Author: Marie Witt

Reconciliation Working Group

The Reconciliation Working Group is an active sub-group fo the Social Justice Committee.
The group is continuing to work on how we acknowledge the Indigenous territories our UCV campus is on. We hope to offer learning opportunities related to Indigenous issues including the CUC’s Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Reflection Guides for congregational members 16 and over.  This program supports Canadian Unitarians and Universalists to explore the following areas:

Engagement and Locating Ourselves:

Where we ask: What social identities do each of us have, what culture(s) do we come from? How do we relate inter-culturally? How do we relate to the land we call home?


Where we learn about colonization, in particular the Indian Residential School (IRS) System, and its impacts on the lives of Indigenous peoples in the past and present.


Where we seek to update our understandings of Indigenous societies and learn about current issues. Where we learn how to be in solidarity, and, when ready, reach out to local Indigenous leaders.

Healing and Reconciliation:

Where we ask: What does healing and reconciliation mean to Indigenous peoples? What does it mean to us as Unitarian Universalists? What are the next steps for building connections and making commitments?

How to Get Involved

The intensive learning experience offered through the THRGG orientation process (approximately eight 2.5-hour sessions) is designed for face-to-face gatherings so we will examine the feasibility of offering this beginning sometime in the autumn, depending on the COVID-19 guidelines.
We are currently looking for one or two members who would be willing to be part of a facilitation and planning team over the Summer and Fall of 2020. We are looking for people with strong facilitation skills and a willingness to be part of a THRGG orientation process. We would welcome a young adult to this team. If you are interested or want to find out more, please fill out the form below!

Can You Identify Scam Emails?

COVID-19 has given rise to new online scam attempts that target vulnerable people and seniors. We have seen an increase of scam emails pop up within our own community and we want to ensure that congregants feel safe to engage online at this time.

There are many online resources for helping to educate about scam emails. Please make sure you educate yourself as these attempts are getting more sophisticated. Have a look at this 10-minute video about identifying scam emails.

UCV Scam Email Attempts

In the example below, you can see an actual scam attempt made with an account that was created to impersonate Rev. Steven Epperson. Notice that they even have a profile photo of Steven. These can be difficult to distinguish from actual correspondence, however, there are a few tell-tale signs here.

1. Sender Email Address

The email address looks legitimate, however, our staff emails only come from, not This email came from which is suspicious.

2. Unusual Behavior

Steven has never emailed me directly to ask for a favor before. It doesn’t seem completely out of the question, but this is not usual behavior.

3.  Subject Heading

The all-caps subject heading that is irrelevant to the content of the email makes this stand out as odd

4.  Contact Details Exclude Phone Number

This particular scam is an impersonation of someone I know, which means that they don’t want to offer me the opportunity to contact them directly. The fact that the phone number does not appear in contact details is a red flag.

Checklist for Identifying Scam Emails

The checklist below can help you identify scam emails, It was is taken from this website.

What To Do If You’re Still Unsure

  1. If it is coming from someone claiming to be someone you know, call them and double-check before opening any links or attachments!!
  2. If it is someone you’ve never heard of before, google search the company or person and see if you can find a phone number or other direct contact
  3. Never open an attachment or click a link unless you are sure of the sender
  4. Never give people gift cards or money transfers without first talking to them in person, or receiving a direct link to secure payment from an email address you know and trust.
  5. Learn how to report phishing attacks and spam through your email provider so the email addresses will be red-flagged and shut down.


UCV COVID-19 Go-Slowly-Forward Plan

Unitarian Church of Vancouver Coronavirus
(COVID-19) Policy

In this Coronavirus (COVID-19) policy, you’ll find our go-slowly-forward plan and all essential guidelines staff and congregants must follow for Summer 2020.

Policy brief & purpose

Our UCV policy includes the measures we are actively taking to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Please follow all these rules diligently, to sustain a healthy and safe space, and to ensure the health and well-being of our broader community. It’s important that we all respond responsibly and transparently to these health precautions.

The UCV coronavirus (COVID-19) policy is subject to changes with the introduction of additional governmental guidelines or new outbreak concerns. If changes are made, we will update the public and congregation by posting updates to as well as sending a direct update via email. To ensure you are receiving all of our latest communication, please make sure you have signed up for the order of service email and the monthly e-bulletin. If you are unsure if you are signed up, or would like to update your contact information, please email


This coronavirus policy applies to all staff and long-term renters of UCV who physically work in our offices, as well as congregants, members and friends who may visit the space or wish to rent rooms for social activities.

