Author: Rob Dainow

Ministerial Transition Team: Rethinking Our Identity Workshops — Now In-Person at UCV

The Identity phase of our Ministerial Transition is the time to envision the congregation we want to be(come) in our future. It is arguably the most important step to complete before we search for a new settled minister.

The Rethinking Our Identity workshop is based on Appreciative Inquiry principles, an approach to organization transition that focuses on moments of exceptional pride and performance and creates a future that nurtures and supports even more pride and performance. In the workshop we will share our responses to eight ‘thought-provoking questions’ (see below) that probe our best and most memorable experiences of our lives in this congregation.

Over 60 congregants have already completed this 2 1/2 hour workshop and all have found it worthwhile and enjoyable. Many appreciated the chance to see and talk to others in this congregation, something we have been missing during the pandemic. Here are some participants’ comments:

“Very enjoyable and useful.”

“I was very engaged.”

 “The questions are all about meaningful things.”

 “The process itself was an example of meaningful connections when working in small groups at UCV.”

“Every member should take part in these workshops – interesting and very useful.”

“[The interview questions] are thought-provoking…I found the process good –

helpful, informative, stimulating.”

“This workshop was wonderful opportunity to share stories of what gives meaning to my life at UCV – 

and to learn about others’ experiences too.”

“Great!”

 

We have scheduled workshops on Sept. 1, Sept. 9, Sept. 11 and Sept. 15, with more to follow.

Contact us to register:

identityproject@vancouverunitarians.ca

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Here is an abbreviated version of the workshop’s thought-provoking questions:

 

  1. Reflecting on your entire experience at UCV, remember a time when you felt most engaged, alive, and motivated. Who was involved? What did you do? How did it feel? What happened?

 

  1. What are the healthiest, most life-giving aspects of the relationships among people at UCV? What would you say has been most valuable about your friendships in this community? Give some examples of how we live together at our best.

 

  1. What are the most valuable aspects of our congregation’s worship? What makes your worship alive and meaningful? What shapes your Unitarian faith?

 

  1. What do you believe are the most important and meaningful elements of our congregation’s engagement with the local community, the nation, and the world?

 

  1. What are the most important things our Unitarian community has contributed to your life? Who or what made a difference?

 

  1. What are the most valuable ways you contribute to our congregation – your personality, your perspectives, your skills, your activities, your character? Give me some examples.

 

  1. What do you think is the most important, life-giving characteristic of our UCV congregation? What makes Unitarians or UCV unique?

 

  1. Make three wishes for the future of our Vancouver Unitarians congregation. Describe what this religious community would look like as these wishes come true.

 

  1. Is there anything else you would like to add?

 

Join an ROI Workshop and help create our future.

identityproject@vancouverunitarians.ca

 

 

 

Registration open for the 2021 Men’s Retreat at Sasamat Lake

2021 Men’s Retreat – Oct. 15-17, 2021

Join an amazing group of men for a weekend gathering this fall! Surrounded by the forest bordering beautiful Lake Sasamat (about 30 minutes from Vancouver), this event is a rare opportunity to reflect on your quality of life, work with and learn from other men, discover more of yourself, and build relationships both new and old. More importantly, this is a chance to relax and have FUN in the company of strong, gentle, witty, and wise men – all in a serene, inspiring, natural environment.

Since 1990 this (mostly) annual event has been organized by and for (mostly) Unitarian men who celebrate and welcome all traditions, backgrounds, orientations and faiths. There is no membership or belief required other than respect for yourself and others.

Much of our time is spent in both structured and informal discussion and conversation, but there is also plenty of opportunity to visit the private beach, walk the trail around the lake, or take on the local biking trails. We’ll also enjoy campfires, opportunities for artistic and musical expression, story-telling and humour, as well as informative workshops celebrating our inherent expertise.

The spacious lodge where we meet daily (which also houses washrooms and showers) has covered porches with indoor and outdoor fireplaces; five meals and snacks are included. We sleep in simple, heated cabins in the forest (bring your own towels, soap, sleeping bag and pillow). One person per cabin this year to keep us Covid-safe. It’s a camp – no hotel, but not roughing it. No one else lives around the lake. This is a wonderful, quiet, inspiring place for this event.

The facilities can accommodate a maximum of 30 people this year because of Covid protocols. Don’t miss out!

