we envision a future in which our interdependence calls us to love and justice.

Keith Wilkinson

Keith joined our congregation in 1998 after a period of limited religious affiliations that never quite fit. He had an introverted spiritual inclination, a prairie farm background that made him feel close to the earth, and an interdisciplinary academic background in educational psychology, anthropology and linguistics and lots of international travel that brought him into contact with various world religions. He adhered to Judaism for a while, but it didn’t resonate with his own childhood experience of the transcendent. UU was a much more comfortable fit.

Much of Keith’s working life was committed to administration in post-secondary education, health care, justice and public safety. At UCV he joined the Worship Services Committee, and then the Board – first as Treasurer and eventually as President. Subsequently he provided volunteer support and leadership in human resources, communications, covenant groups, and most recently the UCV Membership Committee.

Keith was elected to the board of the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) in 2015 and served as President of the CUC in 2016 and 2017. The CUC provides another level of UU community working nationally and globally, linked to the Vancouver community through our Bylaws, and linked philosophically through a shared vision of a world in which our interdependence calls us to love and justice.

Keith has been trying to focus his attention in recent days and years on being a better partner, appreciating the good fortunes of his life, contributing as best he can to reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous people living in Canada, trying to become more skillful in mindfulness and compassionate communications, supporting sustainable energy initiatives, staying physically active (skiing, walking, cycling, gym, walking the dog), pondering mortality, and, in the background, continuing his oldest passion and spiritual practice, writing poetry.