Measures We Have Taken

Over the past few months, we have taken the following protective measures at UCV:

  • Moved all Sunday Worship Services online at to reduce the risk of outbreaks
  • Closed all buildings to members and the public with only essential access for staff and the worship service live-streaming team. Grounds remained open with physical distancing in effect.
  • Moved to zoom-based fellowships, community events and religious exploration
  • Supported staff to make safe choices about when/how to be onsite or work from home
  • Implemented a disinfecting and cleaning protocol to ensure regular sanitization processes onsite

UCV Go-Slowly-Forward Plan

The Emergency Response Team at UCV is made up of the minister, board members, administrative staff, and representatives from buildings and grounds, religious exploration, and communications. Together we have weighed and reviewed the public health policy contained within the BC Restart Plan, The CDC Guidance for Faith-Based Organizations, and the Worksafe BC Safety Plan Development Guide.

We recognize the importance of our community experience, as well as our need as human beings to gather together and make contact face to face. We also respect and uphold the incredible and diligent work of our public health leaders, scientists, and frontline workers who have been at the forefront of protecting our needs and safety.

With these perspectives in mind, we have established small steps towards re-opening our church which will ensure our ability to keep up with the latest information, adjust our protocols as necessary and respond with care and diligence if concerns arise.

We have developed this policy to address the immediate future only. This document is in effect for July and August 2020. We do not have enough insight to be able to suggest what to expect in the Fall, but we are actively monitoring updates from the province and will continue to update our policy as we know more.

June 2020

We made a firm decision to keep UCV’s buildings closed to the public for all of June 2020. Worship service live-streaming crew, limited staff and caretakers have had essential access only. Worship services continue to be online-only.

July and August 2020

We will begin to allow room bookings for Hewett Centre Hall (main space only). Available timeslots will be allocated to groups with priority given first to congregants and members of UCV. External rentals will be considered on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of our office administrators and the Emergency Response Team. For detailed information on room booking protocol, please see the section Room Bookings. Worship services will continue to be online-only for the entire duration of the summer.

September 2020

In mid-August, we will release an update to these policies and guidelines based on the Provincial health regulations which will detail our Fall 2020 plan.

General Policies

  • If you have any symptoms of illness, even minor ones, please do not to visit the UCV buildings and grounds.
  • If you have recently returned from areas with a high number of COVID-19 cases (based on CDC announcements), or if you have recently come into contact with someone with COVID-19, please follow the public health guidelines for the standard 14-day self-quarantine.
  • If you normally commute to UCV by public transportation and do not have other alternatives, please consider staying home, and organizing an online event instead.
  • If you are considered part of a high-risk group, please consider staying home and organizing online events instead.
  • We ask that all visitors to UCV follow the advice for general hygiene while on campus:

General Hygiene

  • Practice physical distancing. Please stay at least 6 feet apart from others
  • Wash your hands if you touch high-touch areas, if you touch your face or adjust your mask, after using the toilet, before eating, and if you cough/sneeze into your hands (follow the 20-second hand-washing rule). You can also use the sanitizers you’ll find all around UCV.
  • Cough/sneeze into your sleeve, preferably into your elbow. If you use a tissue, discard it properly and clean/sanitize your hands immediately.
  • Open the windows regularly to ensure open ventilation.
  • Avoid touching your face to prevent infection
  • We strongly encourage the use of non-medical masks for indoor groups

UCV Room Bookings (July and August)

The only room available for booking in July and August will be the Hewett Centre Hall (main area only). The sanctuary may also be rented, but approval of this will require a special plan made with the office at the discretion of office administration and the Emergency Response Team. All gatherings MUST be booked ahead of time through Marcus Hynes by emailing

Please note: The Kitchen, Fireside, Lindsey Priestly, Library, Biddle, Child-minding, and Hitchmanova all remain completely closed to both members and the public. Please do not access these spaces without checking with office staff. Please do not ask caretakers to allow you into these areas. There will be no exceptions. Use of the UCV outdoor grounds, labyrinths and gardens are permitted, with physical distancing in effect.