We gather around 5:00 pm and start at 7:00 pm on Friday and end after lunch on Sunday. If cost is a barrier, we may have support available – please ask.

 

Information and registration at heyuu.ca/

Get ready for a wonderful weekend in the woods!

 

What do you want UCV to be in the future?

The Ministerial Transition Team is charting our course into the future and laying the groundwork for our upcoming search for a new settled minister. We’d love to have every members’ input. What is your vision for the future UCV?

In answering our thought-provoking questions and sharing your insights with other members, you have the opportunity to reflect on what you appreciate about this congregation and share stories with other members. Together we can imagine what the future UCV may be and what you want to see in this future.

Join us in one of our 2.5 hour Rethinking Our Identity (ROI) workshops – either in person at UCV or on Zoom. Consider organizing your own group (with our support) if you are on a committee or team or in a group at UCV.

 

Contact us if you have questions or to find out more and get involved:

identityproject@vancouverunitarians

Rob Dainow (rdainow@gmail.com; 604-523-0123)

Vivian Davidson (vdavidsonc@gmail.com; 778-318-3713)

Marg Fletcher (mfletcher508@gmail.com; 778-772-1120)

Leslie Hill (lesliehill49@gmail.com; 604-321-7175)

 

 

ROI Workshop – IN-PERSON, ON CAMPUS – ***!!! HURRAY !!!***

A first in the unwinding of Covid restrictions – eight Vancouver Unitarians gathered IN PERSON at UCV to participate in the Rethinking Our Identity (ROI) workshop. 

We worked together in pairs, sharing our best memories and hopes for this beloved community.

 

 

 

How did it go? 

Participants rated the workshop as VERY USEFUL – – more than 9 out of 10 on a scale from “not effective or useful” to “very effective and useful”

One participant noted that

The process itself was an example of meaningful connections when working in small groups at UCV.

 

Another noted that

Every member should take part in these workshops – interesting and very useful.

 

BEAT THE COVID BLUES — JOIN UCV FRIENDS ON CAMPUS FOR A WORKSHOP.

Contact identityproject@vancouverunitarians.ca to register for an upcoming workshop or to learn more.

Rethinking Our Identity – Ministerial Transition Team

Rethinking Our Identity

Ministerial Transition Team

Sign up for a workshop to help rethink our identity – read on.

We have described the five phases of a ministerial transition in previous messages and presentations, but to put it most simply, we need to answer three key questions in this transition process:

  1. Where do we come from?
  2. Who are we?
  3. Where are we going?

 

  1. Where do we come from?

We spent the first months of our ministerial transition creating our Congregational History Wall to look at our heritage and our history and to remind ourselves of how this congregation has been shaped and formed.

  1. Who are we?

We are now in the process of rethinking our identity. The UUA’s Janus Workbook, created to support ministerial transitions, describes this transition phase as “illuminating the congregation’s unique identity, its strengths, its needs, and its challenges”. This is the most important step to complete in our ministerial transition before we search for a new settled minister.

  1. Where are we going?

As we rethink our identity we will envision the congregation we want to be(come) in our future. Determining where are we going includes reviewing our membership needs, how we are organized, and how we will develop new and effective leadership. This transition is ongoing throughout our interim period.

We began this work in the fall with the creation of three task forces:

  • The Organization Design Task Force recommended changes to our organizational structure that the Board has accepted and is implementing.
  • The Long Term Staffing Task Force recommended a new Congregational Administrator position, a new Congregational Membership Coordinator position, and expanding Kiersten Moore’s role to become Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration. The Board accepted all these recommendations and is implementing them.
  • The Young Persons Engagement Task Force presented its findings and shared them with the congregation.

The MTT will be providing support to the Board on the implementation of these task force recommendations.

In January, the MTT created, at the Board’s request, the Decision-Making Task Force to review the four year UCV site redevelopment decision-making process and to provide recommendations for future decision-making processes. This task force will report back in June and will include among its recommendations a more visible and prominent place for our congregationally approved Covenant of Healthy Relations.

Rethinking Our Identity

We plan to engage every UCV member in rethinking our identity. We are organizing 2 1/2 hour workshops based on Appreciative Inquiry principles, an approach to organization transition that focuses on moments of exceptional pride and performance and creates a future that nurtures and supports even more pride and performance. We will answer the question “Who are we?” by sharing our best and most powerful memories of our lives in this congregation.

