Author: Marie Witt

Reassessing Canadian Foreign Policy

Reassessing Canadian Foreign Policy

Our UCV Board approved a motion that Vancouver Unitarians become a signatory to a national campaign calling for a fundamental reassessment of Canadian foreign policy. Our federal government is widely criticized for it’s continuing support for controversial mining companies, indifference to International treaties, anti-Palestinian positions, climate policies and militarism. And, this may be why Canada lost two consecutive efforts to gain a seat on the UN Security Council. Big thanks to the Environment Team for bringing this motion to the Board.
Here is a link to the campaign where you may sign on as an individual. And here is more information about the campaign for endorsers.

Sign your name to support this campaign:

Endorser Guide:

Starting Point: Small Circle Ministries

Starting this October, UCV is excited to be launching into weekly
online Starting Point small circle ministries.

We’ll follow along with the themes and stories Rev. Cowtan will be
using in her weekly sermons and bring new life to both UU theology and
history. This is a great chance to reintroduce yourself to your fellow
UU members. All members & visitors are welcome!

Weekly sessions will begin in the first week of October. Please use the form below to let us know if you’d like to join!

Staff Announcement from HR Committee

Aurora Eyolsfson, who has been the UCV Church Administrator for the past 3 years, has left our employment. During her time with us, Aurora brought to light how little UCV has been charging for rent of our spaces compared to both other churches and the going market rental rates. She also took care of finding a much better provider for our extended health benefits in terms of price and services. She advocated for fair pay for both caretakers and RE childcare and teachers.

We are grateful to Aurora for her time and service with UCV, and wish her all the best for her future. The Transition Team is working with the staff and leadership to review the various roles and structures of UCV’s ongoing staffing needs to plan for the future. In the short term, we ask for the patience and support of members as changes in our office may impact response time for administrative requests. We are blessed with amazing and motivated staff.

Children and Youth RE Fall Update

Our Youth are very busy this year, many of you will have heard directly from them this past Sunday. This amazing, resilient, group of young people continue to meet for two hours each Sunday and run a Dungeons and Dragons campaign on Wednesday nights.

Children and Youth RE Fall Update

by Kiersten E. Moore


In the Interim – September Update from Rev. Lara Cowtan

I have been in Vancouver since the beginning of August, settling in as UCV’s Interim Minister for the next two years. What a beautiful city! Aside from exploring and unpacking, my weeks have been filled with online meetings with UCV members, leaders, staff and committees. It has been a real privilege hearing your stories, and I hope to meet many more of you in the coming weeks and months. It is an honour to serve people who so clearly love and are dedicated to this community.

Following the retirement of Rev. Dr. Steven Epperson, who served UCV so well for 19 years, this time of transition, is an opportunity to:

  •  Reflect reflect on the past, claiming and honoring all that has shaped UCV
  • Illuminate UCV’s unique identity, its strengths, needs and challenges
  • Clarify the multiple dimensions of leadership needed for UCV to thrive
  • Renewing and connecting with relationships and resources in the wider community
  • Preparing to engage in a new future with renewed vision, stewardship and commitment.

These are the goals of the Transitions Team, who will be working alongside me during this exciting and challenging time.

Together we will continue the great work of this congregation and explore new opportunities to create meaningful connections.  Please reach out and introduce yourself to me, I am looking forward to our time together.

In Faith,

Rev. Lara Cowtan

A Garden Party to Welcome Rev. Lara

The UCV Board hosted a Welcome to UCV Garden Party for Rev Lara Cowtan on Saturday Aug. 8th. Attendance was limited due to Covid-19 precautions, however, a splendid time was had by all, and the weather cooperated just in time!

Oak Street Parking Lot Entrance Closed

CLOSURE OF OAK STREET PARKING LOT ENTRANCE. For safety reasons, the Oak Street entrance to the UCV Parking lot will be closed indefinitely, starting August 15th. The Fremlin Street entrance will be the main access to the parking lot.

Report from Harry Potter Camp 2020

The Hogwarts Camp was a great success this year. We asked participants to let us know what their favorite parts were and how they enjoyed it so it could be shared with the whole congregation! Below is a detailed account of the fun from one of the members. If you are interested in helping volunteer with Youth programming, please check out the CYRE volunteer information page.

I think that this was my favourite Harry Potter camp yet. My favourite parts were the Quidditch matches. I was the commentator for Quidditch, which was fun. My brother enjoyed it too, especially how the leaders let the kids choose some of their own activities. We had two groups, Dumbledore’s Army Creators, and Dumbledore’s Army Explorers. We created a newspaper called the Daily Prophet (I was a reporter!) and also a movie, which is being edited right now. There were lots of familiar kids and also a few new ones. The leaders were kind and funny and energetic. I had a great time 🙂

– Benjamin Malcolm, daily prophet chief reporter, age 9

Changes to Video Management of Older Services on YouTube!