Hewett Centre Hall Main Area Booking Policies

  • Timeslots must be booked through the office at
  • Timeslots will be limited to 2-Hour blocks. People may book more than one 2-Hour block but must leave the space after each block to allow for cleaning protocols to be carried out. We strongly encourage booking only one timeslot for your event to limit the potential for exposure.
  • Unscheduled meetings will not be allowed
    • If an unscheduled meeting occurs, caretakers will kindly ask the group to leave and will provide them with the contact information for making a proper booking
  • A caretaker must be present for all gatherings
  • Caretakers will be responsible for
    • Event check-in and logging visitors in our breeze database for contact tracing (only if groups are unable to do this themselves)
    • Monitoring for COVID-19 protocols (physical distancing, availability of hand sanitizer, trash disposal, soap and cleaning supplies)
    • Enforcing protocols to ensure groups are maintaining the policies in this document
    • Politely requesting guests to leave if they arrive showing symptoms of illness
    • Cleaning and sanitizing prior to an event and resetting the space (surfaces, door handles, washrooms, equipment etc.) in between each rental. No visitors will be allowed in the space while this is happening
  • Events in the Hewett Centre Hall main space may have maximum of 10 guests
  • There are three options for the room set-up:
    • Empty (no tables, no chairs) with floor markings showing appropriate distancing
    • Tables and chairs (8 round tables + 2 small tables with chairs) set at appropriate distancing
    • Comfy chairs from Fireside room set in a circle with appropriate distancing
  • There will be absolutely no access to the kitchen or any coffee, tea, food service amenities
  • Washrooms will be one-at-a-time to allow for safe physical distancing around sinks and stalls
  • The sanctuary and the Hall may not be used simultaneously. Only one space may be booked at a time


Employee Reopening Safety Plan


  • Masks and gloves are available for staff should they feel the need to wear them.
  • Staff are strongly encouraged to wear masks when disinfecting common touch points and when groups are at maximum capacity or social distancing presents a challenge.
  • If gloves are worn they need to be washed with the same frequency as hands
  • Do not reuse gloves
  • Staff should use the proper technique to remove gloves so the contaminated side ends up inside
  • Instruction sheet on how to properly place and wear a mask and remove gloves will be emailed to all staff and posted in the copy room and the kitchen. A copy will also be placed in the janitor’s closet.


  • Masks and gloves are located in the janitor’s closet, and in the copy room directly to the left of the caretaker binder on the shelf. (while facing the window) Additional masks and gloves are in the supplies area of the crawl space in the admin building.
  • Caretakers are encouraged to consider washing the clothes worn during that shift if they have come in contact with numerous people



  • Maximum capacity signs will be placed at the entrance of each room.
  • Social distancing reminder signs will be posted at the entrance of each room and additional reminder (s) inside each room.
  • Experiencing symptoms signs have been posted at all building entrances.
  • Traffic flow signs will be taped on the floor, to avoid congestion at entrances. for the UCV office, there will be standing area signs to avoid congestion and encourage social distancing in the reception area.
  • Sanitizing signs “last sanitized by name, date, time “will be filled out after each sanitizing with a wipeable marker on a laminated sheet. For each room. In addition to this a sheet will be initialed for all spaces that have been sanitized during the shift, and how many times it was completed
  • Handwashing signs will be posted in washrooms and photocopier

Cleaning Protocol

  • Hand sanitizer will be provided at each entrance and will be encouraged (by signage) to be used prior to entry. (still working on how to provide this option, but it is best practice)
  • When groups are in the room being booked, caretakers will sanitize all entry points and washrooms and common touch points in each room/building a minimum of 2x or every 2 hours.

Contact Tracing

  • Entrance logs for each building will be placed directly upon entry in each building. The logs will have space for date, time, phone number, email, and name. Congregation members will be asked to log their events and participants in the breeze database.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at this station as well.
  • If employees begin to experience symptoms prior or during your shift, please advise your supervisor and immediately put on a mask. Emergency cab fare will be provided, remember to wear a mask if you have symptoms.
  • Supervisors will provide immediate replacement coverage themselves, or if possible, arrange to have immediate coverage.
  • Always call 911 for emergency

Please be aware that non-medical information about COVID-19 is available 7:30am-8pm, 7 days
a week at 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319).