The process to rethink our identity is based on a set of ‘thought-provoking questions’ (see below). We work in pairs in the workshop to share our responses to these questions and then reconvene in the larger workshop group to identify the common themes in our answers. We then imagine, based on these themes, some ‘possibility statements’ about who and what we would like to be, but that we have not yet achieved. Workshops generally have 6 or 8 participants, but we have also had success with 3 participants.

The workshop has been rewarding and meaningful for those who have participated. All have found it a worthwhile and enjoyable experience. Many appreciated the chance to see and talk to others in this congregation, something we have been missing during the pandemic. We will let you know when provincial guidelines will allow us to hold in-person workshops, probably on our UCV campus (even if outside only).

We will invite those who cannot participate in a workshop to review the thought-provoking questions with another person in a one-on-one interview. We want everyone to have a conversation with at least one other person about their answers to these questions. We will ask those who are not able to do this to respond individually to the thought-provoking questions.

Here is an abbreviated version of these questions:

  1. Reflecting on your entire experience at UCV, remember a time when you felt most engaged, alive, and motivated. Who was involved? What did you do? How did it feel? What happened?
  2. What are the healthiest, most life-giving aspects of the relationships among people at UCV? What would you say is most important about how we relate to each other? Give some examples of how we live together at our best.
  3. What are the most valuable aspects of our congregation’s worship? What makes your worship alive and meaningful? What shapes your Unitarian faith?
  4. What do you believe are the most important and meaningful elements of our congregation’s engagement with the local community, the nation, and the world?
  5. What are the most important things our Unitarian community has contributed to your life? Who or what made a difference?
  6. What are the most valuable ways you contribute to our congregation – your personality, your perspectives, your skills, your activities, your character? Give me some examples.
  7. What do you think is the most important, life-giving characteristic of our UCV congregation? What makes Unitarians or UCV unique?
  8. Make three wishes for the future of our Vancouver Unitarians congregation. Describe what this faith community would look like as these wishes come true.
  9. Is there anything else you would like to add?

We invite existing committees, teams, and groups in the congregation to contact us to organize a workshop with you.

We also invite individuals who are not part of any active groups in UCV to contact us and we will organize groups of 6 or 8 at a time that will be convenient for all participants.

Please also contact us if you have any questions or want more information about this transition process.

Rob Dainow (rdainow@gmail.com; 604-523-0123)  Vivian Davidson (vdavidsonc@gmail.com; 778-318-3713)  Marg Fletcher (mfletcher508@gmail.com; 778-772-1120)  Leslie Hill (lesliehill49@gmail.com; 604-321-7175)

May 2021 Message from Board President

Dear Unitarian Friends,

Happy Asian Heritage Month! I encourage you all to visit the Alliance For Arts and Culture website to find out about resources and upcoming events for those looking to learn about and celebrate the legacy of Asian Canadians both past and present.

Speaking of learning, our Decolonizing Practices Workshop for staff, board and membership was a ground breaking first step on a long, fulsome journey for this organization. In the months ahead and throughout next year, there will be more anti-racist and anti-oppression engagement so stay tuned!

As you know, the Board recently approved a new Organizational Design that will clarify lines of communication and accountability for everyone. It also frees up the Board to become a more Strategic Board as opposed to a Liason Board. The most significant difference is that the job of the Board – to further the mission and vision of the congregation – will now be their top priority. Management oversight of day to day operations will be the responsibility of a small body made up of Board and staff. Our fabulous new Congregational Administrator Casey Wallace along with HR is in the process of hiring our new Membership Outreach Coordinator. This role was created as part of our new org design as well.

Speaking of things a Strategic Board does, we created a UCV Task Force for Sanctuary Upgrades and hired two professionals in technical theatre to work with them who will ensure that this massive task is done well, on time, and within budget. The upgrades to our sound and lighting systems and chairs replacing pews will make our Sanctuary more flexible and thus inclusive to diverse spiritual practices (walking meditation, circle dance), artistic expression (jazz/choral groups, cabaret fundraisers, writers festival venue,) and wheelchair accessibility.

