Life Member Award presented to Keith Wilkinson

by Mary Bennett

At the AGM on November 15, I got to deliver these words and propose the motion to make Keith Wilkinson a Life Member. It passed unanimously. Of course.

Unitarian Church of Vancouver

Life Member Award

November 15, 2020

By Mary Bennett

I received the UCV Life Member award in 2017 and so was given the honour of making a motion for another UCV life member. I enthusiastically accepted.

In June of 2017, Rev. Steven Epperson sent me an email several days before that Sunday saying he hoped I’d be at UCV that week. I was a bit taken aback. And a little suspicious.

For starters, I was in those days always there on Sunday mornings and secondly any email I’d ever received from Steven previously was more about getting something on the website or such request.

So I was actually relieved when I was NOT named as an unsung hero award as I’d begun to wonder if someone had nominated me for that award. I’m not particularly “unsung” around UCV so I was concerned that the intent of that award had been misunderstood.

I was very touched and, at least for a while, I was moved to do even more than what I had been doing.

The congregation gives out this award only occasionally and to people who have served both this congregation and the wider Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist movement.

The person recommended by the board has served this congregation in many capacities including board member, treasurer, membership committee chair, finance and canvass.

I’ll have a bit more to say about the proposed recipient, but first would like to put to you a motion:

MOTION: that LIFE membership be awarded to Keith Wilkinson in recognition of exceptional and long service to our congregation and to the wider Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist community.

Moved:  by Mary Bennett; Seconded by Mairy Beam, Board Secretary.

So now I can address Keith directly without him wondering if it’s him we’re talking about.

Welcome to the UCV Lifer Club, Keith.

The award didn’t come with any instructions, a manual or even a position description or spreadsheet. 

You and I have often collaborated on Unitarian tasks where I have grand ideas and, although you also have grand ideas, I count on you to put those ideas into a manual or a spreadhsheet so they can be shared with others.

Let’s make sure the next recipient gets some terms of reference so when their friends ask what it means, they’ll be able to answer more clearly than I was able to when I was asked. “Um. It’s just an honour,” I’d say.

My basic understanding of the award is that we are now officially UCV “Lifers” – UCV can’t get rid of us and we can’t get rid of UCV.

Further, I’ve taken it to give me permission to go where “no one has gone before.” In my case, I found myself speaking up with my own opinion more often even if I felt it was out of sync with others.

I also found myself more carefully considering my various involvements here. To some degree I accepted the award as permission to “rest on my laurels” or at least to pick my spots. Three years later I’m still in that discernment process as I let go of some responsibilities and get involved in some new areas.

So in your case, this might mean you’d give up on making spread sheets for committees or conversely would feel empowered to make spreadsheets whether or not asked!

Many people on this call will have worked with Keith in one capacity or another but might not know as much about his involvement in the Canadian Unitarian Council. So I reached out to some of his CUC board colleagues to send their comments and congratulations.

Here’s a message from Vyda Ng, CUC Executive Director

Keith was a member of the CUC Board of Trustees, and its President for two years. During that time, Keith brought an increased sense of organization, introduced efficient processes, and became the Board’s ‘policy wonk.’ He combed through CUC policies, updated the Board Policy Manual, reviewed and revised other documentation, and left the Board with a set of well-organized documents.

It was my pleasure to work with Keith – his dedication to and love of the national Unitarian Universalist community shone through.

And from Jane Ebbern, Calgary Unitarian, and past president of CUC.

Keith was such a wise member of our CUC board – always calm and steady in times of stress and great at de-escalating a situation. I would serve on any board with him at any time in future.

And when he wasn’t being wise, he was great fun to drink red wine with (lots of quantity and quality) and discuss the issues of the world. I only regret that he doesn’t live in Calgary so I could see him more often.

This award is an honour well deserved.

Jane Ebbern, Past President CUC Board of Trustees.

And from our own Kiersten Moore, CUC Board member currently.

Keith was outgoing President when I came on the CUC Board in 2018. His guidance through updating and clarifying the Policy manual was so graceful. He made the effort engaging and understandable instead of tedious. I have enjoyed his wisdom and calm leadership both at the CUC and here at Vancouver Unitarians.

–Kiersten Moore, BC Rep for CUC Board of Trustees 2018–present.

CONGRATULATIONS KEITH. Let’s together for a coffee or glass of wine soon and make up some Terms of Reference.

Many notes of congratulation and appreciation appeared in the chat at this point!


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