UCV Board Statement on Anti-Racism

We, the Board of Trustees, the Parish Minister and members of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, condemn the murder of George Floyd, an act of inhumane police brutality, that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy. We in Canada share that culture, and we must commit ourselves collectively to dismantling white supremacy here at home, acknowledge that our white privilege has come at the expense of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour past and present, and rebuild our nation with justice, compassion and respect for all.

The Interim Minister Search Has Been Completed!

The interim minister search has been completed! The selection process has entailed a surprising amount of work, the largest portion of which has fallen to Leslie Hill, the committee’s chair.  She has done an outstanding job.  I doubt she has done much else for the last many weeks  — a lot of correspondence and phone calls, interviews, and marathon meetings.  On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire congregation, THANK YOU, Leslie Hill, and the members of your committee, for your enormous contribution to our Church. Also a big thank you to Gordon Gram for his invaluable help with the contract.

Our Interim Minister will be Rev. Lara Cowtan from Winnipeg, and she is thrilled to begin her tenure here with us on August 1st, and leading our services starting in Sept. A greeting from her will be coming this summer.

To learn more about Rev. Lara, please visit her website

UCV Supports “A Just Recovery For All”

The Unitarian Church of Vancouver has just joined an alliance of nearly 240 organizations that have come together to develop key principles for a “Just Recovery for All” from the COVID-19 pandemic. As governments begin to make plans for recovery, organizations are joining together to send a message that we cannot return to the old “normal”. Now is the time to imagine a better future.

 The principles below were informed by a month of consultations with over 200 groups and individuals across Canada by

You can see the full text and sign on to the principles using this form:

Tribute to Steven

Board President Diane Brown is inviting everyone to email her a brief written contribution for a Congregational Tribute that will be given to Steven Epperson, after his last sermon. Also please send her one photo of Steven if you have one.

We cannot all gather together at this time, but we can all honour our beloved Steven with our own words and sentiments as he leaves the Sanctuary for the last time on June 21st.

A formal large gathering celebrating his incredible tenure at UCV will take place sometime in the future.

Please use the form below to submit brief written submissions and photos. Submissions must be received by the Deadline:  Monday morning June 15, at 10 am.

COVID-19 Notices from Our Minister and Board

COIVD-19 Update – July 1st, 2020

We have released our UCV Summer 2020 Go-Slowly-Forward Plan which includes partial, pre-scheduled opportunities for onsite meetings during the summer period. Please read the full policy and room booking procedures here.

COIVD-19 Update – May 28, 2020

The campus will remain closed for all of June. The Emergency Response Team and Board are reviewing all provincial guidelines and developing our UCV Go-Slowly-Forward Plan to determine what, if any, campus activities may go ahead this summer.

COIVD-19 Update – May 12, 2020

In response to queries about allowing small groups of UCV members to meet in person on campus, the UCV Emergency Team is currently developing a policy that adheres to Provincial guidelines regarding small gatherings of people, and a specific plan for the area of the UCV campus. Please stay tuned for further information coming soon.

New UCV Temporary Communications Specialist – May 4, 2020

Given the greater reliance on technology to keep us connected during the pandemic, the Board of Directors has been relying very heavily on our communications team with Marie Witt at its helm, as its chairperson. In recognition of Marie’s greatly increased hours of volunteer work and her strong skills, the Board approved the hiring of Marie from May 1st – June 30th of 2020. Marie’s overall goal will be to develop clear, concise communications strategies with buy-in from UCV’s Emergency Team, Communications Team and Board of Directors.

Should you have questions concerning communication please contact Marie at (noting that Marie’s contract will terminate at the end of June).

Human Resources Committee

EGM Postponed to the Fall – April 24, 2020

The June 14 EGM has been postponed to the fall. Instead, on June 14 at 12:30 pm, the UCV Board of Trustees will host a zoom information forum on the proposed budget for next year which the members will ratify (or not) in the fall. The Board will also be discussing possible next steps in the Redevelopment process which would involve engaging Canada Land Trust in conversation as our possible new partners.

Live Streaming Volunteers Needed! – April 20, 2020

Volunteers needed!! For services to continue to be virtual, we need to train some more members to learn how to produce and broadcast Sunday services and support our current incredible, over-worked team. Anyone interested in helping with technology, send your details here:

Scam Email Attempts at UCV – April 3, 2020

It has come to our attention that someone is using fake gmail accounts that appear to be sent from Steven (and possibly other administrators) to send emails directly to congregants. These emails are likely to appear in your inbox and are difficult to distinguish from our regular accounts.