The Board recently refreshed and strengthened our commitment to our Covenant of Healthy Relations and adopted a new policy around disruptive behaviour. Please take a moment to read the Covenant below and remember to be kind. Covid has taken a toll on everyone, and we must remember to breathe and think before we act.

Finally, I would just like to reiterate how in awe I am of our membership and the energy and commitment we continue to exert toward furthering our values and principles. From lovingly tended gardens on our campus to refugees being sponsored to wild salmon being defended in partnership with First Nations, Vancouver Unitarians can and are changing the world, helping to transform it into a more compassionate and equitable one. Meaningful action creates hope. So stay actively engaged, fellow Unitarians, and take care. We will gather in person again soon.

In hope and faith,

Diane

Covenant of Healthy Relations
This is a covenant to guide how we behave towards each other and to groups and individuals within the congregation. The objective is to enhance a safe climate that is courteous, friendly, supportive, respectful of others, open and honest.
Because I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of each person, I will endeavour to:
1. Be compassionate and supportive in my relationships with others, assume their best intentions and be curious rather than judgmental.
2. Communicate with active listening and consideration. Explain concerns to the person directly and share differences respectfully. Focus on the current problem – not the person.
3. Balance being open to new ideas with respect for our traditions.
4. Be attentive to our community’s needs, generous with my talents and careful with the church’s resources.
5. Keep the big picture in mind, be patient with myself and others and stay engaged in the process of change; participate in the decision-making and respect the decisions that are made.
6. Discuss conflicts in our church in a way that respects the privacy and dignity of those involved.
7. Recognize and praise others and myself for the work we do in the church and be forgiving when we make mistakes.
8. Support, in a constructive way, the work of the minister, staff and congregants.
9. Deepen our connections by getting to know and understand people of all ages and points of view within the congregation.
10. Nurture my own spiritual needs in this community and support others in their search for truth and meaning.

 

Vancouver Unitarians Join Extinction Rebellion at Cambie Bridge Shut Down

Above: We joined the die-in at the intersection of Broadway and Cambie, then marched to the middle of the Cambie bridge for the sit‑in

Above: Vancouver Unitarians Carry the Flame at the Cambie Bridge Sit‑In

A group of Vancouver Unitarians, including Mairy Beam, Rob Dainow, and Vivian Davidson, joined several hundred protesters at the March 27 Extinction Rebellion march for old growth trees and climate justice.

“Logging old growth directly violates Extinction Rebellion’s demand to Act Now,” said Kelly Tatham, a volunteer with Extinction Rebellion.

We are all standing up for the climate and for our ecosystems, whenever we can and in whatever ways we can. Every little bit counts.

The Road Ahead – What’s Your Vision for Our Future?

The five fundamental tasks of our Vancouver Unitarians congregation during our ministerial transition are to successfully navigate our:

HERITAGE – Coming to terms with history by reviewing how this congregation has been shaped and formed.
LEADERSHIP – Reviewing our needs and ways of organizing and developing new and effective leadership to accompany times of transition.
VISION / MISSION – Illuminating and redefining our identity, sense of purpose, and direction.
CONNECTIONS – Renewing, expanding, and strengthening our relationships and resources in the wider community.
FUTURE – Preparing to engage in a new future with renewed vision, stewardship, commitment, anticipation, and zest.

Coming to terms with our history and heritage is the foundation for being able to envision and move into the future. Where did we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? These are the questions we have been exploring as we have built our Congregational History Wall (UCV Stories) over the last few months. 

We presented several short videos in January and February Sunday services to highlight some of these UCV Stories: the Members page, the Controversies and Fights page, and two presentations on the Environment page. 

The February 28 service – “The Never-Ending Story” – illuminated some of the important themes that have shaped and formed us over our 500 year history as a faith tradition and our 119 year history as a Unitarian congregation in Vancouver: 

  • The founding beliefs and principles that cost some of our first leaders their lives and paved the way for what has remained a progressive, non-dogmatic religion that values independent thinking and social action, well-exemplified throughout UCV’s 119 years.
  • The ways in which we have encountered and suffered from conflict situations, notably with past ministers, and how this experience can and should shape how build our path forward – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
  • Our deep roots and long-standing commitments to social action in response to some of the biggest and most challenges issues in each generation.