We are so fortunate to be able to provide live-streamed services to enjoy from the comfort of our own homes! I for one have also been enjoying the ability to tune in Sunday night instead, freeing me up to spend quality time with my husband Sunday mornings when our schedules align.

There are many perks to keeping our content online! However, in recent days, a small impromptu group of communications, technology, and worship folks had a sensitive conversation about protecting anonymity in worship, the dangers of having youth images up online, and even new copyright issues we’ve never had to consider before!! We know we are not the only church going through this right now, but we did have to make some changes to the way we keep content online, in line with our values.

The following are the decisions that have been made at this time (and very likely to change and get better and better as new ideas roll in)

  1. We now immediately remove greetings after the live service.

    Greetings are only available to be seen live. We hope this will increase willingness to participate for those who do not want their image to live on YouTube but are ok with the single broadcast.

  2. We keep the complete service (story, music, meditation, homily) online for one week only.

    We want people to be able to access the service throughout the week, but with copyright concerns and privacy, it is best for us to limit this. Yes! We keep a private archived copy of the whole service for our historical record-keeping!

  3. Services with a great deal of youth participation will not be kept online following the live streaming

  4. After one week we pull the service down from YouTube and replace it with a video of just the homily.

    This lives on YouTube for as long as we want. So the homily can always be watched again, accessed by new members, and shared widely.

We have a backlog of services to edit into just the homily so if you visit our YouTube and wonder why there are only a few videos so far, trust us! We’re working on it and they should be up soon!

If you have questions thoughts or feedback about this, please contact Marie and your messages will be shared with all those working on this important issue.

Reflections on Plastic-Free July from UCV Zero Waste

You may have heard of the initiative “Plastic-Free July.” It is a global movement and a challenge to reduce plastic waste. Local zero-waste shops like Nada Grocery have been at the forefront of promoting this important work in our community. While it is nice to have a special month to “zero” in on the consumption of single-use plastics, we also know the work is year-long.

This year poses a particularly difficult challenge because the safety measures used to protect us from COVID often come with more packaging, less opportunity to use our many-use items.

Vancouver Unitarian’s Zero Waste team members reflect on how they are navigating their commitment to being plastic-free and zero waste in a pandemic. We asked: Has the pandemic shifted your habits with plastic? Why or Why not? and What are some examples of steps you’re taking to be both safe AND plastic-free? 


“My habits with plastic have changed slightly because I strive to live a sustainable and plastic-free life as possible I have endeavored to abstain from activities that require me to introduce more plastic into my life. At the grocery stores, I refuse to use plastic bags and even if I have to carry out my items and later put them in my own bag I won’t use plastic bags. The one thing I had to do which hurt more than I thought was to use disposable cups when having coffee outside as we cannot use our own mugs.
In addition, I have not ordered take out except once and I asked them to have as little packaging as possible. Yes, it came in a container but I asked for compostable.

In order to be safe and plastic-free I wash my hands and avoid touching my face rather than using disposable gloves which research has proven is a false positive anyway. I made my own mask and use that.”

– Vivian Davidson

“Yes.  Instead of going to NADA (way too scary) we’ve been ordering from SPUD.  There’s much more packaging, including non-reusable large cardboard boxes.  Last week one such box contained only 1 loaf of half frozen bread.  Now that NADA has an on-line system, I am back to using it instead of SPUD.  Throughout the pandemic I’ve been getting my produce at farmers markets which are generally good about reducing packaging but even they are using more plastic bags.
I used to be much more pure about getting my bread in paper bags, not plastic but was so desperate at various points in the pandemic to find gluten-free vegan bread that I lowered my standards.  Hoping now that the g/f bakeries are opening up I can insist on bread in paper, or at least bread that hasn’t been frozen in plastic.
Shopping at farmers market feels safe since it’s outside.  Online orders from NADA is now an option.  Stores like the East End Food Coop have taken good steps for safety but sadly their bulk area has been removed.
PS Also very sorry that London Drugs is not doing plastic recycling anymore.”
– Mairy Beam

“The pandemic has shifted my ability to stay committed to plastic-free to the degree I had been committed before. I think moments like this really test us in ways we don’t anticipate and it’s interesting to notice where the motivation to use packaging “for safety” feels different than using it “for convenience.” I am trying to focus on the fact that things won’t always be like this.

I am visiting places that are supportive of zero-waste even in the face of pandemic. The Safeway at King Ed has been allowing reusable shopping bags if you pack your own, and the JJ Bean on 16th and Cambie (and assuming all over too) is now allowing clean travel mugs. I am ordering take out from time to time but we got to places that use compostables like Beetbox Vegetarian. I love to feel our community pull together and remain committed to our values by making our environmental practices as safe to continue as possible.”

-Marie Witt