These emails are asking people to send money, usually in the form of Amazon gift cards and typically contain a story about being needed for vulnerable people. DO NOT send money. DO NOT purchase Amazon gift cards. These are fake email addresses; Steven, staff or board members will never ask you to send money or Amazon gift cards to them personally over email.

We have specific fundraising drives and special protocols for donations. If you are ever confused or suspicious about a request for funds, you can always ask if it’s possible for you to speak with our staff over the phone. A scam artist pretending to be someone you know will not agree to a
phone call, whereas church staff will always be happy to discuss fundraising with you or over the phone or face to face on zoom.

If you receive any suspicious emails, please report them to our office so we can track these attempts. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out. In the meantime, the UCV Board has hired a cybersecurity expert to help upgrade our systems.

UCV Office Contact Information

Office and Staff Update – March 29, 2020

Due to the rapidly changing environment for everyone, The UCV Board of Trustees had approved at the March 17th Board meeting to pay staff “as per budgeted amounts” for the next month.

With this in mind,

  • Staff members are working regularly scheduled times with some redirection as per duties.
  • Records of Employment will be given if requested, due to self-isolation/ quarantine or sickness.
  • Plans are in place to have Administration staff work from home if warranted, computer stations, email, phones/voicemail etc. have all been set up, to enable minimal activity at the office.
  • UCV Campus will continue to be checked daily by staff.

UCV COVID-19 *Possible Exposure* Update – March 23, 2020

Dearest congregants and renters, 
We have been notified of possible exposure to COVID-19 at our Unitarian Church Buildings on Friday, March 13, 2020, during a memorial service. The sanctuary and hall were used for this service.

Update From Our Minister, DRE, and Board – March 19, 2020

During this COVID-19 period, all face-to-face meetings on the UCV campus (and worship services in our church Sanctuary) are cancelled. The Sunday worship services will be live-streamed for the foreseeable future on the UCV YouTube channel which can be viewed HERE.

Rev. Steven Epperson, Elliott Dainow, and our Worship Committee will continue to provide quality worship services that you can view at home. The UCV Board and other committees and working groups will continue to do their good work via Zoom meetings, email, and phone. The office staff continues to do their work during regular business hours (Monday to Thursday, 9:30 am to 2 pm; Friday, 9 am – 1 pm).

UCV’s Fourth Compassion Circle 2020

Do you want to communicate with more compassion and connection? Join UCV’s Fourth Compassion Circle (practicing Compassionate Communication, CC) using the Compassion Course Online 2020 by Thom Bond, (receiving 52 weekly emails covering CC concepts we then practice in the Circle). Registration is required to the online course by May 31, 2020; The 2020 Circle’s 1st session will be an introduction by Zoom in June, date TBA. Please contact Cindy Cashin to sign up or for more info.


What Participants In Last Year’s UCV Compassion Circle Have Said:

“UCV’s Compassion Circle was born in 2017 in response to enthusiasm of several UCVers taking the online course. Lynn Armstrong coordinated the Circle’s creation and came up with the name. The Compassion Circle is an intimate space for learning together, shifting how we listen and respond to others, and how we communicate with ourselves. It’s a special gathering! “


“The Compassion Course and Nonviolent Communication has had a profound impact on me. It is so subtle, yet such a powerful paradigm shift that it changes everything. It has taught me to look deeper in all those difficult communication situations to find the gold that transforms “us and them”  to “we”,  and in so doing it brings such powerful lessons of love and peace.”


“I could never have imagined this online course and the practice sessions provided at UCV could have had such a profound impact on my worldview.  It has brought me clarity and a greater understanding of my (and others’) needs.  I’m signing up again and look forward to another year of self-discovery.”


“This year has been my introduction to the concepts & practice of compassionate communication. Already I have seen a positive difference in the way I interpret & respond to events & people. I’m signing up again for next year, so that I can go deeper.”

If you have questions about the practice and applications of Compassionate Communication (Nonviolent Communication, or NVC), feel free to email Nancy Barker (CNVC-certified trainer in NVC) at .  Nancy is happy to offer general NVC Intro workshops or workshops on particular aspects of NVC upon request.