We have a rich tradition and a strong foundation to build on. March is the month when we begin our visioning conversations to explore our identity and sense of purpose. What we learn in these explorations will clarify the directions for our future. This is a very exciting part of our work together! 

The Ministerial Transition Team (MTT) is adapting the Appreciative Inquiry approach to organizational transition to structure this transition phase. We will engage in structured conversations with as many congregants as we can in group workshops, one-on-one meetings, and individual surveys. These conversations will focus on seven questions:

  1. When did you feel most engaged, alive, and motivated at UCV?
  2. What are the most valuable ways you contribute to our congregation?
  3. What are the most valuable aspects of our congregation’s worship? What shapes your Unitarian faith?
  4. What are the most important and meaningful ways we engage with the world around us – locally, nationally, globally? 
  5. What are the essential, central characteristics that make UCV unique?
  6. What are the most important things UCV has contributed to your life? 
  7. What are three wishes you have for the future of our Vancouver Unitarians congregation?

The answers to these questions will tell us a great deal about who we are, what we value, and what we aspire to.

We will work with existing committee, teams, and groups in the congregation to enlist your help, and we will summarize all the feedback we receive from the responses to these questions and share it with the congregation as we craft our collective visions for our future.

All aboard!

Ministerial Transition Team Update for Feb. 2021

The Ministerial Transition Team (MTT) supports our ministerial transition process with guidance from Reverend Lara, our interim minister. We support this transition with regular updates on where we are, how we are doing, what we are learning, and where we are going. This is our monthly update. 

January has been a transitional month in our ministerial transition. We continue to build our online history wall – UCV Stories. We have shared a few short video presentations, one based on the Members section and one based on the Environment section of the UCV Stories online wall. We will share a few more of these video visits to UCV Stories in February. We invite all congregants to look at UCV Stories themselves and to share your own stories from your life in this community. 

In February we will also continue to explore some of our visions for a future UCV. Several congregants have already shared short videos to describe their visions of their future UCV:

  • Lynn Armstrong envisioned live weddings from our exquisite and well-equipped livestreaming sanctuary; 
  • Noella and Cohen Prescod looked forward to both in-person and live-streamed services so that those who cannot join in person can still attend our services; 
  • Rob Dainow imagined a UCV community that includes new people who have ‘discovered’ us since we began to live-stream services in 2020; 
  • Olivia Hall envisioned how we can live our faith by embodying / practising our Unitarian values and principles in every decision we make and in every action we take; 
  • Thora Gislason imagined regular testimonials from members about their own spiritual path – how they came to Unitarianism and to UCV, where they find meaning in their spiritual lives, how they live their faith; 
  • Diane Brown described her hope that we will become a diverse spiritual, cultural, and social activism hub – a destination for people to practise these things together and to support each other.

Let us know if you want to share what you hope to see in our congregational future. 

The MTT in January reviewed and forwarded to the Board reports from Task Forces on Organizational Design, Long Term Staffing Needs, and Youth Engagement. A new task force on Congregational Decision Making (CDM) will begin its work during February. All five CDM task force members chose to enrol and participate in a Convergent Facilitation course as they begin their work together.

The MTT will join Reverend Lara at the Feb. 28 service to share with you what we have learned and discerned from working on the Congregational History Wall project.

Lots to do in February! All aboard!

from Transition Team, Rob Dainow, Chair

January, 2021 – Imagining The Future For UCV

We are travelling the “road ahead”, our ministerial transition. We have made great progress on our first developmental/transition task, “Coming to terms with history”, and we continue to build our history wall. Please visit or revisit UCV Stories to discover our past and to add your own memories and stories.

We begin our second transition task this month – “Discovering a new identity”. The UUA’s Janus Workbook, created to support ministerial transitions, describes this second transition task as “Illuminating the congregation’s unique identity, its strengths, its needs, and its challenges”. Simply put, it is time to imagine the future we want to become, to stretch ourselves, to look into our crystal balls, and to use our imaginations to reshape our reality and transform UCV into the congregation we dream to be. Our imaginations are the magic that will get us there.

Our Soul Matters theme for January is “Imagination”, and Reverend Lara explains in her January 2021 In the Interim that we will explore imagination in various ways during this month. Unleashing our imaginations will help our Vancouver Unitarians world come alive – an exciting step in our “road ahead”!

from Transition Team, Rob Dainow, Chair